美国院校对PS的一般标准
发布时间: 2011-11-22 浏览次数: 240

I. INTRODUCTION

 

To successfully apply to the college or university of your choice requires more than a transcript, a list of your accomplishments, and a letter of recommendation from a favorite teacher. After all, your application will be reviewed with hundreds of others’, many of whom may have grades, extracurricular activities, awards and honors equal to your own or even better. What will differentiate you from these hundreds of other applicants?

 

The answer, of course, is your personal statement. An effective, compelling personal statement has the ability to communicate your unique characteristics and experiences to the admissions committee in your own words. Your persistence. Your ambition. Your commitment to others. Your sense of humor. These are qualities that don’t come across in the fill-in-the-blanks portion of the application. Take the opportunity that the personal statement gives you, and use it to your best advantage.

 

While the rest of the candidate pool may be able to write clearly and competently, the smart candidate realizes that the admissions process is, after all, a competition. To come out ahead, you must stand out from the other applicants through creative, innovative, and engaging writing comes into play. It’s a demanding task. Within the narrow constraints of the application’s wording, you have to: examine your personality traits and personal history and consider how to present them to a perfect stranger; review your experiences and accomplishments, determine how they are relevant to the admissions criteria, and prioritize them according to their relevance and importance; transform your list of accomplishments into a coherent, organized narrative structure; and let your own "voice" come across in your essay while ensuring your tone is neither too familiar nor stiffly formal.

 

Writing Tip 1: Strategy

 

A Means to an End

Before sitting down to write your essay, it’s helpful to take a moment to re-assess what you hope to achieve. Ask yourself what you hope to get out of the program to which you are applying. What impact will your degree have on your short-term and long-term career plans? Your earnings expectations? Your professional development?  It’s crucial that you have a solid understanding of how important the quality of your application is but don’t allow the process to make you feel overwhelmed or anxious. Instead, let your ambition motivate you to write the best personal statement that you possibly can.

 

Common Pitfalls

Application questions can range from the extremely specific ("What personal challenges regarding interpersonal matters brought out your conflict mediation and management skills?") to the hugely open-ended ("Tell us something about why you want to become an attorney"). The latter is more conducive to a discussion of your personal characteristics; the former is an excellent opportunity to showcase a particular achievement. In either case, here are some pitfalls you’ll want to avoid when planning your essay strategy.

 

 

Answer the Question.

You may have a remarkable achievement or personal experience that you think would make an impression on the admissions committee say, for instance, you emigrated from a foreign land when you were young and had to learn a new language, assimilate to a new culture, and work your own way through school. But the personal statement question on your law school application is, "How do you plan to use your degree in your career?" Unfortunately, your experience simply doesn’t have much to do with the question. So *don’t use it.* There’s a reason that the question was posed the way it was: the school wants to read your answer. Instead of trying to manipulate your experience to "fit" the question, focus on the scope of the question and ask yourself what exactly is being asked. If guidelines for answering the question are provided, examine these, too. You won’t impress anyone by deviating from the information they want; they’ll simply conclude that you didn’t

 

answer the question.

 

Don’t Assume That One Size Fits All

No one likes to receive a form letter that pretends to be personalized. Similarly, admissions committees are less impressed by generic personal statements that are clearly written to be sent to multiple schools. Though it’s possible that your personal statement might *generally* meet the requirements of more than one school, it’s also true that there is no one personal statement that could possibly meet *all* the questions posed by the *all* the schools to which you are applying. Establish what information each personal statement question seeks, and then determine the type and structure of essay that would be the most appropriate. Ideally, you will write a separate personal statement for each application.

 

 

Don’t Repeat Yourself (I).

Using your essay to simply reiterate your GPA and/or your courses is wasting an incredible opportunity. This information will be given adequate consideration elsewhere. Instead, use the personal statement to present information that the admissions committee wouldn’t otherwise know.

 

Don’t Repeat Yourself (II).

Some applications ask for one primary essay and several supplemental, short-answer statements. Remember that they will be read together, and plan carefully so that the information presented in one isn’t being re-stated in another. Make sure your primary statement answers the question while also ensuring that it shows the admissions committee there is more to you than was previously revealed.

