The Grade Miners Guide to Writing a Strong Personal Statement
A personal statement is a brief essay where you explain to the college selection team why you are the best candidate for the course you are applying to take. Personal statements are also part of the application essays used for graduate school applicants.
Colleges receive many applications from many applicants who have excellent grades. Distinguishing between such candidates is impossible. Therefore, personal statements are used to shed light on their personality, thoughts, experiences, and skills. In short, colleges want to get to know you beyond your grades.
Importantly, personal statements bring more understanding of the applicant’s personality. Qualities such as empathy, eagerness to learn, diversity in thinking, etc. are considered very desirable to the college environment. However, they cannot be assessed from test score transcript.
What distinguishes two students applying for the same course and with similar test scores and grades? Well, the answer is pretty straightforward. In reality, these are two different people with two distinct personalities although they appear similar on paper. The way they view things is also different, and entirely different things motivate them. Without the personal statement essay, all the applicants are the same as there is no way to know them beyond their transcripts.
Personal statements are also used to assess the applicants’ writing skills. Just like with other college application essays, the applicants’ writing skills are put to the test. The college admission board wants to see if you can provide a convincing argument. Therefore, it is essential for you to be articulate and concise. Use of expressive language, persuasive writing, brevity, and logical argumentation showcase you as an outstanding writer and automatically puts you ahead of the game. Also, avoid typing and grammatical mistakes since they destroy your credibility as a writer.
Personal statements are also used to assist the admission panel to understand the experiences (good or bad) that have shaped your life.
To write an excellent personal statement, you need to understand what the admission officers want. Ordinarily, most personal statement essay prompts ask about the following:
The reason for applying to that particular college
The selection panel wants to see if you are genuinely enthusiastic about their school. The admission officers want to know if given a chance; you would join the school.
Your personal history
The question is usually asked to give more insight into who you are as a person. You are told to describe an experience that has played a pivotal role in your life. The aim is to understand the things that are important to you and how your background has influenced your personality. The trick in this question is that it is clear-cut. It wants you to focus on a particular moment in your life that was significant to you. Trying to give many details about different life stories is therefore irrelevant.
Testing problem-solving skills
Many personal statement questions want to know what you would do when faced with a problem. The admission officers are assessing your problem-solving skills. They want to see how you handle failure. Sometimes life in college can become challenging, both in your personal life and in class. Admission officers are therefore keen to know if you are prepared to deal with those challenges if you faced them. The trick to answering these types of personal statement prompts is to think about a specific problem or an instance of failure in your life. Talk about a distressing moment and demonstrate how you coped with it, the lessons learned, and how it made a positive impact in your life.
Analyzing diversity in thinking
Colleges are large institutions with students from all sorts of backgrounds. The admission panel uses personal statements to evaluate your interactions with different people particularly those who are very different from you. The best way to answer diversity questions is by demonstrating that you can relate easily to people who share different beliefs than you and that you are open to new ideas and are even willing to engage them.
Determining whether you are goal-oriented
In this question, admission officers want to see if you are mindful of your future. Stating that you merely wish to study a particular course is not enough. Colleges are looking for people who know what they want to do tomorrow. They want students who don’t just focus on today but are thinking about their careers in the long-term. Expressing what you want to do is needed, but you also have to discuss your plan of action. Personal statements that ask such questions are usually those used for applicants applying for specialized programs or transfer students.
Another common question is; why this institution?
The key to answering this question is providing well-expressed reasons as to why you would want to join that college. Note that these essays are unique to each school therefore use is limited to that school only.
Other colleges ask tough questions that require you to think out of the box. A good example is the University of Chicago, popularly known for its unusual essay prompts. The goal is to assess whether the student possesses wit and profundity.
What is considered a compelling personal statement?
Now that you have gained a great deal of understanding about personal statements, how do you write one that will appeal to the admission board? Here are some points that will set the ball rolling: talk about actual experiences, express ideas in a persuasive and engrossing manner, and engage your reader.
Consider the following tips:
Demonstrate who you are as a person
Many students are preoccupied with finding a topic that is out of this world and writing about it. However, personal statements are more about how you discuss the topic rather than the topic itself. A topic is merely a statement and does not say anything about you. Therefore, put most of your energy into creating content that reveals who you are as a person. Most prompts ask about what you have learned from a particular experience and how it mattered to you. Therefore, regardless of the topic that you chose, make sure you illustrate its significance to you as a person.
Since you now understand where the emphasis is, choose a topic that will reveal a unique and exciting aspect of you.
Talk about your experiences openly
The whole point of writing a personal statement is to help the college learn more about you as a person. Therefore, you have to write your essay openly so that they can be able to see your personality. When writing your personal statement, talk about the difficult and upsetting moments you have encountered instead of sweeping them under the rug.
Demonstrate that you are a proficient writer
Colleges want students with excellent writing skills. You have to demonstrate that you can express yourself with ease. Avoid using hackneyed phrases and generalizations. Nevertheless, admissions officers are not looking for literary geniuses. They want you to communicate in a goal-oriented manner that will help them gain a clear understanding of your thoughts and personality. Therefore, use of fancy vocabulary and complex rhetorical devices is unnecessary. Avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes.
Answer the following before writing your personal statement:
Identify a distinctive, unique, and impressive aspect about you as a person or the experiences you have had.
Think about any information pertaining your life that will help the admission officers to know you better. The information should also distinguish you from other candidates.
Look back and try to remember when that particular course began to interest you. Ask yourself what you learned about it and what it taught you about yourself that gave you the confidence to pursue it. Think about the insights you have acquired in the process.
