Most important things in a PS?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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Mr.Binks
Posts: 574
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:49 pm

Most important things in a PS?

Postby Mr.Binks » Thu Dec 22, 2011 6:36 pm

Evening mates,

I have revised my PS entirely about a dozen times and I am now suffering from severe writer's block. I've led a very uneventful life and have not really been a big enough contributor to philanthropic activities to write about those. I also have not headed any organizations on campus or anything of the sort.

I know there are many of you out there like me. So my question is: Given my more-or-less typical life, what would you guys say are the most important things to have in a personal statement? (e.g., persuasion, story-telling, etc)....

Thanks all!

CanadianWolf
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Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Most important things in a PS?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:32 pm

Writing in a manner that shows clarity of thought.

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3v3ryth1ng
Posts: 295
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:48 pm

Re: Most important things in a PS?

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:38 pm

Mr.Binks wrote:Evening mates,

I have revised my PS entirely about a dozen times and I am now suffering from severe writer's block. I've led a very uneventful life and have not really been a big enough contributor to philanthropic activities to write about those. I also have not headed any organizations on campus or anything of the sort.

I know there are many of you out there like me. So my question is: Given my more-or-less typical life, what would you guys say are the most important things to have in a personal statement? (e.g., persuasion, story-telling, etc)....

Thanks all!


Mr. Binks, I think that your PS is pretty much your one chance to demonstrate who you are. As I'm sure you know, almost all of the rest is just numbers. You want to stand out (in a good way of course), and if the school is a reach, the need is that much greater.

I think a lot of people on here never had their PS come into play because their numbers were sufficient. To be honest, a lot of the writing I've seen on here has been *whispers* downright boring, and just uncomment-worthy enough not to get the applicant denied. Even many people with 170+ numbers probably don't have their writing put to a serious grindstone if they're "autoadmits."

The big idea behind good writing is that ANYTHING is interesting. Your challenge is to choose something that really conveys who you are. It can be a small event, as long as it's a microcosm of you.

For example, if you say "I'm a gentleman," that's not nearly as convincing as saying "I brought her flowers on our first date." Of course, if you wanted to go deeper, you could say what designer shade of red the flowers were, or how fresh they were. Sensory details, if you don't overdo them, can make you sound very intelligent, and they're easy to cut if you need to edit down.

Also, sometimes the way you write subtly communicates desirable qualities in an applicant. If you want to show that you're intelligent, drop a few nuanced words where the general version otherwise suffices (do this regardless of what anyone tells you). If you want to show that you're deliberate, meaning you weigh options before deciding, narrate that thought process using a decision you've made.

Let me just stress that no matter who you are, there will always be someone with a longer resume and more experience to speak of. The adcomms have likely heard it all, and the stories themselves amount to "cool story bro." They way in which you tell any particular story is 100X more important, because, after all, the point of a PS is to show who you are, not say what you've done (the resume is for that).

-an important decision you've made
-a particular relationship you've had
-something you saw that caused you to reflect
-an interesting/shocking idea

You could write about your experience collecting Poke-mon cards, and if you did it right, if it conveyed that coveted "A-type" personality, or something else the adcomms liked, it will help you.

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cinephile
Posts: 3469
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:50 pm

Re: Most important things in a PS?

Postby cinephile » Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:53 pm

3v3ryth1ng wrote:
Mr.Binks wrote:Evening mates,


For example, if you say "I'm a gentleman," that's not nearly as convincing as saying "I brought her flowers on our first date." Of course, if you wanted to go deeper, you could say what designer shade of red the flowers were, or how fresh they were. Sensory details, if you don't overdo them, can make you sound very intelligent, and they're easy to cut if you need to edit down.



Just for the record, that example doesn't show you're a gentleman. It shows that you're a cliche. Not saying that's a bad thing. But yes, the idea of show don't tell is good advice.

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3v3ryth1ng
Posts: 295
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 10:48 pm

Re: Most important things in a PS?

