Personal Statement

Do These 5 Things in Your Personal Statement

Take your essay to the next level with these 5 tips.

1. Be vulnerable and honest. In your personal statement, give colleges a glimpse of who you are. Don't shy away from sharing challenges you've been through or things you're passionate about. If you spend every free moment watching anime or playing NBA 2K or watching stand-up comedy YouTube videos, find a way to share that. Reflect on why you do the things you do, and how you want to pursue your passions late.

Maybe you want to work in content development at an anime company so that more people of color are represented in anime. Or maybe you want to work in video game design, because you've always found joy in video games. Find a way to be honest and connect what you love to your future.

2. Use symbolism. The most memorable essays we've read find a way to weave a symbol throughout the essay. Maybe it's a specific smell that reminds you of home, and that brings you comfort throughout the story you tell. Or maybe it's a good luck charm that you've always kept with you. In one essay we loved, the student compared herself to her state's vegetable: corn. She compared different parts of her personality to different facts about corn.

It gives the reader something easy to grab onto and remember. That's especially important when they're reading thousands of essays.

3. Use literary techniques purposefully. In any piece of writing, you can make things stand out. Maybe you repeat a word that's important or maybe you use a super short sentence, while the rest of your essay is long sentences. Or maybe you use a hyphen or colon for emphasis.

But, whatever you do, do it with purpose and do it sparingly. It becomes mildly irritating when it's overdone, but super powerful when done well.

4. Do research on the college. See if you can sneak things into the essay that are related to the college you're applying to. But, unless the question is specifically asking you why you want to go to that college, don't be too obvious and don't focus your essay on it.

It's like flirting - don't be like, "I really want to go to USC, because I want to enroll in the video game design program, because that's what I want to do later." Be like, "Video game design is my passion, because growing up, playing video games is how I spent time with my family. In fact, the video game design program is one of the reasons I'm so excited about USC." See how one is kind of awkward, and the other feels more natural? Just be cool.

5. Be bold. Do you know how boring it gets to just read essay after essay after essay? Things start to get repetitive, so it's the weirdest ones that are sometimes the best ones. We've read an essay about struggling to pick between a McChicken and a Fish Filet that got a student into Harvard. And we've read an essay about using smelly, ginger shampoo to combat early hair loss that got a student into Princeton. And we've read an essay about corn facts that got a student into Berkeley.

Our point is that if you have an idea for a unique essay - go for it. Be weird. Be memorable. Be yourself.

Now, make sure you know the 7 things you SHOULDN'T do and the steps to writing a great personal statement.