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How To Avoid Using “We,” “You,” And “I” in an Essay

  • Posted on October 27, 2022 October 27, 2022

Maintaining a formal voice while writing academic essays and papers is essential to sound objective. 

One of the main rules of academic or formal writing is to avoid first-person pronouns like “we,” “you,” and “I.” These words pull focus away from the topic and shift it to the speaker – the opposite of your goal.

While it may seem difficult at first, some tricks can help you avoid personal language and keep a professional tone.

Let’s learn how to avoid using “we” in an essay.

What Is a Personal Pronoun?

Pronouns are words used to refer to a noun indirectly. Examples include “he,” “his,” “her,” and “hers.” Any time you refer to a noun – whether a person, object, or animal – without using its name, you use a pronoun.

Personal pronouns are a type of pronoun. A personal pronoun is a pronoun you use whenever you directly refer to the subject of the sentence. 

Take the following short paragraph as an example:

“Mr. Smith told the class yesterday to work on our essays. Mr. Smith also said that Mr. Smith lost Mr. Smith’s laptop in the lunchroom.”

The above sentence contains no pronouns at all. There are three places where you would insert a pronoun, but only two where you would put a personal pronoun. See the revised sentence below:

“Mr. Smith told the class yesterday to work on our essays. He also said that he lost his laptop in the lunchroom.”

“He” is a personal pronoun because we are talking directly about Mr. Smith. “His” is not a personal pronoun (it’s a possessive pronoun) because we are not speaking directly about Mr. Smith. Rather, we are talking about Mr. Smith’s laptop.

If later on you talk about Mr. Smith’s laptop, you may say:

“Mr. Smith found it in his car, not the lunchroom!” 

In this case, “it” is a personal pronoun because in this point of view we are making a reference to the laptop directly and not as something owned by Mr. Smith.

Why Avoid Personal Pronouns in Essay Writing

We’re teaching you how to avoid using “I” in writing, but why is this necessary? Academic writing aims to focus on a clear topic, sound objective, and paint the writer as a source of authority. Word choice can significantly impact your success in achieving these goals.

Writing that uses personal pronouns can unintentionally shift the reader’s focus onto the writer, pulling their focus away from the topic at hand.

Personal pronouns may also make your work seem less objective. 

One of the most challenging parts of essay writing is learning which words to avoid and how to avoid them. Fortunately, following a few simple tricks, you can master the English Language and write like a pro in no time.

Alternatives To Using Personal Pronouns

How to not use “I” in a paper? What are the alternatives? There are many ways to avoid the use of personal pronouns in academic writing. By shifting your word choice and sentence structure, you can keep the overall meaning of your sentences while re-shaping your tone.

Utilize Passive Voice

In conventional writing, students are taught to avoid the passive voice as much as possible, but it can be an excellent way to avoid first-person pronouns in academic writing.

You can use the passive voice to avoid using pronouns. Take this sentence, for example:

“ We used 150 ml of HCl for the experiment.”

Instead of using “we” and the active voice, you can use a passive voice without a pronoun. The sentence above becomes:

“150 ml of HCl were used for the experiment.” 

Using the passive voice removes your team from the experiment and makes your work sound more objective.

Take a Third-Person Perspective

Another answer to “how to avoid using ‘we’ in an essay?” is the use of a third-person perspective. Changing the perspective is a good way to take first-person pronouns out of a sentence. A third-person point of view will not use any first-person pronouns because the information is not given from the speaker’s perspective.

A third-person sentence is spoken entirely about the subject where the speaker is outside of the sentence.

Take a look at the sentence below:

“In this article you will learn about formal writing.”

The perspective in that sentence is second person, and it uses the personal pronoun “you.” You can change this sentence to sound more objective by using third-person pronouns:

“In this article the reader will learn about formal writing.”

The use of a third-person point of view makes the second sentence sound more academic and confident. Second-person pronouns, like those used in the first sentence, sound less formal and objective.

Be Specific With Word Choice

You can avoid first-personal pronouns by choosing your words carefully. Often, you may find that you are inserting unnecessary nouns into your work. 

Take the following sentence as an example:

“ My research shows the students did poorly on the test.”

In this case, the first-person pronoun ‘my’ can be entirely cut out from the sentence. It then becomes:

“Research shows the students did poorly on the test.”

The second sentence is more succinct and sounds more authoritative without changing the sentence structure.

You should also make sure to watch out for the improper use of adverbs and nouns. Being careful with your word choice regarding nouns, adverbs, verbs, and adjectives can help mitigate your use of personal pronouns. 

“They bravely started the French revolution in 1789.” 

While this sentence might be fine in a story about the revolution, an essay or academic piece should only focus on the facts. The world ‘bravely’ is a good indicator that you are inserting unnecessary personal pronouns into your work.

We can revise this sentence into:

“The French revolution started in 1789.” 

Avoid adverbs (adjectives that describe verbs), and you will find that you avoid personal pronouns by default.

Closing Thoughts

In academic writing, It is crucial to sound objective and focus on the topic. Using personal pronouns pulls the focus away from the subject and makes writing sound subjective.

Hopefully, this article has helped you learn how to avoid using “we” in an essay.

When working on any formal writing assignment, avoid personal pronouns and informal language as much as possible.

While getting the hang of academic writing, you will likely make some mistakes, so revising is vital. Always double-check for personal pronouns, plagiarism , spelling mistakes, and correctly cited pieces. 

 You can prevent and correct mistakes using a plagiarism checker at any time, completely for free.

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KathySteinemann.com: Free Resources for Writers and Poets

Word lists, cheat sheets, and sometimes irreverent reviews of writing rules. kathy steinemann is the author of the writer's lexicon series..

how to not use i in a personal essay

30+ Ways to Avoid Repetition of “I” in First-Person Writing

I I I ... Too Many Is in Your Writing?

First-person narrative engages readers, who experience the world from your narrator’s perspective — including intimate thoughts and feelings. However, it’s easy to overplay constructions such as I did this and I thought that and I wanted something else.

Many people claim the I, I, I approach is permissible because I is an invisible word like said .

Don’t believe them.

Prose or poetry with an overabundance of the same words or structures will seem off. Readers might not be able to tell you what’s wrong, but they know they’re unsettled by something .

Consider the Following Two Story Snippets

I answered the irresistible beckoning of the backyard. I watched brightly colored birds there frolicking in the breeze as they fluttered toward the creek. I closed my eyes and felt the warmth of the sun . I smelled the fragrance of the clover underneath my feet, a fragrance so sweet I could almost taste it. I heard fledgling robins twittering in a nearby tree.

I thought to myself , This is the life. I knew I never wanted to leave this place.

I decided to phone the real estate agent and tell her to take the FOR SALE sign off my lawn. She acted as though she had expected my call.

I told her in a firm voice that my mind was made up, and yes, I understood she would still receive her full commission.

I realized I didn’t care about the money.

The backyard beckoned with its irresistible sights and sounds. Frolicking in the breeze, brightly colored birds fluttered toward the creek. The sun warmed my closed eyelids, and my nostrils were flooded by the sweet fragrance of clover underneath my feet, a fragrance so sweet it almost sugared the taste buds. In a nearby tree, fledgling robins twittered.

This is the life. Who in their right mind would ever leave this place?

The real estate agent acted as though she had expected my call when asked to take the FOR SALE sign off the lawn.

My voice was firm. “Yes, my mind is made up. … Understood. … You’ll still receive your full commission.”

Hah! Who cares about the money?

Beware Verbosity

Rewrites could result in bloat, and the wrong words could make you seem pretentious or long-winded.

The second snippet reduces, rather than increases, word count.

The first example would be even shorter with the removal of to myself. Who else would you think to? Your editor? Your cat? Or maybe your dictation software?

Did You Notice the Changes?

Almost every sentence in the first example begins with I.

In the rewrite, note the removal of several filtering phrases:

I watched I … felt I smelled I could … taste I heard I thought I knew I decided I told I understood I realized

Whenever you filter thoughts and senses through your narrator’s eyes, you distance readers from your story — like a selfie of a selfie. Use the direct approach instead.

Passive voice appeared once to vary sentence structure. “I smelled the fragrance of the clover underneath my feet ” became “my nostrils were flooded by the sweet fragrance of clover underneath my feet.”

A so-called rule of writing is not to use passive voice. However, you’ll find times such as this when it’s warranted.

The phrase could also have been written as “my nostrils flooded with the sweet fragrance of clover underneath my feet.”

Reread the examples. Compare again. You’ll notice subtle changes that make the text flow smoother.

A Partial List of Filter Words

Watch for these or their equivalents. They all have the potential to weaken your writing:

A to W assume, be able to, believe, can, decide, experience, feel (or feel like) , hear, know, look, note, notice, realize, remember, see, seem, sound (or sound like), taste, think, touch, watch, wonder

Change the Focus

Just because you’re writing in first person doesn’t mean you, the storyteller, should be the most important character in the piece.

If you concentrate on the activities of other characters, readers will feel as though they are you. They still know you’re the narrator, but you become invisible.

Try These I Alternatives

I agree: We are in agreement

I am convinced that: In my opinion

I am sure that: Correct me if my opinion is wrong

I believe: The experts say (or, in Dothraki , “It is known”)

I decided: It was my intention

I disagree: You are wrong

I dislike that: That’s not for me

I don’t know: That’s an excellent question

I feel: In light of the evidence

I have experience in: My experience includes

I interpret the results: The results indicate

I like: It’s one of my favorites

I was nearly hit by a car: A car nearly hit me

I’ll show you: The report will show you

I’m hungry: My stomach is growling

Beware the Me-My Snare

In an attempt to remove instances of I, you might introduce excessive repetition of me and my .

For instance, “I felt an irresistible urge to buy the shoes” could become “An irresistible urge to buy the shoes came over me .”

“I saw three chickadees sitting on the fence” could end up as “Three chickadees sitting on the fence came into my view.”

As shown by the strikeout, you can often omit my .

Rely on Your Ears

They’re excellent critics.

Read your text out loud or harness your computer’s text-to-speech capabilities and listen to your writing . Repetitions that hide from notice during a silent read often become obvious and irritating when processed by the ears .

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28 thoughts on “ 30+ Ways to Avoid Repetition of “I” in First-Person Writing ”

how can we replace i in this sentence i had a dream to spend a beautiful day at an island

Sleep, peaceful sleep, filled the night, interrupted only by the dream of an idyllic day on a tiny island.

Hello Kathy,

Me again. Since reading your article, I have made a greater conscious effort in avoiding the use of “I” in my first-person stories. However, in doing so, I’m noticing I am starting to use “-ing” words to begin sentences more often, and I understand that’s something to use sparingly in fiction writing.

I may be over-analysing my works (that’s a bad habit of mine), but if using “I” in a sentence, whether it’s beginning a sentence or in the middle of it, creates a clearer structured sentence when compared to using a “-ing” word, would you say it’s okay to use “I”, or to try and figure out another way of structuring the sentence to avoid either?

On a side note, sometimes when I do avoid both, the sentence gets written in passive voice, as that seems to be the only way to structure it, while keeping it clear and precise. For example, a sentence within a story of mine read: “Rather than wasting time on breakfast, I can use it for more important things, such as training.” After re-editing it, it became: “Rather than wasting time on breakfast, it can be used for more important things, such as training.”

I’m really just trying to determine out of “I”, “-ing”, or passive voice, which is the best to use. Apologies if this is unclear. Sometimes that’s my thought process for you. There’s logic in there, but you’ve gotta dig past all the dribble to find it.

Kind regards, Footrot Flats

Phrases such as the following can help eliminate some instances of “I”:

– experience has shown – statistics indicate – events suggest – circumstances often require

Regarding your sentence: “Rather than wasting time on breakfast, it can be used for more important things, such as training.”

Try something like: “[Whatever ‘it’ is] can focus on activities, such as training, which are more important than breakfast.”

Remember: The goal is not to eliminate words but to eliminate their overuse.

Thank you for the response, Kathy!

