Writing Personal Statements

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Writing Personal Statements

As colleges and universities diminish their reliance on LSAT and GPA numbers in the selection of students to admit, narrative submissions become more significant. The personal statement is the primary way you can make sure the people on the admissions committee are familiar with who you are -- not merely what you have accomplished. Remember that it is an essay you are preparing that should be interesting and revealing about you.

Below are some suggestions you may find useful as you prepare your personal statement. Describing one's self is never an easy endeavor. Do not become frustrated if your first draft (and you should have more than a couple) is less than satisfactory. Be sure and proofread your statement multiple times and have someone else proofread it as well. It is also a very good idea to read it aloud. After the second or third draft, set it aside for a few days and then return to it after the initial efforts.

Certainly you want a polished product: correct grammar, punctuation, diction, and spelling are vital. In addition you should present the statement in a double spaced format with sufficient margins. The length should be no more than is specified by the school's instructions. If there are no instructions you should write no more than two or three pages (at most). Specificity, accuracy and truthfulness are essential. Write no more than two pages. Put your name on each page.

Beyond these general observations you should avoid:


overuse of thesaurus

use of third person to refer to yourself

a title to your statement

conclusions regarding your abilities or potential

self aggrandizement

whining (i.e., why you got a C in literature 201)

making the statement a resume

procrastination in its preparation

gimmicks such as poetry, quotations, etc.

vague or obscure references

pretentious phrases

ostentatious vocabulary

appearing cynical

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