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How to Write an Autobiography for a College Assignment
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Unlike a memoir which usually focuses on a pivotal life moment or two, an autobiography attempts to tell an entire life story. It’s easy to understand, then, why college students often consider the assignment to be such a daunting task. On the other hand, autobiographical introspection helps students consider where they have been, what they’ve already accomplished and where they might like to go in their lives.
The best way to understand how to write your own autobiography is to sample the genre. Whatever your interests, someone has likely penned an autobiography that will appeal to you. From presidents -- "An American Life: The Autobiography" by Ronald Reagan -- to professional athletes -- "My Life" by Magic Johnson -- to rock stars -- "Crazy From the Heart" by David Lee Roth -- to movie stars -- “Me: Stories of My Life” by Katharine Hepburn -- there are interesting autobiographies for most any reading taste.
Doing research on yourself may seem an odd proposition, however, the best autobiographies are well-researched and carefully planned. Just as you would not use a single source for a research paper, so you should not rely on only your own memory in the construction of your autobiography. Talk to parents, family and friends. Have them fill in pieces you don’t recall -- you certainly don’t remember your own birth -- and add to what you do. Ask for them to speak about the events you consider to be most significant, but also those they feel were important in helping you become who you are.
Raw research will give you a lot of information, much of which will likely not be included in a final paper. Using a concept map, you can pull out the life events you feel to be most significant. At a minimum, you should include the detail and circumstances of your birth, information about your hometown, early life and education and significant life events and achievements. If you have talents for which you’ve been recognized, they should be included. Also, make sure to note the people who have been an influence upon you.
While a chronological format beginning with your birth may be an easy way to organize your autobiography, don’t be afraid to start with something significant in the here-and-now and then circle back. Likewise, many good autobiography writers set up the world before their entrance into it to give the reader a sense of time and place. Create your outline in the way that is most representative of what you feel to be important and how you hope to pull your reader along the path of your life.
Like all good writing, your autobiography should have many drafts before completion. On your very first effort, consider writing in a conversational tone, much the way you speak. While you may need to tweak the content later for structure and grammar, don’t deny your natural voice. After all, the story and the way you tell it should be all about you.
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Linda Emma is a long-standing writer and editor. She is also a digital marketing professional and published author with more than 20 years experience in media and business. She works as a content manager and professional writing tutor at a private New England college. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.
Creative Titles for a Personal Narrative
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- 2 Importance of Doing an Outline Prior to Writing
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How to Write an Autobiography for a College Assignment
What Should a Narrative Essay Format Look Like?
Autobiographies, or autobiographical statements, are often required at different phases of college. An essay may be required for undergraduate admissions, as an English assignment or for acceptance to graduate school. Use this essay to make yourself stand out from your peers in some way—remember that you are the only person who has lived your life and had your unique experiences. Capitalize on the traits and events that make you different from the rest of your classmates.
Determine exactly what your professor requires based on the description of the assignment and the class in which the autobiography has been assigned. Although autobiographies are generally summations of pivotal events in one's life, the events you choose may vary depending on the course curriculum. For example, in an autobiography for English class, you might choose to discuss how language has shaped your learning; in a science class, you might discuss how elementary and high school science projects taught you how important it is not to procrastinate.
Choose a pivotal event (or series of events) that occurred in your life that you feel represents a catalyst to growth and maturity, development of a personal philosophy or a revelation. Make sure that whatever event you choose relates directly to the angle your professor has assigned.
Open the essay with a sentence that grabs the reader’s attention. Start with the unexpected; for example, if the essay is about how you thought you were a cat lover until a stray dog stole your heart and made you realize the value of friendship, open with a line like, “If you lick my face, I’ll love you forever.”
Use the opening sentence to build the essay into discussing your life through the lens of the pivotal event. Discuss your life before the event, discuss the event, discuss how the experience changed you, the lesson you learned and how your life has been in the wake of the experience.
Write the body of the essay. Keep the language active rather than passive. Make the essay as descriptive as possible, so the reader feels as if they’re experiencing the events with you, and not simply hearing you talk about them. For example, if you’re trying to explain how an event scared you, instead of saying “I felt afraid,” say something like “Chills of fear ran icy fingers up my spine.”
