It wasn't until I started writing as a blogger and freelance writer that I started to appreciate collections of personal essays as a genre. I love seeing writers that I "know" online take different perspectives and approach topics with unique styles. As a parent, reading about other mothers' experiences from so many different angles has helped me gain insight into myself as a mother.
I've been thinking a lot about personal essays from three different perspectives: as a reader, as a writer, and now as an editor. I've been trying my hand at publishing my own pieces, and I know that it's hard (really hard) to write a great personal essay.
So here's what I think -- as a teacher, writer, editor, and reader -- about the ingredients of a great personal essay, one that is carefully crafted to draw in a reader, make her care about a topic, and keep reading.
Did we mention personal? Some graduate programs will ask you to write an additional essay about an issue within your chosen field. However, your personal statement should be about you as an individual. Write about issues only if they relate specifically to your personal experiences. For example, 'In Africa, a child dies every minute. This stark statistic prompted me to join an NGO aimed at providing nutrition and healthcare for children in Namibia.'
In order to find out how to write personal essay – view our section.
Don't make assumptions about your graduate school personal statements. Many programs simply ask you to submit a personal statement without any further guidance. Other programs will tell you exactly how they want the essay structured along with word count limits and formatting requirements. Review the prompt thoroughly and plan your essay before you begin writing to ensure that you create an essay that will be an effective and persuasive addition to your application package.
“20 Great Places to Publish Personal Essays
Once I became proficient at Twenty Questions, I strengthened my resolve to become masterful. To do so, I needed to become a skillful inquisitor and to combine that with my analytical nature and interpersonal skills, all of which are vital for success in Twenty Questions. Because I had been debating politics with my friends since the 8th grade, I recognized that debate could sharpen these skills. I began to debate more frequently (and later more effectively) in English and government class, at the lunch table and family gatherings, and whenever the opportunity presented itself. This spurred in me an interest for how public policy and government work, leading me to attend Boys State and receive a nomination for The United States Senate Youth Program.
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So far, I have realized that thriving at Twenty Questions, just like life, is all about tenacity, rationality and interpersonal skills. I have found that, as in Twenty Questions, always succeeding is impossible; however, by persevering through difficulties and obstacles, favorable outcomes are often attainable. As I have become better at Twenty Questions, so too have I improved in many other aspects of my life. Nonetheless, I realize that I still have unbounded room to grow. And much like 20Q, I will continue to learn throughout my life and apply my knowledge to everything I do.