Not to worry. A personal statement is a crucial part of university applications, so props to you for learning how to write one now!
The purpose of a personal statement is to showcase your potential. Hence, it is a great opportunity for you to stand out and present your real self that is not defined by data on paper.
When you write a personal statement, it should contain the best information about you. Pick a topic you resonate with and relate it to your own experience. Here’s a handful of ideas you can choose to write about:
Additionally, these are pointers on what you can include in your personal statement:
You’ll enjoy writing the essay more if it’s a topic that you relate to. This is your story to tell, so have fun with it!
It’s important to show that you’re passionate about the subject. The admissions officer will be evaluating your eligibility to enter the course by your enthusiasm, so you need to show them that you’re interested.
Write about why the course excites you and where that interest came from. It could be from a recent experience you had, or a goal that you want to achieve in the future. If you’re stuck, use this writing prompt to begin:
I want to study this course/subject because….
Students often struggle to write a personal statement because they’ve never written one in school before. The trick is to write it like how you would write a story. Imagine yourself as the main character and write the essay like you would craft a story of your own.
A good story begins as a marathon, not a sprint. Instead of immediately jumping to the main event, take your time to develop the story. It’s much more interesting when the writer slowly introduces suspenseful or thrilling elements in the plot.
Here’s an example:
“I was so overjoyed when I crossed the finish line. Months of my hard work training and dieting had finally paid off!”
Compared to this:
“My heart hammered in excitement as I rounded the corner to the finish line. Sweat poured down my eyebrows and my knees were bucking from exhaustion. But I was so close. As I took my final steps towards the finish line, cheers went up from the crowd.
Their encouragement gave me the last bit of strength I needed. Taking a deep breath, I dragged my tired feet to the finish line, and cut through the ribbon just in time as the referee blew his whistle. My own shouts of excitement were drowned out by the crowd in uproar. I raised my hands in triumph, taking in the scene before me. I made it through!”
Notice how the second paragraph is more interesting to read? By providing a descriptive dialogue in your essay, you hook the reader’s interest and motivate them to read further.
In the entire 500-word essay, you are trying to sell yourself to the university as a worthy student.
So, don’t hold back. List down all your strengths and go into detail about how it contributed to your experiences, goals, and values. If you have previous work experience or have participated in any volunteer activities before, use it as an example to showcase how your strengths made a positive impact.
For example, if you have good time management skills, you may have used it to help out in a high school project. Explain how you contributed to the project and used your time management skills to ensure that everything was completed on schedule.
You can also add about what you learned from this experience. Elaborate on how it formed your mindset and led you to choose the course of your choice, moulding you into the knowledgeable and mature person you are today.
You can also add in any future plans you may be considering to pursue with your skills once you graduate. This shows you have initiative and ambition by planning for the future!
Ever heard the saying ‘A writer shouldn’t edit their own work?’
That’s because when a writer creates a good, creative piece, they get attached to it. This creates a bias towards their own work and prevents them from seeing it for what it really is. The same concept applies when you write a personal statement.
That’s why you need a proofreader—someone who can give you feedback and tell you what can be improved or changed in the essay.
Your proofreader can be a family member, friend, or classmate. Make sure they check your essay for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, as the admissions officer will be evaluating your writing ability as well.
This is important! Don’t rush it.
I know you want to get it over and done with, but a well-written essay won’t be completed in a day. In fact, it took me a whole week to write my personal statement. Then I had to wait another week for my friends to proofread and give their feedback. At one point, I was so dissatisfied with my topic that I completely changed the content, delaying it for another week.
The point is, don’t be afraid to make changes. Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a break for a day or two so you can come back to it with a fresh state of mind.
Lastly, be honest in your essay. It can be tempting to make up a huge story about how you led your high school football team to championship after passing tryouts, but it won’t last you long.
Instead, be honest about what you have learned. Universities do not rank the acceptance of a student by the number of achievements in their personal statement, but rather, the beliefs and values that guide your choice to study this course.
What you put in your personal statement may not be what you want to do at the end of your degree, but it’s about having the drive and focus to achieve what you set out to do when you begin university. Channel that ambition into your essay, and you’re bound to make a good impression!
Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken. -Oscar Wilde
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