Personal Statements: Do’s & Don’ts

Top 10 Personal Statement Do’s

1.  Only focus on one or two key themes, ideas, or experiences. The admissions committee is more focused on your ability to go into detail about how your topic affected you.

2.  Be unique. Try to avoid common topics that every other student will be writing about.

3.  Make them understand what drives you. What are you passionate about and how will a degree from their school help you live out that passion?

4.  Be yourself. Don’t try to be the student that you think they’re looking for – you will come across as being unnatural in your writing.

5.  Be creative with your opening. You want to get the reader’s attention.

6.  Focus on the positives. Even if you decide to write about a hardship that you overcame, try to put a positive spin on it.

7.  Evaluate your experiences in depth, rather than just explaining them.

8.  Proofread, proofread, and proofread. Did I say proofread?

9.  Use appropriate fonts, spacing and margins. You want to make sure your personal statement looks professional.

10.  Have someone else review it before you submit it. It is likely that they’ll be able to catch errors that you may have missed.

Top 10 Personal Statement Don’ts

1.  Don’t repeat yourself. If the information that you’re providing can be found somewhere else in your application, then don’t include it again.

2.  Don’t complain about the circumstances in your life. You will not get accepted solely based on pity.

3.  Don’t become a politician. You can express your opinion, but don’t come across as too extreme.

4.  Don’t discuss money as your motivator for applying to college.

5.  Don’t discuss your minority status or disadvantaged background, unless you have a compelling story attached to it.

6.  Don’t talk about the school’s ranking, they know where they stand.

7.  Don’t use boring introductions or conclusions. Avoid starting off with…My name is…OR…In conclusion…

8.  Don’t use borders or other non professional formats. This could distract your reader.

9.  Don’t include additional information that the school did not ask for.

10.  Don’t get the name of the school wrong. This will likely get your application thrown in the trash.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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