Personal statement for college and how to write one

Writing, talking or writing about yourself can be an uphill task, this may be due to social anxiety or not. Whatever the case may be, if you are applying to a college for admission or scholarship, you will be required to write a personal statement. A particular section in your application for college or admission allows you to share something about yourself that cannot be found on your transcript and paint a picture of your personality.

Personal statement for college and how to write one

Your personal statement may differ depending on the application.

When applying for college admission, your personal statement should clearly describe the person you are. It is a chance to sell yourself as it is the only opportunity you get to present yourself to the admission team. It is recommended you tell a story, don’t bore them with your achievements, your official document contains that. It should also complement the other parts of your application. Consider your college application as a whole.

In scholarship applications however highlight why you are deserving of the scholarship, aligning yourself and achievements through your personal statement to the scholarship provider’s goals. You can’t have a passion for engineering and want to submit to a scholarship provider whose goal is to support applicants in the health line.

What is your Personal Statement about?

YOU.

That’s the answer.

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to writing a personal statement but it is expected to contain specific and vital information enough to convince the board or admission team you are qualified for a scholarship or an admission. A personal statement avails you the opportunity to relay why you choose to study at a particular college, skills and experience you possess, or major in a field and showcase you have what it takes to study and complete the course successfully.

Each college or scholarship provider may provide guidelines for writing a personal statement (this may include prompts, a word or page limit usually between 350 and 500 words) Admission or scholarships applications can be very competitive, having a strong personal statement increases your chances of success.

Tips to writing your personal statement

Below are a few suggestions on what to include to help structure your personal statement.  Youtube writing has to be unique and most importantly ‘personal’.

  1. Depending on the prompts given, choose something that’s not complex, comes naturally to you, is concise and enthusiastic. Here are some subject ideas you can write on if a prompt was not specified.
  2. Challenges, obstacles or failures from the past and lessons learned or how they changed you
  3. Background, interest and passion and how its applicable to the course of study or scholarship provider goals,
  4. Skills, experience and accomplishment that may have led to personal growth
  5. Narrate a problem you’ve encountered or solved or would like to solve, anything that is of personal importance, its significance to you and how the solution was identified or step that you could take to identify a solution.
  1. Be unique,  create a lasting impression. Be yourself, insert quotes and be careful with humour, as cultural background differs.
  2. Choose an engaging opening sentence that would pique an interest  Example “I have applied to do this course because…” “My interest in… was first aroused by…” “My fascination with…”
  3. Your paragraphs and statements should be linked and clearly reflect how the skills and qualities the universities and colleges value most to describe you or how they fit into your personal goals.
  4. Avoid generalisations. Make specific statements that support your points giving examples too.
  5. Check the character and line limit to ensure you do not exceed the number of words in the instruction
  6. Edit and cross-check your work personally and get others to do it, Check grammatical blunders, spelling, punctuation.

How to a Write Personal Statement

  1. Introduction

Begin with a catchy introduction. How well you begin your writing determines how interested your reader will be. Before writing your first words be sure to have extensive research on the school, the course and skills it requires, scholarship type, its requirement and how it best suits you. You can start by outlining and giving written answers to

  • Who are you and/or where are you currently studying
  •  What are you applying for and why are you thinking completing the course will help you purpose a career or for a higher level of study. Make your interest clear.
  • Your reasons for wanting to study your chosen subjects or pursue higher learning in a particular field.
  •  Highlight why studying at the school or getting a scholarship is the best fit for you. This is where you insert your skills, experience, interest and extracurricular activities like sports, music, relevant work experience, an award you won, volunteering, leader position or other activity, directly relating them to the course you have applied for and how these experiences have prepared you well for the course you’ve applied to and useful skills like communication skills, teamwork, responsibility, or commitment that would help during the course.

Remember, you want to show that you understand what the course involves and that you have the skills and experience to perform well in it.

This first part centres on your reason for applying and how passionate and excited you are about it. Be enthusiastic about studying the course or getting the scholarship as it is a step closer to your dreams.

  1. Experiences that support your application:

Prioritise the most relevant skills and experience which you have and which help you know that you will enjoy

the course. Attach testimonials or evidence to support your points. You may include how other things including social strata (having family or not) may affect choices, extracurricular activities, hobbies and passion have influenced your current choices. Relate your past experience, awards and skills to the present course you are applying for and if an experience from the past plays a major in your current choice.

Benefit – What skills it has given you

Course – How these skills relate to your course

  1. Structure

Structure your personal statement in a clear and concise way. Make sure to explain your examples and experience. Do not just list them but state how they are relevant to the course you are applying to by mentioning the skills they involve and those you possess. Your paragraphs should have be linking and not appear haphazardly. For example, you can have a paragraph on your work experience, a paragraph on your activities in school, a paragraph on your activities outside school all linked to the former in a way it is easy to understand. Put your points out logically.

Example:

Paragraph 1- Introduction and Reasons for Applying

Paragraph 2- Experiences that support your application

Paragraph 3- Talk about yourself, personality, extracurricular activities and school activities

Paragraph 4- Stress why you should be taken and why you are the choice candidate

  1. Be honest

Do not makeup stories to feel smart or evoke pity from the admission tutor. Remember that you will be asked to submit supporting documents or be asked to an interview and questions will be based on information from your personal statement. Provide only accurate and verifiable information so you do not get disqualified or not accepted.

  1. Proofreading and Editing

Most schools and scholarship bodies that request applications in English also score the grammar, arrangement and punctuation of the student’s personal statement. A badly written statement may reduce your chances especially if it lacks clarity and conciseness. After writing your personal statement, edit and proofread it over and over again, use grammar errors and spelling tools, and give it to teachers and tutors to help you cross-check it. There’s no rush so take your time and go over it again and again until you are satisfied. It is recommended you write your statement on a different platform before you paste the final version into your form.

This part of your application requires more time and careful thinking, take your time to do proper research on the college or scholarship providers. Your personal statement is an avenue for them to know you, the skills you have and if you are the best choice. So use this opportunity to tell them you are not just a good student but a choice one. You do not have to add so much spice or use big words to impress them. Take your time to carefully put your statements together and submit them.

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