Think of a personal essay as an extension of the rsum. A rsum uses simple, declarative sentences and strong verbs in place of clichsas a result, it is concise, apt and focused. On the other end of the spectrum are applicants who are so afraid of slipping into clichs that they attempt to cover all of their bases by vague, uncommitted language: very, a lot, really, probably, maybe. One tactic that many students don't think of is to invigorate their personal statements through precise word choice. Clichs come easily when writing about individual goals and experiencesbut consider how many admissions committees have already read essays about an "experience of a lifetime" or about students who have "learned the hard way". It is, after all, a personal statement. Finally, draft and redraft, the first draft of a personal statement may come out riddled with clichs and rife with generic languagenot to worry. The most engaging essays sound as though they were written by real people, not churned out by robots; after all, even the best proofreading can't compensate for a lack of warmth and individuality.
The candidate who writes that he "had a really interesting life-changing experience as a missionary in Africa" is not going to get as much attention as the candidate who "confronted his faith in the face of racial inequality and poverty while serving in Kenya." Avoid stale figures of speech and (where possible) all forms of "to be"is, was, were, d.
This is what revision is for. Shrewd applicants will leave themselves enough time to write, walk away from their drafts, and return to them with fresh eyes and a new perspective, red pen in hand. It's the one subject most students understand better than any other in the worldand the one subject they find most challenging to write on: the college admissions personal statement. With college applications at an all-time high, competition is keen and a personal statement can determine a candidate's chances of getting admitted to the university of his or her choice.