Surviving Senior Year: Getting Personal

I still haven’t written my personal statement yet.

You know, the one that more or less says “explain yourself in 700 words or less.” The one that asks you to take the last four yours of your life and make them fit in an essay. The one that asks you to be creative, and witty, and unique, while also demonstrating your intelligence and artfully adding in all of your accomplishments. The one required for college admissions, scholarships and awards, and, in my case, the one required for grad school applications.

Yep, that one.
I just can’t seem to write it.

The truth is, I’ve never been a big fan of personal statement essays, or as grad schools like to call them, statements of purpose. (Because changing the name will differentiate them from the nightmare that was applying to college.) They all sound exactly the same, and everyone says what they think the admissions board wants to hear, and everyone talks about family history or motivation or their many deep and meaningful reasons for pursuing the career path they’ve chosen. And basically, what it comes down to is one giant cliché. And I hate clichés. And so do the admissions boards, or at least, that’s what they claim.

The personal statement is important, they tell you. We want to know more about you that what appears on your transcripts, they say. Be creative. Be unique. Be yourself. But also include all of your accomplishments in the past four years, any significant events you may have been a part of you, why you want to go to this school, what you can bring to this school, and why we should even bother to consider your application. Yes, that leaves lots of room for me to be unique, doesn’t  it? The questions are cliché, so the answers are going to be cliché. And as I’ve mentioned, I hate clichés.

But that’s exactly what I end up sounding like every try time I try to tell these people who I am and what I want to do with my life. Because the thing is, I have absolutely no clue who I am or what I want to do. Sure, I’m a college senior. Yes, I have things I’d like to accomplish. But those goals are more along the lines of “make it through 18th Century Literature,” “improve my beer pong playing abilities,” and “stop watching Private Practice.”  They don’t exactly detail my grand post college plans, and that’s mostly because I don’t have post college plans.

So I should probably focus on the “who am I” part of the essay, right? That would be a great idea, except I just can’t seem to figure out how to go about doing that either. I’ve never been a big fan of labels, because I like to think that people are a bit more complex than that, and I don’t think the admissions board wants my age/height/weight/hair and eye color stats chart. So what are my opinions? Childhood memory that changed my life or distant relatives that have inspired me to become the person I am today?  No on those counts too. I just don’t believe it’s possible for someone to understand who I am based on a 700 word statement, or any statement for that matter. People just don’t work that way.

So what exactly is a girl to do?

Maybe I should just link them to this post instead? I mean, it’s honest and real and so full of such flattering compliments for the entire application process and everyone it involves that I’ll be admitted immediately.

OK, so maybe that’s not my best bet, but what is?

Click here to follow Jenn’s other ups and downs of senior year.

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