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A personal statement stands out from other educational documents in that it’s intended to be personal, as the name suggests. It offers the admissions committee a glimpse of your personality and not just your abilities and accomplishments.
A personal statement requires just the right amount of vulnerability, accompanied by passion and enthusiasm. But first, you need to know what is a personal statement. Let’s take a look.
A personal statement is a personal essay required by selection committees for jobs, scholarships, or universities. It is a summary of your accomplishments, interests, experiences, and goals.
A personal statement is often confused with a statement of purpose, but these are completely different documents.
A statement of purpose highlights your career path, academic and professional achievements, and motivations for choosing a particular field of study in a much more formal manner.
A personal statement, on the other hand, emphasizes both academic achievements and personal aspects.
An effective personal statement answers questions like:
Who am I?
What are my strengths and weaknesses?
What are my talents and accomplishments?
Why am I applying to the school of my choice?
What are the experiences that piqued my interest in my chosen field of study?
What are the special aspects of the school I’m applying to?
Similar to most writing assignments, breaking down a personal statement into smaller parts can make the writing process much easier. A personal statement follows the standard format of the introduction, body, and conclusion, but you need not write them in that order.
We recommend writing the introduction at the end, as it’s the most challenging part and requires a higher level of creativity. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty about how to write a personal statement for grad school or for college:
Starting your introduction with your name is the biggest mistake you can make. The admissions committee already has access to your personal information and academic credentials and is looking to gain deeper insights into your personality, interests, and motivations.
To make a strong impression, it’s better to begin with what motivated you to study your chosen field or why you’re interested in studying at a particular university. Let’s look at an example:
One summer while running around in my backyard, I fell down and scraped my knee. My grandfather, being an established doctor, carefully bandaged my wound. His calm, prompt, and comforting demeanor left a lasting impression on me. It sparked my interest in medicine.
A personal statement should be authentic to you and should help you stand out amongst your peers. You have to sell yourself to the admissions committee and let them know your skills, accomplishments, and talents without sounding conceited.
A good way to do this is to avoid mentioning academic achievements which are already mentioned in your transcripts. Instead, mention qualities and insights you’ve gained over the years with the help of real-life experiences. For example:
Leading my school’s basketball team taught me the values of teamwork, coordination, agreeableness, and leadership.
You can also mention insights gained from a job or internship, a paper or a journal that had an impact on you or a course or session you conducted that taught you something new.
Working as a nurse in the children’s hospital was an eye-opening experience for me. It not only made me a kinder, more compassionate person but also taught me practical skills such as suturing a wound.
Make sure to tie the conclusion with the body of the personal statement to create a story arc. The concluding statements should carry information about how your chosen field of study or the facilities provided by the universities will be useful to you in your professional career.
Make sure to use emphatic and expressive language to make your personal statement more impactful. For example:
Gaining hands-on experience with the state-of-the-art operating machine provided by your medical department will give me a head-start in my chosen field of neuroscience.
Just like it is with any other important document, proofreading your personal statement is crucial. It ensures that your statement is free of errors and presents you in the best possible light.
You have a few options for proofreading your personal statement. One option is to proofread it yourself, but it can be difficult to catch all of your own mistakes. Another option is to ask a friend or family member to proofread it for you. They can provide a fresh perspective and may catch errors that you missed.
If you want to take your proofreading to the next level, it’s a good idea to have your work proofread by a professional. A personal statement editing service has the critical eye and experience necessary to catch even the most subtle errors.
Note: Although its content and structure remain the same, the length and complexity of a personal statement depending on its purpose. Personal statements for universities and scholarships are typically longer and more detailed as compared to those required for jobs.
Let’s take a look at the tips and tricks to write a personal statement along with relevant examples:
1. Keep it personal.
Although there are certain rules to be followed when writing a personal statement, it is important not to lose your own voice. The admissions committee wants to get to know you as a person and not just as a student.
2. Avoid unnecessarily complicated language.
Using appropriate technical terms in your field can showcase your expertise and understanding of the subject matter to the admissions committee. But overusing or misusing jargon can confuse, or even put them off.
3. Avoid simply listing achievements and experiences.
While highlighting your achievements and experiences is essential, simply listing them is not enough. It’s important to provide insights into what you’ve learned from these experiences since the admissions committee already has access to your transcripts and wants to know more about your personality.
4. Keep a light, positive tone.
Even when writing about a serious topic such as “How I overcame homelessness”, the tone should be inspirational and insightful.
5. Use action words.
Make use of action words to make your text more conversational and engaging. For instance, instead of writing “I was the captain of the volleyball team and we won many tournaments” you can say “As the volleyball captain, I consistently lead my team to victory”.
Let’s better understand how to write an impactful personal statement with the help of an effective personal statement example:
As a child, I always found it difficult to relate to children my age. I was quiet, timid, and very vulnerable. I was 17 when I was first diagnosed with depression. With the help of professionals, I was not only able to function better but was also able to integrate into groups.
The effects of therapy and medication amazed me. The underrated field of psychology had a powerful impact on me. It helped me understand myself as well as those around me better. This is why, when it came to choosing a field of study, I chose abnormal psychology.
In college, I not only topped my course but also conducted drives and free therapy sessions to help those in need. I also published a paper on the effects of appreciation and criticism on mental health.
I believe that my experiences with mental illness will give me a unique perspective in the field of abnormal psychology. I believe I’ll be able to provide more effective and practical solutions to patients because of my own struggles. My goal is to make a difference in the lives of others by helping them overcome their struggles and find happiness.
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