Personal statements, or admissions essays, are definitely one of the hardest parts of the admissions process, a process that is already stressful to begin with. Now that the application cycle is just beginning (everybody say, “AHH!”), I’ve provided some tips that will help you write your personal statement, and make it better and more effective.
Your essay, first and foremost, should be about yourself and your experiences. It’s about you– that’s it. Through your essay, you are given an opportunity to showcase the part of you that is not captured by your application itself. So, to begin, start thinking: how would you portray yourself to admissions counselor? What would you want them to know about you, that they wouldn’t otherwise know from your application?
Keep it simple.
Even the greatest, most venerable topics– such as, volunteering medical services to war-torn areas or aiding in critically endangered species conservation— can lose their compelling and convincing nature when written about in a convoluted, unclear fashion.
Writing simply and clearly will allow your reader to fully grasp your topic and be drawn in by what you’re saying. Bogging them down with too many details will not only confuse your reader but also lose their interest, which is the last thing you want to do– especially if your reader happens to be an admissions officer. Admissions committees go through thousands upon thousands of essays each application cycle; flowery, over-the-top prose, run-on sentences and confusing structure, will NOT resonate with them, and you’ll risk being lost in the din.
By honesty, I am not referring to simply the truth or even truthiness. This particular brand of honesty I’m referring to is naturalness– without pretense, hang-ups, or ‘airs’.
Admissions counselors look for confident, mature, and well-adjusted applicants who show promise. They want applicants who not only are mature now, but who will continue to mature and evolve in the future, through their institution and afterwards. Writing pretentiously actually shows the opposite of what admissions officers are looking for– that you may be unrealistic with your goals or insecure about your actual ability, or, at the very worst, immature and therefore not ready for higher education.
“So, what now?”
Keeping things simple and being honest can exist concurrently, with each point actually lends to the other. By being honest with yourself, you can avoid hyperbolic, overly-dramatic prose and, in turn, keep your writing clear and simple. By writing clearly, it will help you keep yourself in check and maintain your honesty and authenticity. With this, you will show the admissions committee that you are genuine, confident, have well-rounded experience and maturity, and, equally as important, write well.