When I listen to the morning news I sometimes catch Michael Josephson of the Josephson Institute and his short "Character Counts" program. This morning, he started off as follows:
Five birds are sitting on a telephone wire. Two of them decide to fly south. How many are left? Three, you say? No, it’s five. You see, deciding to fly south is not the same as doing it.
If a bird really wants to go somewhere, it’s got to point itself in the right direction, jump off the wire and flap its wings.
Good intentions are simply not enough. Our character is defined and our lives are determined not by what we want, say or think, but by what we do.
I frequently think of writing nice thank-you notes, birthday wishes and letters of praise. Unfortunately, only a sad few of these good sentiments ever make it to paper. Still, if I don’t look too closely, I can delude myself into thinking that based on my good thoughts I’m a gracious and grateful person — but a truer picture of my character is drawn by my actions.
Michael Josephson is hitting on a very important facet of admissions ( and life). People’s actions mean much more, reveal much more than their intentions. Discussing your philosophy of life, sterling character, social conscience, or noble ambitions in essays and personal statements is worthless if you can’t support these claims with actions. You might as well say you intend to start a diet and exercise plan…tomorrow. If you haven’t had one, your resolution may just sound a tad hollow.
Make sure your essays show that you have "flown south," started exercising, or acted according to the attributes you claim. Then you can balance the story with your motivations, views, and lessons learned.
If you would like your essays to demonstrate the best in your character, please consider Accepted.com’s personal statement advising and editing services.