One of things admissions committee members tell us again and again is that they wish – really, truly wish – that applicants would not try to write what they imagine the adcom wants to hear, and instead would just be themselves. Admissions committee members time and time again say they wish applicants would answer their questions, if they are asking a specific question, and in all cases reveal what they really want admissions committee readers to know about them.
Be yourself. Be authentic. Stand out. It sounds simple, but when you’re facing a blank screen…well, not so easy, right? It’s not you – a personal statement is a challenging essay to write!
How can you be yourself in your admissions essay? How can you let your authentic voice shine through, so that the person reading your essay feels they’ve met you – and want to get to know you better?
1. Write About the Right Experiences
One tip has to do with what you write about: choose experiences that mean something to you. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t, just because you think it will impress the adcom. Everyone has a unique set of experiences and perspectives – embrace them, and you’ll stand out.
And when you tell your story, also say why it’s significant. What was the impact on others? The “other” can be an individual, a team, a group, an employer, or your company. And why is it important to you and your development? How will it add to the readers’ understanding of you as an individual, a potential member of their community, and a future professional and alum?
2. Be Truthful
Another tip: don’t exaggerate or falsify anything in your profile. That’s automatically not being yourself! And it’s a ticket to the “rejection” pile.
3. Find an Authentic Voice
Don’t change your voice for the sake of the essay. Some people worry about their word choice – they want to use sophisticated vocabulary to dazzle the adcom. Here’s the thing: it’s best to write like a human being. If you don’t know those words and wouldn’t normally use them, skip them. Don’t sound stilted – let your voice through. Along related lines: if you’re not naturally a funny person, it’s probably not the best time to try to crack jokes.
Your unique experiences, perspective, and goals will help you stand out in a crowded field, as long as you convey what is special about you. And then you will be You.
One way to get a sense of how effectively your essay is introducing you is to ask someone else to read it. We’ve read thousands of application essays and successfully coached people like you to success. We have the extensive admissions experience to know which parts of your profile make you stand out – and how you can present yourself so that you seem like a real person. We can give you a professional evaluation of your essay, and specific advice on how to strengthen it before you apply.
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