College admissions readers have the difficult task of using grades, recommendation letters, and activity summaries alongside written supplements like essays to judge a student’s abilities. Here are some helpful college personal statement tips to help elevate your essays in the application process. In order to stand out from the crowd and make a positive impression on application readers, you’ll need that extra boost!
Avoid the LMO Pile
Anna Ivey, author of The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions and co-author of How to Prepare a Standout College Application, shared with US News and World Report about what some call the LMO Pile:
“LMO is shorthand that some admissions officers use when a kid looks great, there’s nothing wrong with this application, but LMO: Like Many Others,” Ivey says. “There’s nothing really that stands out. That’s really the challenge, is how do you stand out and not be an LMO?”
Bonus Advice: Write your first/worst drafts over the summer.
See if you can’t get a jump on the game to reap exponential rewards from your early foundations later on.
- Some call it stream of consciousness, others call it word vomit: essentially, get all the cliches out on the page when you have time over the summer break. At the very least, going into the fall semester, you’ll be able to have something to edit and work with alongside counselors and editors. It’s easier to revise than it is to invent!
- Remember, not only will students get busy with homework and extracurricular activities, but the individuals you want to recruit to help you improve your writing will get busier too! Autumn is College Applications Season for every student across the nation.
Starting to write on the early side, as opposed to waiting to cram it all into a few weeks in October, will benefit you in multiple ways.
How to elevate your essays with a few easy steps:
- When you go to submit, read the instructions.
- Make sure everything is complete and attached.
- In the written submissions, write about YOURSELF.
Write about YOURSELF: personal reflection with clarity.
Lots of students, as a reflex, don’t write about themselves. It’s easier to write about abstract ideals, your grandmother, or some other experience in detail than it is to write about yourself as a growing young adult. It’s okay to include these other ideas, but make sure that the FOCUS of your essays is your strengths as a student.
This is a disparate genre of writing that isn’t taught in most literature classes, so it’s okay to need to practice!
What to look out for:
- Every sentence should be unique to your essay. We shouldn’t be able to find that same sentence in anyone else’s essay.
- Don’t write a Wikipedia entry about the college or program, either. Tell me about you as a student and person!
- The essay isn’t the place to prove how smart you are; your academic credentials are there to do that. This is your chance to express your personality and intrinsic motivations.
- Find ways to write about what you bring to the campus community. If a question asks you how this college is a good fit for you, we don’t want to know, in the abstract, how a particular school’s education can help students. We want to know how it will impact you!
Let’s skip the LMO Pile together!
For more guidance and expert feedback on your actual essay drafts, consider working with the Empowerly community. We are the village that will help craft your student’s best possible applications. Let’s take on the challenge with a team of experts in your corner.