Postby 3v3ryth1ng » Thu Dec 22, 2011 11:48 pm

cinephile wrote:
3v3ryth1ng wrote:
Mr.Binks wrote:Evening mates,


For example, if you say "I'm a gentleman," that's not nearly as convincing as saying "I brought her flowers on our first date." Of course, if you wanted to go deeper, you could say what designer shade of red the flowers were, or how fresh they were. Sensory details, if you don't overdo them, can make you sound very intelligent, and they're easy to cut if you need to edit down.



Just for the record, that example doesn't show you're a gentleman. It shows that you're a cliche. Not saying that's a bad thing. But yes, the idea of show don't tell is good advice.


That reminds me OP: make sure you don't miss the point^ of the essay, which is to show who you are.
(Did I already say that? Maybe I did).

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Elston Gunn
Posts: 3444
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Re: Most important things in a PS?

Postby Elston Gunn » Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:04 am

3v3ryth1ng wrote:
cinephile wrote:
3v3ryth1ng wrote:
Mr.Binks wrote:Evening mates,


For example, if you say "I'm a gentleman," that's not nearly as convincing as saying "I brought her flowers on our first date." Of course, if you wanted to go deeper, you could say what designer shade of red the flowers were, or how fresh they were. Sensory details, if you don't overdo them, can make you sound very intelligent, and they're easy to cut if you need to edit down.



Just for the record, that example doesn't show you're a gentleman. It shows that you're a cliche. Not saying that's a bad thing. But yes, the idea of show don't tell is good advice.


That reminds me OP: make sure you don't miss the point^ of the essay, which is to show who you are.
(Did I already say that? Maybe I did).


I laughed.

User avatar
Mr.Binks
Posts: 574
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:49 pm

Re: Most important things in a PS?

Postby Mr.Binks » Fri Dec 23, 2011 2:37 pm

3v3ryth1ng wrote:
Mr.Binks wrote:Evening mates,

I have revised my PS entirely about a dozen times and I am now suffering from severe writer's block. I've led a very uneventful life and have not really been a big enough contributor to philanthropic activities to write about those. I also have not headed any organizations on campus or anything of the sort.

I know there are many of you out there like me. So my question is: Given my more-or-less typical life, what would you guys say are the most important things to have in a personal statement? (e.g., persuasion, story-telling, etc)....

Thanks all!


Mr. Binks, I think that your PS is pretty much your one chance to demonstrate who you are. As I'm sure you know, almost all of the rest is just numbers. You want to stand out (in a good way of course), and if the school is a reach, the need is that much greater.

I think a lot of people on here never had their PS come into play because their numbers were sufficient. To be honest, a lot of the writing I've seen on here has been *whispers* downright boring, and just uncomment-worthy enough not to get the applicant denied. Even many people with 170+ numbers probably don't have their writing put to a serious grindstone if they're "autoadmits."

The big idea behind good writing is that ANYTHING is interesting. Your challenge is to choose something that really conveys who you are. It can be a small event, as long as it's a microcosm of you.

For example, if you say "I'm a gentleman," that's not nearly as convincing as saying "I brought her flowers on our first date." Of course, if you wanted to go deeper, you could say what designer shade of red the flowers were, or how fresh they were. Sensory details, if you don't overdo them, can make you sound very intelligent, and they're easy to cut if you need to edit down.

Also, sometimes the way you write subtly communicates desirable qualities in an applicant. If you want to show that you're intelligent, drop a few nuanced words where the general version otherwise suffices (do this regardless of what anyone tells you). If you want to show that you're deliberate, meaning you weigh options before deciding, narrate that thought process using a decision you've made.

Let me just stress that no matter who you are, there will always be someone with a longer resume and more experience to speak of. The adcomms have likely heard it all, and the stories themselves amount to "cool story bro." They way in which you tell any particular story is 100X more important, because, after all, the point of a PS is to show who you are, not say what you've done (the resume is for that).

-an important decision you've made
-a particular relationship you've had
-something you saw that caused you to reflect
-an interesting/shocking idea

You could write about your experience collecting Poke-mon cards, and if you did it right, if it conveyed that coveted "A-type" personality, or something else the adcomms liked, it will help you.


Ah, this is extraordinarily helpful. Thank you very much, mate!




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