There is much talk in the world of college admissions about ‘dazzling’ or (even worse) ‘wow-ing’ admissions officers in your personal statement essay. While your college personal statement is your chance to express yourself, avoiding trying to crowd it with too much flair. As a rule: if you are ‘trying’ to be interesting, you are probably going in the wrong direction. Here are some tips to keep your college personal statement from losing the reader’s interest.
1. Overuse of Adjectives
Being descriptive is excellent. Writing about the ‘snowy, dark, early morning hour’ where you had to wait at the ‘desolate, poorly-lit bus station joined by only a few other isolated souls braving the cold’ is tedious. It’s fine to state directly that it was a challenge to wake up so early, but your enthusiasm for your job, project, etc. made it worthwhile.
2. Awkward Vocabulary Choices
While it is desirable to demonstrate that your vocabulary is at the level it needs to be (SAT, GRE, etc.), you don’t need to use every word you know in your college personal statement. Instead, just write what you have to say. During the revision process, if you can substitute a synonym, then do so. Simple writing is always better than asking the admissions officers to muddle through a string of words to figure out what it is you are trying to say.
3. Irrelevant Life Events
Stories that are great at the dinner table are not necessarily the ones that are going to most useful for your college personal statement. Make sure that you are relaying not only anecdotes about your life that are exciting, but also ones that reflect your goals, skills, and quality of character that the admissions officers are seeking.
In reality, keeping your college personal statement engaging is actually not that difficult to do. Be yourself, but within the context of a relevant and polished college personal statement. This is the information that admissions officers are looking for to help them decide if you belong in their program. It is too much to ask of other people to figure you out for you, and it takes time to find the right words and phrases that will best express your purpose and potential to others. Keep the admissions officers engaged in your essay by being honest, getting to the point, and demonstrating enthusiasm.
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