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Get Them to Say "Yes"

Candidates will have the opportunity to explain their qualifications to admission officials in their personal statement, an essay written by students explaining to colleges why they should be admitted.

Students should come off as original in their personal statements. Admission committees do not want to hear vague stories about making a difference in the world. Students need to be unique to catch the attention of the admission committee.

The best strategy is to tell an original story about yourself that demonstrates why you are unique and a good fit for the school. This story should help the admission committee get to know who you are and why you want to attend their school.

Making the grade. As mentioned, admission committees are impressed when they review transcripts of students who have taken AP and difficult courses during high school. Students who have excelled in difficult courses will impress admission committees.

However, students should not take too many AP courses, especially if they do not have enough time to adequately study for each class.

Express yourself. In your personal statement, it is not necessary to describe a dramatic event. For example, committees do not necessarily want to read about your humanitarian trip to El Salvador. You can tell a story about a common, every day event that significantly impacted you or changed your perspective on an issue.

Admission committees are looking for unique essays that demonstrate a student has critical thinking and analysis skills. Again, the story does not have to be exciting or dramatic. Use this opportunity to show the committee who you are and what makes you unique.

Your essay needs to be written in your voice. This means that it is unique to you and not written by a parent or friend. Avoid complicated language or big words that distract from you voice. Moreover, do not embellish your essay. You will not impress any committee if you make up stories in an attempt to impress them. Never plagiarize an essay written by someone else and avoid being too casual in your writing by using inappropriate language or poor grammar and syntax.

When drawing a conclusion in your personal statement, make sure it is redeeming. This means you would discuss what you learned or why you changed instead of justifying bad behavior or blaming someone else for your weaknesses.

Show a little love. Take time to personalize each letter sent to schools you are applying to. This does not mean you have to write a separate letter to each school, but take some time to explain why you have interest in each school. For example, you may want to discuss a particular program or area of research a school specializes in that interest you.

Find your fans. Some schools require students to include letters of recommendation with their application. Select teachers or administrators from your high school that had a chance to get to know you. Letters from these individuals usually stand out. It is also helpful to find letter of recommendation writers long before application deadlines, so they have enough time to prepare good letters for you.

Depth beats breadth. It might not necessarily be to your benefit to be involved in numerous extracurricular activities. Some admission committees might see this as an attempt to impress them. It will be to your benefit to select a few activities where you excel.

The interview. Certain schools schedule interviews with potential applicants. If you are really interested in attending the school, it is a good idea to attend the interview. Before the interview, take some time to prepare with friends or your parents. You might want to practice discussing your personal and academic strengths and why you are interested in the particular school. This will help you feel at ease during your actual interview.

Full disclosure. If you have a blemish on your academic record, or were involved with a school disciplinary or legal action, it is best to disclose this to the admission committee. This would usually come in the form of an addendum in your application materials. In this addendum you would explain the factors that led to the problem. However, use discretion when making excuses. You would not want to use lack of motivation as an excuse. However, you could explain what actions you took to correct a mistake and why it will not happen again in the future.

My mistake... Since most students social network on the internet, some admission committee members will take time to review what they have posted on the internet. Before submitting your application, review everything you have posted on the internet. If it is inappropriate or makes you look bad to an admissions committee, remove it.

A word of advice. Some schools ask parents to submit letters of recommendation for their children. This can be difficult for parents since there are many aspects they may want to highlight about their child. It is best to list a few specific qualities and provide examples to illustrate them. You could also discuss how your child overcame a weakness.

However, do not be overenthusiastic. All parents like to talk about their children's achievements and abilities, but it will not impress admission committees if you overdo it.

How To Ace Your Essay

The following guidelines will help you determine what to write about in your personal statement:
  • Take some time to discuss with those closest to you your abilities and personality strengths that set you apart from others. When you are alone, spend some time evaluating your future goals.
  • Do not speak in generalities in your personal statement, instead, use specific examples.
  • Act professionally.
  • Have those closest to you review your personal statement to make sure it accurately reflects your personality.
  • Set aside enough time to prepare your personal statement. It is also a good idea to review your personal statement numerous times.
Stellar Extracurrics

  • Specific talents developed through extracurricular activities such as participation in musical groups can be just as helpful, if not more helpful, to your admission opportunities than participating in community service.
  • Discuss what specifically serves as motivation behind your goals.
  • When writing about your extracurricular activities, do not provide too many details, only provide details important to explain your involvement with particular extracurricular activities.
  • Make sure your personal statement flows.
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