I’ll keep those phrases in mind and see if they can be used anywhere that fits. Thank you for the suggestion as well.

I understand it’s okay to use “I”, just not too often, which is what I’m trying to do, but also figuring out how often “I” is fine to use. Finding that ‘Goldilocks Zone’ is my next challenge. If it’s used once every few paragraphs, it doesn’t stick out at me, but if I see two (or more) I’s in the same field of view, that’s when I tend to change it.

I may or may not pop up again sometime in the future. If I don’t, your article and advise has helped me immensely, so thank you for the time and effort you have put in. It’s much appreciated.

All the best, and stay safe too! Footrot Flats

When writing stories, I’ve always tried avoiding the usage of I’s (same goes for adverbs). 95% of the time, there’s an alternative way of describing a scene, whether it’s action, thoughts or dialogue, but something, every now and then, there just doesn’t seem to be a way to avoid using I (or an adverb).

Like adverbs, would you say it’s okay to use ‘I’ sparingly?

In some cases, the word ‘I’ gets replaced with an adverb, and then I enter a never-ending cycle.

Your approach is astute, FF.

Words exist for a reason, including adverbs and I . The goal is not to eliminate them but to reduce their frequency and make them “invisible” to readers. That turns them into useful tools.

Good luck with your writing, and please stay safe! (Exclamation points, em dashes, and parentheses are more useful tools — when used sparingly. 🙂 )

Thank you for the reply Kathy.

I agree that making them “invisible” rather than eliminating them completely is the better approach. Everything would provide a greater impact when used sparingly.

All the best, and stay safe too. Footrot Flats

Hello Kathy, the article above really helped me but i am still just a little confused. . . . would it be alright if you could un-I-ify my story. i haven’t written much and i probably wont be using it, but just to get a rough idea on how i could do it.

I was sitting on the train minding my own business and reading a book, when I casually looked out the window. It was pretty dark and rainy, but I could still see the blurry silhouette of the woods turning into a dim lighted village. As I was about to turn away, I started to sweat and felt a pounding in my head. My heart felt as if I had just run a marathon 3 times and I could hear my blood rushing through my ears. My hands shook and my breathing turned uneven. My vision went all blurry. I had to get away. I did not want to be on a train while having a panic attack. I stood up and hit my knee on the table but I ignored the pain. I grabbed my book and backpack and yelled for assistance. An assistant quickly rushed over and asked if I needed anything. I told her to stop the train. “But ma’am, we don’t have a station here, we can’t stop here-” “Just stop the train. NOW! Please!” I cut her off. “Ma’am, are you feeling ok? You should probably sit down.” She offers. “STOP THE TRAIN! NOW!” I shout. She nodded to me and swiveled around and quickly rushed to the front of the train. My mouth started to feel dry and I could feel tears coming starting to form at the corners of my eyes. By this time I was shaking. I turned to the nearest compartment and grabbed the glass of water on the table. I took one big sip and looked up at the young bloke who was sitting there. My mouth felt a bit better knowing it was hydrated and I could say my words without them sounding raspy. “I am so sorry. I really needed that drink.” I grabbed my backpack and took out £2 and put it down on the table. “I’m really sorry about the drink, I know you paid for that so here’s the money. I know it was 3 pound but this is all I can find right now.” I blurted out. I could feel the train slowing down and felt nauseous. I sat down in the young blokes compartment seat and looked down. I could feel the guy’s eyes staring at the top of my head which made me feel uncomfortable.

sorry if thats too much. thank you 🙂

Thanks for stopping by, Astoria.

I’ve retired from editing, but you can join online critique groups free of charge.

Scribophile and Critique Circle are two popular sites.

Good luck with your writing, and stay safe!

Undertaking a short story/flash fiction assignment for Open University. Word count is up to 800 words. The premise is in hand, and I’ve done a plan.

Really want to do it in First POV, though I know third is easy to fall back on. Your advice is brilliant, I am just so nervous of the structure and grammar. I don’t envision that creative writing is for me, as the strain of English Lit etc scares me.

You can do this, Louise. I hope you’ll be able to use some of the advice in this post.

Good luck, and stay safe!

This is so frustrating, As I edit my work I can’t think of anything to replace my ‘I’ overuse!!!

Think less of how you control the action and more about how the action happens, period. The suggestions in this article will help.

Thanks for stopping by, Max!

Great article. Chuck Palahnuik is an expert at submerging the ‘I’, and I’m constantly perplexed about how to avoid the pitfalls you mentioned when following his advice. This has helped a great deal.

Thanks, Tom. May your muse be ever with you — and stay safe.

I get it, I just don’t know how to repair the problem. Online English class?

There’s no magic one-size-fits-all approach. You have to examine each occurrence to determine a suitable remedy. This requires time and effort; but as you edit, you become more proficient at creating solutions.

Thanks for stopping by!

Can you please give me some examples of books written in first person, without the overuse of ‘I’? My 13 year old daughter is in an Academic Excellence class and has had her eyes opened and mind blown buy how removing the ‘I’s, it makes you live the story. She has Aspergers and dyslexia and has always loved writing, it is her get away. We would be truly grateful for some guidance.

Warmest wishes Michelle Australia

Hi, Michelle. Thanks for stopping by.

The books that stand out in my mind are To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, all The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins, and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. They should keep your daughter busy for a while.

Thank you very much Kathy. I am truly grateful.

May you too keep safe.

Warmest wishes Michelle

Thank you so much. I always put I’s in my stories and it bothered me because ‘I’ use it repeatedly. That’s when ‘I’ started to notice it also want to thank you for the alternatives to making my story look as if a professional wrote it. Well I’m no professional but hopefully one day. 4 years later and came across this website. Thank you btw. (PS I was embarrassed now because I used my I’s a lot in this comment lolz so I had to fix it to make it right ) Anyways I’m forever grateful and have a good year in 2020!

Thanks for stopping by, Nora. Yes, those Is can be slippery little creatures. You’ve made the most important step by recognizing the problem.

You have a great 2020 too, and may the muses favor your writing!

Excellent, as per usual. 🙂

Thanks, Jenn!

Another excellent post, Kathy. This is exactly what I was looking for. As an added bonus, I now know what filter words are. Time for another edit on my latest WIP. (Heck – I’ve just noticed two I’s in the above comment. Oh no, there’s another two!)

Thanks, Tom. I laughed out loud as I was reading your reply. Next week I’ll be posting an open letter to book pirates. Arrgh! Three I ‘s.

Let’s see …

As my eyes scrutinized your reply, a humongous LOL burst from my lips. Next week’s blog post will feature an open letter to book pirates.

Doesn’t have the same snap, does it?

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How to Replace I in Essays: Alternative 3rd Person Pronouns

replacing I in essays

replacing I in essays

Learning how to write an essay without using ‘I,’ ‘We,’ or ‘You,’ and other personal languages can be challenging for students. The best writing skills recommend not to use such pronouns. This guide explores how to replace ‘I,’ ‘We,’ or ‘You’ in an essay and the methods to avoid them.

For those of us who have been able to overcome this, you will agree that there was a time when you experienced a challenge when finding alternatives to clauses such as “I will argue” or “I think.”

The good thing is that there are several methods of communicating your point and writing an essay without using ‘I’ or related personal language.

how to not use i in a personal essay

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Why Avoid Using Pronouns in Formal Writing

Before identifying the communication methods without using personal language like “I,” it is best to know why we should avoid such language while writing essays.

The most important reason for avoiding such language is because it is not suitable for formal writing such as essays. Appropriate professional English should not include any form of personal pronouns or language.

Avoid You I and Me

The second and equally important reason to avoid using personal language while writing an essay is to sound impersonal, functional, and objective.

In formal English, personal pronouns conflict with the idea of being impersonal, functional, and objective because they make redundant references to the writer and other people.

Personal pronouns will make an essay seem to contain only the writer’s perspectives and others they have deliberately selected. Again, they will make the work appear subjective.

Another reason to avoid personal language while coming up with an essay is to avoid sounding as if you have an urgent need to impress the reader through wording.

Personal pronouns like “you” and “I” tend to suggest something important that is away from what the writing is all about.

By continually using “I,” “we,” or “you,” you are taking the reader’s attention from the essay to other personal issues. The essay becomes all about the writer. 

That being said, let’s explore how to replace “I” in an essay.

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Ways of avoiding pronouns “i,” “you,” and “we” in an essay.

You can replace the pronouns ‘I’, ‘You’, and ‘We’ by replacing them with acceptable wording, applying passive voice instead of pronouns, Using a third-person perspective, adopting an objective language, and including strong verbs and adjectives.

In our other guide, we explained the best practices to avoid using ‘you’ in essay writing and use academically sound words. Let us explore each of these strategies in detail.

1. Replacing it with an Acceptable Wording

This is a very good strategy for replacing “I” in an essay. The problem is that it is often difficult to find the right word to replace the personal pronoun. Though this is the case, “I” has some alternatives.

For example, if the verb that follows it revolves around writing and research, such as “…will present” or “…have described”, it is best to replace “I” with text-referencing nouns such as “the essay.”

If you wanted to say “I will present” or “I have described”, then the alternative will be “the essay will present,” or “as described in the essay.”

Another method of replacing “I” in an essay is using appropriate wording like “this writer” if the verb’s action is not within the text.

While this is sometimes acceptable, it is often advised to have no words here by using passive verbs or their equivalents.

A wording that may also be used but rarely suitable is “the researcher”. This alternative can only be used when your actions as a writer are completely detached from the writing.

2. Using Passive voice Instead of Pronouns

passive voice

Another way to replace “I” and other personal pronouns in an essay is to use passive voice. This is achieved by transforming an active verb passive.

Though this is the case, the strategy is often difficult, and it may create sentence structures that are not acceptable in formal writing and language.

The sentences in which “I” can be successfully changed using this strategy is when an active verb describing an object is transformed into its passive form. 

3. Using a Third-Person Perspective

This is a very important and applicable strategy when replacing “I” in an essay. This is where you avoid using first-person and second-person perspectives.

When referring to the subject matter, refer directly to them using the third person. For example, if you were to write, “I think regular exercise is good for mind and body”, you can replace it with “Regular exercise is good for mind and body”.

4. Use of Objective Language

Objective language is lost when a person uses informal expressions like colloquialisms, slang, contractions, and clichés. It is the reason why we discourage the use of contractions in essay writing so that you can keep things formal.

While informal language can be applicable in casual writing and speeches, it is not acceptable when writing essays. This is because you will be tempted to use a first-person perspective to convey your message.

5. Being Specific and using Strong Verbs and Adjectives

In most cases, essays that have been written using a lot of personal pronouns tend to be imprecise. When you want to avoid using “I” in your essay, try to be exact and straight to the point.

Personal pronouns tend to convey a subjective message, and it is up to the writer to explain their perspectives through writing.

Here, a writer will use a lot of “I think…” or “I believe…” to express their opinion. By doing so, the writer will end up wasting a lot of time explaining a concept.

Instead of doing that, it is best to look for appropriate verbs and adjectives to explain the points. Also, use objective language. Refer to the suggestions given by credible evidence instead of basing your arguments on what you think.

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Words to use Instead of Personal Pronouns like “You” and “I”

As noted, it is important to avoid using personal pronouns such as “You” and “I” when writing an essay.

By eliminating them or finding alternatives to them, your essay will be formal and objective. You can decide to eliminate them in a sentence.

replace You and I

For example, you could be having a sentence like “I think the author makes a valid point concerning capitalism.”

In this example, you can eliminate the personal language and write, “The author makes a valid point concerning capitalism.”

The second sentence goes straight to the point and is objective.

Other words to use instead of personal pronouns, like “You” and “I,” can be created when personal judgment words are avoided.

Instead, it is best to replace those words with those that refer to the evidence.

Examples of Ways to Replace Personal Pronouns

Below are examples of how personal judgment words can be replaced by words referring to the evidence.

