Queens PSE Workshop

Marketing Is Job 1!

Queen’s Personal Statement of Experience Workshop – January 2017


The application file in its entirety is your interview for a seat in the college or university of your choice. Effective applicants treat the application file as a “marketing tool” which is targeted to the specific requirements and personalities of different  schools. As a good example of targeted marketing, consider the following excerpt from a recent biography of Bill Gates by Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews:

“Toward the end of the year, Lakeside senior classman Bill Gates took on a different marketing project: the selling of William Henry Gates. Potential customers? College admissions officers. Bill had scored 800 on his math SAT and five achievement tests (although only in the low 700s on the verbal SAT), and he put it, “I wanted to know which personality of mine would appeal to the world at large.”

Witness the transformation! To Harvard, he was Bill Gates, son of a prominent lawyer, someone with connections, “the guy who was into politics… so my whole page experience was the central part of that application.” For Princeton, “I positioned myself as a computer nerd,” the programming magician who could hypnotize a minicomputer or mainframe into doing anything he commanded. For Yale, he was a consummate do-gooder and sensitive artist with thespian aspirations, “the guy who did drama, the guy who was a Boy Scout.” It was one of the earliest displays of his chameleon like, Thomas Crown-like ability to change his skin, to transform his persona – and eventually, his company’s – in order to “do business.”

The personal statement is controllable and affords the most opportunity for “direct applicant input.” They should be targeted to meet the requirements of specific schools.