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Personal Statement and Diversity Statement Review

Writing a personal statement or diversity statement will likely be two of the most challenging essays you will ever write. These essays give you an opportunity to make the dull interesting; to be bold, but not too bold; enthusiastic, but not needy; professional, but not boring; witty, but not cliche. You must say a lot by saying a little. While an excellent personal statement is a balanced narrative that gracefully weaves together a story – your story – an excellent diversity statement sheds light on your diverse life experiences .

After narrowing the topic, you must put pen to paper and capture the reader’s attention with your words. Strategically, you must consider how to organize your ideas for optimal effect, how to structure your story, how to show the reader that you are X rather than telling them that you are X, how to craft a sensible story that resonates with the reader, how to wisely choose examples from your experience to shape your story arc, how to make sure your thoughts flow, how to balance the details with the big picture, and many other elements too numerous to name.

Mechanically, you must craft powerful sentences and avoid awkward ones.  Each word, each sentence, and each paragraph must be focused to move the story forward.  You must say what you mean and do so without grammatical mistakes.

Stylistically, your sentences must be powerful to capture the reader’s attention. How you say something is often more important than what you say. Since every word carries more weight, your sentences must be crafted in a way that makes sense and cohesively moves the story forward.

We at Think Big can help you from start to finish to help you craft the strongest personal statement and diversity statement for your school applications. From helping you brainstorm ideas and crafting a detailed outline to helping you reframe your story arc for stronger effect or revising sentences for increased vigor, we can help you sharpen your thoughts to bring you one step closer to your goals.

Admissions Consulting

The school you attend has huge ramifications for your career trajectory. Putting in the effort early on in the process will help position you for the most opportunities going forward, which is why you should try to get into the best school possible with as much scholarship money as you can get. You should start strategically preparing as soon as your freshman year to maximize your GPA, extracurriculars, and classes.

Admissions counselors often take a holistic approach when reviewing candidates. While each school may have its own internal system for rating applicants, the five major buckets that admissions counselors consider are (i) GPA and standardized test score, (ii) personal statement and diversity statement, (iii) soft factors,  (iv) letters of recommendation/supplemental essays/ addenda, and (v) work/professional experience.

Your GPA and standardized test scores are critical factors in admissions. If you don’t fall into at least the median percentile of your desired school in both metrics, your odds of acceptance decrease (though the other four factors can offset a low GPA/standardized test candidate to some extent). Some schools are more friendly than others for splitter candidates who may have a strong GPA but a lower standardized test score or vice versa. Often, the splitter candidate with the lower GPA realizes in their senior year that they want to go to a top school, but at that point, it’s too late to raise a lower GPA since one year of exceptional grades cannot make up for a few years of average grades. Similarly, the candidate who has prepared since freshman year and has a high GPA, but who struggles with the standardized test, will have to tailor their application materials to compensate for a lower standardized test score.

Your personal statement (and to an extent your diversity statement) is perhaps the most important non-metric related component of your application. Your personal statement will tell your reader a unique story – your story. Similarly, you can craft a supplemental narrative through your diversity statement that sheds light on some aspect of your life experience that makes you diverse. Great personal statements and diversity statements can sway admissions counselors to your side and make them fight for you if you are otherwise lacking in a different area of your application. This is the area in your application where you have full control to shine. 

Soft factors are unique traits, experiences, or skills that you possess. Leadership opportunities through college extracurricular activities are the most common. Perhaps you were recruitment chair for your sorority in college. You were a Phi Betta Kappa initiate and wrote an honors thesis. You started a YouTube channel or Instagram that expresses your passions. You started a business. You’ve overcome tremendous adversity in your life. You can play the piano. You ride a motorcycle to school. You’ve backpacked Europe. While this list is not exhaustive, soft factors are important to admissions counselors because they define your personality and make you unique. 

College, professional, and graduate programs usually require at least one and sometimes two to three letters of recommendation from your college professors and/or supervisors. You should ask your recommenders who know you well to write your letters. It is always better to have a highly detailed letter that speaks to your work product, capacity, and character from a professor, for example, who may have just started teaching than to have a general letter from perhaps a more well-known and senior professor. When asking for letters of recommendation, you should always provide your recommender with discussion points to help guide their thinking and give them several weeks/months to write. Additionally, college, professional, and graduate programs may provide supplemental essay topics usually no more than 300 words that they will use to evaluate your writing, thinking, and character. Addenda are an optional part of a college, professional, and graduate application and can include items such as a low standardized test taker statement with evidence or a statement on your low GPA due to [X] reason.

Your work and professional experience is less important if you are still in school. It becomes more important the more time passes since you’ve graduated. The general advice here if you are still in school is to pursue internships and work experiences that you find interesting. Unless you for sure know that you want to be an attorney, doctor, engineer, etc., you do not have to tailor your internships and work experiences to a specific field.

We at Think Big can help you tailor your admissions package to give you the best chance at getting into your dream school by helping you craft a strategic narrative that wows the admissions counselors

Resume Review

Great resumes succinctly tell the story of your professional accomplishments. Since it is likely that your interviewer will only spend a short amount of time reviewing your resume, you must, as with writing a great essay, capture the attention of your reader with words.

Regardless of your industry, your resume should be tailored to your job, be formatted correctly, and have correct grammar. Often, resume descriptions will generally describe what the applicant has done in prior positions rather than showing how the applicant added value to their past employers in a clear and powerful way.

We at Think Big can help you craft your resume descriptions to grab your interviewer’s attention, review for grammar mistakes, and help organize your resume for the most powerful effect.

Supplemental Essays

College, professional, and graduate school applications often require applicants to write short essays on a variety of topics in no more than 150-350 words. These essays must be detailed, to the point, and powerful. They must be responsive to the prompt and clearly articulate your thoughts.

We at Think Big can help you focus your responses to your supplemental essays by reviewing and revising your responses to sharpen your thoughts, add increased vigor, and provide suggestions as necessary to enhance your essay.

Zoom Strategy Sessions

Often, discussing complex issues live is the most efficient way to solve a problem. We at Think Big offer several types of Zoom sessions to serve our clients. 

Brainstorming: Writing a personal statement or diversity statement is hard. Figuring out what to write is even harder. We can provide real time brainstorming sessions to help shape your ideas and frame your narrative to make the process more efficient. 

Discussions: Whether you want to discuss your resume or have particular questions about a comment on your personal statement, we can walk through any of these questions with you live to help speed up the creative process.

Career Counseling: If you are currently applying to an institution of higher learning and have questions about your career and what your degree can do for you, we are happy to chat with you about our experiences.

Interview Prep: Interviewing is hard, but there are specific steps you can take to stand out from the pack. Let us help you.