Bring the essay full circle to reflect on the wisdom you’ve gained and how your point of view changed from the beginning to the end of the essay.
- Keep the essay in first person. Remember that it’s about you, from your perspective, so it will need to be from the “I” point of view.
- Use simple language. Even though this a college-level assignment, it isn’t a scholarly paper. Use correct grammar and spelling (unless reciting dialogue), but remember this paper is a direct reflection of you; use words you’d normally use in everyday conversation.
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Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.
How to Start an Autobiography about Yourself: Full Guide + Autobiography Examples
You’re probably thinking: I’m no Mahatma Gandhi or Steve Jobs—what could I possibly write in my memoir? I don’t even know how to start an autobiography, let alone write the whole thing.
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But don’t worry: essay writing can be easy, and this autobiography example for students is here to show you that memoir writing can be easy and even exciting. Every person, whether famous or not, is unique and has a story worth sharing. All you need to do now is scroll down the page and enjoy this amazing sample autobiography, as well as some related practical hints.
👨🎓️ A Student Autobiography Example
📚 more autobiography samples, 😕 how to start an autobiography, 🔗 references.
An autobiography is the story of your own life . Even if you think you don’t have much to include in your memoir, you can still make it quite interesting.
Bill Gates claims that he always tries to find a lazy person to do a difficult job. Why? Because a lazy person will look for an easy way to do it! That’s why we found a lazy but smart student to write a short autobiography example, and now we’ll share the easiest ways to do it with you. Feel free to use it as an autobiography example outline .
Below is a student autobiography sample with subheadings. Remember: it doesn’t have to be exactly as shown in the examples. They’re rather to show you the right path to be moving towards. Also, if something in your writing needs fixing, don’t hesitate to use a phrase reworder .
Not sure how to make an autobiography introduction? Why not start from the very beginning? Writing about your early years is the easiest and most logical start for an autobiography.
I was born on a cold winter night, when even time seemed to stand still, in my native Bennington, Oklahoma. I do not remember much of my early childhood, but my mom said I was a very active, curious, and communicative child. I would ask dozens of questions each minute, even without waiting for the answers. I suppose this is why my parents offered me books and educational movies as early as my third birthday.
In the next part of your autobiographical essay, describe yourself in a few words. It does not necessarily need to be too creative. You can take a short learning style quiz and put the information you’ll find out into your autobiography. It will be quite a unique addition. And don’t forget to make a smooth transition from the previous part!
Fortunately, my thirst for knowledge did not come to an end when I was at school. I was passionate about history and science. This passion helped me gain a profound knowledge of these areas, and I was admitted to the college of my dreams. Today, I am a student at a law school, and I feel very happy about it.
An old saying goes, “A life with a goal is a life that is whole.” Be positive and show everyone that your life is whole.
I am certain that my degree will become my ticket to a better tomorrow. I want to become a renowned lawyer in the field of employment legislation. I study hard and devote my free time to reading scholarly reviews and watching interviews with recognized specialists in the field.
My Ups and Downs
This part aims to show that you are capable of analyzing your experiences and learning valuable lessons.
Of course, I understand that life is not just a bed of roses, and challenges and hardships are an integral element of life. Since my parents could not help me cover my college expenses in full, paying off my student loan has become an important challenge for me. I combine a part-time job and full-time study to earn my living and my education. I feel triumphant at the beginning of every month when I receive my salary and plan how I will spend my money.
In this part of your autobiographical essay, you want to establish the main lesson to take away from your story. In other words, what’s remarkable about your story?
I have come to believe that two main factors determine success. The first is a person’s determination and will to succeed. Are you ready to make sacrifices to achieve your goal, like working and studying at the same time? Are you prepared to recover after failure and proceed to your goal again? Without strong internal motivation, it is nearly impossible to become successful. Equally important is the support of people around you. Being determined to succeed does not mean alienating everyone and stepping on other people to achieve your goal. On the contrary, success is about recognizing your weaknesses and accepting support from people who genuinely want to help you. For instance, if it were not for my parents’ support of my educational endeavors, I might not be attending law school today.
Would you call this student an inspirational leader like Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King, Jr. ? In all honesty, no. He may be an interesting and nice person, but he hasn’t left such a mark on history as some other people have—at least not yet.
