One of the 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, but would just be themselves instead. Time and time again, admissions committee members tell us they wish applicants would answer their questions when 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? Don’t worry, it’s not you – a personal statement is a challenging essay to write!
3 ways to stand out by being yourself
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 wants to get to know you better?
- Write about the right experiences
When writing your admissions essays/personal statement, 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, explain why it’s significant, to others and to you. How did your experience affect others? The “other” can be an individual, a team, a group, an employer, or your company. How was this experience important or formative 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?
- Be truthful
Don’t exaggerate or falsify anything in your profile. That’s automatically not being yourself! And it’s a ticket to the “rejection” pile.
And this leads us to the final tip. . .
- Find an authentic voice
Don’t change your voice for the sake of the essay. Falseness is obvious, believe it or not, and it’s a big turn-off. Authenticity is your ticket to being considered seriously. 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. Along related lines: if you’re not naturally a funny person, it’s probably not the best time to try to crack jokes.
Is your essay effectively introducing YOU?
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.
Here’s a surefire way to get a sense of how effectively your essay is introducing you: ask someone else to read it. We’ve read thousands of application essays and successfully coached people like you to success. We have 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 will provide a professional evaluation of your essay and specific advice on how to strengthen it before you apply.
Why not explore our consulting services to learn more about how we can help you find your unique voice and apply successfully to your top choice program?
By Judy Gruen, former Accepted admissions consultant. Judy holds a Master’s in Journalism from Northwestern University. She is the co-author of Accepted’s first full-length book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools. Want an admissions expert help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!