Admission, application and entrance essays: writing, editing, proofreading

Writing a Good Personal Statement Is the Key to Success

A personal statement is your chance to introduce yourself to the admissions committee and the college or university you are applying to, by showing your personality as well as intellect. You can see why it’s so important. Be sure to read the personal statement question(s) carefully so that you fully understand what it is your reader wants to know and should know about you. Well-considered responses written in a persuasive enough manner should hold the reader’s interest throughout.

Here are a few things for you to consider when writing your personal statement:

  • Remember to keep it personal. Too often students write about something they like, a hero or heroine, or a favorite sport or hobby. While some of these things can relate to your personal character, they aren’t really about you. Be sure to keep the reader interested by focusing on you. Your personal statement should always provide a clear answer to the questions, “Who are you?” and “Why are you applying to our school?” Make sure every sentence points towards answering these two questions and your personal statement will be just that – personal.
  • Be clear in your writing. There are several reasons to ensure that your writing is clear and concise, but especially in your personal statement you want to demonstrate to the admissions committee that you can communicate clearly and directly. One way of making sure that your intended message comes across perfectly clear in your statement is by having other people read it (e.g., friends, parents, or teachers). Be sure you understand the purpose of each and every word on the page, as well as whether your essay would be more concise and easier to read if you remove some words.
  • Don’t use clichés and don’t generalize. “Laughter is the best medicine,” “Live and Learn,” or “Today is the first day of the rest of my life” are all repeated and worn clichés that have almost no specific meaning. Generalizations can be even worse in that they are so abstract that they have no discernible content whatsoever, such as “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus” or “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Stay away from these entirely because they set off alarms that suggest you tend to repeat and do what others say.
  • Revision is the key to succeeding in all types of writing, and it’s no different in college personal statements. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to re-read and revise your personal statement.

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