The Personal Statement: Style and Vision

Now that you have a personal statement in any way shape or form, your next move needs to be the one where you make it yours. Easier said than done. Maybe you’re happy with what you have. It expresses you through written word and uses the vernacular and syntax you enjoy.

Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it feels like this essay could belong to anyone. Even your best friend wouldn’t be able to match you and this personal statement together. Often, you’ll find yourself somewhere between those two extremes after your first pass through of a whole personal statement. So how can introduce yourself on paper that gives a good impression?

In my experience, there’s a ton of ways to put your personality on page so hopefully you can use some of these ideas to get your brain juice flowing and so you can produce a product you’re happy with it. Or don’t use it. It’s your statement, do what you like.

Give your PS a good once over

You’ll be reading over your statement many times during this process and each time you do it you should be reading with a critical eye. You’ll tend to find things that feel very you while other things feel bland. You’ll figure out which parts you feel you need to keep while pairing down the ideas that can go. It’s the natural process of editing and creating so don’t be afraid to move things around, take things out and add more. Having a solid sense of what you want to portray in statement will give you the best chance of your reader wanting more.

Pinpoint your adjectives

Essentially, what are the words that best describe you as a person? Confident and bold. Bright and introspective. Inquisitive and compassionate. These are just a few examples of the descriptors you should think about yourself and want to exude in your writing. Someone else should be able to pinpoint these ideas regardless of your general topic or story of your PS. You shouldn’t feel forced to add too much imagery, chances are you have a word count to adhere to. But adding descriptive words and a tone that works for you can really change the entire feel of your statement.

Emulate what you like to read

Go back and think about the kind of mediums you enjoy. Descriptive novels, engaging articles, academic papers? While you won’t be writing any of those things, there are defining qualities in different types of writing which can be transferred over to a personal statement. Without anything else, just putting those elements in is an extension of your personality because you like it. It might seem like a daunting idea but even putting that effort in will have payoff as you go (that’s what the early start was for!)

Expand and extract

It’s always in good practice when looking over your PS to find areas that feel to sparse or that may go on too long. Good explanations and accounts are important to build an experience on paper but add too much and risk losing your original intent. You can also put in personal background, which is a great way to expand and add character without taking up too much precious space.

Word it well

When someone writes an essay and injects words in attempts to sound “professional” or “sophisticated” when it’s not a regular thing for them or tries to write something to fit an expectation without experience doing that it can be obvious. The reverse, if you’re used to technical writing you should be aware of how much jargon you’re using. It’s a delicate balance and your best bet is to remember your audience and their expectations of you at your current level. Remember, the way you word something can give great insight to your opinions without you writing it point blank.

Always put a positive spin on it

This may be a bit of a challenge for those who aren’t as sunny in disputation, but it’s always important to keep your personal statement optimistic towards the future and your goals. It’s doesn’t need to be bouncy or so sugary it seems fake, but you don’t want anyone to think you can’t work your way through a situation. That’s not to say you can’t write about something sad or something that makes you so passionately rage-filled, because you should if that’s what you feel speaks about you. Do it in a way that highlights strengths and shows moments in which you learned. It’s a great way to illustrate your potential without writing it out in a list.

How does it read?

One super easy trick to know if your personal statement reads well is to read it out loud. Yes, a very daunting maneuver but when it comes to pieces of writing that need to be short and impactful they need to have an easy flow to them. If conversational is the approach you’ve chosen to take, it should sound like a conversation. Even if you decided on different style of writing, it should still flow smoothly when read aloud. Good books get made into audiobooks, just saying.

Edit until you like it

Chances are, everyone you ask to edit your PS will have changes and opinions they think will improve it. It’s great to take all of those into consideration but don’t let it consume your essay until it’s unrecognizable. Unless it’s specifically grammar or sentence structure, all content edit is up to you to pick and choose. You’re the writer! It’s your work! If you’re proud of it, keep it!

Also remember to never shit talk anyone, don’t self-deprecate, be able to answer any questions about anything in it and add elements you think are fun! Word play? Allusions? A twist? Don’t let this one piece of writing stifle your creativity!

This is your time to take control, so take it.

These are just helpful hint, if you want to use them.

Good luck writing!

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