While the concept of the personal statement is not difficult to understand, there are steps a writer can take to improve the overall quality of his or her work. The main purpose of the personal statement is to communicate the idea of who you are as a person to whoever is chosen to read it. By following these insightful tips, you can be sure that your personal statement wows readers every time.
Use a strong introductory paragraph. This is a technique that the most popular writers of fiction use to grab their readers interests immediately. While your personal statement should in no way be fictional, you can also use this technique to grab reader interest right from the beginning.
Keep the personal statement within a reasonable length. While trying to explain just who you are and eventually hope to be, it can be easy to become somewhat longwinded, writing page after page after page. This is not a good idea. Remember, the people who will be reading your personal statement is going to be reading hundreds, if not thousands, of others just like it. It is better to keep the personal statement within two pages, maximum. Wow them with the quality of your writing, not the quantity.
Always be honest. Some writer, while caught up in the frenzy of writing the personal statement, may get the urge to either over-exaggerate their personal accomplishment or even flat out lie about them. This is a horrible mistake. Always be completely truthful in your writings, as a lie can come back to seriously haunt you.
Edit, Edit, Edit. The personal statement, as you undoubtedly are aware, is a reflection of who you are as a person. What kind of ideas about you would the reader get if your personal statement were littered with countless grammatical errors or typos? Always proofread and edit your work several times.
Hints on What Not to Do With the Personal Statement
Just as important as knowing how to write and what to include in your personal statement is the understanding of what not to include. Unfortunately, when writing the personal statement, many students make critical errors that hurt the overall impact of the writing. By following these important tips, you can be sure you don't make them yourself.
Do not use excessively flowery language. While the personal statement should be viewed as a vehicle to prove your abilities as a writer, you should not attempt to use four thousand dollar words in every sentence. Don't make it a habit to search through the thesaurus for words that are "smarter" to replace more common words that work just fine. Remember: The main purpose of writing, especially with the personal statement, is to communicate ideas to your readers. If the person reading your statement has to continually access the dictionary to understand your statement, you are not doing your job as a writer.
Do not focus on the negative. Too many writers use the personal statement as a vehicle to explain their shortcomings. This is a terrible idea, as it uses up valuable space that could be used to accentuate your positive aspects. Do not use the personal statement to explain away your bad GPA or low SAT scores. Instead, focus on what makes you a qualified individual.
Do not focus on other people too much. Many writers spend too much time describing how other people have shaped their lives. While it is okay to mention who are the most important influences in your life, do not devote too much space to these other people. Remember, the personal statement should be about you, not these other people.
Do not try to "personalize" your personal statement. Be sure to write your personal statement so that its focus is to present who you are and what you are about. Don't fall into the trap of trying to write a personal statement that is more likely to win you favour with the particular school you are applying to. Doing so will only remove the focus from you and instead put it on the school.