When narrating your personal and professional stories, make sure to be personal. Your experiences and accomplishments, irrespective of how impressive they are, will fail to make an impression on the reader if they are written in the passive voice. I often come across essays composed in flawless English, but they still don’t succeed in making the desired impact on the reader. The lack of personal touch in those stories gives an impression as if these stories are referring to someone else and not to the candidates themselves.
Please remember that your personal stories of goals, accomplishments, challenges, cultural experience, background, setback, leadership, etc. need to be made personal. By using passive voice, you will make your own stories so impersonal and lifeless that they will not only weaken your message but also turn your heroic accomplishments into lackluster ones.
Let’s looks at the following examples:
Not So Good Example: (‘Accomplishment Essay’-A&M)
While the course tests one's physical abilities, the main focus of the course is to assess your mental endurance and ability to make decisions when time matters and thinking is critical. Graduating with honors from one of the most difficult schools, the Marine offers are the standard against which I judge myself when leading others to accomplish team goals no matter the circumstances, signifying the competence and persistence I use today.
The above example is not bad, but it is not as effective and personal as the one below. Here is the revised version. Yes, it was ‘accepted’:
"While the course tested my physical abilities, the main focus of the course was to assess my mental endurance and ability to make decisions when time matters and thinking is critical. I graduated with honors from one of the most difficult schools that signified my competence under pressure. It is the standard against which I judge myself when leading others to accomplish team goals irrespective of the circumstances."
Here is another example composed in the passive voice:
Bad Example (‘Leadership/ Contribution’ Essay- MIT):
"Armed with this data, my client was able to make his case with the support of my analysis to gain the support of other executives. With the advancement of computational power and “big data”, analytics is now an inescapable aspect of current and future business leadership. Leveraging the trend of analytics to prove that a diverse workforce can drive efficiencies and hard dollar savings in companies is a way to drive equality in the workplace."
The above example is too passive to offer a glimpse into the candidate’s actions.
Now let’s look at the final version which is more personal and thus more impactful. And yes, it was ‘accepted’.
With the support of my analysis, my client was able to make his case to gain the support of other executives. By leveraging the trend of analytics, I proved that a diverse workforce can drive efficiencies and hard dollar savings in companies drive equality in the workplace.
To sum up, one of the key components for crafting memorable essays is using active voice.
Stay Tuned for Tip#8 of crafting compelling essays.