A personal essay is a special kind of writing task. This is so because its central focus is on an individual. You are required to present yourself to another person who is your audience. In most cases, you do not know this individual and you have never met them. As such, you are supposed to have a moment of reflection of who you are before you start writing your personal essay. This is a way of expression of the qualities you possess that gives you an advantage in a given situation over another person. You also express your weaknesses and strengths so that the audience understands you better and also determine your suitability in an occasion or a vacancy that you may be applying for through the personal essay.
In most cases, a person is required to write a personal essay when applying for a scholarship. As such, the essay is highly likely to be reviewed by a committee of selected members of the institution who are responsible for thorough vetting of the applications. These committees are always very keen in analyzing the personal essays to make sure that only the best and the deserving are offered the available scholarship opportunities. As such, the personal essay must be perfect to guarantee qualification for the available scholarship opportunities to the applicant.
When writing a personal essay, you should follow the following steps to inform your writing process.
The first step is brainstorming. Brainstorming is the process of coming up with ideas and mapping out what to include in the essay as per the instructions. The brainstorming results are informed by the purpose of the personal essay. If the essay is related to the application of a job or a scholarship, then you should do research on the goals, mission, and vision of the institution under consideration. The following questions are crucial answering during the brainstorming process.
- What are the things that when included in the essay will help the audience in fully understanding you? What qualities do you possess that will help you stand out among other applicants?
- What are your interests in relation to the field you are applying for? What has stimulated your established interests for the field of application?
- How did you come to know about the existence of this field? i.e. work experience, friends, seminars or classes
- What are you future aspirations when offered the opportunity?
- What are the personal traits do you possess that will increase your probability for becoming successful in the field of interest?
- What are the possible areas of interest that the committee may be interested to know about you?
The second step entails writing the first draft of the personal essay using the identified answers to the 6 questions in the brainstorming process. The opening paragraph must be provocative to the audience aimed at compelling them to develop interest on your personal essay. For instance, you may open your essay by including a flashback of a conversation with your parents or friends about the opportunity you are applying for and convince the audience how that flashback connects your conviction to you application.
This way, you will avoid the usual boring opening paragraphs that the review committees encounter every year. An introduction that tries to convince the committee how you always wanted to have an opportunity in the institution with the usual “I always wanted…” is likely to disappoint you big time. This is where you creativity plays a vital role in speaking to the committee on your behalf. It is easier to achieve this by use of you knowledge in literal stylistic devices to create a clear picture of your situation in the minds of members of the review committee.
The third step entails refining the first draft and correcting any available grammatical errors, construction anomalies, and ambiguity. This is done by going through the essay after every refinement to ensure that the audience, who are the review committee members, understands you in totality. Also, this step is important because any errors or ambiguity will portray you as an incompetent person who is unable to express themselves by communicating who they are to others. To that end, such a situation may be detrimental to the awarding of the scholarship or a vacancy you are applying for in the institution.
Some of the crucial questions that you must ask yourself when rereading and revising are;
- Is your introduction an enough attention getter?
- Are you honest all through your essay?
- Have you conformed to all the requirements?
- Are you confident enough to stand with what you have written if you were to present it?
The fourth step entails giving the fully written and revised essay to a professional such as a professor or to a friend who understands the operation of the review committee for review. After their feedback, you can now embark on revising the areas they highlight and thus compile the final draft of the personal essay ready for submission.