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Personal Statement Help

avmlgeek36avmlgeek36 51 replies44 threads Junior Member
*Just as an FYI, I'm not trying to ask people for ideas or anything for my essay - I'm simply looking for people's advice/opinion on my question so please don't feel that I'm trying to get something out of you =)*

I wrote a personal statement/college essay on how struggles in my family lead me to pursue a specific passion, how I grew from it, and how I want to help others (this is in bare bones, btw. I'm using creative writing and stuff to enhance it but this is the bare bones of it). The struggles are of a serious magnitude - not just some random fight between my parents in 2009 (it still happens to this day). Anyways, if I use that to highlight my passion, growth, and goals, would that still be too cliche for a college essay/personal statement?


I have other ideas for personal statements - more cheery/unique topics and methods of expression but I'm afraid I won't be able to show my passion or life story with them.

So my question is, should I stick to what I have about overcoming family struggles (parents constantly fighting, verbal abuse, etc) through my passion, how I grew, and my aim to help others through it or would that be too cliche? I have some ideas for out-of-the-box topics that I think I may be able to work with, but, yeah.


Any help/advice/opinions are greatly appreciated!
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Replies to: Personal Statement Help

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 8043 replies85 threads Senior Member
    The key is to remember that the function of the essay is to show something about you that the AdComm can't get from the rest of your app and that helps show why you are a good fit for their community.

    The hard part- for everybody!- about basing an essay on something intensely personal- especially if it is current/recent- is being able to have/keep perspective: you have very few words, and the more that are used in telling, the circumstance the fewer there are to show what you have done/where you are going.

    You don't need to convince the adcomms that you are really "passionate" or that you have grown- both are in the nature of young people! You need them to see who you are and where you are going. It doesn't really matter whether the catalyst was a life altering event* or simply a small personal moment of realization.

    *(I think sometimes students feel that AdComms are impressed by traumatic or dramatic life events, and that they need to make it clear just what they have overcome)
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  • happy1happy1 24217 replies2431 threads Super Moderator
    The purpose of the college essay is to: 1) tell something about yourself that can't be found elsewhere on the application and 2) to give admissions officers a reason to want to have you on campus.

    Look at your draft essay and see if it accomplishes the two criteria above. If you are unsure then write a draft/outline of a couple other ideas of yours and see how they turn out.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 7647 replies36 threads Senior Member
    I would work on the other ideas first. The above advice is great. Your first topic is cliché. I can almost tell you what you will write about. There will be thousands of similar essays. How does that make you standout and separate you from the pack? How many of the "I overcame this" essays do you think they read in a day?

    My son had 3 main essay ideas. But one stood out to "everyone" but him. We convinced him to do an outline on it and see where it goes. Once he started the outline the light bulb went off for him. It just took him a bit to "see" it.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 10040 replies389 threads Senior Member
    I have other ideas for personal statements - more cheery/unique topics and methods of expression but I'm afraid I won't be able to show my passion or life story with them.

    I would try these and see where they go. You don't need to show your life story in your essays. You do need to show how you're a fit for each college.
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  • HPuck35HPuck35 2148 replies17 threads Senior Member
    In college you will probably be away from the circumstances that you are talking about. So it really doesn't tell the adcoms what you are bringing with you to college.

    As others have said, write on a few different topics and see which is better.
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  • avmlgeek36avmlgeek36 51 replies44 threads Junior Member
    Thank you everyone for your help - I'll definitely start drafting the other topics! Thanks for the help and advice!
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