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But can you learn something from his story? Most definitely.
The autobiography example above is suitable for both college and high school students.
In case you still lack the inspiration to write your memoir, you can always come to our experts, who will help you structure and write your narrative. Alternatively, you can find some more interesting examples of an autobiography at Phoenix.edu and at Southwestern College website .
And in case you’re still wondering how to write an autobiography, just keep reading!
Autobiography Essay Topics
- Personal experience adopting a cat from Humane Society .
- My first travel to Dresden .
- Describe your personal leadership experience .
- Discuss your experience of resolving a problem in your neighborhood .
- How Italian culture influenced my life .
- How refraining from coffee for two weeks changed my everyday life.
- Tell how you implement the concept of life-wide learning in your life.
- Why I decided to take up wrestling and how it changed my life.
- Narrate your personal experience of a healthy lifestyle .
- My first memories of riding a bicycle .
- How the quarantine time helped me to focus and myself and grow.
- My health vision and strategy to improve health behavior.
- Discuss how a psychology course changed your vision of the world.
- How parenting style affected my childhood.
- Personal experience of working with self-initiated expatriates .
- My first day at college .
- Why I love poetry .
- Describe your experience in Shotokan Karate and your favorite technique.
- The role non-verbal communication plays in my everyday life.
- Lessons I learned from my first semester.
- My reminiscence of the tragedy on September 11th .
- Give details about a childhood experience that changed your life .
- My understanding of the concept home .
- Personal experience of mysophobia and the lessons I’ve learned.
- Represent your favorite meeting place .
- A defining event from my childhood.
- Describe your experience of relocation to another country.
- Why I started practicing art and dance movement therapy .
- The impact mindfulness practicing had on my life.
- My experience of winning the fight by losing it.
- Why people like having lunch at a restaurant : my experience.
- Describe the last conflict , its reasons, and how you resolved it.
- Tell about your dream car .
- Starting college as a major life event.
- Describe your dream home .
- My experience as a manager in an organization .
- Narrate how peculiarities of your culture influence your behavior.
- Tell about the significant event that influenced your life.
- Personal experience of challenging gender norms.
- Discuss your personal relationship with alcohol abuse .
- Represent your plans and career goals .
- Describe a high school experience that influenced your personality.
- How I managed to apply international marketing courses in daily life.
- Write about the teachers who made a difference in your life.
- Experience of working as a head nurse.
- My history of important habit development.
- Discuss the challenges in friendship you’ve experienced and how you managed to cope with them.
- Significance of music in my life.
- Describe what you are responsible for in your life.
- Give details about the most memorable holiday you had in your childhood.
What does every autobiography include? A theme. Essentially, the theme is the main “lesson” from the autobiography—the critical point that all of your life events come together to demonstrate.
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How do you go about creating a theme?
You can do it by:
- Discussing a string of events or one event in particular (or even just one day in your life)
- Introducing a role model or an authority figure
- Talking about your childhood dreams and memories
To make the task easier for you, we’ve put together a list of prompts you can use to signal your theme to the reader.
Simply complete these phrases, develop the ideas, and add specific details to your student autobiography examples and ta-da! Your A-level autobiography is ready!
A Student’s Autobiography: Starting Phrases
Use one of these phrases as the first sentence of your autobiography:
- I was born in…
- I was an active (or quiet, knowledge-loving, shy, curious, etc.) child.
- My childhood dream was…
- My earliest memory is…
- I am grateful to my parents (or teachers, friends, etc.) because…
- My role model was…
- My lifetime dream is…
- The most memorable day of my life was…
- One phrase that I will never forget is…
- If only one of my dreams could come true, I would wish for…
- My main belief in life is…
- I am driven by my desire/passion/wish to…
- The main lesson that my parents taught me was…
- The childhood hobby that most shaped my personality is…
- One event that influenced who I am today is…
- My motto in life is…
- My favorite book/movie/author is…
- When I was growing up, I always dreamed of becoming a…
- One thing I wish I knew five (or ten, twenty, etc.) years ago is that…
- My favorite childhood picture is…
Feel free to use this example of an autobiography for students and follow the simple steps described above to complete an A-level memoir with ease.
