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Friday, January 14, 2011

Personal Statement Urgent Care Clinic - Part 2

Orchids, Pansies and daffodils are flowers that bear beautiful scents and make good arrangements. These, have taught me much about people how they are identically different yet still the same too. That they are special and beautiful. Learning, this has allowed me to progress forward with courage and dissidence.”

Above is an excerpt from a personal statement that one of our counselors received. Don’t let this be you! Read on for Part 2 of our Personal Statement Urgent Care Clinic.

As we discussed in the previous post, though we want to hear your voice and see your personality, you need to keep in mind that you are writing a professional, formal document. You should give it at least the same attention that you would give a final research paper in class. In other words, if you wouldn’t hand it in for a grade, don’t just send it in to us.

Also, keep in mind that your statement is, essentially, a persuasive essay. That means there is a loose structure you should follow. Start with an introduction, set up the argument for why you believe you should be admitted into Marymount, provide supporting evidence, tie it all together in the conclusion, and end with a sentence asking us [politely] to let you in.  

This isn’t an English assignment. We’re not going to give you a maximum and minimum number of pages. We don’t want a three volume series of your personal manifesto, but we also don’t want a single, feeble paragraph. Two pages is a good guideline, but if you’re over or under and it’s still persuasive and holds our interest: you’re good.

Dos and Don’ts:

  • DO, DO, DO, DO put your name on your personal statement. My superpowers don’t include omniscience.
  • DON’T worry about “bragging.” We want to know your accomplishments. But be careful it doesn’t become a laundry list or we might lose you amongst your activities.
  • DON’T get too cute. “The Life of John Doe in a Series of Haikus” is only going to make us laugh…at you.
  • DO understand the rules of grammar. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss is a great resource. Also good: @YUNiversity on twitter. 
  • DON’T WRITE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, completely in lower case, or worst of all, In A MiX oF BoTH!1! (unless it’s a ransom note…)
  • DO read your statement aloud after you’ve written it and have someone else check it for errors before you send it.
  • DON’T express your interest in a major that doesn’t exist. CSI, for instance, is a television show. Not a major.
  • DO tell us about your interests. DON’T focus on one particular interest with such zeal that you forget to tell us anything else about yourself.
  • DON’T misspell…well…anything. But especially don’t misspell your own name or the name of our college.
  • DO know that we are NOT Marymount “University.”
  • “I didn’t get good grades because I partied too hard,” is not an acceptable reason to have failed every class your junior year.
  • DO focus more on your strengths than on your shortcomings.
  • “You’re” and “your” are not interchangeable. The same applies to “their,” “there,” and “they’re;”  “its” and “it’s;” “hear” and “here;” and “who’s” and “whose.”
  • DON’T use words whose definition you do not know in context.
  • If you don’t know my gender, DON’T guess.
  • If you’re funny: great. If not, DON’T try to be. It won’t work.
  • We’d rather you didn’t begin your statement with a quote. It’s kind of counter-intuitive, isn’t it—beginning your personal statement with someone else’s words? And we’ve heard them all: especially the motivational poster quotes (Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., James Dean, etc.).  If you do insist on using a quote, please use an accurate quotation and cite it properly. And please make sure it has something to do with the rest of your statement.
  • DO use a regular font in black. Comic Sans Serif in cyan is, among other things, very difficult to read.
  • DON’T write anything that looks like this (it hurts my soul):

Hi my name, is Bob and I am appling two Marry Mount university cus I bin wanting to go to school everyday for a long time cus you’re colledge seems more better than other universites I bin looking at.

Now, some other personal statement links you might enjoy:
A World Famous, Very Funny Essay
Good Advice
Real World Bloopers
More Gaffes
The Seven Worst Types of Essays


  1. Terrific article. As the owner of a company that assists college-bound students with their personal essays, this was most helpful.

    Robert Schwartz

  2. I like your post. Keep it up! I agree this is helpful in doing personal essays and how to do in in proper way.

  3. I totally agree, "keep in mind that your statement is, essentially, a persuasive essay" thanks for sharing this. Keep it up!