Often times our admissions consultants help students trim the fat off of personal statements. We understand! You have a lot you want to say to a school and minimal space to include everything. It’s a tough job, especially when every achievement you include seems impossible to take out. When it’s almost ready to submit, a lot of students ask whether or not it should have a conclusion. Here are a few reasons of why you probably don’t need one.
Adding more means you have to cut even more from the statement to make room for a conclusion. This means removing more really good information that previously made the cut. Sometimes, there’s simply not any fat left to cut out. After removing even more material, what would we really be replacing it with? Nothing new, just a summing up of what has already been said in the rest of the essay.
Show, Don’t Tell
A conclusion would have likely amounted to “I hope the experiences I told you about in the last two pages make you think that I am a hard-working, dedicated person who cares about others and who would be a great addition to your law school.” This kind of paragraph violates the “show, don’t tell” rule that you should always follow in a personal statement. The actual experiences and thoughts and deeds that you yourself felt and did will always speak for themselves. Thus, there is no good reason to sum them up. Additionally, it’s more effective to let the reader draw their own conclusions about you based on what you write. Anytime you start saying things like, “this shows what a great problem-solver I am,” or “this demonstrated my abilities in academia,” you run the risk of making readers think you are trying to tell them what to think.
Getting Right Into It
A well-crafted personal statement can start off by briefly stating what you are trying to show, then going right into the actual showing. For example, a statement that starts off, “There are three major experiences in my life that helped me decide to apply to law school” leaves no doubt about what what the essay will discuss. When you finish writing about those three things, there should be no question in the reader’s mind about your purpose. Sometimes, a personal statement can be successful simply by jumping right into the facts.
Don’t Break the Mood
Perhaps the most compelling argument against writing a conclusion is the power of leaving the reader wanting more. A personal statement should not look or feel like a term paper. If you’re eliciting an emotion or lingering feeling in the reader’s mind, you’re drawing them into the story. Adding a conclusion on top of that could “break the mood,” so to speak.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. It is sometimes perfectly acceptable to sum things up, especially if you are writing a more academically-oriented personal statement. When students write about how they chose a topic for an honors thesis, it makes sense to have some kind of conclusion because the statement centers on their own thought process in an academic setting. In that kind of statement a conclusion can feel more natural.
In conclusion, don’t feel like you have to make your personal statement sound like a thesis. But if you’re writing about a thesis, feel free.