✏️ Student Autobiography FAQ
Writing an essay for a scholarship, be sure to include relevant information about yourself. Prove that you are a perfect candidate. Customize your life story in a way that showcases your strengths and positive qualities. Any other application will require a similar approach.
It’s a source of background information about the author that he or she chooses to reveal. An autobiographical essay is to include key facts about the author in chronological order. These facts usually are name, birth date, education, occupation, etc.
For a good college application, make sure to put an emphasis on the positive sides of your personal history. They should be relevant for the admission commission. Focus on academic achievements, relevant certifications, courses, etc.
Some people believe that an autobiography is one of the easiest essays to write. The author definitely knows the subject thoroughly. When writing about yourself, start with an introduction : your name, birth date, education, current position.
- What Is an Autobiography? ThoughtCo
- Beginning the Academic Essay: Harvard College Writing Center
- What Are the Differences Between an Autobiographical Narrative & a Biography? Seattle PI
- 500 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing: The New York Times
- Autobiography: Merced College
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So perfect and interesting 👏👏👏
Thank you for the kind words! Looking forward to seeing you again🙂
Thank you Very much This Really Help ME a lot 😘❤️
Glad you liked it! Thank you for your feedback!😊
Beautiful people who are you Sha life
Well explained,really helped me too draft a sample ohlf my essay on autobiography.
Thanks for the awesome feedback, Veronica!
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Thanks alot I appreciate
Glad you liked it! Thank you for your feedback!
Thanks to make me to do it.
Glad to hear that! Thank you for your feedback, Gabriel!
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Autobiography Essay Outline: Sample Autobiography Outline for College
- Author Sandra W.
Autobiography Essay Outline: Sample Autobiography Outline of College
An autobiography is simply an account of a person's life given by himself or herself and published in a book. An autobiographical essay, on the other hand, is a short account of some aspect of the writer's life.
An autobiography gives a brief description of the writer's life, such as their experiences, hobbies, interests and some memorable events.
Your life story, or autobiography, should be written in the same basic framework that any essay should have. That is, an autobiography should have the 3 basic elements of an essay: introduction, body, and a conclusion. The introduction should introduce the readers to the writer. It should also have a well-written thesis statement, which sets out the theme of the autobiography. Think about what makes your family or your experience unique and build a narrative around that.
Next, the essay should have a few body paragraphs or chapters. To complete the autobiography, you'll need a strong conclusion, all the while crafting an interesting narrative with a theme.
Below is a simple autobiography essay outline for college:
Paragraph 1 Introduction:
Just like when writing a biography of a famous person, your autobiography should contain things like where you were born, your personality, your likes and dislikes, and special events that shaped your life.
Some of the topics you might want to cover in your first paragraph include:
· Birth date, place and interesting story
· Brothers, sisters
· Why you were given your name
· Where you are from and ethnicity
· What is interesting about the region where you were born?
· How does your family history relate to the history of that region?
· Did your family come to that region for a reason?
It might be interesting to tempting to start your autobiography with something like "I was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but the best way to start your essay is how you were born, where you and how the special circumstances in your family’s life lead to your birth and how that shaped your life and experiences.
Paragraph 2 Beginning Years:
Consider your early years. Are there any interesting aspects of your life? Whether you grew up in the city or the suburbs, there must be something interesting that happened in your life.
Some things to consider when writing the story of your early life include:
· Where you grew up
· First days of school
· First memories
· First friends
· A funny memory or story
· Early holidays
Paragraph 3 elementary school years:
Write about your experiences in elementary school. Some of the things that you can write about include:
· Where you went to school
· Birthday or vacation
· Funny story
· Sports or interests
· Where you went to high school and the changes you experienced
· First day and new friends
· Cell phones
Paragraph 4 your culture:
Your culture is your way of life. This includes traditions and customs that come from your family’s values, beliefs, and way of life. Culture includes the holidays you observe, cultural practices, foods, the clothes you wear, games that you play, the languages you speak, and rituals that you and your family observe.
Write about the special moments that occurred during the events. Some of the things that you can write about include:
- Any special gifts you received
- The foods you associate with certain times of the year
- Outfits that you wear during the special evens.
Paragraph 5 future plans:
Topics to consider
Paragraph 6 conclusion:
Tie up all your experiences in a summary that restates and explains the overriding theme of your life.
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