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Personal statements

When a student is looking forward to a scholarship application, he must provide three pieces of information. This includes the GPA, letter of recommendations as well as the personal statement. GPA and letter of recommendation do not have the weight and significance of personal statements. The way you write your personal statement is more important and takes much more consideration than the other two criteria. You can consult examples of personal statements that have been done before.

What then, is a personal statement?

It is a written expression of your qualities as an applicant used by the admission committees to assess your suitability for a specific program in college or university. As such, a personal statement requires great care when writing. Most of the decision that the admissions committee makes hinges on the way you express yourself in personal statements.  A personal statement is:

  • A picture
    This essay should paint a picture of you as a person, a student, a potential winner of a scholarship award and a former scholarship recipient.
  • An invitation
    A personal essay should invite the reader to get to know who you are on a personal level. It bridges the gap between distant strangers. You have to make your reader feel welcome.
  • A demonstration of your priorities and judgment
    Whatever you say in your statement helps the scholarship committee to know your priorities. This makes what you say and how you say it, crucial.
  • Your precise story
    Everybody can tell a story, but not everyone is a natural storyteller. If you do not have inherent drama, then you are like most people. Now, you must use serious self-reflection, conversation with friends and family and is also an opportunity for you to become creative.
  • Authentic
    You should not write what you think the committee wants to hear. They want to know you better, and you can see this by checking examples of personal statements. Guessing what about what they want to hear from you is a mistake that will make you come out as egotistical. 

A personal statement is not:

  • An academic paper that revolves around you as the subject
    Papers that you write in your class interpret data, reflect research, analyse events or readings. Most of the academic papers a student's faces do not include the element of the first-person When writing personal statements, you can choose the distance between you and the reader. You engage them on a more personal level. It is as if you are writing your resume in a narrative form.
  • An application essay is not a list of achievements and goals telling the reader nothing that they could not garner from the rest of the application. It is a wasted opportunity since it reveals too little information about the candidate.
  • A journal entry
    You may use the personal and important events captured in your diary. However, you are not supposed to make your statement read like a diary. Write what is relevant and use the experiences to put your story into context. Include the information that you are comfortable sharing and be ready to talk about it in an interview.
  • A justification for the scholarship
    This is not an opportunity for you to highlight your case. It becomes a wasted effort if you are merely defending the assertion that you are more deserving than other candidates.

Importance of personal statements

Students apply to the same university course with similar grades just like you. However, they are not you; they do not have the same skills, experiences, and thoughts. One of the significance of personal statements is to enable you to demonstrate your uniqueness as a person. This uniqueness is enough to capture the attention of the audience.

Personal statements help you to differentiate yourself from the rest of the candidates. You can fill in the picture a tutor has of you, and how you can impress them to want to meet you or admit you to your dream school.

How the institution uses your personal statement

Besides writing your personal statements, you must also meet other formal requirements of a course as per the university standards. However, that spot might come down to you and another applicant who have the same grades. How you write your statement can determine if you will get the slot or not.

If you get a chance for an interview, your personal statement can help you in shaping the questions that you will field from the committee. This works especially if you have a fear of one-on-one interviews. You never know, something in your statement can serve as an icebreaker to ease your anxiety. 

When you do not meet the grade requirement, your personal statement comes in handy. An institution will prefer giving you the slot if your personal statements demonstrate the kind of commitment and enthusiasm they are seeking, instead of giving it to someone else who did not apply in the first place.

If you find yourself in the clear with your results, the institution you call might recognise your personal statement. This essay can make a big impression very fast during the short notice interview process.

The length of your personal statement

A personal statement is supposed to take 4000 characters and 47 lines. This might seem like too much from the onset, but your perspective is subject to change once you begin writing. Draft your statement and finalise it in a word document.  The length of your personal statement varies depending on the institution to which you are applying. Therefore, there is no standard word limit for your personal statement as you can ascertain from different examples of personal statements.

Components of a personal statement

This is what you include in your personal statement:

  • An explanation as to why you want to pursue the course
    Elucidate the reasons why you want to study the course at the university level. Tell the admission officer how you developed your interest and what you have done to pursue Show how you have come to be inspired to pursue your current studies. Avoid overusing the word passion when writing this essay. If you want something specific and reasonable from the course, state it.
  • Show why you fit the course
    Show the admission committee that you meet the criteria and you have researched the course widely to understand what your studies will involve at the university level. You can show this by giving relevant examples. The general idea is to show that you know and understand the reasons why you want to do the course.
  • Incorporate what you have done outside the classroom
    Show the admission committee how you have pursued your interest in the subject of your interest beyond the existing syllabus and gained significant understanding. Give critical reflections to show the admissions officer how you think. You can talk about books, newspapers, websites, periodicals, blogs, and any material you have read. Discuss films, documentaries, radio programs, or podcasts you have watched or listened to.
  • Show the relevance of your experiences to your course
    Elucidate on the lessons you have learnt from your personal experiences and how they have shaped your interest in the course. Talk about work experience, volunteering, university taster session, or any other significant experience that relates to your study. The idea is to show what you took from those experiences. You also need to show how these experiences are relevant to your career. Reflecting on relevant observations or experiences is important for some professional courses, especially if you are applying for both career and the course.
  • Demonstrate transferable skills
    Every tutor wants to hear about these skills. This can refer to your ability to work independently, in a team, excellent time management, leadership, problem-solving, organisational or listening skills. Some universities will set these skills in the description of a course. You only need to identify them. 
  • Elaborate on the most relevant ones
    Do not rumble about all the skills that you possess. You only explain the most relevant ones to the course you are applying for. You have to read about your course to understand how your relevant experiences apply. Show the admissions officer how you have developed, used, and strengthened these experiences.
  • Your ability to think critically
    University studies are all about independent thinking and analysis. You have to show that you are already working in such a manner in your personal statements.
  • Talk about your long-term plan
    You have to talk about your long-term goals and do it in a fascinating manner. When you do this, show a spark of imagination or individuality. If you are not sure, talk about what you are looking forward to at university and what you stand to gain from your course and university life in general. While you are writing this personal statements, maintain positivity from the onset to the end.
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