 

 

 

Don’t Apologize.

The last thing the person reading your essay wants to read is a list of excuses for why your GPA isn’t as high as you might like. Mentioning your weak points only brings attention to them; the only valid reason for dwelling on such a topic would be if the problem was caused by, say, an illness that required hospitalization or a serious family problem that took you away from school for an extended time. In such a case, present the information in a factual manner and move on. Focus on your achievements, not your shortcomings.

 

 

 

Do Your Homework

Research the schools to which you plan to apply. The more you know about the school, its programs, and its faculty members, the better you will be able to structure your essay and show that you are truly interested in the school. Here are some ways to gather information:

 Call the admissions department and request a brochure that provides information about the school’s expectations from its applicants.

 Talk to people you know who attended the school.  Contact the alumni office and ask whether it would be possible to contact alumni to hear their thoughts on the school.  Make an appointment with an admissions counselor or another official to get a better idea of the graduate experience.  Use AdmissionsEssays.Com’s free search engine, which lists key statistics and URLs for highly regarded colleges, universities, professional, and graduate schools. This extra effort alerts the reader that you have taken time to learn about the school, which gives a favorable impression of your diligence, dedication and interest in their institution. Of course, don’t overdo it, the admissions committee already knows when the school was founded and how many students attend each year. You need only show that you have gone the extra mile.

 

 

 

The Bottom Line Your personal statement is your chance to shine. Plan accordingly. Discuss accomplishments and valuable experiences; emphasize the positive and empowering; make sure you come across as bright, involved, engaging and motivated. Don’t dwell on negative experiences or setbacks unless you do so to introduce an example of overcoming obstacles and rising above circumstance. Don’t bore or depress the reader. And remember, admissions committees are composed of experienced professionals who have collectively read thousands of personal statements. They will be able to read between the lines! Be honest.

 

 

 

Step Two: Organization

Find Your Voice Storytelling has many voices, from factual to confessional to descriptive. Giving your personal statement is no different; there are as many approaches as there are individuals. However, remember that your personal statement is really a very specific form of introduction which generally answers two question: "Who are you?" and "What can you offer?" The successful essay never strays from these themes of introducing yourself and describing your potential as a successful candidate. Therefore, organizing the structure of your statement should begin with an examination of your key accomplishments, turning points, and events which will help answer these questions. Analyze your resume, personal history and memory to isolate certain key "defining moments" in your life.

 

 

 

Writing your personal statement can be an exciting process because it encourages you to tell and explore your own personal history. What you write down, what you focus on, what you highlight and explore all give insight into your own particular and unique values, hopes, aspirations and ideals. Because of this, the information you present, as well as how you present it, can reveal you as positive and eager or as someone who’s just going through the motions. Keep in mind what image you wish to present when you are choosing the facts you will include in your essay.

 

 

 

 

Some of the topics to explore and develop for essay purposes include:  hobbies  projects you have completed  particular jobs and responsibilities  accomplishments -- both professional and scholastic  major life events that you believe have changed you  challenges and personal hurdles you have overcome  life events which motivate you to apply for this particular course of education  individuals who influenced, prepared, or motivated you  particular traits, work habits, attitudes or sensibilities that you have developed  your goals

 

 

 

Always remember to explore these topics in a way that is relevant to the essay question. How do they relate to the fact that you have the motivation, direction, and drive to succeed in the school to which you are applying? At this point you should begin to write down, as specifically as possible, the different events and accomplishments that you feel should be mentioned. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar or even structure at this point, the goal is to describe your chosen events and accomplishments comprehensively.

 

Organizing the Facts

What you now have in front of you is a list of your interests, accomplishments, employment history and successes. Read over your list carefully and ask yourself what emotion is triggered by each item-- pride, resolution, motivation, acceptance, growth. Next to each item, write a word or two that describe the key feelings with which you associate it.

Next, identify the items from your list which gave you the most satisfaction and group them together. Then identify the items that were most reflective of learning experiences or periods of personal or professional growth, and circle those items. Continue to make groupings of your list items, making sure you have a clear idea of what each item represents ("goals," "pride," "overcoming obstacles," etc.). And finally, write a few short sentences about each group, explaining how the qualities exemplified by your list items would add to your success in the school or program to which you are applying.

