5 Things Admissions Officers Look For In Your Personal Statement

In addition to speaking with admissions officers across the country, I also keep tabs on any relevant news and updates from the admissions community. Check out a recent round-up of what admissions officers want to see in your personal statement.

Your Real Personality

According to Wolfe, a lot of students think they need to have a life-changing event to write about in their essays, but counselors are just trying to see the personality of a student in a way that can’t be conveyed through test scores and transcripts. One essay Wolfe remembers was about a family reunion. “They weren’t just regurgitating what we already knew,” Wolfe said. “But instead we could see how this student, living on a freshman hall, would fit in.” [Williamsburg Yorktown Daily]

Being a Good Person

“It was clear from Fernando’s application that his community was just as impressed with his kind heart and inclusive spirit as they were with his intellect,” Yi said. “When I first spoke with him, I was struck by his humility and cheerful nature. I was so happy to be the first to welcome him into the Yale community.”  [Yale News]

Loving to Learn

Guttentag said admissions officers work hard to understand each applicant’s personality, interests and character as they build a class of new Duke students each year that is talented, balanced, engaged and diverse. Grades matter a great deal, but so does a student’s desire to learn and a willingness to put talent into action. “Colleges like students who love to learn,” he said. “That enjoyment for being in the classroom; an enthusiasm for learning, we look for that.” [Duke News]

Your Introspection

The next major component is the essay, also known as the personal statement. "It's a chance for a student to show they're interesting and introspective, and also convey their intellect," Crowley said.  Readers are generally more focused on substance than style, but writing technique matters, too. And so does word count: Applicants have room for 650 words, so a student who turns in far fewer is effectively showing they're "not a serious applicant," Crowley said. [NBC News]

Something New About Yourself  

Applicants should use the essay to "tell the reader something about themselves that wasn't covered elsewhere in the application," said Sherman. [NBC News]