  • I feel – In light of the evidence
  • From I think – According to the findings
  • I agree – It is evident from the data that
  • I am convinced – Considering the results
  • You can see that – From the results, it is evident that

Using the third-person or “it” constructions can be used to replace personal pronouns like “You” and “I.” Such words also help to reduce the word count of your essay and make it short and precise.

For example, if you write “I conclude that, “replace those words with “it could be concluded that. ” Here, “it” constructions are helping replace personal pronouns to make the sentence more objective and precise.

To be more specific, words to replace personal pronouns like “I” include “one,” the viewer,” “the author,” “the reader,” “readers,” or something similar.

However, avoid overusing those words because your essay will seem stiff and awkward. For example, if you write, “I can perceive the plot’s confusion,” you can replace “I” by writing, “Readers can perceive the plot’s confusion.”

Words that can be used instead of personal pronouns like “You” include “one,” “the viewer,” reader,” “readers,” or any other similar phrases. It is similar to words that replace first-person pronouns.

For example, if you write “you can see that the poet’s tone is serious and urgent,” you can replace “You” by writing “readers/one can see that the poet’s tone is serious and urgent.”

Words to use Instead of “My” in an Essay

Since “My” demonstrates the possessiveness of something, in this case, the contents or thoughts within an essay, it makes the writing subjective. According to experts, writing should take an objective language . To do this, it is important to replace it.

Replacing My in your essay

You can replace the word “My” with “the”. For example, if you write, “My final thoughts concerning the issue are”, you can write, “The final thoughts concerning the issues are”.

In this case, the article “The” makes the sentence formal and objective.

Another method is eliminating the word “My” from the sentence to make it more objective and straight to the point.

In the same example above, if you write “My final thoughts concerning the issue are”, you can write “Final thoughts concerning the issue are”.

The major difference here is that the word “my” in the first example makes it subjective, and eliminating it from the sentence makes it sound formal and objective.

Final Advice

Therefore, when writing an essay, it is important to avoid personal pronouns like “You”, “I,” and “My.” Not all papers use third-person language. Different types of essays are formatted differently, a 5-paragraph essay is different from a 4-page paper , but all use third-person tones.

This is because an essay should be written in formal language, and using personal pronouns makes it appear and sound informal. Therefore, writing an essay without using ‘I’ is good.

Formal language makes your essay sound objective and precise. However, do not remove the first-person language when writing personal experiences in an essay or a paper. This is because it is acceptable and formal that way.

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How to Write a Personal Essay for Your College Application

how to not use i in a personal essay

What does it take to land in the “accept” (instead of “reject”) pile?

How can you write an essay that helps advance you in the eyes of the admissions officers and makes a real impression? Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Start early.  Do not leave it until the last minute. Give yourself time when you don’t have other homework or extracurriculars hanging over your head to work on the essay.
  • Keep the focus narrow.  Your essay does not have to cover a massive, earth-shattering event. Some people in their teens haven’t experienced a major life event. Some people have. Either way, it’s okay.
  • Be yourself.  Whether writing about a painful experience or a more simple experience, use the narrative to be vulnerable and honest about who you are. Use words you would normally use. Trust your voice and the fact that your story is interesting enough in that no one else has lived it.
  • Be creative.  “Show, don’t tell,” and that applies here — to an extent. The best essays typically do both. You can help your reader see and feel what you are describing by using some figurative language throughout your piece.
  • Make a point. As you finish your final body paragraphs ask yourself “So what?” This will help you hone in on how to end your essay in a way that elevates it into a story about an insight or discovery you made about yourself, rather than just being about an experience you had.

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We’ve all heard about the dreaded “college essay,” the bane of every high school senior’s existence. This daunting element of the college application is something that can create angst for even the most accomplished students.

  • AA Amy Allen is a writer, educator, and lifelong learner. Her freelance writing business,  All of the Write Words , focuses on providing high school students with one-on-one feedback to guide them through the college application process and with crafting a thoughtful personal essay. A dedicated poet, Amy’s work has also been published in several journals including  Pine Row Press ,  Months to Years,  and  Atlanta Review .

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How to Write a Personal Essay

Last Updated: February 2, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 310,447 times.

A good personal essay can move and inspire readers. It can also leave the reader unsettled, uncertain, and full of more questions than answers. To write an effective personal essay, you will need to first understand the structure of a personal essay. You will then need to brainstorm ideas for the personal essay so you are ready when it is time to sit down and craft your essay.

Starting Your Personal Essay

Step 1 Find an angle for your essay.

  • For example, maybe you want to write about an experience where you learned about failure. You may think the time you failed a pop quiz in class. Though the quiz may have seemed insignificant to you at the time, you realized later that failing the pop quiz forced you to reassess your goals and motivated you to get a passing grade. Seen from a certain angle, your small failure became a gateway to perseverance and determination.

Jake Adams

  • This could be a seemingly small moment that ended up having a profound influence on you later, such the first time you experienced disgust as a child or the look on your mother’s face when you told her you were gay. Try to really dig into why you were hurt or compelled to overcome a challenge in this moment in your essay.
  • Remember that moments charged with strong emotion will often be more engaging to readers. Having a strong reaction to a specific moment will allow you to write passionately about it and keep your reader interested in your essay.

Step 3 Discuss a specific event that triggered an emotional response.

  • For example, you may focus on the day you found out your father cheated on your mother, or the week you mourned the death of a loved one. Think about a heavy experience in your life that shaped who you are today.
  • You may also decide to write about a seemingly light topic or event, such as your first ride on a roller coaster, or the first time you went on a cruise with your partner. No matter what event you choose, make sure it is an event that triggered a strong emotional response, ranging from anger to confusion to unabashed joy.

Step 4 Think of a person in your life that you have difficulty with in some way.

  • For example, you may think about why you and your mother stopped speaking years ago or why you are no longer close to a childhood friend. You may also look at past romantic relationships that failed and consider why they did not succeed or a relationship with a mentor that went sour.
  • This could also be about someone that you're close with. For example, you could write about a moment that tested your relationship with a close friend.

Step 5 Respond to a current event.

  • Ask yourself questions about the current event. For example, how does the current event intersect with your own experiences? How can you explore a current social issue or event using your personal thoughts, experiences, and emotions?
  • For example, you may have an interest in writing about Syrian refugee camps in Europe. You may then focus your personal essay on your own status as a refugee in America and how your experiences a refugee have shaped the person you are now. This will allow you to explore a current event from a personal perspective, rather than simply talk about the current event from a distant, journalistic perspective.

Step 6 Create an outline.

  • The introductory section should include “the hook”, opening lines where you catch the reader’s attention. It should also have some sort of narrative thesis, which is often the beginning of an important event in the piece or a theme that connects your experience to a universal idea.
  • The body sections should include supporting evidence for your narrative thesis and/or the key themes in your piece. Often, this is in the form of your experiences and your reflections on your experiences. You should also note the passage of time in your body sections so the reader is aware of when and how certain events occurred.
  • The concluding section should include a conclusion to the events and experiences discussed in the essay. You should also have a moral of the story moment, where you reflect on what you learned from your experiences or how your experiences changed your life.
  • In the past, it was advised to have five paragraphs total, one paragraph for the introductory section, three paragraphs for the body section, and one paragraph for the concluding section. But you can have more or less than five paragraphs for your personal essay as long as you have all three sections.

Writing the Personal Essay

Step 1 Begin with an engaging opening scene.

  • Don't begin with a line that explains exactly what is going to be discussed in, such as, “In this essay, I will be discussing my fraught relationship with my mother." Instead, draw your reader into your piece and still provide all the information needed in your opening line.
  • Start instead with a specific scene that contains the key characters of the essay and allows you discuss the central question or theme. Doing this will allow you to introduce the reader to the characters and the central conflict right away.
  • For example, if you are writing about your fraught relationship with your mother, you may focus on a specific memory where you both disagreed or clashed. This could be the time you and your mother fought over a seemingly insignificant item, or the time you argued about a family secret.
  • Try to use an active voice instead of a passive voice as much as possible when you're writing your essay.

Step 2 Write from your unique voice or perspective.

  • This writing voice may be conversational, much like how you might speak to a good friend or a family member. Or, the writing voice may be more reflective and internal, where you question your own assumptions and thoughts about the subject of the essay.
  • Many personal essays are written in the first person, using “I”. You may decide to write in the present tense to make the story feel immediate, or past tense, which will allow you to reflect more on specific events or moments.
  • Include vivid sensory descriptions in your essay to help the reader connect with your unique perspective. Describing touch, smell, taste, sight, and sound can help the reader invest in your story and feel like they're there with you.

Step 3 Develop the characters so they are well-rounded and detailed.

  • You can also include lines of dialogue spoken by your characters, based on your memory of the event. However, you should limit dialogue to only a few lines a page, as too much dialogue can start to veer away from personal essay and more toward fiction.

Step 4 Include plot in your essay.

  • You may use a plot outline to organize your essay. The plot points should act as supporting evidence for the central question or issue of the essay.

Step 5 Focus on uncovering a deeper truth.

  • It’s important to remember that though an experience may appear to have all the drama necessary to make a good personal essay, it may be a drama that is too familiar to the reader already. Be wary of experiences that are familiar and filled with pathos that a reader may have experienced before.
  • If you are writing about the sudden death of a loved one, for example, it may feel important and deep to you. But the reader will likely know what to expect of an essay about a dead loved one, and may not relate to your essay because they did not know the loved one like you did.
  • Instead, you may try to uncover a truth that is deeper than “I am sad my loved one died.” Think about what the loved one meant to you and how the loved one affected your life, in positive and negative ways. This could lead to the uncovering of a deeper truth and a stronger personal essay.

Polishing Your Essay

Step 1 Try out different literary techniques and forms.

  • For example, you may use metaphor to describe the experience of telling your mother you are gay. You may describe your mother’s face as “impenetrable, a sudden wall”. Or you may use a simile, such as “my mother’s reaction was silent and stunned, as if she had been struck by lightning.”

Step 2 Read the essay out loud.

  • As you read it out loud, you should highlight any sentences that are confusing or unclear as well as sentences that do not appear as strong as the rest of the draft. You should also make sure your characters are well developed and your essay follows some kind of structure or sense of plot. Consider if you are hitting a deeper truth in your draft and what you can do to get there if it is not yet on the page.Revising your essay will only make it that much stronger.

Step 3 Proofread and revise the essay.

  • When you are revising, you should consider if your content is really worth writing about, if you are writing about a topic or subject you are passionate about, and if your reader will understand your writing. You want to avoid confusing your reader, as this can turn her off from reading to the end of your essay.
  • You should also make sure the focus and themes of the essay are clear. Your experiences should center around a central question, issue, or theme. This will ensure your personal essay is well written and concise.
  • Avoid relying on spellcheck to catch all of the spelling and grammar errors in your essay.

Expert Q&A

Jake Adams

  • To get a better sense of the genre, you should read highly crafted examples of personal essay. There are several known personal essays that are often taught in academia, including "Notes of a Native Son” by James Baldwin, “The Death of a Moth” by Virginia Woolf, “Shipping Out” by David Foster Wallace, “The White Album” by Joan Didion, and “We Do Abortions Here” by Sallie Tisdale. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
  • Ask yourself several questions as you read the examples, such as: How does the writer introduce the subject of their essay? How does the writer explore the subject for a personal perspective? What are the key themes in the essay? How does the writer connect their personal experiences to a universal theme or idea? How does the writer use humor or wit in the essay? What is the concluding moral of the essay? Does the end of the essay leave you satisfied, unsettled, curious, or all of the above? Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

Sample Essay and Template

how to not use i in a personal essay

You Might Also Like

Write a Personal Narrative

  • ↑ https://owl.excelsior.edu/writing-process/thesis-sentence/thesis-sentence-angles/
  • ↑ Jake Adams. Academic Tutor & Test Prep Specialist. Expert Interview. 20 May 2020.
  • ↑ https://courses.lumenlearning.com/englishcomp1/chapter/writing-a-narrative-or-personal-essay/
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/personal-essay/
  • ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-write-a-personal-essay
  • ↑ https://stlcc.edu/student-support/academic-success-and-tutoring/writing-center/writing-resources/point-of-view-in-academic-writing.aspx
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/story-plot/
  • ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/literary-devices/
  • ↑ http://admissions.vanderbilt.edu/vandybloggers/2013/09/how-to-write-your-personal-essay/
  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/revising-drafts/

About This Article

Jake Adams

To write a personal essay, start by deciding on an experience that affected your life in some way, such as how failing a pop quiz in class made you change your goals. Next, draft an outline containing the points you want to make, and including an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. When writing, start your essay with an engaging scene that introduces the characters and main theme, then develop the characters in the body section so they're well-rounded. Conclude by summing up what you learned from the experience. For tips on how to include a plot in your essay and how to proofread your work, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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how to not use i in a personal essay

Using You in Academic Writing

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Using You in Academic Writing Podcast

Using you in academic writing transcript.

