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Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.
Monday, June 2, 2014
Stepping Back from your Personal Statement
Have you ever looked back at something you wrote last month, or last year, and struggled to recognize it? Wondered who came up with those thoughts? Or why you kept using the same ridiculous phrase? Ever felt embarrassed to re-read something you once soulfully poured onto paper? (Like the time I found my teenage journal and dug into some of my old boyfriend angst. Cringe-worthy stuff.)

If the answer is no, don't worry too much. Writing consumes much of my professional life, so forgetting what I wrote last week can be an occupational hazard. There is, however, something to be said for taking a step back from any composition. Especially one that is deeply personal.

Your college admission essay is just that. Only it isn't stream-of-consciousness drivel, destined only to die a lonely death on the pages of your diary or at the foot of your Facebook feed. Instead, it's something that someone else is going to read. Something someone else is supposed to read. It's also supposed to make you look good.

As an editor, I can safely say that it's obvious to me when a college admission essay has been written last minute. It isn't just the grammatical mistakes and lazy structure. It's the obvious lack of intimacy that the writer has with their subject matter. They seem rushed and disconnected.

I have a feeling they too could see those deficiencies, if only they took a moment to step back. When you slow down a bit, you pick up on a lot of missed details.

So while I know school just got out this week, and you've pretty much packed away your pencils 'til September, consider this advice. Start writing now. It doesn't matter if it's bad, or disorganized or off topic. It's a starting point. And when you read it again in a month, or three, you'll be surprised at how easy it is to fix it.

I promise you, when you're struggling with writer's block-something old, awkward or poorly written is always a better place to start than a blank piece of paper.


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