By highlighting your personal achievements and potential for excellence, the BioGraph(sm) lets our writers to craft an effective sample personal statement for you to use as an inspiration for organizing your own essay.

Choosing a Format Just as stories take various forms, from a novel to a short story to a parable or allegory, your personal statement could be presented as several different themes. Below are three of the most popular themes that AdmissionsEssays.Com uses in developing custom personal statements.

1. OVERCOMING ADVERSITY This format emphasizes your tenacity, patience, and diligence in dealing with, overcoming, or making peace with difficult events or circumstances that have the potential to change a person’s life. Without placing external blame or making excuses, this format isolates the applicant’s ability to thrive.

DO write descriptively. Use facts to back up your assertions.

Remember the rule, "Don’t tell me--show me." How exactly are you "more mature"? What experiences warrant your describing yourself as "entrepreneurial" and "creative"?

 

DO show who you are. Although most admissions committees are Not necessarily looking for a statement that describes extraordinary personal revelation or enlightenment, they do want to see how you use your background to describe who you are and why you are exceptional.

 DO emphasize your positive attitude by stating your future plans. Link this material with facts about the school.

 DO show a proactive attitude through your word choices and sentence sequence. Use action verbs rather than passive ones.

 DON’T present yourself as a victim, dwell on how you suffered, or indulge in self-pity.

 DON’T place blame or pass judgement.

 DON’T come across as bitter or angry. You will make the reader uncomfortable and make it difficult for him or her to identify with your experience.

 DON’T Don’t place blame or judge--you don’t want to come off as bitter and angry.

 

 

2. PERSONAL GROWTH. This format surveys the applicant’s achievements and accomplishments and comments on them, tracing the individual’s evolution and transformation into a successful and determined candidate.

 DO use a positive, active voice. Focus on the changes in your attitude and perspective, giving concrete factual examples. Include clear, concise and adequately developed descriptions of key events that added to your personal growth and wisdom.

 DON’T make excuses for failed efforts and disappointments. If applicable, you may explain how a personal setback allowed you to learn and grow.

 DON’T appear to feel angry, bitter, or sorry for yourself.

 DON’T focus on just one achievement. Give several examples to prove your point.

 

 

. FAMILY HISTORY. This format tells the story of a member of the applicant’s family, showing how the applicant was influenced by him or her or was inspired by his or her achievements. This format is often used to show how family history colors and shapes us.

 DO isolate personal traits and attributes.

 DO choose a family member who has inspired you to pursue your education or profession.

 DO briefly discuss any struggles that your family has overcome and how they affected you.

 DON’T lose the focus on *your* achievements by giving too much attention to the family member. Keep it relevant.

 DON’T exaggerate family problems.

 DON’T appear to be asking for pity.

 

 

 

Step Three: Execution

Writing with a Distinctive Voice Once you’ve gathered your information and selected a structure for your essay, you are now ready to write your statement. A key element of the writing process is choosing which point of view you will use to present your information.

 

 

It’s important to remember that you’re not being judged on your creative writing skills. Many styles that would be effective and engaging in a short story or a magazine article would seem strained and awkward used in an application essay. The vast majority of writers use the first person singular, as in, "I feel that I am uniquely qualified for a career in law." It is a straightforward, easy-to-read style that can be very effective. Make sure that you vary your sentence structure, length and rhythm to keep the essay flowing.

 

 

In seem excessively casual and a more traditional reader might take it as "sloppy." It is best to use this device sparingly, in sentences where the "you" could be replaced by "one." For instance, "You can always achieve your goals if you plan wisely, work hard, and delegate."

Third-person narration (using "he" or "she" to refer to yourself) is extremely difficult and does not work well in form of a personal statement. The commonest reaction to a piece written in the third-person is simply confusion. "What’s going on here? We were expecting an essay from the applicant, but this is an essay the applicant. Who wrote this?" It would be disastrous to write about yourself "from the point of view of" a favorite teacher or mentor and have the admissions committee suspect that you are forging letters of recommendation. Even if your literary device is understood and accepted, it’s easy to come across as eccentric, affected and self-important by referring

 

 

The best bet is to use your own style--this isn’t the time to experiment with a new "voice." Just make sure that whatever you write is clear, concise, and grammatically correct. Don’t try to impress the admissions officers by using big words; simply make sure that the ones you *do* use aren’t misspelled.