This is Kurtis Clements with another effective writing podcast. In this episode, I am going to talk about using the second person, you and your, in academic writing.

Many folks are confused when it comes to using the second person pronouns “you” and “your” in their academic writing, in large part because such pronouns are used often in other kinds of writing, so it seems natural to use such words in academic writing.

What is “academic writing”? Academic writing is writing that is generally formal; by and large, it’s the kind of writing produced in school when you are writing a report or an essay. Academic writing usually does not contain contractions or slang, nor does academic writing use emoticons or exclamation points. Academic writing sticks to a fairly objective point of view and avoids personal pronouns such as “I, we, us, our, you,” and “your,” for example. Now this is not to say that academic writing will never use such pronouns, but as a guiding general principle such pronouns are not used often in academic writing.

I don’t want to confuse you, but not all writing produced in school is “academic.” For example, if you were taking a creative writing course, while you may write essays that require a formal approach to writing, you will also be writing “creatively”—short stories and poems and other genres that would not require you to use “academic writing.”

Imagine a poem like Gwendolyn Brook’s “We Real Cool” in which the speaker, a thug without much of a future, says, “We real cool. We left school. We lurk late” written in formal academic writing like this: “They were indifferent to the conventional values of society. They left school. They lurked late at night.” Big difference, right? Of course. Academic writing is not the kind of writing to use when writing creatively.

Ok, so back to our discussion of second person. Second person is the use of the pronouns “you” and “your” in writing. In this podcast, I sometimes relate what I am talking about to my audience—to you folks listening right now—so I will make statements like “I don’t want to confuse you, but…” In my podcast, which is not a formal writing situation, it’s fine to use the pronouns “you” and “your.”

As a guiding principle, the second person pronouns “you” and “your” should not be used in academic writing. Using “you and your” is informal and lacks the kind of professional tone found in academic writing. “You” may work fine in some situations (like this podcast, for example), but in academic writing, such usage can be downright confusing. When I use “you” in my podcast, it’s clear that I am addressing my listeners.

But let’s say you were reading a paper about recycling, something that you already do. What would your reaction be if every now and then the writer included a sentence like “All you would need to do is set up a few extra bins in your home for glass, paper, metal, and plastic, and then put each item into its respective bin.” What would your response be? You would likely be confused, right? After all, you already recycle. And imagine other instances of the writer referring to “you” in a sentence. Every time you read “you,” you stop in your tracks and think, “Me?”

Let’s say the recycling paper’s purpose is to persuade and thus the logical audience would be folks who don’t recycle. Would “you” be appropriate then? No. While there would clearly be less confusion on the part of readers, writing of a more formal nature should be as objective as possible and not refer directly to readers.

Imagine reading a formal academic essay that is arguing for greater individual effort to recycle, and throughout the paper the writer uses the objective third person point of view, making such statements as “Individuals have a responsibility to future generations to do what they can to cut down on waste” and “Individuals must be proactive in recycling at home and work,” and then all of a sudden, out of the blue, the writing shifts to second person and makes a statement like “You might be busy, but if you make recycling a top priority then you would probably be successful.”

Whoa, right?

Where did that sentence come from? As a reader, you were engaged in the persuasive but objective discussion of the need to recycle, when all of a sudden the writing shifts to second person, and it seems like the writer is pointing a finger at you.

The use of second person can be confusing, awkward, and off-putting in academic writing, so it’s best to avoid the pronouns “you” and “your.”

A good way to ensure such pronouns don’t appear in your paper is to read your work slowly aloud. Mark each “you” or “your” you find and revise accordingly. With a little practice, keeping the second person out of your writing will come naturally.

Thanks for listening, everyone. Happy writing.

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4.13: Writing a Personal Essay

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Learning Objectives

  • Describe techniques for writing an effective personal essay

How to Write a Personal Essay

One particular and common kind of narrative essay is the personal narrative essay. Many of you have already written at least one of these – in order to get to college. The personal essay is a narrative essay focused on you. Typically, you write about events or people in your life that taught you important life lessons. These events should have changed you somehow. From this choice will emerge the theme (the main point) of your story. Then you can follow these steps:

Someone writing on sticky notes and in a notebook.

  • Once you identify the event, you will write down what happened. Just brainstorm (also called freewriting). Focus on the actual event. You do not need to provide a complete build-up to it. For example, if you are telling a story about an experience at camp, you do not need to provide readers with a history of my camp experiences, nor do you need to explain how you got there, what we ate each day, how long it lasted, etc. Readers need enough information to understand the event. So, you do not need to provide information about my entire summer if the event only lasts a couple of days.
  • Use descriptions/vivid details.
  • “Nothing moved but a pair of squirrels chasing each other back and forth on the telephone wires. I followed one in my sight. Finally, it stopped for a moment and I fired.”
  • The verbs are all in active voice creating a sense of immediacy: moved, followed, stopped, fired.
  • Passive voice uses the verb “to be” along with an action verb: had been aiming, was exhausted.
  • Develop your characters. Even though the “characters” in your story are real people, your readers won’t get to know them unless you describe them, present their personalities, and give them physical presence.
  • Use dialogue. Dialogue helps readers get to know the characters in your story, infuses the story with life, and offers a variation from description and explanation. When writing dialogue, you may not remember exactly what was said in the past, so be true to the person being represented and come as close to the actual language the person uses as possible. Dialogue is indented with each person speaking as its own paragraph. The paragraph ends when that person is done speaking and any following explanation or continuing action ends. (If your characters speak a language other than English, feel free to include that in your narrative, but provide a translation for your English-speaking readers.)
  • Be consistent in your point of view. Remember, if it is a personal narrative, you are telling the story, so it should be in first person. Students often worry about whether or not they are allowed to use “I.” It is impossible to write a personal essay without using “I”!
  • Write the story in a consistent verb tense (almost always past tense). It doesn’t work to try to write it in the present tense since it already happened. Make sure you stay in the past tense.

Sample Personal Statement

One type of narrative essay you may have reason to write is a Personal Statement.

Many colleges and universities ask for a Personal Statement Essay for students who are applying for admission, to transfer, or for scholarships.

Generally, a Personal Statement asks you to respond to a specific prompt, most often asking you to describe a significant life event, a personality trait, or a goal or principle that motivates or inspires you. Personal Statements are essentially narrative essays with a particular focus on the writer’s personal life.

The following essay was responding to the prompt: “Write about an experience that made you aware of a skill or strength you possess.” As you read, pay attention to the way the writer gets your attention with a strong opening, how he uses vivid details and a chronological narrative to tell his story, and how he links back to the prompt in the conclusion.

Sample Student Essay

Alen Abramyan Professor X English 1101-209 2/5/2013

In the Middle of Nowhere Fighting Adversity

A three-punch combination had me seeing stars. Blood started to rush down my nose. The Russian trainers quietly whispered to one another. I knew right away that my nose was broken. Was this the end of my journey; or was I about to face adversity?

Ever since I was seven years old, I trained myself in, “The Art of Boxing.” While most of the kids were out playing fun games and hanging out with their friends, I was in a damp, sweat-filled gym. My path was set to be a difficult one. Blood, sweat, and, tears were going to be an everyday occurrence.

At a very young age I learned the meaning of hard work and dedication. Most kids jumped from one activity to the next. Some quit because it was too hard; others quit because they were too bored. My father pointed this out to me on many occasions. Adults would ask my father, ” why do you let your son box? It’s such a dangerous sport, he could get hurt. My father always replied, “Everyone is going to get hurt in their lives, physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m making sure he’s ready for the challenges he’s going to face as a man. I always felt strong after hearing my father speak that way about me. I was a boy being shaped into a man, what a great feeling it was.

Year after year, I participated in boxing tournaments across the U.S. As the years went by, the work ethic and strength of character my father and coaches instilled in me, were starting to take shape. I began applying the hard work and dedication I learned in boxing, to my everyday life. I realized that when times were tough and challenges presented themselves, I wouldn’t back down, I would become stronger. This confidence I had in myself, gave me the strength to pursue my boxing career in Russia.

I traveled to Russia to compete in Amateur Boxing. Tournament after tournament I came closer to my goal of making the Russian Olympic Boxing team. After successfully winning the Kaliningrad regional tournament, I began training for the Northwest Championships. This would include boxers from St. Petersburg, Pskov, Kursk and many other powerful boxing cities.

We had to prepare for a tough tournament, and that’s what we did. While sparring one week before the tournament, I was caught by a strong punch combination to the nose. I knew right away it was serious. Blood began rushing down my face, as I noticed the coaches whispering to each other. They walked into my corner and examined my nose,” yeah, it’s broken,” Yuri Ivonovich yelled out. I was asked to clean up and to meet them in their office. I walked into the Boxing Federation office after a quick shower. I knew right away, they wanted to replace me for the upcoming tournament. “We’re investing a lot of money on you boxers and we expect good results. Why should we risk taking you with a broken nose?” Yuri Ivonovich asked me. I replied, “I traveled half-way around the world to be here, this injury isn’t a problem for me.” And by the look on my face they were convinced, they handed me my train ticket and wished me luck.

The train came to a screeching halt, shaking all the passengers awake. I glanced out my window, “Welcome to Cherepovets,” the sign read. In the background I saw a horrific skyline of smokestacks, coughing out thick black smoke. Arriving in the city, we went straight to the weigh ins. Hundreds of boxers, all from many cities were there. The brackets were set up shortly after the weigh ins. In the Super Heavyweight division, I found out I had 4 fights to compete in, each increasing in difficulty. My first match, I made sure not a punch would land; this was true for the next two fights. Winning all three 6-0, 8-0 and 7-0 respectively. It looked like I was close to winning the whole tournament. For the finals I was to fight the National Olympic Hope Champion.

The night before the finals was coincidentally the 200th anniversary of the city. All night by my hotel, I heard screams of laughter and partying. I couldn’t sleep a wink. The morning of the fight I was exhausted but anxious. I stepped into the ring knowing that I was tired. I fell behind in points quickly in the first round. I felt as if I were dreaming, with no control of the situation. I was going along for the ride and it wasn’t pleasant. At the end of the second round, the coach informed me that I was far behind. “?You’re asleep in there,” he yelled out to me, confirming how I felt. I knew this was my last chance; I had to give it my all. I mustered up enough strength to have an amazing round. It was as if I stepped out and a fresh boxer stepped in. I glanced at my coaches and see a look of approval. No matter the outcome, I felt that I had defeated adversity. My opponent’s hand was raised , he won a close decision, 6-5. After I got back to my hotel, I remembered Yuri Ivonovich telling me they expected good results. “How were my results,” I asked myself. In my mind, the results were great, with a broken nose and with no sleep, I came one point shy of defeating the National Olympic Hope Champion.

Even from a very young age, I knew that when my back was against the wall and adversity was knocking on my door, I would never back down. I became a stronger person, a trait my family made sure I would carry into my adult years. No matter what I’m striving for; getting into a University; receiving a scholarship; or applying for a job, I can proudly say to myself, I am Alen Abramyan and adversity is no match for me.

Link to Learning

Sandra Cisneros offers an example of a narrative essay in “Only Daughter” that captures her sense of her Chicana-Mexican heritage as the only daughter in a family of seven children.

