Personal Letter Help


10-Year Member
5-Year Member
Aug 5, 2008
Hey I've been getting ready to start getting my nomination from my representative, senators, the v.p. and the president. Pretty much all of them ask that I send in a personal letter stating why I want to go to one of the service academies. Does anyone have any advice about the best way to go about writing these letters so that they sound professional but convey the kind of person who I am, while trying not to sound cliche? (referring to the "standard" answer of "I want to serve my country." even though that is something I am very passionate about and is one of my reasons for wanting to attend.) Any help would be great.:thumb:
In regard to the essays the "process" that I apply to mine is to list all the reasons that it matters to me so I have a resume type of set up (which I'm using for all my essays, NROTC, USNA, and the nominations). Then write a rough draft and for me the best way to edit it is to read it once or twice a day correcting and revising each time for several days. A part of my writing process it to have someone who writes and talks in a very different style than me read over and make notes on it. Often I don't make (or keep) the changes they suggest because it "sounds like them", worded and constructed in the way they do. However I find that they are most likely to notice when a sentence doesn't make sense or is out of place. I like to have a few different people read it just so that it is most likely that anyone reading it is likely to understand (and make sure I didn't go off in military/ROTC acronyms that could be confusing and that sort of thing). I'm less intrested in their content changes and more intrested in simple proof-reading so the message isn't changed just better formated.
In terms of sounding "generic" or "standard" I think you just have to tell how you feel even if that's "standard" and try to explain why in a way that is unique.
Whenever writing any college essay, including USNA, the two things to keep in mind are: (1) be honest and (2) write it yourself.

When you read literally thousands of essays -- as most college and USNA admissions officers have -- it is immediately apparent when someone is trying to sell a bill of goods. It's also pretty clear when someone else (most often a parent) wrote the essay. I can't explain how or why -- just that you CAN tell. Nothing wrong with having someone look over your essay and offer suggestions (if it is permitted by the school to which you're applying), but stick to YOUR guns.

My view is this -- if your essay tells your story in your way and a school doesn't want you because of your essay, that is probably not the right school for you. Seriously. You can't pretend to be something you're not for the rest of your life. Someone, somewhere will want you for who you are and that is probably where, in life, you will be most satisfied.
I have to pile on here. Be yourself, don't try to game the system.

Take a step back and really ask yourself why you are drawn to USNA. If you are passionate about serving your country, how do you think attending USNA will help you live that passion? I would venture a guess and say all candidates have about the same set of 'whys', the uniqueness comes when a candidate explains 'how' USN satisfies the 'why'.

One more thing. Spell check and have somebody proof read your submission. Try your best to not have your eloquent message distracted by spelling and grammar errors.

Good luck and BEAT ARMY!