Stay sloppy. You need to apply as a strong writer. If you have poor writing skills and poor grammar, your application with be pitched right away. Most applicants don’t understand the limits of their writing skills. Ask a strong editor to read over your personal statement, red pen in hand
Write a wandering essay. Every paragraph should have a point. Brevity is an important skill and you should always be clear about the point you’re making. If the point isn’t evident, you leave meaning up to interpretation.
Get too personal. A personal vignette shouldn’t sound like a therapy session. I think sympathy can be immensely powerful, if you connect it to skills. For example, if a student is a first-generation college graduate, and a managed to do this despite childhood poverty and an abusive father, this demonstrates tenacity and offers experiences that will potentially greatly enrich the program. But it needs to be about what is – or has become -a character strength as opposed to just telling a sad story.