Briefly expressing one’s thoughts is a skill that, admittedly, I need to refine myself. Some would equate fewer words to less complexity; however, I would argue the complete opposite. In order to condense thoughts, one must analyze the full scope of the topic, determine what can be removed, and figure out how to appropriately consolidate the rest.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

William Shakespeare

It’s well known that the attention span is limited and places emphasis on introductory and concluding remarks more than lengthy bodies of text in between. Exercising one’s expansive vocabulary through flowery prose often results in confusion. This defeats the intended purpose of expressive thought!

Some of the best personal statements I read on various admissions committees were succinct yet profound. They used few words to paint a vivid picture. They showed humility rather than a presumptuous attitude. Each word seemed to have a place in the overall composition.

In addition to the typical pointers for writing personal statements (describe a life experience, make your voice stand out, etc.), I emphasize the need for brevity. Go back, re-read each word, sentence, and paragraph and ask yourself: “Does this need to be included?” Are you reiterating another part of your application? Are you assuming things you could not possibly know? Are you using words just to flex your vocabulary?

Brevity. It’s good. 🙂

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