A personal application essay is supposed, however unpleasant it may seem, to sell you to the members of admissions committee. Just like travelling salesman advertises his or her merchandise in order to make a potential customer interested in it without being repelled by too blatant praise, so you as well are supposed to do, with yourself in the place of merchandise.
Be careful when writing it; it may be one of the most important pieces of writing you do in your life.
Your personal essay should give direct and specific answer to the following questions:
- Why should the committee select you for the program you apply to?
- What makes you not only the best in some field, but unique?
- Why are you interested in this field of knowledge and why have you chosen this particular program?
- How do you imagine your future career?
- Are there any doubtful moments in your academic record? If yes, how can you explain them?
- What personal traits and features you have that make you the best candidate for the program?
Remember that there are possibly dozens and hundreds of other applicants and only a small percentage of them will make it to the admission.
If you simply write how good you are, how perfect your academic record is and so on, you are in danger of being boring; what the committee wants to see is a person with active position in life, ambitious, natural winner and, above all, original. Do be original, just make sure you are not overdoing it – originality for its own sake won’t do you any good. Some useful tips:
- Beware the clichés.
- Don’t go into extremes (too original, too humoristic, too emotional).
- Don’t go out of your way to make amends for your past mistakes. Just make it clear that they were the points where you understood why it was wrong and you are not going to do it again.
- Don’t be too general: ambiguity implies that you have nothing to say.
- Avoid using negations, speak positively.
- Don’t lie and exaggerate – however profitable it may seem, the committee will most likely feel where you have adorned reality.
- Don’t describe yourself as an ideal person; mention your shortcomings, but don’t concentrate on them; just enough to say that you are a human being.
As you may see, we haven’t given you a plan of typical personal essay – there is no such thing. Personal essay should be personal – and we hope that these tips will help you!