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How Personal Is Too Personal? 6 Tips for Crafting the Perfect Personal Statement

by | Jun 6, 2013 | Writing | 0 comments


For someone who is hoping to get into their dream school, whether for undergraduate or graduate work, it’s common to spend hours in front of a blank computer screen, waiting for some personal statement inspiration to come your way. The right personal statement reflects who you are, but should also provide an interesting take on a subject. If you’re suffering from personal statement-related writers’ block, keep these points in mind:

  • Be who you are

These essays are designed to help college admissions officers get an accurate feel for different applicants. Therefore, personality is a must. A personal statement is different from an assignment for history class or a business presentation for a client. It should give plenty of insight into what the author is all about, while still bringing up interesting points about a topic.

Schools encourage students to craft their personal statement around experiences that have shaped their life, interesting places that they’ve visited, or books that have significant meaning to them. Much like a first date, a personal statement should be an honest reflection of that individual. Don’t assume that you know what the officers are looking for and then try to write around this idea. Use your natural voice in order to stand out.

  • Don’t get too personal

Some applicants feel that they have to make their personal statement into a sob story so that college admissions officers will see that they’ve overcome hardship and will want to grant them admission. Unfortunately, it is possible to get too personal in the writing process. If you’ve truly experienced a difficulty in life that has shaped you into the person you are today, include it, but don’t overwhelm the reader with details. This is especially true if the issue involves family troubles or other similar concerns. It’s also important to avoid creating drama for the purpose of attracting sympathy. If you haven’t overcome a major trauma or illness, that’s okay. You can still write a compelling essay without going on and on about how scarred you were when your hamster died when you were six.

  • Stand out

College admissions officers receive thousands of essays each year from people who are equally as qualified as you. Your personal statement is the perfect chance to make yourself stand out from these other candidates. Show them what makes you unique, and discuss what you can bring to their school that no one else can.

  • Connect yourself to the school

Much like you wouldn’t send out a generic cover letter for a job or internship application, you shouldn’t offer up a blanket personal statement for every school that you apply for. Instead, tailor the essay to touch on specific traits that are unique to that institution.  Show that you understand the culture and the mission of the school that you are applying for.  It will make your statement unique and show the admissions committee that you did your homework.

  • Follow directions

You’d be surprised how many applicants disregard the directions as they write. Keep word limitations in mind, and make sure you fully answer any questions that are posed to you. Admissions officers are likely to toss out a personal statement that does not take these specifications into account.  You need to show the admissions committee that you can follow directions.

  • Be creative

Some students feel so much pressure to create the perfect personal statement that they end up writing a very dry piece. Remember that admissions officers are people too, and they want to be entertained. Think of the assignment as an opportunity to tell a story, with you featured as the main character.

Getting creative is the best way to make your personal statement stand out from the crowd. Tell a story, show your personality, and use your own voice to make the piece pop.

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