Top-ranked colleges and universities receive too many applications. Since many students coming from different countries and backgrounds have similar grades, it becomes quite difficult for the committee to select the right candidates.
Grades and test scores tell about your academic background. But it provides too little information about you. To know the reason you are applying to a graduate school and why the school should give you admission, colleges along with transcripts and test scores demand to submit a personal essay well.
1. What is a Personal Statement
We talked about personal statements, but we still are not that clear about it. Basically it's a medium between you and your admission committee. Through your personal essay, you can tell your committee why you picked their college, and through the same medium, the committee gets the answers to the questions, “why they should give you admission?”
An admission essay is a short essay where you talk about your accomplishments and your learning journey throughout your life.
Crafting a really good personal mission statement can, later on, help you in your scholarship essay too. All you have to do is to make minor changes and submit your scholarship essay.
2. Why is a Personal Statement Important?
Do you really need to write a personal statement? Is it important?
Yes, a personal essay is very important. There are a few reasons for its importance.
The first and foremost reason is, your grades aren't the only thing that defines your capabilities. There are dozens of other criteria based on which you can be evaluated. Those are the qualities that define you as a person, and your college want to know who that person is and how he lives his life. For example the qualities could be, your leadership quality, empathy, high achiever, involvement in community, the way you support and empower others and the way you resolve conflicts and solve problems.
Your grades and test scores don't talk, and they don't tell the committee who you are. They only portray your academic background and academic capabilities.
Scholarship grants also demand a personal statement to get to know better why you need a scholarship.
3. How to Write a Personal Statement
Writing a personal statement makes your life hard, especially when you are a high school student or writing it for the very first time.
Most of the students spend weeks on just the beginning. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. You have to start somewhere to finish. You start your writing with the brainstorming. The alumni who attended college will tell you the same. They started early too, and so should you.
Brainstorm and find out what would you write about and what should you include?
Find out what you can't wait to tell the admissions committee. Write down what comes to your mind.
Also, write what you think might be important and the committee would want to hear it.
If you are having a hard time figuring out the key points. Here are a few questions you need to answer.
- Where do you spend your spare time?
- What makes you feel proud?
- What motivates you?
- Which moment was a defining moment in your life?
This is how you can find what's important and matters to you the most. For example, where does your time go answers the question of your priorities? You choose to spend time on what you like and what you prefer. Here you unconsciously found out your priorities.
What makes you feel proud? This is an easy one. Your accomplishments make you feel proud. You can mention here your major life accomplishments.
There must be something that inspires you to take action or just give you a purpose to go in a specific direction. You would also need to know that and if it is considerable, you can tell your admissions committee about it.
The turning point of your life is something that you remember for the rest of your life. Life experiences are not just experiences, it brings life lessons with it. You would want to talk about the defining moment of your life. And the admission committee would love to know it.
There is one more thing you need to do. Answering these questions:
3.1.1 Why You Hand-Picked this College
This is perhaps the most important of not only your school application but your life. Find out why do you want to go to college in the first place? No matter if it's a law school, engineering school or medical school, a statement of purpose is a must.
Finding out your inspiration will make your life easier in the long term. It will tell if you are a good fit in that particular school.
If you found this, it would be really easy to tell your admission committee why they should give you admission.
3.1.2 What Should We Choose You
Another question that you should answer is the way you?
Yes, this also equally matters because the college can not revolve around you. This is where you answer the question, “what are you bringing to the table?”. The college wants you to bring something to the college.
Your entry to the college should add value to the community not just get a degree and leave.
If you are enthusiastic about the college and the particular program that you are applying to. Do show your enthusiasm. The committee wants to know if you are energetic enough to take the program.
Also you are a unique person and your essay tells exactly that to the admission officers. Your personal essay reflects your uniqueness and that is the reason you can leave many people with similar or even higher grades behind.
3.2 Write Your Key Points
Write your key points from brainstorming and use them later in your personal statement.
Your key points must include things you want to mention in your application.
And the structure you are going to follow.
It also depends on the prompt, but you still can talk about things that are important to you. They can be, your achievements, problem solving skills through your unique personal approach to problems and conflicts, your leadership qualities and how you lead a group in the past, it could also be something that changed your mind or your life. You can also talk about the graduate programs the college is offering and how that one program fits your dreams.
3.3 Start Writing Your Personal Statement
Many students spend too much time thinking about how to start a personal statement. Here is a tip:
Stop thinking and start writing, start writing with whatever comes to your mind. This will help you compile a rough draft that you can convert into a perfect essay by refining.
Write no matter what, you would write extra as well as irrelevant but it does not matter as it is just a draft. Rough drafts are very helpful in crafting a perfect essay.
This will help you gather sufficient information on which you can write a good personal mission statement to get yourself admitted into your dream college.
Once you are done writing your draft, it's time to start the artwork. Start crafting your draft in every way possible.
Insert sentences that grab the reader's attention and make them read your statement carefully.
Eliminate everything that is irrelevant. Remember you can't talk about how cute your puppy is or your favorite ice cream flavor.
3.5 Format and Finish
Since a personal statement is a formal letter, it should be in a proper format. So, before finishing do format your statement. You can follow the introduction, body, conclusion format.
Use proper readable font style. Prefer keeping Arial or Times New Romans. Keep it between 500 and 1000 words.
Strictly avoid an unchecked document to the college. Proofread your essay yourself or ask someone to proofread it for you. It will help you eliminate irrelevant data, grammatical mistakes, and vague sentences. Remember it is a formal document, it should sound like one.
4. Do's and Don'ts
In this section, you will learn things you need to avoid and things you must include in your essay
- Avoid grammatical mistakes, the committee considers you irresponsible and will think that you haven't put enough effort into the essay and hence will consider you not interested enough.
- Avoid cliches, use your own metaphors instead.
- Academic and formal writing never appreciate slang. Believe it or not, the people sitting on the admission committee are not great fans either.
- Exaggeration, the officers evaluating your application will never appreciate it.
- Humor: if you seriously thing trying to be funny in your personal statement can get you admission, you need to rethink it.
- Plagiarism: certainly the major point. You can't just copy someone's well written college application and attach it with your application. The admissions officers will cancel your admission with no questions asked. There is no tolerance policy in this regard, in any college out there.
- A picturesque description: describe yourself in a way that portrays an image of yours in the eyes of the committee.
- About the college: Do talk about college because the committee is really interested in how much you know about the college and program you are applying to.
- Connecting sentences: make sure the transition is smooth and connecting. It will keep everything in flow.
- Priorities: as you are writing your statement, you are being noticed. You are including and excluding things that show your priorities. Include what matters.
- Your story: your personal should sound like you, not your favorite actor or athlete.
5. Personal Statement Example
To make a personal essay easier, we have added examples here in the downloadable file for your reference. You can open it up and see how other people write their personal statements.
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