Writing a personal statement can feel like an onerous assignment. Myriad questions swim around in your mind: How do I condense years of accomplishments into a few hundred words? How do I explain a motivation that is emotional and personal while remaining professional? How do I write something that the selection committee has not heard before?
You condense many years into a few hundred words by first coming up with a single message that your statement will explore—I call this process clarifying your main message. Among other things, your main message addresses why what you have accomplished in the past shows that you are poised for future academic and professional success. You remain professional by sharing information that paints you in a positive light and positions you as a mature individual. And you write something unique by focusing on what you, and only you, can bring to your dream school and create using the education you receive there.
Once you quiet some of the questions in your mind, you are in a position to acknowledge that the personal statement is a golden opportunity. It is a chance to speak directly with the admissions committee about why you are among the most deserving applicants. Better yet, it is a chance to show that you are exactly who the selection committee is looking for.
While a memorable personal statement cannot “make up” for deficiencies in your application, it can make a strong case for your admission, grant you a chance to interview, and win you merit scholarships. This opportunity to set yourself apart must not be squandered. Here are three tips to help you write a personal statement that makes you memorable.
- Discuss something you feel strongly about
Authenticity is one of the keys to writing a memorable personal statement. Write about something in which you truly believe or about which you are genuinely concerned. The issues that bother or motivate people deeply are ones that they tend to speak easily and convincingly about. These are also the topics people are normally able to discuss from various angles. In order to convey the passion you have for using what you gain at your dream school to a worthwhile end, focus on something dear to your heart in your personal statement.
- Begin with words that grab the reader’s attention
You cannot keep attention that you have not grabbed. However, you want the admissions officers to read your entire personal statement with rapt attention. Start strong. You don’t have to use a quote from a famous person to do so; in fact, that approach is hackneyed. Open with an original thought or philosophy. You can also use a single detail from a story you later tell in full, or write a line that is surprising. Dedicate time to nailing down an arresting opening that also sets the stage for the rest of the essay. If you can keep you reader’s attention, you can make them remember you.
- Revise your personal statement so that it flows
Think of your personal statement as an experience you are inviting someone to partake in, whereas people they know and love are inviting them to nap, eat, talk, or attend a concert. Your writing must entice them away from these familiar activities they would genuinely like to do; to do this, it must flow smoothly. Within paragraphs and between paragraphs, the transitions from sentence to sentence should be seamless.
Don’t fill your writing with words you don’t use in everyday conversation. Don’t try to be creative to the point where your essay becomes overly descriptive and performative. Your reader should not remember that they are reading. Your personal statement, therefore, should feel like relaxed but professional chitchat with you.
With these three tips you should be on your way to a stronger personal statement.
Which tactics are you using to make your personal statement stand out? Share below.