Do Personal Essays have Thesis Statements?

While many personal essays include a direct statement of the thesis, in some personal essays the thesis may be implied rather than stated outright.

Imagine, for example, that in your personal essay you decide to write about the way someone influenced you. The influential individual could be a relative, a friend or classmate, an employer or a teacher. As you shape your essay, you would not simply assemble a collection of miscellaneous observations about the person; instead, you would be selective and focus on details about this person that show his or her impact upon you.

Let us say that the person who influenced you is a grandparent. You may know a lot about this individual: personality traits, family and marital history, medical history, educational background, work experience, military experience, political and religious beliefs, hobbies, tastes in music, etc. But as you shape your essay about how this individual affected you, you wouldn’t try to catalog all that you know. Instead, you would try to create a dominant impression by including details that guide your reader toward the idea that is central to the essay.

For example, if you developed certain habits and attitudes as you and your grandparent worked together on a project, that experience might provide the focus for the essay. If you chose details consistent with that focus, then you wouldn’t need to state that this was the point of the essay. Your readers would understand that that was the governing idea based on the details you had so carefully chosen.

Whether the thesis is stated outright or implied, then, the personal essay will have a governing idea—an idea that is “in charge” of what you decide to include in the essay in terms of content, vocabulary, sentence structure, and tone. In short, the personal essay may not have a thesis statement, but it will have a thesis.

Consider a personal essay in which a student was asked to write about a person she admired, and she wrote about her cousin. She wrote:

  • I admired my cousin’s decision to enlist because she had to withstand criticism from people who thought women shouldn’t be in the army and because in basic training she had to stand up to physical and mental challenges that I don’t think I could face.

The thesis statement provides quite a lot of guidance for both writing and reading the essay. Writer and reader are equally able to see what the subject of the essay is and what is being stated about the subject, and both writer and reader can see how the essay should be organized. No matter how many body paragraphs there are, this thesis implies that the paper will be divided into two sections. One section will group together the paragraphs on this topic: cousin “had to withstand criticism from people who thought women shouldn’t be in the army.” Another section will group together the paragraphs on this second topic: “in basic training she had to stand up to physical and mental challenges.”

Are Narratives Persuasive?

In a personal essay, you may not think of your thesis as “arguable” in the same way as a claim in a persuasive essay would be arguable, but in fact, you can think of it as something that should need to be demonstrated—backed up through explanations and illustrations. Usually, the idea that should be demonstrated is that you are a thoughtful, reflective person who has learned from the events and people in your life.

If the thesis does not need to be demonstrated, then there may not be much purpose in writing the essay. For, example, a statement that “George W. Bush was the forty-third president” or the statement that “Senior proms are exciting” would not be considered arguable by most people and likely would not spark a reader’s interest and make them want to keep reading.

On the other hand, the thesis statements below would need to be explained and illustrated. In that sense, these personal essay thesis statements are equivalent to claims that are “arguable.”

  • The evening was nearly ruined because parents acting as dress-code vigilantes threw several people out of the prom.
  • My team spent hours planning the prom and managed to head off a repeat of the after-prom drinking that caused some parents to question whether the prom should be held this year.
  • Everyone was able to attend the prom proudly because our prom committee got several stores to loan outfits to make certain everyone would feel like they fit in.
  • I opted to attend an alternative prom because the principal refused to allow a same-sex couple to attend.

Keep in mind that the actions or events in your essay do not have to make you look heroic. You could write a convincing and powerful essay about how you attended the school-sponsored prom, even though the principal refused to allow a same-sex couple to attend. Your essay, in this case, might, for example, focus on your regret over your decision and your subsequent understanding of how you think you can best challenge the status quo in the future. In other words, you can write an effective personal essay about a moment of regret.

When writing a personal essay for an application of some kind (scholarship, internship, graduate school), remember that the ultimate purpose of the essay is to make you, the essay writer and applicant, look good. That doesn’t mean that you need to describe you doing great things. If your personal essay is all about your grandfather and what an amazing role model and person he was, you still need to think about how your essay can make you (and not just your grandfather) look good. One way to make yourself look good is to make clear that you are a thoughtful, reflective person (and someone smart enough to learn from a man like your grandfather).

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Contributors and Attributions

  • Narrative Essay. Provided by : Excelsior OWL. Located at : https://owl.excelsior.edu/rhetorical-styles/narrative-essay/narrative-essay-see-it-across-the-disciplines/ . License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Narrative Essays. Authored by : Marianne Botos, Lynn McClelland, Stephanie Polliard, Pamela Osback . Located at : https://pvccenglish.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/eng-101-inside-pages-proof2-no-pro.pdf . Project : Horse of a Different Color: English Composition and Rhetoric . License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Sample Narrative Essay. Provided by : Georgia State University. Located at : gsuideas.org/SCC/Narration/Sample%20Narrative%20Essay%20Personal%20Statement.html. Project : Writing For Success. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Writing a Narrative Essay. Provided by : Boundless. Located at : courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-writing/chapter/types-of-rhetorical-modes/. License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
  • Image of person writing on sticky notes. Authored by : Nappiness. Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : pixabay.com/photos/brainstorming-business-professional-441010/. License : Other . License Terms : pixabay.com/service/terms/#license
  • Do Personal Essays have Thesis Statements?. Provided by : Radford University. Located at : https://lcubbison.pressbooks.com/chapter/core-101-personal-essay-assignment/ . Project : Radford University Core Handbook. License : Public Domain: No Known Copyright

how to not use i in a personal essay

How to Write a Personal Essay: Your Easy Guide

how to not use i in a personal essay

The power of a well-written personal essay should never be underestimated. Inspiring readers with your experiences, lessons learned from past mistakes, or simply describing the joy you felt from doing a fun activity can literally change people's lives. Take a moment to reflect upon this. How much influence you can have on your audience with just a pen and paper in your hand and thoughts flowing through your head is insane.

To take the reins of your floating thoughts and put them into perspective, you need to know how to write a personal essay. Otherwise defined as a nonfiction narrative story, the personal essay format differs slightly from other kinds of writing with its implicit structure. Once we touch upon those, we will also explore some personal essay topics with our online essay writing service . After reading this article, we promise you'll be so confident writing your personal statement that you might want to craft many personal essays in one go!

Proper Format

When trying to understand what is a personal essay, you must start with the formatting specifics. And no, we didn't mean to scare you off if this sounded too complicated! The format for personal essay can be similar to most academic tasks with just a few distinct aspects. Let's examine the details from our paper writer :

How to Write a Personal Essay

  • Font : Unless required to write in a Harvard essay format , you can use any readable fonts - Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri in size 12.
  • Margins : Just like in most writings, set your margins to one inch on all sides.
  • Spacing : This is a classic! Use double-spacing throughout the essay, including between paragraphs.
  • Indentation : Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches or use the tab key. This might be a little too specific, but it's a true-and-tried method!
  • Page numbers : Include page numbers in the top right corner of each page. You don't have to do this necessarily, but it can add more spark to your paper!
  • Title : Include a title that reflects the theme or subject of your essay. Center the title on the page. Did we really have to elaborate on this?
  • Header : Include a header with your last name and the page number in the top right corner of each page. After all, it's your personal story; why would you want to miss your name here?
  • Length : The length of a personal essay can vary but typically ranges from 500 to 2,000 words. Well, unless you're discussing healing from a generational trauma... Then you'd probably need a few more extra pages.
  • Tone : The tone of a personal essay should be conversational, reflective, and sincere. At least, this is what we recommend not to sound dull.
  • Personal pronouns : Use first-person pronouns such as 'I,' 'me,' and 'my.' Remember, the spotlight is directed at you as you're the true hero of the story.

Personal Essay Topics

If you have got a lot of exciting stories to tell, your personal essay can shine brightly by interactively engaging the reader. Put in a little extra effort and dig deeper to find a unique or interesting experience or an unusual moment in your life.

Looking at a life lesson from another angle can turn into deep and purposeful subject matter. If you decide to pick a topic from a huge list of personal essay topics that you found in the internet, be precise and careful because not all of them can meet the requirements of your professor.

Personal Narrative Essay Topics

In this type of writing, try to explore a unique experience that creates a sense of conflict in your life. Explore how and why you were confused, annoyed, or hurt by the experience. Imagine your piece of paper as a place where you can freely express your emotions, discuss significant moments, & reflect on their impact on your life. This tip can help you create many really good essay topics, but if you need motivation, you can find some examples below.

  • 'One small step that helped me skyrocket in my career!'
  • 'Why controlling urges teaches you to master self-control.'
  • 'People only learn from their own mistakes.'
  • 'Life is not a one-dimensional path: it is curvier than a snake!'
  • 'What I learned about conquering my fears.'
  • 'The moment when I should have made a better choice.'
  • 'The moment I overcame my public speaking fear.'
  • 'How I conquered adversity with strength.'
  • 'The impact of mentorship: valuable lessons learned from my mentor.'
  • 'My journey to finding a place to belong.'

Personal Essay Topics on Specific Emotions

You may also talk about a specific event in your life that left a long-lasting impression on you. Usually, this type of essay reflects an incident that took place in your life and shifted it in some way. Dive deeper into your mind and find an event that is unique and personal to you. The weirder the occurrence, the more likely the essay will be engaging to read.

  • 'How I ran away from fear: the power of exercising.'
  • 'How I overcame the trauma through painting.'
  • 'My quest to reclaim my cultural identity
  • 'How I tackled cultural shock while studying abroad.'
  • 'The year I went from being an amateur to a professional artist.'
  • 'The best solo hike of my life
  • 'The moment I beat my eating disorder and learned to love my true self.'
  • 'How practicing gratitude helped me find beauty in the ordinary.'
  • 'The power of letting go of toxic relationships
  • 'How I lived up to my family's legacy.'

If you have not noticed, each of these titles can bring a fascinating vibe to the table. The names grab your attention, but you can only honestly know what they are about when reading them. That is the secret to a provocative title!

And if you'd rather have a pro write your personal essay for college, purchase essay on our platform and lay back in peace knowing your task is in expert hands!

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Crafting an Outline for Personal Essay

Like most academic tasks, the personal essay can be easily structured into 5 paragraphs . This is one of the most important steps of personal narrative essay writing at any level. Your outline for personal essay will serve as a navigator, so you don't want to get off track. Understanding how to start a personal essay, what to write in body paragraphs, and how to conclude it appropriately will be important.

How to Start a Personal Essay?

Start your writing with an introductory paragraph. As it gives your reader a clear understanding of what the story will be about. Employ a hook sentence to catch their attention and motivate them to read the rest of the paper with a whimsical thesis statement. It can be a narrative thesis, for example. But it must be written in one concise sentence that will bring the reader to the starting point of your essay.

Don't leave your readers in the dark in the introduction by explaining the important things such as:

  • Who are the major characters?
  • When and where is it taking place?
  • What kind of story is it?

Creating the Personal Essay Body 

After creating an introduction, you must formulate three body paragraphs supporting your thesis statement. Each new point should contain its own body paragraph. Don't forget to make transitions from one paragraph to another to make sure that everything flows smoothly.

Usually, the body section is presented in the form of your experiences and your reflections on these events. You should also note the passage of time in your body sections, so make sure that the reader is aware of when and how each specific chapter took place.

How to Write a Conclusion Paragraph for Personal Essay?

Ultimately, it will be essential to wrap everything up and give your audience a sense of completeness by writing a proper conclusion. Restate your thesis, summarize the main points you have stated in body paragraphs, and leave your reader with a specific emotion, depending on the subject of your paper.

Readers should also discover a life lesson by going through the story. It is a moment where you show what you have learned from your experiences or how previous events have changed your life.

Tips for Personal Essay Writing Process

If you think you already possess sufficient knowledge of personal essays, we've yet to supply you with more information. Now let's explore the various stages of personal essay writing. Follow the list of valuable tips and advice without skipping a beat from our service where you can buy personal statement too.

