...for those of you who've read a lot of personal statements for others, what themes/rhetorical devices/strategies have you seen used over and over? I'm starting to notice patterns, and it made me reflect: I wonder if adcomms want to shoot themselves when they see ______ for the umpteenth time. Maybe by listing some of the most common stuff, folks writing their PS's right now can use the info to their advantage.
1) This is a big numero uno--I'd say 3/4 of the PS's I've read over the last two years have an opening paragraph that starts in childhood--from between ages 5-10. This pattern was so startling in the last batch I read, I wondered if I'd missed the memo to bring up my own childhood (!!).
2) Complaining about parental influence. What's this about? I mean, I feel for anyone whose parents aren't supporting their educational decisions/helping pay--that sucks--but why belittle them directly in the statement? "My parents suck, see?" seems like a weird PS strategy to me.
3)Talking about GPA/LSAT for 2+ paragraphs. This just drags the emphasis away from the author and onto one's beef with "the man" or whatever. Soooo many people do this, I think this might be the one strategy that makes adcomms want to jump off a bridge."The LSAT isn't indicative of my true abilities, so I'm going to complain about it for awhile." Why not spend the precious PS writing space to convince the school you're awesome? Write a short addendum if ya gotta.
I'm sure I'll think of other examples throughout the day. I'd love to hear what patterns others have picked up on--