Students should tell one story in 'personal statement' 0
In your personal statement, don't worry about sounding academic. (FOTOLIA)
Writing a personal statement can feel like enduring an academic hazing to enter a fraternity of higher education, but it’s still a requirement for most law and medical school admissions. For students looking to enhance their names with a few extra letters at the end, here are a few tips to ease the pain.
Don’t worry about sounding academic. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who spoke as though they were reciting a textbook? If you have, you probably wanted to end the conversation before it began. Write with your own voice because your reader is like another guest at a party and you don’t want to be the awkward kid standing next to the punch bowl hoping someone is thirsty enough to approach you.
Tell one story. Admissions statements have word count limits. Unless you’ve only ever done one thing in your life, you won’t be able to cram everything notable about yourself into two well-written pages. Focus on telling one story and use that narrative to highlight your most important personal traits and skills.
Start strong and stay positive. Shannon Davis, Assistant Dean for Admissions at Lewis & Clark Law School, recommends taking out the first paragraph of a draft because personal statements tend to be much stronger when reread from the second paragraph. From there, make sure all of your valuable printed real estate works to build a positive image of you. Personal statements are not venues for sympathy symposiums, so avoid wasting space on your weaknesses.
Avoid clichés. Gerald Heppler, Associate Director of Admissions at Golden Gate University School of Law, remarks that it’s not possible to have always wanted to be a lawyer since this implies having had a desire to be a lawyer before knowing what a lawyer is. And yet, “I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer” is the most common first sentence he reads on personal statements. A good first step to standing out from the crowd is not to imitate the crowd.
Know your audience. Like any good conversationalist, keep your audience in mind and note their interests to keep the conversation going. Tailor your personal statement for each school by mentioning subjects of personal interest that the school is known for to improve your chances of acceptance.