Monday Morning Essay Tip: Personal and Too Personal

Last week, we talked about how important thoroughly exploring and accessing your personal stories is when writing your application essays. Of course, having “too much of a good thing” is always a risk as well—admissions committees can be put off by candidates who go too far and become too personal.

Some stories are particularly challenging for admissions committees. For example, we have strongly discouraged candidates from writing about divorce as a moment of failure. If an individual were to take responsibility in an essay for a failed marriage, he/she would likely end up revealing intensely personal problems and issues, rather than portraying him-/herself as having learned from a constructive professional or personal challenge.

Always keep in mind that in many ways, the admissions committee is meeting you for the first time via your application. So, a simple way to judge whether you are being too personal in your materials is to ask yourself, “Would I be uncomfortable if, immediately upon meeting someone, he/she were to share this sort of information with me?” If your answer is “yes,” you should most likely consider changing your topic.

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