Sunday, September 4, 2011

Personal Statement Tip #2 - Handling Weaknesses

So you have all of your application materials ready to be sent off, and you even have your first draft of your personal statement complete; however, as you reread your statement, you realize that you've glossed over a stain in your application. This stain could be a number of things:

  • Test Scores
  • Low GPA
  • Writing Sample
  • Resume/CV
  • Portfolio etc.

The list can differentiate based on level (undergrad, grad, professional etc.) or speciality (engineer, fine arts, business, medicine, social science etc.) No matter the variation, one thing is for certain--if you have a weakness in your application, the people who review it will find out about it.

WHAT NOT TO DO: Intentionally ignore the weak points in your application, by glossing over them, or dismissing them all together. 

WHAT TO DO: Use your personal statement as an opportunity to discuss not only your application's weakness(es), but how you overcame them. 

Explaining why your resume may be lacking, why you received a couple of Cs, or had several withdraws shows you're honest and accountable for those weak points. Avoidance of your weaknesses only puts up a red flag in the minds of people who read your personal statement. So just remember--don't even let their fingers touch that red flag. 

Until next time,
Happy Writing!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Personal Statement Tip #1 - Hook Your Reader

So every personal statement has a couple of things in common. An introduction is one of those things. "My name is..." is such an obvious intro that'll make your trip to the slush pile quicker than you expect. You want the admissions committee to at least remain interested beyond the 1st sentence. Here's my tip:

Start off with something the admissions committee doesn't already know about you from the rest of your application materials. Draw from a personal experience that sparked your interest in the program you're applying to.

WHAT NOT TO DO: Hi my name is Jane Doe, and I'm apply to your law program, because I love intellectual property law.

WHAT TO DO: My grandmother wanted to share her stories for children with everyone she came across. She never published her work, and the day she took me to Barnes and Noble, and found her children's book on the new release stand, I knew that was something I wanted to fight against.

Okay, okay, okay, so I pulled out the grandma card. But it got your attention, right? You felt sorry for granny, who wrote tirelessly about dragons and princesses in distress, only to find out that someone she trusted plagiarized her work. This childhood memory shows the applicants personal investment in law, passion for helping others, and ethical disposition that is truly needed to fight for justice. That's a hook that'll keep them reading on.

Until next time.

PS: Happy writing!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Personal Statements - The Maker or Breaker

So you finally decided to apply to college, or for you paper-holding folks, graduate or professional school? You have your transcripts already electronically sent off to the colleges your applying to. You finally received those three letters of recommendation you've been "e-mail stalking" your past professors and teachers about. You scored pretty decent on the SAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT etc. Your resume or curriculum vitae seems presentable. There's just one itty bitty problem. You have yet to write that one paper that could make or break your academic future. That dreadful personal statement.

Well, folks that's where I come in. I was just like you, trying to figure out what school(s) to apply to. All of my application materials were in tip-top shape, but when I got in front of my computer, to write the make or break statement, I felt like my life was over. But I saw the light, eventually.

So why listen to anything I have to say? Well for starters I taught English Composition and Creative Writing to college freshman, and worked as a writing consultant and thesis consultant to undergrad, grad, professional, and honors students as well as faculty across disciplines during my masters. I'm currently working on my PhD in Medical Anthropology and Digital Arts and Science. I know a little something something about personal statements, if I must say so myself, and stay tuned to this blog to learn tips on how to write a statement that makes all your dreams come true, or at least keeps those admission committees from tossing your application in the slush pile.

Personal Statement (PS): Happy writing!