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Getting Into College: The Personal Statement (page 2)

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Updated on Aug 6, 2013

. . . but don't forget heart.

Perhaps the best piece of advice to a student writing a personal statement is to write with feeling. Jennifer Schufer, Associate Director for the University of Colorado at Boulder Office of Admissions, says that one of the biggest mistakes potential students make "is not speaking from the heart, but rather the student trying to 'guess' what the university is looking for." She adds, "I review students' personal essays; I want an inner glimpse into who the student is. I want to know what type of community member they will be." Now is not the time to grab a thesaurus and toss around every six-syllable word that can be worked around the prompt. The most engaging essays sound as though they were written by real people, not churned out by robots; after all, even the best proofreading can't compensate for a lack of warmth and individuality. It is, after all, a personal statement.

Finally, draft and redraft

The first draft of a personal statement may come out riddled with clichés and rife with generic language—not to worry. This is what revision is for. Shrewd applicants will leave themselves enough time to write, walk away from their drafts, and return to them with fresh eyes and a new perspective, red pen in hand. A good personal statement may go through several edits and keep even the best of students up at night staring at that blinking cursor. But the applicants that balance heft and heart from the first draft can rest a little easier, knowing that their personal statements are the kind that will get to the top of the pile.

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