College Admission: Quick Tip #13

Quick Tip # 13 It’s OK to repeat words

During middle school and high school, students are taught not to repeat the same word in their essay. Although this advice encourages students to expand their vocabulary and learn new words, don’t be afraid to stretch this “rule” and repeat nouns when writing your personal statement. Repetition establishes connection and builds cohesiveness. By relying on a thesaurus, a beautifully written sentence can go from this…

“Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hatred; hatred leads to conflict; conflict leads to suffering.” — Yoda, in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

to that…

“Fear leads to anger; outrage leads to hatred; disgust leads to conflict; combat leads to suffering.” — Yoda, in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Without repetition, Yoda’s memorable sentence becomes scattered and the readers are not able to make connections between the different words. That’s why you should consider the impact of word choice when writing your personal statement. For example, an applicant wants to share how the skills she learned as a child will benefit her as a student in her personal statement. In the beginning of her essay she states, “As a child, I built confidence and leadership skills by being my grandparent’s interpreter.” Because of these experiences, she is applying for a bachelor’s in international relations with a concentration in Russia and the Former Soviet Union. Towards the end of her essay, she repeats the nouns confidence and leadership. She states, “I am confident that I will excel in this major because of my fluency in the Russian language and understanding of the culture” and “From the skills I learned as a child, I plan to lead a study group with other Russia and the Former Soviet Union concentration students to build connections within my student network.”  

In both the examples above, I hope I encouraged you to repeat a noun or two so connections can be established and cohesiveness can be developed when sharing your story with the reviewer.

If interested in improving your personal statements contact me at or visit

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