Typical Students' Mistakes In Personal Statements – Track And Fix In A Wink
A personal statement is an integral part of any grad school application. You also need to compose it for any specific research program. It is also one of the most puzzling pieces of all. This is a document that has to present your candidature and help the board understand that you match it best of all.
Many guidelines tell how to compose such pieces for the university application. You might be surprised, but plenty of such applications don’t meet the goal. The reason is simple – you must understand what to put into the personal statement, but it is much more crucial to know what not to write in that document.
Candidates often appeal to a personal statement writing service for getting professional help. However, if you don’t plan it, preferring to do it all yourself, this article is for you. It is about the many obvious and hidden mistakes in personal statements that one may make. Forewarned is forearmed, and we’ll tell you what you should avoid in that application.
What Mistakes Can Personal Statements Have – Contents, Style, and Everything Else
The main trouble with composing the required essays for the university application is that you only have one chance. You prepare the statement, polish it, submit it – and you lose control over it for good. On the other side, the board members read your application and make a conclusion about your personality and if they want to see you on board.
Though this document is not the only factor that matters, it may be the weightiest ace. The impression left by that document may determine the board’s decision. And mistakes in personal statements, be they in the contents or the writing style, may spoil the overall impression. So, let us review those issues that you should never allow in your application.
Listing the events instead of telling a story
This personal statement mistake is among the most frequent ones. Applicants tend to make a kind of CV which is not what the admission board looks for at that stage. It is a big problem because it does not give the board what they seek. This part of an application must explain why you apply and why you are the right candidate. And, which is even more essential, this piece must make the board interested.
That’s why the solution to the first mistake is making a story of your life events. The facts, emotions, and events must serve as arguments in favor of your candidature. A story is the most influential method to catch and influence the audience.
Repeating the information that is already known
Your application package contains different documents. They provide a lot of information about you. The board should scrutinize all that data to compile a comprehensive picture. Considering that the size of this document is modest, you should not waste that area. Don’t repeat things already described and explained in other docs would be unwise.
The focus of this paper is on your personality. To be more precise, it shows how you match the specific requirements. So, avoid mentioning the obvious facts. Instead, tell about those things that aren’t stated in other docs but are essential for your application. The information you submit must prove that you are a perfect candidate. You are able to cope with the studies and bring more benefits to the school.
Focusing on personal issues too much
Indeed, this paper is the appropriate place for you to explain some personal issues, such as gaps in studies, health, or else. On the other hand, it would be a mistake to spend too much time on those. Avoid long descriptions. Instead, explain any such issues very briefly, in a couple of sentences. Stress that any difficulties and obstacles you faced did not prevent you from becoming a professional. Notice how they brought you valuable experience to utilize in further studies and succeed.
Not demonstrating that your competence matches the university level standards
A grave mistake on a personal statement is diminishing your professional level. You should explore the requirements of the school or program you plan to apply to and pick your arguments according to them. The goal is to show that you already possess the knowledge, skills, and practical experience to become a successful student.
Avoid any phrases or statements that may suggest a lack of confidence. Focus on your relevant achievements proving that you are an expert already and will become even better. Show your professionalism and dedication. It does not mean overusing any specific complicated terminology, though. When you are demonstrating that you have mastered your subject at the highest level – it is a great plus.
Being too general in describing your experience
One of the most critical applicant’s temptations is telling about all your experiences. It is also among the common mistakes in personal statements that would definitely spoil your application.
There is no need to tell about the non-relevant experience. Yes, it shows that you are an all-around personality with many interests in burning themes. Also, it can make an impression of a shallow person who does not focus on the subject. The board is interested in concrete things and details of your practical experience.
Filter your experience and select the events and achievements related to this program directly. Tell about them in detail, mention the dates, numbers, and references. Focus on the practical value that you obtained. As for your other experiences, you’ll have time to talk about them in the future when you are invited on board.
Telling the origin stories that aren’t necessary
A good origin story is favored by many readers (and spectators). But is it so for the personal statement? There is no need to explain why you want to join this or that course starting from your childhood. Very often, it is a waste of time. The board can be distracted and miss the more essential data.
If you want to note what not to put in a personal statement, the childhood memories and anecdotes are those things. In some cases, they are appropriate, making your story more vivid. But, much more frequently, they only dilute the impression. Again, focus on your professionalism, already achieved success, and your ability to achieve more in the subject studies.
