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Our Admissions Coach will engage with you to produce fantastic personal statements and admiisions essays.

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Personal Statements & Admissions Essays

You found the school that's right for you. You're a perfect candidate. But there's a lot riding on that personal statement! What do you want to say? What do they want to hear? How should you present your message?

In a way, it's not fair — your expertise is about medicine, or programming, or business, or art... You're not a writer! It's not fair that the admissions essays are all about writing!

And yet, in the end, it is fair... The people reviewing admissions essays don't just care if you are an expert or a genius. They are looking for a leader — they are looking to see if you recognize the connection between your experience and your aspirations, and whether you are able to convey the power of your perspectives.

And it's worth doing this right; even beyond just producing these essays, good writing is empowering. The process of writing helps you explore ideas in an organized, robust manner. In fact, writing is so helpful that the systematic exploration of ideas in writing will likely become an integral part of your analytical process!

Also beyond just writing essays, a final benefit of writing your personal statements is that the skill of bringing together anecdotes, distilling experience, and drawing lessons learned is not just about gaining admission to grad school. It is about telling your story — something you will be called upon to do time and time again, in writing and in person. It's a valuable skill to develop for its own sake.

So, where to begin?

1. What's Your Prompt?

While it may seem obvious, it is often overlooked. The prompts you are given for your personal statements are sometimes rambling — details can get lost! But even the most powerful personal statement will fail if it doesn't comply with the requirements. The best way to keep the prompt in mind is to copy it into the top of your essay, and highlight the specific details it asks for.

2. Consider Your Audience

It's easy to just do a "brain-dump" to express everything you know about a subject. But that is not good writing. Instead, think for a minute about who will be reading your essay — likely a professor with significant knowledge of the program you are applying to, someone who might not be knowledgeable about various areas of your experience, someone who is professional, and who is seeking candidates with whom to work. Your job, as a writer is not simply to talk to your audience — your job is to engage, seduce, and delight it! Reflect on your audience from time to time — this will help you choose and express points in a meaningful and relevant way.

3. Brainstorm

List various anecdotes and perspectives you might want to describe. Note key aspects and insights. Consider whether there are "themes" you can develop or a "progression" you can describe. Don't worry about word limits or appropriateness at this point. Let the ideas flow.

4. Streamline & Distill Ideas

Organize your ideas, and develop an articulation of their meaning — their implications, lessons learned, or how they shaped your perspective. Think back about your audience and the nature of the program you are applying to. What narrative themes are likely to be most compelling? Don't be afraid to delete ideas that don't serve your purpose. And don't be exhaustive — you can surely say a great deal about every aspect of your experience, but keep it focused. Your aim is to make your point in a clear, continuous, and concise manner.

5. Save Drafts

A good piece of writing evolves. You will add, delete, re-phrase, and move content, you will develop different perspectives. This is documentation of your thinking process! But even though you'll want to explore many angles, not all will be successful. Save various drafts as you work, so that you can always go back to recover language that may have been edited out.

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