How to Write a Personal Essay

Start with an Engaging Opening Sentence

Open your personal essay with an introductory section that will be engaging and interesting for your reader. In the opening section, introduce the principal characters of the story as well as the central theme or themes. It should also present the fundamental question of the essay.

Write from Your Unique Point of View

You are free to write from your point of view or in your own unique style. In contrast to other types of essays, writing from your perspective or in your personal manner is welcomed. For instance, if you are writing about a trip adventure, you might express your individual writing style by describing the sights and sounds that captured your attention. As a result, your writing will be more interesting and genuine and will better convey your experiences and feelings.

Take the Characters into Account

Be sure to describe your characters from all angles. Even though it is your real-life experience, you should still consider storytelling elements like the plot and characters. Using these ingredients in your writing will keep your reader engaged and help your essay flow smoothly.

Shed Light on a Deep Truth

Discuss your background experience with honesty and curiosity. Don't be afraid to uncover a hidden truth or a truth you didn't know was there at the time. Expose a thing that is uncomfortable or difficult for you to discuss. No matter who will read your essay. Whether it will be a teacher or somebody else, they will definitely appreciate your honesty and strive to share your experience.

Write a Rough Draft & Submit

After you have completed all the previous steps, it's time to write a rough draft. Writing a rough draft lets you get new ideas for a personal essay. Moreover, it's a great place to polish your essay and correct small grammar, spelling, and other types of mistakes. Get a second pair of eyes: No one can rate your writing as well as a neutral party. Once you have checked everything, you can start writing the final paper.

Before submitting your personal essay, double-check everything once again and make sure to present the central theme. After it, go through it and proofread your entire piece. Reading an essay full of grammatical mistakes is somewhat frustrating, which can be easily avoided. You can ask your classmate for help, so in that way, you will save each other. Don't forget to meet the deadline - and you're officially finished!

Personal Essay Examples

In our time it’s much more easier to find things on the Internet, and examples are not an exception. Remember one simple thing: not everything that you can find on the Internet is done correctly. If you need some inspiration to get started, you can find several examples of personal essays below, or you can use our free essay samples to sharpen your skills on any type of writing.

As we scratched the surface of the personal essay writing process and delved deep into the specific stages of creating a flawless paper, we hope you gained some valuable insights. These tips are all you'll ever need to inspire readers or even WOW the admissions officers!

If you want our experienced writers to help you with any writing assignment, whether a persuasive essay , creative nonfiction, or any type of college essay, hit us up with your ' do my homework for me ' request and consider it done with the highest caliber!

Want a Powerful Reflection of Your Personal Story?

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Related Articles

How to Write a Personal Statement

Table of Contents

Ai, ethics & human agency, collaboration, information literacy, writing process, using first person in an academic essay: when is it okay.

  • CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 by Jenna Pack Sheffield

how to not use i in a personal essay

Related Concepts: Academic Writing – How to Write for the Academic Community ; First-Person Point of View ; Rhetorical Analysis; Rhetorical Stance ; The First Person ; Voice

In order to determine whether or not you can speak or write from the first-person point of view, you need to engage in rhetorical analysis. You need to question whether your audience values and accepts the first person as a legitimate rhetorical stance. Source:Many times, high school students are told not to use first person (“I,” “we,” “my,” “us,” and so forth) in their essays. As a college student, you should realize that this is a rule that can and should be broken—at the right time, of course.

By now, you’ve probably written a personal essay, memoir, or narrative that used first person. After all, how could you write a personal essay about yourself, for instance, without using the dreaded “I” word?

However, academic essays differ from personal essays; they are typically researched and use a formal tone . Because of these differences, when students write an academic essay, they quickly shy away from first person because of what they have been told in high school or because they believe that first person feels too informal for an intellectual, researched text. While first person can definitely be overused in academic essays (which is likely why your teachers tell you not to use it), there are moments in a paper when it is not only appropriate, but also more effective and/or persuasive to use first person. The following are a few instances in which it is appropriate to use first person in an academic essay:

  • Including a personal anecdote: You have more than likely been told that you need a strong “hook” to draw your readers in during an introduction. Sometimes, the best hook is a personal anecdote, or a short amusing story about yourself. In this situation, it would seem unnatural not to use first-person pronouns such as “I” and “myself.” Your readers will appreciate the personal touch and will want to keep reading! (For more information about incorporating personal anecdotes into your writing, see “ Employing Narrative in an Essay .”)
  • Establishing your credibility ( ethos ): Ethos is a term stemming back to Ancient Greece that essentially means “character” in the sense of trustworthiness or credibility. A writer can establish her ethos by convincing the reader that she is trustworthy source. Oftentimes, the best way to do that is to get personal—tell the reader a little bit about yourself. (For more information about ethos, see “ Ethos .”)For instance, let’s say you are writing an essay arguing that dance is a sport. Using the occasional personal pronoun to let your audience know that you, in fact, are a classically trained dancer—and have the muscles and scars to prove it—goes a long way in establishing your credibility and proving your argument. And this use of first person will not distract or annoy your readers because it is purposeful.
  • Clarifying passive constructions : Often, when writers try to avoid using first person in essays, they end up creating confusing, passive sentences . For instance, let’s say I am writing an essay about different word processing technologies, and I want to make the point that I am using Microsoft Word to write this essay. If I tried to avoid first-person pronouns, my sentence might read: “Right now, this essay is being written in Microsoft Word.” While this sentence is not wrong, it is what we call passive—the subject of the sentence is being acted upon because there is no one performing the action. To most people, this sentence sounds better: “Right now, I am writing this essay in Microsoft Word.” Do you see the difference? In this case, using first person makes your writing clearer.
  • Stating your position in relation to others: Sometimes, especially in an argumentative essay, it is necessary to state your opinion on the topic . Readers want to know where you stand, and it is sometimes helpful to assert yourself by putting your own opinions into the essay. You can imagine the passive sentences (see above) that might occur if you try to state your argument without using the word “I.” The key here is to use first person sparingly. Use personal pronouns enough to get your point across clearly without inundating your readers with this language.

Now, the above list is certainly not exhaustive. The best thing to do is to use your good judgment, and you can always check with your instructor if you are unsure of his or her perspective on the issue. Ultimately, if you feel that using first person has a purpose or will have a strategic effect on your audience, then it is probably fine to use first-person pronouns. Just be sure not to overuse this language, at the risk of sounding narcissistic, self-centered, or unaware of others’ opinions on a topic.

Recommended Readings:

  • A Synthesis of Professor Perspectives on Using First and Third Person in Academic Writing
  • Finding the Bunny: How to Make a Personal Connection to Your Writing
  • First-Person Point of View

Brevity – Say More with Less

Brevity – Say More with Less

Clarity (in Speech and Writing)

Clarity (in Speech and Writing)

Coherence – How to Achieve Coherence in Writing

Coherence – How to Achieve Coherence in Writing

Diction

Flow – How to Create Flow in Writing

Inclusivity – Inclusive Language

Inclusivity – Inclusive Language

Simplicity

The Elements of Style – The DNA of Powerful Writing

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Examples

College Essay

College essay generator.

how to not use i in a personal essay

Most universities screen their potential students during admissions. In this academic process, candidates are not only expected to send their application for ms , answer entrance examinations and show up during scheduled interviews. Upcoming college students may also be asked to write a college essay as a part of their initial requirements.

Writing a college essay is a way for students to present themselves or even their ideas in a unique manner. There are different forms and types of college essays which depend on the regulations followed by the school where you would like to be accepted for enrollment. Before you start writing your college essay, you may want to view the essay examples  that we have listed for you, so you can have more idea on what to put in the college essay that you will create.

College Essay Outline Template

College Essay Outline Template

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College Narrative Essay Template

College Narrative Essay Template

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Research Paper For College Essay Template

Research Paper For College Essay Template

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Narrative Essay Outline For College Template

Narrative Essay Outline For College Template

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College Admission Essay Example

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Law School College Essay Sample

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Reminders When Writing a College Essay

A college essay can help your bid for enrollment be realized. There are universities that only accept a specific number of students per school year, and your college essay might just be that document which can help you be noticed by your school of choice. Before you even start writing the content of your college essay, there are some essay writing basic guide that you should always keep in mind. As an applicant, you need to ensure that you are aware of the following:

  • It is very important for you to read and follow college essay writing  instructions.  Some applicants tend to be overwhelmed by the admission processes of universities. There are also some who think that they are fit candidates and are sure to get a spot for enrollment. These instances can lead to rush decisions like writing a college essay right away without reading the instructions that are created by the academic institution. Creating a great college essay can lose its purpose if the content of what you have written is not what the university is asking for.
  • The content of your college essay should be different from that in your application form . A lot of college essays ask candidates to share something about themselves. A common mistake that candidates do is that they repeat basic information about them which are already found in the application form. You have to utilize and maximize the usage of all the documents that you will submit. As much as possible, veer away from repeating the items that you have already stated in the other documents that you have created.
  • College essays are different, may it be in terms of topics or structures. Different universities have different ways on how they would like candidates to write a college essay. This will depend on the information that they want to know or the specific kind of candidates that they are looking for. Just because you have already written a college essay for one university does not mean that it can also apply on your next applications.

College Application Essay Example

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Sample College Essay Example

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Tips in Creating the Content of Your College Essay

If you want to create a college essay that works, you need to give importance on the content that you will provide the admissions officer of your target university with. Here are some tips that you may follow when creating the content of your college essay:

  • Always be organized. Your college essay is a reflection of who you are. Maintain organization when presenting yourself so that your discussion can easily be followed by the person who will review your college essay.
  • It will be best if you will brainstorm and thoroughly think of what you will put in the college essay. Not everything that comes to your mind first is helpful for your application. You have to make sure that the information that you will share in your college essay can help you be accepted for enrollment.
  • Create an outline of your desired content. We suggest you to use an outline or a draft that can initially show you the flow of your essay. If you have this tool on hand, you can easily improve specific parts of the essay before finally writing the college essay that you will submit.
  • Write an engaging introduction. With the number of applicants that send their applications each year, it is essential for you to get the attention of the university that you want to be enrolled in. A catchy and appealing introduction can help you engage the people who will review your college essay. If strongly created, the way you start your essay can make your college essay stand out from the others.
  • Provide reasons on why you are one of the best candidates for admissions. When writing a college essay, think of how the school can benefit from you. It is not always about what you can get from the school. You need to present yourself as an asset or an added value so the university can be more convinced to accept you as a student.
  • Know what matters to you and how you would like to be perceived.  If you will keep the content of your college essay both personal and professional, academic institutions can have a perception that you can balance things accordingly which is a sign of great attitude and ethics. Always state information from your own point of view and relay the message in a formal manner.
  • Make the content of your college essay precise, concise and direct to the point. Your college essay should contain information that are relevant to the instruction given to you. If you will include details that can directly hit the needs of the school, then you can easily get the approval that you need to be accepted for enrollment.

Printable College Essay Samples

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Simple College Essay Example

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Good College Essay Example

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What Not to Do When Writing a College Essay

Aside from the things that you should always keep in mind, there are also some items that you should not do when creating the content of your college essay. Being knowledgeable of the pitfalls of college essay writing can help you come up with a more impressive essay. Listed below are a few  common essay mistakes that you need to avoid when writing your college essay.

  • Creating a lengthy essay without substance. There are college essays with strict word count requirements. In this case, try to hit the minimum words required and ensure that the essay that you will write is packed with relevant information and helpful details. The length of your essay is not what universities look for. More than the words that you can put in your essay, your writing style, and substance are those that are being generally rated.
  • Trying to impress the school too much. Presenting yourself in an outstanding manner is far different from providing too much information that can already be considered as a form of boasting. Know when to stop when listing down your achievements and/or credentials.
  • Using jargon and words that are not commonly used in the field of academics.   As much as possible, write a college essay using simple words. You can easily relay your message if your choice of words are understandable.
  • Pretending to be someone who you are not. Do not lie when writing a college essay. Remember that you will be subjected with a background check before the university finally gives you the signal for enrollment. Always be yourself.