Exaggerating your achievement or providing untrue information
Never use any false claims in a personal statement. There can be a grain of truth in them, and you might be tempted to exaggerate some of your achievements to be seen better than you are. Don’t do this.
There is a big chance that the university reveals those false claims. The result is ruining all your career prospects for good. The school won’t trust you in other aspects either. So, don’t risk. Tell the truth about your achievements. You should describe them in detail to show that you are a decent specialist. Besides, you claim that you will become stronger under the guidance of this school’s professors. Be sincere.
Different mistakes with personal statements for college may take place in your application. Yet, they won’t kill your chances as surely as plagiarism will. Never allow any trace of plagiarism in any of the application papers.
Quite often, candidates turn to the examples of successful applications available on the Web. There is no crime in using them for reference and learning the right approach to writing. But avoid taking any fragments from there directly. You have to prepare this document yourself and make it individual and original.
By the way, if you write your example yourself, without turning to any sources, you still need to check it for plagiarism. It is possible to plagiarize unintentionally. Therefore, make sure to avoid a chance of using anyone’s statements.
Using quotes is, actually, not a horrible thing to avoid by all means. Quotes are helpful in some cases. They are adding more color and strength to your words. But it is a weapon that must be used wisely.
First, the quote must be in the appropriate context, matching your ideas. Second, it should not be one of those banal choices that most applicants appeal to. Many thousands of candidates use the same famous quotes by the same outstanding people. The result is, instead of strengthening your statement, this only annoys the admission officers.
If you are a virtuoso in writing who is willing to use some original quote that matches your statement perfectly, go ahead. But if you can do without that quote, it’s better to avoid using it.
Missing grammar mistakes
In fact, this problem should be on the top of our list. Few things are as ruining as it.
A grammar mistake in the personal statement can question your overall professionalism. Grammatically accurate writing is the fundamental requirement of all academic pieces. What if they consider that the applicant does not speak good English at all? It is unacceptable for foreigners either if they target an academic career for any subject.
A spelling mistake in a personal statement is frequently the result of an accident, a typo. Still, the requirement is the same – produce grammatically flawless content.
Don’t rely on an automated grammar checker completely. Revise the document several times precisely yourself and show it to people you trust. If needed, turn to the editing company. But don’t let any grammar or spelling issues get into your application.
Submitting the personal statement without getting feedback
After you’ve completed all the documents and polished them, collect feedback. It is excellent to consult your tutors, as they will give you a valued piece of advice. Your friends and relatives would also provide constructive feedback. Listen to it, and you may want to add something to your application or edit to make it stronger.
Don’ts of Writing Style in a Personal Statement
A distinctive feature of this piece is a less formal style allowing for more freedom, emotions, metaphor, etc. All guidelines recommend telling stories and making them vivid. But we have to research what not to write in a personal statement in regards to the stylistic means.
Don’t use clichés. Personal statement clichés are standard and banal phrases. They are diluting the reader’s attention and interest. Something like “I have been interested in this subject since childhood” is the same in thousands of such applications. Original catchy phrases and vivid, robust vocabulary are your aces. And avoid the word “passion” – it is severely overused.
Don’t try to be funny. A university application has to demonstrate that you treat it seriously. Stress your professionalism and be a decent candidate for the course. Besides, you don’t know the admission officer’s sense of humor. Even the best joke may annoy them or even abuse them. Avoid this risk.
Don’t boast. You have all the right to be proud of your achievements, but present them with dignity. Boasting often produces the impression of arrogancy and pushes people away.
Don’t make excuses. They break your strong story and make you sound like someone lacking confidence and not worthy of taking the place in this grad school. Be polite, professional, and confident.
Don’t flatter. The problem with flattery is that it never works. It has the opposite effect mostly. It is okay to appreciate the particular school’s capabilities and well-known people working in it, though. Show respect, not flattery.
As you see, mistakes in personal statements are numerous, so you have to be careful. Considering the importance of this paper in your university application, the task may become even too complicated. However, with our help, you will surely cope with it. Now you know which problems to avoid, and you will track them at once in your writing.
You can also turn to the writing service that specializes in composing such applications for students. Our company is such, so you can entrust this task to our writing professionals. You deserve to become a new student of the university of your dream, and we’ll help you get there.