A drawing of a person writing on a notepad next to the words Using Passion to Find Purpose

Using passion to find purpose: Helping students craft personal statements

Hey there, Superheroes! I’m glad to have you back for the final post of the Helping our Students be College and Career Ready Series. In case you missed the earlier posts, here’s a quick recap:

  • Part one provided resources to help students and parents with college applications and scholarships 
  • Part two explored specific programs and resources at Arizona colleges and universities.

Today, I want to talk about using passion projects to inspire students to write powerful personal statements. Read on!

What Are You Passionate About? Project

I began my career as a high school teacher in Fall of 2020, and I really struggled to connect with my students in a virtual setting. I created the What are You Passionate About? Project as a means of learning about their interests and passions. This project not only united my classroom, it also helped my students explore their passions on a deeper level. It was a huge hit! 

This project can also be used to help students find inspiration for writing their personal statements in a fun and creative way. In short, each student picks a school-appropriate topic and chooses one of the options from a choice board to present their passion project. Check out the full project description and some examples of student work

Student Resources for Writing Personal Statements

Students often struggle with figuring out how to begin their personal statements. Fortunately, various resources such as Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab can guide students through this process. This resource is filled with self-reflection prompts such as “What’s special, unique, distinctive and/or impressive about you or your life story?” as well as advice all students need to hear before beginning their personal statement journey. 

The University of Florida also provides extensive resources students can use to write powerful personal statements. This resource reveals questions that should be answered in each part of the personal statement while providing more reflective questions for students. Educators can download the Personal Statement Guide to provide to their students, too. 

Educator Resources for Writing Personal Statements

The Personal Statement Toolkit from Wharton University of Pennsylvania provides engaging lesson plans and activities to help educators guide their students in writing their personal statements. This activity prompts students to reflect on what matters when beginning their college search. Educators can also use the conversation starters at the end of the article for a whole class discussion. Check out all the educator resources Wharton University of Pennsylvania has to offer here.

As educators, we know that collaboration and support are critical for success in the classroom. You can show your support for other educators by viewing and/or purchasing any of these incredible Teaching Personal Statement resources from TeachersPayTeachers. After all, who better to create engaging lesson plans than fellow superheroes? 

Thank you for your commitment to helping our future leaders be college and career ready! 


About the author

Ashley Burkart is a Senior STEM Teacher at Bioscience High School in Phoenix. STEM research was her first passion as she holds a Masters in Biomedical Science from Midwestern University. When she isn’t teaching tomorrow’s leaders, she is either hanging out with her dogs, Raven and Bailey, or hiking the beautiful mountains of Arizona. 

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