Sample College Admission Essay Example

Sample College Admission Essay

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Sample College Essay Example in PDF

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Personal College Admissions Essay Example

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How to Use College Essay Samples

If writing a college essay is unfamiliar territory, then using samples and templates as references can help you a lot. Here are some ways on how you can maximize the usage of college essay samples:

  • Refer to college essay samples but do not copy their content. As discussed above, there are different kinds of college essays. The samples available online may not always be fit for the essay that you are required to write. Referring to college essay samples should only give you an idea of what to write and not what to plagiarize.
  • Look at the structures of different college essay samples. Once you are already familiar with different kinds of content structures and formats, then it will be easier for you to create a college essay from scratch. The content of your college essay can also be more highlighted and given focus with if you can use a structure that is organized and comprehensive.
  • Find inspiration from the best college essay samples. The greatest thing about reviewing college essay samples is that you can get a lot of inspiration on how to create a college essay in different ways. This inspiration can help you be a better writer which can positively affect the kind of college essay that you can come up with.

Do not underestimate the benefits of having a well-formatted and informative college essay. This document may only be a sheet of paper or a digital document but it can greatly affect your college admissions application.

May it be a last minute essay writing or a planned and prepared college essay creation, make sure that you can make the most out of using a college essay by always remembering the guidelines and tips that we have shared with you.

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Miss USA's resignation letter accuses the organization of toxic work culture

The Miss USA who gave up her crown and title this week accused the pageant’s CEO of failing to take an incident of sexual harassment seriously and creating a toxic work environment, according to a copy of her resignation letter obtained Thursday by NBC News.

“There is a toxic work environment within the Miss USA organization that, at best, is poor management and, at worst, is bullying and harassment,” Noelia Voigt wrote in the letter. “This started soon after winning the title of Miss USA 2023.”

Voigt announced Monday on Instagram that she was relinquishing her crown, citing her mental health. Two days later, Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava, 17, announced she was also stepping down in a statement that said her “personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization.”

Fans who were shocked by the unprecedented resignations noticed that the first letter in every sentence of Voigt’s online statement spelled out “ I am silenced .”

UmaSofia Srivastava and Noelia Voigt,

In her resignation letter, Voigt said that Miss USA CEO and President Laylah Rose consistently failed to communicate and that when she did, she was “often cold and unnecessarily aggressive.”

“It’s incredibly jarring to be trying to do my job and constantly be threatened with disciplinary action, including taking away my salary, for things that were never discussed with me and, if it related to a public-facing post for example, were causing no issue other than not meeting her personal preference,” Voigt wrote.

Representatives for the Miss USA organization did not immediately respond to request for comment Thursday evening.

Rose said in a statement Wednesday that “the well-being of all individuals associated with Miss USA is my top priority.”

“All along, my personal goal as the head of this organization has been to inspire women to always create new dreams, have the courage to explore it all, and continue to preserve integrity along the way. I hold myself to these same high standards and I take these allegations seriously,” she said.

Voigt included in her letter details about an alleged incident of sexual harassment at a Christmas event in Florida. She wrote that she was left alone in a car with a man who “made several inappropriate statements to me about his desire to enter into a relationship with me.”

Voigt said that when Rose was made aware of the situation, she told Voigt, “We cannot prevent people saying things to you at public appearances, it is, unfortunately, part of the role you’re in as a public figure.” 

Rose is also accused in the letter of badmouthing Voigt to others in the organization and painting her as “uninterested” in her job.

“I have heard that comments have ranged from her describing me as difficult to work with for various untrue reasons, to weaponizing my mental health struggles brought on by my experience as Miss USA 2023, calling me ‘mentally ill’ in a derogatory way, to expressing that she hoped I would get hit in the face by a baseball at an event where I would throw out the first pitch at a baseball game,” Voigt wrote in her letter.

Despite the environment, Voigt said, she was committed to the Miss USA brand, but her mental and physical health continued to erode.

“I am now diagnosed with Anxiety and have to take two medications daily to manage the symptoms due to consistently being on edge, worrying about what Laylah will pop up with and choose to harass me about daily,” the letter said.

She wrote that she had flare-ups of a pre-existing condition that is worsened by stress and that she is experiencing “heart palpitations, full body shakes, loss of appetite, unintentional weight loss, loss of sleep, loss of hair, and more.”

Voigt cited a toxic work environment at Miss USA that she said is unsafe for future Miss Universe Organization title holders.

“Every statement you have ever put out about MUO’s morals and integrity directly contradicts what is happening within the USA organization,” the letter said.

Claudia Michelle, a former social media manager who said she submitted her resignation last week, echoed similar sentiments about Miss USA management in an interview with NBC News on Thursday.

“Leaders in women’s empowerment organizations need to be held accountable,” Michelle said. “How do you not take the mental health of the face of your brand seriously?”

Michelle said she was aware that Voigt had raised concerns over her safety and traveling alone and that she began to travel more with Miss USA in March and April.

Michelle said that Rose was inconsistent with her communication and that the organization’s management was unprofessional.

Brittany Lane is a booker for NBC News.

Doha Madani is a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News. Pronouns: she/her.

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David Wallace-Wells

Are smartphones driving our teens to depression.

A person with glasses looks into a smartphone and sees his own reflection.

By David Wallace-Wells

Opinion Writer

Here is a story. In 2007, Apple released the iPhone, initiating the smartphone revolution that would quickly transform the world. In 2010, it added a front-facing camera, helping shift the social-media landscape toward images, especially selfies. Partly as a result, in the five years that followed, the nature of childhood and especially adolescence was fundamentally changed — a “great rewiring,” in the words of the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt — such that between 2010 and 2015 mental health and well-being plummeted and suffering and despair exploded, particularly among teenage girls.

For young women, rates of hospitalization for nonfatal self-harm in the United States, which had bottomed out in 2009, started to rise again, according to data reported to the C.D.C., taking a leap beginning in 2012 and another beginning in 2016, and producing , over about a decade, an alarming 48 percent increase in such emergency room visits among American girls ages 15 to 19 and a shocking 188 percent increase among girls ages 10 to14.

Here is another story. In 2011, as part of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a new set of guidelines that recommended that teenage girls should be screened annually for depression by their primary care physicians and that same year required that insurance providers cover such screenings in full. In 2015, H.H.S. finally mandated a coding change, proposed by the World Health Organization almost two decades before, that required hospitals to record whether an injury was self-inflicted or accidental — and which seemingly overnight nearly doubled rates for self-harm across all demographic groups. Soon thereafter, the coding of suicidal ideation was also updated. The effect of these bureaucratic changes on hospitalization data presumably varied from place to place. But in one place where it has been studied systematically, New Jersey, where 90 percent of children had health coverage even before the A.C.A., researchers have found that the changes explain nearly all of the state’s apparent upward trend in suicide-related hospital visits, turning what were “essentially flat” trendlines into something that looked like a youth mental health “crisis.”

Could both of these stories be partially true? Of course: Emotional distress among teenagers may be genuinely growing while simultaneous bureaucratic and cultural changes — more focus on mental health, destigmatization, growing comfort with therapy and medication — exaggerate the underlying trends. (This is what Adriana Corredor-Waldron, a co-author of the New Jersey study, believes — that suicidal behavior is distressingly high among teenagers in the United States and that many of our conventional measures are not very reliable to assess changes in suicidal behavior over time.) But over the past several years, Americans worrying over the well-being of teenagers have heard much less about that second story, which emphasizes changes in the broader culture of mental illness, screening guidelines and treatment, than the first one, which suggests smartphones and social-media use explain a whole raft of concerns about the well-being of the country’s youth.

When the smartphone thesis first came to prominence more than six years ago, advanced by Haidt’s sometime collaborator Jean Twenge, there was a fair amount of skepticism from scientists and social scientists and other commentators: Were teenagers really suffering that much? they asked. How much in this messy world could you pin on one piece of technology anyway? But some things have changed since then, including the conventional liberal perspective on the virtues of Big Tech, and, in the past few years, as more data has rolled in and more red flags have been raised about American teenagers — about the culture of college campuses, about the political hopelessness or neuroticism or radicalism or fatalism of teenagers, about a growing political gender divide, about how often they socialize or drink or have sex — a two-part conventional wisdom has taken hold across the pundit class. First, that American teenagers are experiencing a mental health crisis; second, that it is the fault of phones.

“Smartphones and social media are destroying children’s mental health,” the Financial Times declared last spring. This spring, Haidt’s new book on the subject, The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness, debuted at the top of the New York Times best-seller list. In its review of the book, The Guardian described the smartphone as “a pocket full of poison,” and in an essay , The New Yorker accepted as a given that Gen Z was in the midst of a “mental health emergency” and that “social media is bad for young people.” “Parents could see their phone-obsessed children changing and succumbing to distress,” The Wall Street Journal reflected . “Now we know the true horror of what happened.”

But, well, do we? Over the past five years, “Is it the phones?” has become “It’s probably the phones,” particularly among an anxious older generation processing bleak-looking charts of teenage mental health on social media as they are scrolling on their own phones. But however much we may think we know about how corrosive screen time is to mental health, the data looks murkier and more ambiguous than the headlines suggest — or than our own private anxieties, as parents and smartphone addicts, seem to tell us.

What do we really know about the state of mental health among teenagers today? Suicide offers the most concrete measure of emotional distress, and rates among American teenagers ages 15 to 19 have indeed risen over the past decade or so, to about 11.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2021 from about 7.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2009. But the American suicide epidemic is not confined to teenagers. In 2022, the rate had increased roughly as much since 2000 for the country as a whole, suggesting a national story both broader and more complicated than one focused on the emotional vulnerabilities of teenagers to Instagram. And among the teenagers of other rich countries, there is essentially no sign of a similar pattern. As Max Roser of Our World in Data recently documented , suicide rates among older teenagers and young adults have held roughly steady or declined over the same time period in France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, Greece, Poland, Norway and Belgium. In Sweden there were only very small increases.

Is there a stronger distress signal in the data for young women? Yes, somewhat. According to an international analysis by The Economist, suicide rates among young women in 17 wealthy countries have grown since 2003, by about 17 percent, to a 2020 rate of 3.5 suicides per 100,000 people. The rate among young women has always been low, compared with other groups, and among the countries in the Economist data set, the rate among male teenagers, which has hardly grown at all, remains almost twice as high. Among men in their 50s, the rate is more than seven times as high.

In some countries, we see concerning signs of convergence by gender and age, with suicide rates among young women growing closer to other demographic groups. But the pattern, across countries, is quite varied. In Denmark, where smartphone penetration was the highest in the world in 2017, rates of hospitalization for self-harm among 10- to 19-year-olds fell by more than 40 percent between 2008 and 2016. In Germany, there are today barely one-quarter as many suicides among women between 15 and 20 as there were in the early 1980s, and the number has been remarkably flat for more than two decades. In the United States, suicide rates for young men are still three and a half times as high as for young women, the recent increases have been larger in absolute terms among young men than among young women, and suicide rates for all teenagers have been gradually declining since 2018. In 2022, the latest year for which C.D.C. data is available, suicide declined by 18 percent for Americans ages 10 to 14 and 9 percent for those ages 15 to 24.

None of this is to say that everything is fine — that the kids are perfectly all right, that there is no sign at all of worsening mental health among teenagers, or that there isn’t something significant and even potentially damaging about smartphone use and social media. Phones have changed us, and are still changing us, as anyone using one or observing the world through them knows well. But are they generating an obvious mental health crisis?

The picture that emerges from the suicide data is mixed and complicated to parse. Suicide is the hardest-to-dispute measure of despair, but not the most capacious. But while rates of depression and anxiety have grown strikingly for teenagers in certain parts of the world, including the U.S., it’s tricky to disentangle those increases from growing mental-health awareness and destigmatization, and attempts to measure the phenomenon in different ways can yield very different results.

