Don’t Complement Your School on Its Rankings

Based on the 2016 QS World University Rankings, the following are the top places to study for a degree in Politics & International Studies:

  1. Harvard University
  2. University of Oxford
  3. London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE)
  4. Sciences Po
  5. University of Cambridge

WOW! Wouldn’t it just be the best to apply to one of these universities?

If you’ve started your application to one of these top schools, then you should be extremely excited about the opportunity to earn a world-class degree.

But you don’t need to put that in your personal statement!

The personal statement is an opportunity (with a limited word count) to express why you are a good fit for a certain program and why you plan to attend.

Of course, it’s possible you are only applying to a program because of its rankings. Yet, “I want to attend your school because it is the best” just isn’t a very good reason to apply somewhere. I see this all the time. Students write things like:

  • “Your university is the #3 in the world for politics and international relations, so studying at your prestigious university will allow me to achieve my dreams.”
  • “This school is in the top 10 for development programs in the world. It provides an excellent education and helps students to achieve great things.”

My reaction: “So, what?” The above lines are sentences that any student could write. They don’t provide any insight into who you are or why you are are good fit for a specific university or program.

Universities are looking for students who are talented and hard working. They want students that not only will do well in their classes, but will also go on to do great things after graduation– thereby giving an even better reputation to their institution.

If you make it sound like you are incredibly impressed by a school’s rankings, then the school may wonder if you aren’t applying to a program that is — quite frankly — out of your league.

Top universities do not give out positive admissions decisions to the students who most want to attend their school. They give them to the students who are the most deserving. Keep that in mind as you are crafting your application essays.

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