This is the first in a series ofÂ posts from our friends at Accepted.com. Stay tuned for inside tips on the law school and B-school admissions process.
What are the most boring, non-starters for your personal statement? Openings that use wording from the question, or in the case of general questions, are so common that they will have a narcotic effect on any admissions reader wading through mounds of files.
Recently, Accepted editors discussed a client’s response to the question, “How have you experienced culture shock?” The applicant began her response with “I experienced culture shock when…” How many applicants responding to this question start similarly? Too many. However, if the applicant from the first word contrasted the culture she comes from with the one that engendered the shock, she would be immediately painting a picture of the situation, differentiating herself from her competition, and making maximal use of each word in an essay with a tight word count.
Another common opening: “I want to be a lawyer because…” or “I was born in…” or “I come from…” Start with an opening that portrays your vision for the future, reveals your preparation for your chosen path, or depicts an illustrative and impressive experience from your background. Then swing back and tie this opening to your desire for a legal education or the theme of your personal statement.
Your opening needs to immediately grab your reader’s attention, introduce your topic, and make effective use of the space. You all have word or page limits. Your readers have limited attention spans and a pile of other applications staring at them. Don’t bore them from the get-go. Begin with an opening that engages and grabs attention. Start your essays with an anecdote, a description of a scene, a startling statistic, or an appropriate quote.
Accepted.com’s staff has been checking clients’ work for the essentials of great law school personal statements since 1994. Visit accepted.com/law for professional advising and editing services as well as sample law school personal statements, tips, free ecourses, webinars, and more.