By Jen Luu

As October comes to a close, the need to refine college applications intensifies.  It’s true you can’t change objective statistics such as GPA, test scores and class rank; however, you can still enhance your admission chances by honing one of the most dominant aspects of your holistic application: the personal statement.

  1. Understand the purpose of the personal statement.  Colleges are seeking those who embody their values.  In trying to select the upcoming class, admission officers want people who can actively engage and contribute to the diversity of their community.  They don’t necessarily want cookie-cutter perfection; they’re looking for an authentic person.
  2. Address all parts of the prompt.  English teachers always stress this.  It can be devastating to write a beautifully articulate essay but fail to meet the criteria because you misread the question.  Save yourself the regret and spend those extra seconds carefully annotating the prompt to understand what is expected.
  3. Show, not tell.  Be descriptive and specific.  Think of a single pivotal moment that encompasses your curiosity, quirks, and personality.  Why is it memorable?  How is it important and relevant to you?
  4. Be yourself.  Try to avoid overdone clichés such as writing about the death of a loved one, merely listing your achievements, or elaborating upon community service.  That isn’t to say to completely shun them, but keep the admission officers’ perspective in mind.  If you’ve lived a fairly average life, then the topic doesn’t have to monumental.  You can still find significance in commonplace occurrences, as long as you’re
  5. Have confidence.  Trust in your abilities to wield a powerful voice in your writing.  Having the right mindset can make the difference between a mediocre essay and a phenomenal one.  Convince yourself of your potential, and the admissions officers will see that too.  Good luck!

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