I am currently writing a formal personal statement for a university application process. I would like some advice as to whether or the use of parentheses mid-sentence and the use of "to bear fruit" in terms of succeeding at a task are formal, or if they should be replaced with something else.
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With punctuation, what is appropriate or inappropriate is often just a matter of taste and sound.
For example, some people eschew the use of semi-colons; I don't. I think semi-colons are quite serviceable, and I do not think only effete snobs and grammar Nazis should use them!
Moderation, I believe, is the key. Too many parentheses, en dashes, em dashes, and virtually any other element of punctuation can be distracting, interrupt the flow of ideas, and come across as perhaps too chatty, too informal, too scattered.
If you find yourself using lots of parentheses, for example, read your sentences aloud to determine how they sound. Reread them for how they scan. Too many parentheses are like verbal hiccups. Eschew them.
As for the use of the phrase "to bear fruit," to me the phrase sounds a bit old fashioned. It is certainly quite biblical (if you are at all familiar with Jesus's upper-room discourse in the Gospel of John), but I'd need you to provide more context for how you intend to use the phrase before I make a judgment on its aptness and appropriateness.