Personal History Essay

Personal History Essay

personal history essay


When applying to graduate programs, it is not unusual to be asked to write a personal history essay. The personal history essay asks students to share background or life experiences that has shaped them. Also, the essay requires students to illuminate into how their life experiences will contribute to the classroom and the community in the institution.

The personal history essay prompt is broad and might be overwhelming. I am sure most of us have more than one personal experience we would want to share. If anything, we have countless life experiences that have impacted how we view ourselves and the world.

Gain Clarity

My suggestion is that to tackle the personal history essay, start with a simple questionnaire. List all the milestone events in your life. It might be a tragic thing or even a fantastic event. After you have all those experiences in a paper, ask yourself which one event influenced you the most. The purpose of this question is to get clear on the event you want to focus on.

After you have identified the event you want to discuss in your personal history essay, it is time to go deeper. Ask yourself what you learnt from that experience. Be inquisitive about how that event has shaped your decisions to date. Asking these questions will help you understand how that one event has continued to affect you long after it is gone.

Now that you know the experience you want to discuss, the next thing is to ask about the value you will bring. Our experiences give us unique perspectives and understandings that others who have not passed through the same event might lack.  Maybe you gained an important worldview, maybe you developed a key skill or maybe your pain opened you to the pain of other people. Whatever the lesson/ insight, tie it to how you will add value to the classroom and community.

Write the First Draft of your Personal History Essay

When you are clear on the experience, the lessons from it and the value you will bring, your personal history essay is halfway done. The next step is to organize your personal history in a coherent and engaging flow. Start with a catchy introduction that spikes the reader’s interest but does not give away too much. Then, ensure your body flows well, answers the prompt and maintains an engaging tone. The conclusion of your personal statement essay should summarize the key facts and make a final appeal.

Once you are done with the first draft of your personal history essay, you must congratulate yourself. You have come a long way. From getting clear on what you want to say to putting it down on a paper. However, you are still far from being done.

Elevate your Draft to A Masterpiece

The next step is to elevate your first draft into a masterpiece. This process takes time, effort, pain, and some exhaustion. The first thing to do is to ensure that your draft meets the word limit and answers the prompts of the personal history essay. When you are done with this, go over the draft a couple of times asking yourself what needs to be removed. You are likely to find that the first draft has a lot of fluff and a lot can be stricken out without affecting the meaning.

Another key thing to elevate your draft to a masterpiece is to improve the flow of your essay. For instance, break down long paragraphs into short ones. Also, ensure your personal history essay focuses only on a few key themes. To maintain the reader’s interest, you might benefit from ensuring you only focus on several themes. At this step, some students might use personal statement editing services. Be informed that it is not mandatory to use these services. You can nail it down on your own if you have the time and the willingness.

Once your draft of the personal history essay is elevated into a masterpiece, you can then give a friend to read it. Ask them about the flow and the readability as well as any grammar issues. After the feedback, you can edit the draft one final time and it will be ready to upload.

Final Thoughts

Although I have discussed the process of writing a personal statement essay as a linear one, it will most likely not be. Writing is an iterative process that takes lots of energy and time to come together. Please carry the above nuggets with you as you start the process of writing a personal history essay.  Good luck.


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