Personal Statements For College And Career: Are You The World's Best Kept Secret?
Have we met?
You’re the kind of person who shows up, does great work, and is there for your friends. You don’t like a lot of attention focused on you, whether it’s positive or negative (and it’s rarely negative).
In a word? You’re humble.
And there’s a good chance you’re the world’s best kept secret. In a selfie-driven culture, it’s refreshing to meet students who carve their own paths, and don’t seek the limelight.
But – going forward in college and career, you’ll need to get comfortable promoting who you are, and where you plan to go. Whether you’re writing personal statements for college applications, internships or scholarships, it’s time to practice the art of persuasive communication.
It’s About Demonstrating (Not Bragging)
Too often, students hold back in their writing because they don’t want to brag. It’s a classic Catch-22 situation.
In a personal statement, you need to communicate what makes you wonderful without boasting about how wonderful you are.
The good news is that you can write compelling essays without bragging. First, you have to really own your experiences. After all, they matter to you. Think about why they matter. Then, as you write, demonstrate why you’re passionate about them by providing context and details.
Try this – imagine sharing good news with a friend. Maybe you struggled in a class, but with hard work and a clear plan, you aced it. If you only shared the grade, your friend would have no way of understanding the depth of your success. When you provide context, such as the steps you took to get there, the information takes on a whole new meaning.
See the difference? You’re not bragging – you’re creating a connection. It’s the same goal with personal statements. College admission officers and hiring managers can only learn so much from your stats, such as a resume or academic record. And unlike your friend, they're just beginning to learn about you.
Your job is to make it easy for them to get to know you as a person.
Think about the mini-stories that capture the essence of who you are. Talk them out. Write them down. Learn them by heart. Then access them for college, internship and scholarship applications and interviews.
I know, I know. You’ve got a million reasons why this just isn’t you. Duly noted. But still: your job is to make it easy for them to get to know you as a person.
It’s like a game of Hide and Seek: Come out, come out, wherever you are. Time to stop being the world’s best kept secret!