It Was A Dark and Stormy Night... Your introductory paragraph could well be the most crucial portion of your entire essay. A good introduction grabs the reader’s attention and has them halfway through the personal statement before they realize what’s hit them. It’s best to draft multiple openings and then select the one which is most compelling. You don’t have to summarize your whole essay in the first paragraph if you can instead draw the reader in to read what follows. If you are absolutely set on the dramatic effects of third-person narration, you may want to use it in your introduction. For instance, you could describe a galvanizing moment in your life--"It was only the first day of the sixth grade, and already the funny-looking new boy, the little Chinese kid, was being sent to the principal’s office"-- as an introduction to the difficulty of assimilating to a new culture. Be certain to take "ownership" of the paragraph, though ("That kid was me. It was just the beginning of my long struggle to fit into mainstream American culture coming from a remote province in China") and move into first-person narration fairly quickly.

 

The Meat of the Message The bulk of your essay should consist of events, experiences and activities, arranged either chronologically, by topic, or in order of importance. Feel free to give emphasis to those accomplishments that you believe deserve particular attention -- remember, you are selling yourself to the readers. Don’t merely tell them that you deserve to get admitted to their school; tell them *why*. Be confident but not arrogant; let them know that you would be an asset to the incoming class, but don’t tell them that they’re lucky to have you. Give each paragraph a distinct point that you could sum up in one sentence if necessary, and make sure that the segues between paragraphs are smooth.

Wrap It Up An effective personal essay, like any strong piece of writing piece, is "front loaded." Your most compelling anecdote or fact should come right at the beginning; don’t bury the "good stuff" or leave dramatic revelations for the last paragraph. Conclusions should be brief and to the point, summarizing your qualifications while not rehashing the entire content of the essay. You may wish to restate your goals and motivations in a forceful, compelling style: "my excellent academic record, experience in the business world, and incomparable leadership skills make me a confident, accomplished and promising candidate who would be an asset to the incoming class" rather than "I have worked hard in school and I believe that I will be successful at your school."

Step Four: Editing and Proofing

It’s possible that your personal statement is the most important essays you will ever write. Painful though it may seem after already having done so much work, 80% of a successful piece is in the editing: you still have a lot of work to do.

 When editing, you should feel free to mark up the page, write questions in the margins, and generally make a mess. Remember, nothing is set in stone.  Don’t hesitate to analyze your essay line by line. Question whether each thought connects with the others and whether each sentence follows the preceding one in a logical order.  Paragraph by paragraph, make sure that your statements are concise, effective, relevant, and fresh. Repeating the same topic or theme over and over again will bore the reader, and the essay will lack professionalism.  Remember: if something is not absolutely clear to you, it certainly will not be clear to the reader who knows nothing about you.  Ask yourself what’s missing. Are there any additional experiences that would help support your thesis?  Make sure every assertion is backed up by hard facts; show us, don’t tell us. Compare "Despite our full courseloads in engineering, my roommate and formed our own software company at the start of our sophomore year" with "I am an extremely enterprising individual."

Proofreading When you feel that your essay is in good shape -- or you have read it so many times that you’ve completely lost perspective -- find several people to read over your personal statement. It’s best if you can find one to read for the technical aspects of your writing and two to read for content.  Select your proofreader carefully. Few things make as immediate and as negative an impression as misspellings, incorrect grammar and clumsy sentence structure. Don’t trust your computer’s spell-checker, either. Get a real human being.  Your first content reader should be an individual who is very familiar with your background and who can tell you whether you’ve adequately conveyed your strengths; the second should be someone who does not know you as well and can spot any areas in your essay which are unclear to him or her (and would therefore be unclear to the admissions committee).

Once you have rewritten according to your editors’ comments, give them the revised draft and repeat the process.