What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

Why Vulnerability is Key in Your Personal Statement

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Kaila Barber in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.


What’s Covered:



The Goal of the Personal Statement 


The main goal of your personal statement essay is to show the reader how unique and interesting you are. Your essays are how the admissions officers find out the kind of student you would be on their campus and how you’re going to fit in with their community. This is your chance to show the admission office who you are, especially the things that  don’t show up on paper. If you have an interesting hobby, or there’s something about you that really stands out, this is the place you want to try and include that in your college application. 


Outstanding personal statements that really wow colleges usually are about, or include aspects of, one of four common topics. These are vulnerability, values, insight, and craft. 


Why is Showing Vulnerability Important?


Vulnerability is useful to show in your essay because it makes your writing feel personal and genuine. Your personal statement is called your personal statement for a reason, so you should make it personal. 


If you had to write right now and say what vulnerability, or being vulnerable, means to you, what would you say? What have you noticed about those around you when they’re being vulnerable? Ask yourself about what you feel when you’re vulnerable. These are great questions to think about before you begin writing. This kind of self-reflection is especially important for writing personal statements.  


Showing vulnerability in your essay demonstrates your ability to connect to another person on an emotional level, sharing feelings and morals. That is a trait that you can use to make the reader feel more connected to you and invested in being part of your success. This doesn’t mean that you have to write about your deepest and darkest secrets inside your essay, but your essay should be a little bit personal. This means being open and expressing your true emotions and thoughts. 


How to Tell if You’ve Been Vulnerable in Your Essay


You might be asking yourself, how do I know if I’m displaying vulnerability? A great way to test this is if your essay is personal and unique enough then if you put this essay on someone else’s application it won’t work for them. There are a lot of students who are in similar extracurriculars, so you have to make sure your essay is unique enough to not fit a student who does similar activities to you. If your essay would fit for other students, then you’re not being specific enough. 


When you’re vulnerable enough and include enough detail about yourself, your reader is going to read your essay and feel more of a connection with you because they are getting a better understanding of who you are. This understanding will go beyond your AP or test scores, or any other number on your application. You want your readers to see you as a person to whom they feel connected. Always keep this in mind when you’re brainstorming your personal essay and how best you can display vulnerability.


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