When you apply for admission to a university or college, you will almost certainly be asked to write a personal statement so that the admission committee can see whether you are the right fit for the college or a particular degree program.
With dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants for each position, all of whom are usually relatively equal in their academic achievements, a personal statement is what truly can set you apart from the competition. In other words, a well-written personal statement can make all the difference between being admitted to the college of your dreams and getting a rejection. In this article, we will cover some of the most effective techniques for writing a good personal statement.
Structure of a Personal Statement
Just like most other academic assignments, a personal statement consists of an introduction, the main part, and a conclusion. However, what you put into each of these parts is very specific, and you should be careful to follow certain patterns.
Introduction is, first and foremost, your own personal introduction. You should show who you are, what kind of person you are, with the first few sentences, to pique the interest of the committee and motivate them to read further. Tell them why you are interested in the degree in question, what recent experience you had with relevant work and why you believe both you and the college will benefit from accepting your application.
The main part of the personal statement expands on what you mentioned in the introduction. Here you further dwell upon why you are the right choice for the college and provide details that will help the committee make a decision. Here is what you should mention:
- What you achieved so far. List everything relevant to the degree you intend to study for. If you have work experience, or you volunteered in the industry related to the discipline you will study, mention it. List all suitable certifications and awards. If you worked on relevant personal projects, mention them as well;
- What skills and talents you have. Elaborate on the skills you acquired or talents you have that are relevant to the chosen degree. If you happen to know what values and abilities the college you apply to is interested in, mention them separately;
- What you will bring on board. How will the college benefit from accepting you? Why do you believe yourself to be a valuable asset? Both experience and eagerness to learn and perform certain types of tasks work well here;
- What you aim for. What are your academic and future professional goals? How does the degree you apply for fit into your vision of your future? It will speak favorably about you if you can single out a specific goal the college you apply for can help you achieve, rather than a vague direction in which you intend to move.
Finish with a strong conclusion. Do not spend too much space on it – a few sentences will be more than enough. Try to make a lasting impression. Be specific – reiterate how you believe the college can help you with your career goals and how you see yourself five to ten years from now.
General Tips for Writing a Personal Statement
The best personal statements are a combination of seemingly diametrically opposite qualities: a personal voice and a professional, down-to-earth tone. Finding the right balance between the two should be your primary purpose when writing one.
First of all, let your voice express your personality. Describe your qualities and experience in your own words, do not try to imitate somebody or something. However, do not try to use an overly familiar tone – be natural, but in the sense of what would be natural when discussing a professional matter with a boss rather than a personal matter with your friends.
Try to single out something that makes you unique, be it an experience, talent, background, or something else. However, do not fall into the mistake of trying to be unique for uniqueness’ sake. Some students try to write in a tongue-in-cheek, intentionally weird tone to try and look different – you will be neither the first nor the last one to try it, and it only annoys the admission committee.
Keep your writing simple. Use short, easily understandable sentences and straightforward wording. The committee has to go through dozens, possibly hundreds of statements, and they will be thankful if you make yours easy to comprehend.
Use positive language and active voice. They highlight your enthusiasm for the degree and your active stance in life.
What to Pay Attention to When You Proofread a Personal Statement
Determine the areas of your writing that you are particularly bad at. For example, if you know that you tend to use a lot of passive voice, write it down and go over the statement at least once with a specific purpose of rooting out as many instances of passive voice as possible. Do the same for every problematic area.
Read the text aloud – it helps to notice awkward phrasing and poor choice of words. Better yet, print the text out using a different font – when the assignment looks different from what you are used to, it helps in singling out mistakes that you normally skip over.
Go to somebody you trust and ask him/her to proofread the personal statement for you – another point of view is always beneficial in proofreading, as somebody with no preconceptions about your writing is more likely to notice mistakes and logical inconsistencies.
Most importantly, make sure your grammar and spelling are perfect – nothing devalues one’s presentation as one’s inability to express themselves in proper English.
If you are still not sure about your ability to write something decent, try out personal statement writing services – there are many reliable agencies working in this industry, with professionals who churn out this kind of writing for a living. They know what admission committees expect and can be of great help.
However, given enough time and effort, these tips can certainly help you write something you can be proud of.