Writing your personal statement might seem like one of the most overwhelming parts of the application process. I am not here to tell you that it is easy and that you don’t have to put a lot of hard work into it. What I am going to tell you is that it doesn’t have to be as tedious as you imagine it to be. In fact, this is one of the components of the application where you will have a lot of control, so I encourage you to have some fun with it!
You will likely hear this more than once, (whether it’s coming from a parent, guardian, or a counselor)--writing your personal statement is a time for you to write your story. Keep in mind that this does not mean we are looking for an essay with your full life story and all its details. It also doesn’t have to be on a topic that everyone already knows about you. Your topic can be an important event in your life, it can be about something meaningful to you, it can be about a person that’s made an impact in your life. All of those are important stories and we know they are important because you are choosing to write about them. But what we need to know and what your personal statement should focus on is the “why”. In other words, why did you choose to write about that topic? What does this reveal about you and how does it help us to get to know you better?
So, don’t just think about an important event in your life or don’t just think about that person that has created a major impact in your life. Focus on why you are choosing that topic first and then begin to write. When you write about the “why,” your essay will take shape. You will begin to show your story versus telling it us. There’s a lot of power in showing the reader your story and helping them understand a meaningful experience to you.
Another simple piece of advice I would like to share is to avoid clichés. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines cliché as “a trite phrase or expression” or “something that has become overly familiar or commonplace.” That definition alone should explain why you should avoid clichés! The whole purpose of your application is that you want it to be unique to you -clichés will do the opposite of that.
Finally, make sure that whatever you are writing is authentic. In other words, is the topic true to yourself and does it sound like you? Sometimes it helps having someone close to you read your essay just so they can verify that it sounds like you. Believe me, I know this is a process that is easier said than done. But everyone in the admissions committee is rooting for you. We know you have a lot to say–a lot of important things to say! And if it is important for you then it will be important for us. So, make sure it’s honest and make sure you mean it. We are excited to get to you know better!
Photo: Flickr, Dani Vasco