According to data Haidt uses, from the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the percent of teenage girls reporting major depressive episodes in the last year grew by about 50 percent between 2005 and 2017, for instance, during which time the share of teenage boys reporting the same grew by roughly 75 percent from a lower level. But in a biannual C.D.C. survey of teenage mental health, the share of teenagers reporting that they had been persistently sad for a period of at least two weeks in the past year grew from only 28.5 percent in 2005 to 31.5 percent in 2017. Two different surveys tracked exactly the same period, and one showed an enormous increase in depression while the other showed almost no change at all.

And if the rise of mood disorders were a straightforward effect of the smartphone, you’d expect to see it everywhere smartphones were, and, as with suicide, you don’t. In Britain, the share of young people who reported “feeling down” or experiencing depression grew from 31 percent in 2012 to 38 percent on the eve of the pandemic and to 41 percent in 2021. That is significant, though by other measures British teenagers appear, if more depressed than they were in the 2000s, not much more depressed than they were in the 1990s.

Overall, when you dig into the country-by-country data, many places seem to be registering increases in depression among teenagers, particularly among the countries of Western Europe and North America. But the trends are hard to disentangle from changes in diagnostic patterns and the medicalization of sadness, as Lucy Foulkes has argued , and the picture varies considerably from country to country. In Canada , for instance, surveys of teenagers’ well-being show a significant decline between 2015 and 2021, particularly among young women; in South Korea rates of depressive episodes among teenagers fell by 35 percent between 2006 and 2018.

Because much of our sense of teenage well-being comes from self-reported surveys, when you ask questions in different ways, the answers vary enormously. Haidt likes to cite data collected as part of an international standardized test program called PISA, which adds a few questions about loneliness at school to its sections covering progress in math, science and reading, and has found a pattern of increasing loneliness over the past decade. But according to the World Happiness Report , life satisfaction among those ages 15 to 24 around the world has been improving pretty steadily since 2013, with more significant gains among women, as the smartphone completed its global takeover, with a slight dip during the first two years of the pandemic. An international review published in 2020, examining more than 900,000 adolescents in 36 countries, showed no change in life satisfaction between 2002 and 2018.

“It doesn’t look like there’s one big uniform thing happening to people’s mental health,” said Andrew Przybylski, a professor at Oxford. “In some particular places, there are some measures moving in the wrong direction. But if I had to describe the global trend over the last decade, I would say there is no uniform trend showing a global crisis, and, where things are getting worse for teenagers, no evidence that it is the result of the spread of technology.”

If Haidt is the public face of worry about teenagers and phones, Przybylski is probably the most prominent skeptic of the thesis. Others include Amy Orben, at the University of Cambridge, who in January told The Guardian, “I think the concern about phones as a singular entity are overblown”; Chris Ferguson, at Stetson University, who is about to publish a new meta-analysis showing no relationship between smartphone use and well-being; and Candice Odgers, of the University of California, Irvine, who published a much-debated review of Haidt in Nature, in which she declared “the book’s repeated suggestion that digital technologies are rewiring our children’s brains and causing an epidemic of mental illness is not supported by science.”

Does that overstate the case? In a technical sense, I think, no: There may be some concerning changes in the underlying incidence of certain mood disorders among American teenagers over the past couple of decades, but they are hard to separate from changing methods of measuring and addressing mental health and mental illness. There isn’t great data on international trends in teenage suicide — but in those places with good reporting, the rates are generally not worsening — and the trends around anxiety, depression and well-being are ambiguous elsewhere in the world. And the association of those local increases with the rise of the smartphone, while now almost conventional wisdom among people like me, is, among specialists, very much a contested claim. Indeed, even Haidt, who has also emphasized broader changes to the culture of childhood , estimated that social media use is responsible for only about 10 percent to 15 percent of the variation in teenage well-being — which would be a significant correlation, given the complexities of adolescent life and of social science, but is also a much more measured estimate than you tend to see in headlines trumpeting the connection. And many others have arrived at much smaller estimates still.

But this all also raises the complicated question of what exactly we mean by “science,” in the context of social phenomena like these, and what standard of evidence we should be applying when asking whether something qualifies as a “crisis” or “emergency” and what we know about what may have caused it. There is a reason we rarely reduce broad social changes to monocausal explanations, whether we’re talking about the rapid decline of teenage pregnancy in the 2000s, or the spike in youth suicide in the late ’80s and early 1990s, or the rise in crime that began in the 1960s: Lives are far too complex to easily reduce to the influence of single factors, whether the factor is a recession or political conditions or, for that matter, climate breakdown.

To me, the number of places where rates of depression among teenagers are markedly on the rise is a legitimate cause for concern. But it is also worth remembering that, for instance, between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, diagnoses of American youth for bipolar disorder grew about 40-fold , and it is hard to find anyone who believes that change was a true reflection of underlying incidence. And when we find ourselves panicking over charts showing rapid increases in, say, the number of British girls who say they’re often unhappy or feel they are a failure, it’s worth keeping in mind that the charts were probably zoomed in to emphasize the spike, and the increase is only from about 5 percent of teenagers to about 10 percent in the first case, or from about 15 percent to about 20 percent in the second. It may also be the case, as Orben has emphasized , that smartphones and social media may be problematic for some teenagers without doing emotional damage to a majority of them. That’s not to say that in taking in the full scope of the problem, there is nothing there. But overall it is probably less than meets the eye.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.

Further reading (and listening):

On Jonathan Haidt’s After Babel Substack , a series of admirable responses to critics of “The Anxious Generation” and the smartphone thesis by Haidt, his lead researcher Zach Rausch, and his sometime collaborator Jean Twenge.

In Vox, Eric Levitz weighs the body of evidence for and against the thesis.

Tom Chivers and Stuart Ritchie deliver a useful overview of the evidence and its limitations on the Studies Show podcast.

Five experts review the evidence for the smartphone hypothesis in The Guardian.

A Substack survey of “diagnostic inflation” and teenage mental health.

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Illustration for being ignored when making conversation

I’m ignored when I try to chat to people. How can I improve my conversation skills?

Fruitful exchanges require input from two people. Listen carefully to what others are saying and use feelings, rather than facts, to connect

How do you do conversation? I don’t understand how it works. I can only ever communicate factual information such as “A coffee and a croissant, please.”

Other people seem to rattle on about anything and everything, constantly jumping from one topic to another, but I can never follow. If I ever feel that I have something to contribute and try to join in they simply ignore me or change the subject. If I try to initiate a conversation, for example by complimenting someone on their obviously expensive camera, they will initially respond but after about 60 seconds turn away as soon as they realise that I am “trying to make conversation ”.

On the other hand I am able to express myself very well in writing. Even more paradoxically I make a good living as a translator (in written form), translating from various European languages. Partly this is because I take a very analytical approach to language and so am able to dig deep into the meaning of what the writer is trying to convey.

I also get along very well with animals, using body language. For instance I can get dogs to follow me around, walk to heel, sit or lie down merely by using gestures.

In the past I have been able to develop long-term romantic relationships, but only after a lengthy period of situational, formal interaction (“A coffee and a croissant, please”). In other words a very extended, pre-verbal flirt phase.

But it would be nice to take my conversational skills a little bit higher. Any tips?

Quite a lot of people aren’t as skilled at conversation as they think, so you are not alone. What’s great is that you are curious and asking the question. Some people are stuck on transmit (“rambling”) and think talking about themselves is good chat. Some think interrogating the other person is the way to go. But conversation is the turning together of two people. A lot of people mistake talking for conversation.

I wouldn’t necessarily always blame yourself either; a fruitful conversation does require input from two people, not just one left doing the heavy lifting.

I went to psychotherapist and skilled conversationalist Chris Mills with whom I did a podcast on the art of listening which is a great bedrock of conversation.

Mills pondered on “the difference between small talk and delivering factual information. The fundamental for a conversation to be successful is that it has to make emotional contact and a list of facts (“croissant and coffee”) on their own won’t do that. It has to have emotional zing.”

So to layer on what you already do you could add, “the croissants look great – do you make them here?” or “this coffee hits the spot, what blend is it?” These things won’t trigger a massive conversation because baristas often have a queue to serve, but they are stepping stones and good practice points. We also have to be realistic about how far some conversations, in certain settings, can go. I think it’s entirely realistic that after 60 seconds someone will call time on talking about a camera. Even the most skilled conversationalist would struggle.

That said some people need fewer triggers. Some spill more slowly. It’s not all on you.

Being interested and curious – which you clearly are – is a great springboard for conversation; we are after all hard-wired for connection. “To have a conversation you have to be able to imagine how what you’re saying is going to land with the other person. And that takes empathy,” says Mills.

The examples you give about communications with animals and translation are interesting but in terms of exchange they are one-way streets. “Dogs,” explains Mills “are pack animals. They react to being told what to do, but it’s not a conversation.”

Observation is also a great tool for conversation: just hearing what others talk about. There’s a reason talking about the weather is a stalwart in so many countries. It’s a connection, it’s non-committal, it’s not too personal and you can test the water with the other person. If they grunt in reply then that’s on them. If they spout forth that might open the door to a bit more chat. But like I said, you have to be realistic. Some conversations will never go beyond a few exchanges. When they do, listen carefully to what people are saying and instead of facts maybe think about feelings. So if someone says, “I’m going on holiday to X” try something like “have you ever been before? Are you excited about going?”

My most successful conversation starter is a simple “How are you/what sort of day are you having?”. Good luck!

Every week, Annalisa Barbieri addresses a personal problem sent in by a reader. If you would like advice from Annalisa, please send your problem to [email protected] . Annalisa regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions .

Comments on this piece are premoderated to ensure the discussion remains on the topics raised by the article. Please be aware that there may be a short delay in comments appearing on the site.

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    Source:Many times, high school students are told not to use first person ("I," "we," "my," "us," and so forth) in their essays. As a college student, you should realize that this is a rule that can and should be broken—at the right time, of course. By now, you've probably written a personal essay, memoir, or narrative that ...

  19. How to Write a Personal Statement (Tips + Essay Examples)

    In a great personal statement, we should be able to get a sense of what fulfills, motivates, or excites the author. These can be things like humor, beauty, community, and autonomy, just to name a few. So when you read back through your essay, you should be able to detect at least 4-5 different values throughout.

  20. How to Write Your Personal Statement

    Strategy 1: Open with a concrete scene. An effective way to catch the reader's attention is to set up a scene that illustrates something about your character and interests. If you're stuck, try thinking about: A personal experience that changed your perspective. A story from your family's history.

  21. How to Write a Personal Statement

    Watch out for cliches like "making a difference," "broadening my horizons," or "the best thing that ever happened to me." 3. Stay focused. Try to avoid getting off-track or including tangents in your personal statement. Stay focused by writing a first draft and then re-reading what you've written.

  22. How to Write an Argumentative Essay

    Make a claim. Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim. Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim) Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives. The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays.

  23. College Essay

    Most universities screen their potential students during admissions. In this academic process, candidates are not only expected to send their application for ms, answer entrance examinations and show up during scheduled interviews.Upcoming college students may also be asked to write a college essay as a part of their initial requirements.. Writing a college essay is a way for students to ...

  24. 4 Law School Personal Statement Examples

    Overview: This essay was also written by a student with significant work experience prior to applying to law school. As in the other essay by a returning student (Example 1, above), it does an excellent job of explaining what the prior career entailed and how the experiences she gained in that career are what encouraged her desire to be a lawyer working in the field of family law.

  25. Miss USA's resignation letter accuses the organization of toxic work

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  26. Opinion

    In its review of the book, The Guardian described the smartphone as "a pocket full of poison," and in an essay, The New Yorker accepted as a given that Gen Z was in the midst of a "mental ...

  27. What Is Costco Next -- and Should You Use It?

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  28. Gameday: Nationals 2, RiverDogs 7 Final Score (05/10/2024)

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  30. I'm ignored when I try to chat to people. How can I improve my

    Every week, Annalisa Barbieri addresses a personal problem sent in by a reader. If you would like advice from Annalisa, please send your problem to [email protected] .