Advice on how to write a personal statement that will make your application stand out!
Personal statements are one part of college applications where you really have the opportunity to stand out to admissions officers, so it’s crucial that you take the chance to show who you truly are. Contrary to academic essays, the topic choices and writing styles have a broad swath of options, so it’s important to think about how you want to portray yourself. Remember, admissions officers are looking to discover how you will fit into the culture at their school and what you will bring to the college community.
1. Be positive
The personal statement is when some people write about hardships they have overcome or goals they have for the future. Doing so is excellent insight for the admissions office as to why you will succeed and what you want from a college, but this is also an area where it can be easy to slide into a pessimistic tone. Don’t complain about experiences you’ve been through or the obstacles to your goal. Instead, take a positive tone – discuss what you’ve learned from your past and how it helped you grow, or how the obstacles you face will ultimately make you stronger. An optimistic point of view shows the admissions officer that you learn, grow, and work hard to succeed, turning hardships into opportunities.
2. Be specific
When you write about why you want to go to a specific college, don’t vaguely mention that they have a highly rated political science program. Discuss a course you’re excited to take, a renowned professor you are interested in learning from, or a specific internship that’s offered. If you are interested in attending a college due to the campus culture, discuss exactly how you are interested in the Greek system and the community service work of the specific fraternity, or how the university hosts Fish Fry Fridays to encourage students to mingle. If you speak generally, an admissions officer may not feel as if their school specifically is your dream, as much as any school providing this general feature. By being more specific and tailoring the statement to each school, you can show exactly how attending college at this university will benefit you in the future, compared to a different university that doesn’t offer Fish Fry Fridays!
3. Check your grammar
Don’t be the person who submits a personal statement riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes. Doing so only tells the admissions officer that you didn’t care enough to spend more than the minimum amount of time on applying to their school. Write your statement, then run it through a spellcheck program, have family and friends edit it, and have your GoingIvy advisor read it to ensure that every mistake has been caught, your points are clear, and the statement answers the prompt properly, showing your commitment to attending that school.
4. Do your research
Don’t discuss your dreams of joining the school acapella club without being sure that the university has one. It’s easy to hear something about one college and later incorrectly assume it was about a different university, so before hitting the “submit” button, double-check that you are submitting a statement appropriate for the university. Talking about something the college doesn’t offer can appear as though you are applying to every potential school, rather than focusing on applying to ones at which you will thrive.
5. Explain yourself
Don’t just write what you think will convince the admissions office to accept you. It’s important to be honest and dig deep during personal statements in order to come across as genuine. You’re better served discussing your deep and abiding passion for butterfly collecting than making up an interest in learning ancient Sumerian, even if you know the admissions officer is interested in dead languages. The personal statement is also a great opportunity to explain any parts of your application that you feel reflect negatively on you. For instance, if you have a poor grade in a class, you can explain what happened and measures you’ve taken to improve.