2 years ago
Admissions Advice

What qualities do admissions officers look for in a personal statement? How do I make mine special?

I am currently revising mine and I'm looking for directions on how I can improve my story.

I'm responding to prompt #2:

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

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1 answer

Accepted Answer
2 years ago

Hi @kingsley,

Thanks for your question.

All admissions officers are both people like you and me but also have a job to do which is to find the best incoming cohort for their next class. As human beings reading your essay, they are hoping to read something unique about yourself that helps them connect the dots with the rest of your academic and EC narrative, or things you've shared in your application so they can better understand who you are, what's important to you, what your values are, how you intend to live your life and if you seem genuine.

As paid admissions officers, they are hoping that your application matches up to their mandate to shape the next Class of 2027 with the right sorts of students to best impact their campus. So they may be looking for certain types of musicians, dancers, theater people, social justice warriors, and students from under-represented backgrounds or States or Countries. They may be looking for students to fill their new school of Environmental Science or expanded Cyber CS program. You never know so it's impossible to guess whether your personal statement is going to align itself with the wishes of the college. Think of a college a huge Broadway musical that needs 1500 people to make it work. You need lead actors, and people building the sets and doing the sound and lighting. It's the same thing at college. They are looking for cheerleaders, marching band, tech folks to work in the IT department, and varsity athletes that need to represent them in their 25 teams.

The way you make yours special is to figure out what makes you so special and different from the fray and write about it. Obviously, you picked this prompt because you think you have overcome some huge obstacles that your peers or classmates didn't have to deal with. So write about that. If the story is compelling enough, it will stand on its own. But what you do not want to do is have someone else write it for you or tell you what to write, nor tell you how it fits in with the rest of your narrative. That is your job and your job alone.

Once you have completed writing it out as best as you can, then feel free to use the CV essay review or a paid CV essay review.

Good luck.

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
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Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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