Personal statements are application essays you are sometimes required to write for the university you are applying to, usually including your reasons for choosing that particular course and/or university, why you are passionate and enthusiastic about it and what you can offer on the basis of your skills and knowledge. You are expected to personalize it by sharing your own experiences and stories that seem pertinent. It’s important to perfect your personal statement because it could well be the reason your dream university ends up accepting your application.
Here are some general tips to bear in mind while composing your statement of purpose!
- Be authentic and true
Make sure that your personal statement is original and entirely written by you. Universities want to get to know the applicants, so instead of trying to manufacture the essay in a particular way just to impress them, it is certainly preferable to write about the things that are close to your heart. Moreover, in those cases in which interviews are held before the final decision is made, it is possible for the panel to assess if you have been genuine in your application essay. So, keep it real and be honest. Don’t go for pretenses!
- Personalize and express yourself
The essay is called a “personal” statement for a reason – it’s giving you a chance to express your opinions, ambitions, experiences and beliefs for the readers to get a clear-cut idea of who you are. Here, numbers and stats like your GPA, no matter how remarkable, are not as important as creating a deep and meaningful connection with the reader. A thoughtful and promising essay, full of ideas and personality, is preferred to a high-powered profile. Let your characteristic traits stand out through the statement.
- Make it clear, organized and specific
The essay should not be so abstract that it comes across as ambiguous and vague. Ensure that the details and references are accurate and precise. Even while explaining personal stories and illustrations, maintain a logical structure and flow, without digressing or beating around the bush. Being too general fails to make your essay seem natural, unique and memorable. Also, keep it short and simple rather than being overdrawn. The idea you are trying to convey should be expressed in such a way that any reader could comprehend its essence and intention correctly. Also, write in paragraphs that represent a clear beginning, middle and end so that it is more concise and easier to read.
- Use examples and anecdotes
Instead of just mentioning your ideas and opinions, it is ideal to illustrate with actual stories how you translated all of that into action. There should be evidence that you have put all your skills into use and have contributed to the causes you believe in.
In addition to writing about work experiences, give insight into activities like volunteering, summer school, outreach programs and other experiences of social value that you have been a part of and mention how they have impacted your life. Concrete examples should make it apparent that you have been active outside of your syllabus. Write about the most recent events and specify why it is meaningful to you and your ambitions. The anecdotes should be relevant and should prove that you have the expertise, leadership qualities, drive, problem-solving skills, passion and everything that makes you a promising aspirant. It should be reflective of your progress and direction in life.
- Avoid clichés, jokes and repetitions
Don’t use basic, generic quotes and sentences that anyone could write. Each expression should be your own and not just a stock phrase that has lost all meaning due to repetition.
Jokes are best avoided because what might humor you need not always seem funny to all readers, and this makes the essay awkward for some people. Also, ensure that you don’t repeat the same points as it might suggest a lack of ideas and clarity.
- Avoid grammatical errors
It is not just enough to impress the university with your accomplishments, experiences and goals – you need to also ensure that there are no grammar mistakes or spelling and punctuation errors, so edit your essay thoroughly. They are enough to take away the entire quality and crux of your personal statement and make it appear to be lacking seriousness.
Use formal, proper language that isn’t too complex to understand and a writing style that is pleasing and graceful. Don’t use slangs or short forms and write without any linguistic mistakes or inconsistencies. If any particular rules are specified by the university, take special care to follow them.
- Start early and revise numerous times
It is important to start your essay several months ahead of the deadline to give yourself time. Experiment with multiple drafts and discover a form that works for you. Brainstorm, plan and carefully think about all points to be covered and questions to be answered, and choose to write about the most appropriate and logical ideas. Get insight from friends, teachers, etc. because they can help determine whether the essay captures your essence and thus help you improve it. You can also check if people who don’t know you are able to understand the points you are attempting to convey. Edit ruthlessly, reflect creatively and take your time to perfect it.
- Focus on a central theme
Don’t let your personal statement be all over the place. Let it have a particular, fixed purpose so that it flows in one direction and has coherence. Whether you decide the theme beforehand or it emerges as you write, make sure that there is a clear and prominent idea being put forward and there is unity in all the information and concepts being presented. This will create a lasting impression on the reader of what the essay stands for.
- Convince them that you deserve it
The underlying intention of a personal statement is for you to promote and sell yourself, without pushing it too far. It can be done by using a fair amount of positive action words like ‘achieved’, ‘completed’ etc. and backing up your mentioned skills with actual experience. You could also talk about what you have to offer to the university. Mention that you want to learn more and that the scholarship will help you reach your goals. Use specific examples to talk about how you overcame obstacles in life. Phrase your sentences in such a way that they take on a humble tone rather than an arrogant one, but don’t downplay your achievements too much either, so find a balance.
- Do not rewrite your resumé
A personal statement prioritizes the individual and his or her stories more than credentials. It has emotional value and should ideally resonate with the committee of readers. It is therefore important to strike a chord with them, one human to another, through stories and incidents. Based on whether it is relevant to your course, you can talk about your interests, hobbies and any wider reading you have done. So instead of just repeating your resumé, select a few experiences you want to elaborate on in order to stir the hearts of the readers, so they feel encouraged to invest in you.
These are some of the most crucial points to keep in mind as you work on your Statement of Purpose. Put in the effort to produce a solid essay because it plays an incredibly pivotal role in whether you win the scholarship or not.
Unlike resumés, Personal statements give you an opportunity to truly express yourself and stand out while doing so. It helps you communicate your vision and can be considered your “Intellectual autobiography”.
So, make sure you work towards creating a quality Personal Statement because, amid thousands of applicants with admirable GPAs, your story could let you be the one that wins you that scholarship.