How to Write a Personal Statement Tip #5: Seek Feedback

How to Write a Personal Statement Tip #5: Seek Feedback

You’ve done all the work you can on your essay. Now it’s time to seek feedback from someone else.

You Can’t Do It All

By now, you’ve written two drafts, you have a solid idea of what you want your essay to say, and you’ve gotten it to that point.

It’s precisely for that reason that you need someone else to provide feedback on your essay. If you like the way you structured a certain paragraph, there’s very little chance you’re going to realize it may not work unless five other people point out that it just doesn’t flow. Even if everyone you send it to likes your content, you’d be surprised how often people miss basic mistakes in their writing.

You can decide to just do it all yourself, but you’ll be missing a valuable, fresh set of eyes that can play a major role in helping you.

Who You Gonna Call?

In general, I’m not a huge fan of having family and friends handle this step due to their biases. You can give it to them for their thoughts, but don’t be surprised if their feedback doesn’t go much further than “I don’t know why, I just liked it.” While this can be useful to the extent that you know you haven’t messed everything up, it’s not valuable if you want more than just the most basic of feedback.

I recommend English teachers, tutors, or a professional editor to check your work at this point (like me—click here if you want to hire me.) Regardless of who you hire, the big thing here is that someone besides you can look at this essay with no prior involvement or judgment—that is as invaluable as just about anything else.

It’s Not You, It’s Them

One of the hardest things for writers to realize is that writing isn’t about what satisfies you, it’s what satisfies your audience. That sounds like a tricky notion, especially since so many essays want you to write about yourself. But you have to think about how you’re presenting yourself. Your audience is the admissions officer—they are deciding if you can attend your dream school or not. How do you come across to them? Do you sound humble and appreciative? Or do you sound demanding and pretentious?

It can feel great to write about your greatest high school accomplishment. But are you writing it because the experienced awes you, or because it makes you look so awesome? Having other people look at your essay can help you figure out how you come across. It will make you realize if you’re speaking to your audience properly or ignoring them and focusing on your own self-gratification.

In the end, you may get nothing but positive feedback from the people you give your essay to. And that’s great! But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have done it. Odds are very good that will not wind up being the case for you.

Send it to some friends, let them review it, and then incorporate their feedback into the essay.

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