How did you know about that course you are interested in pursuing?
What have your working experiences taught you? Have you acquired any skills (leadership skills etc.)? How have they influenced your growth as a person?
What are your future goals with respect to your desired career?
Ask yourself whether there are any inconsistencies in your transcripts that will require explanation (for example variations in your GPA).
Have you encountered severe struggles?
Think about individual traits (for example, empathy, integrity, determination, and commitment) that you possess that can make you outstanding in that field of study. Illustrate that you have these traits when writing your personal statement.
Do you have communication, leadership, problem-solving, organizational, negotiation, time management, teamwork, critical thinking, and emotional -intelligence skills? Think about any individual skill that you have that can make you an outstanding person.
What makes you a better candidate than all the others? What, if selected, would make you more successful in that particular course of study?
Think about a spell-binding reason that you would give to the selection panel such that they would have no other alternative except to accept your application.
Steps to Writing a Winning Personal Statement
Answer each question independently.
Provide specific responses to each question as appropriate. Questions given by different schools may be a bit similar. If you are applying to different schools and that is the case, do not use the same personal statement for all the schools. Address each question asked according to its requirement and ensure that you tailor your answer to that particular question.
Write your personal statement in story form
As you write your personal statement, let your reader have the feeling that what you are talking about is a concrete experience. You cannot afford to be boring. It goes without saying that if you impress the admission officers, you increase your chances of acceptance. So, ensure that your story distinguishes you from the rest. A personal statement that is unique, lively, and enthralling will make you unforgettable. With that said, do not write a story short of memorable.
Don’t give vague reasons
For instance, do not write that you will make a remarkable engineer unless you provide reasons to support that statement. Instead, talk about an experience that will give a logical understanding as to why you prefer that particular profession. At the end of your story, it should be apparent that the career you wish to pursue is best suited for you.
Look for an angle for your statement
Ordinarily, there is nothing extraordinary that has happened in most people’s lives, so thinking of how to make your personal statement interesting can seem impossible. The best way to about it is looking for an angle for your story and allowing your story to develop around it.
Make the introductory paragraph a top priority
The lead paragraph is the most important. It determines whether your reader will feel like they want to continue reading your story or not. Therefore, you have to make every possible effort to write a killer introductory paragraph that will leave them glued to your personal statement. Do not forget that the rest of your personal statement is dependent on it.
Talk about the field you are interested in
This tip is particularly useful for those applying for graduate school. Somewhere in your personal statement, you might be required to talk about your interest, the knowledge you have acquired, and any experience you may have in the desired field of study. Even if you have the least amount of knowledge about that course, make sure that you provide information related to that career and use language that is specific to that profession. A great way to go about it is by referring to different sources of information that demonstrate why you are interested in that career and why you are the best choice for it. Choose wisely what information to include or not to include in your personal statement as that will shed light on whether you have good or bad judgment.
Leave some matters out of your personal statement
Certain things are not good for your personal statement. For example, references to high school triumphs and experiences are not a good idea when applying to graduate school. Avoid discussing controversial subjects when writing personal statements.
Do not shy away from a little research; it might do you good
Schools often ask, “why us?” Doing some research will help you identify why that particular school is unique. It might be things small things like cultural or geographical features about the school that have a specific significance to you. Mention of such will make a massive impact on your application.
Ensure that you write excellently
Be conscientious. Avoid errors. Demonstrating that you are a good writer who understands proper language use appeals to selection panels. Write succinctly and clearly. Do not exceed the given number of words.
Cliches are not your friend
Commonly used statements are a bad idea. Using tired statements downgrades you as an applicant and demonstrates lack of creativity. The admission officers have read or heard about those statements countless times; you don’t need to echo them back.
The Following Are The Dos And Don’ts When Writing A Personal Statement
Things to Do When Writing a Personal Statement
Focus on profundity rather than giving too much detail. One or two ideas or experiences are enough.
Talk about things that other applicants are not likely to say.
Discuss what motivates you to give your reader a better understanding of you as a person.
Focus on presenting who you are not in giving a picture of the ideal applicant.
Use creativity and wit in your introduction, give unique details that are unlikely to be mentioned by other applicants.
Tackle the distinct features of that particular school that awe you.
Provide affirmative responses. You can include a codicil to address inadequacies.
Concentrate on analyzing your experiences instead of talking about them.
Proofread your work to take note of any syntax, grammatical, or punctuation errors. Ensure that you used the appropriate writing style and the correct choice of words.
The typeface and fonts used should be legible. Use the standard spacing and margins.
Stumbling Blocks to Writing a Winning Personal Statement
Writing a personal statement that resembles an expository resume. Avoid submitting such a personal statement. Additionally, do not provide information that has already been given in other parts of your application.
Sounding as if you are whimpering in your personal statement will detract you before the selection panel. Avoid complaining about anything that you discuss in your personal statement.
Do not sermonize your personal statement. Avoid putting your points across in an extremist or fanatical manner.
Do not write in a manner that makes the admission officers think that money is your only motivation.
Talking about your underprivileged background is unnecessary unless there is a compelling story behind it.
Mentioning the school rankings or stating that the school is so good because of its rankings is irrelevant.
Using tired clichés when writing your introduction and conclusion is a costly mistake. Avoid using the following statements in your personal statement:
‘The following are the reasons why you should accept my application….”
“According to this question, I am going to talk about……”
“I strongly believe that I am the best candidate for this course…..’’
“I truly hope that I will be accepted into your prestigious school.”
Writing a convincing personal statement is possible without contrivance and unwanted packages and formats.
Submitting additional materials when the selection panel has not requested for them is another pitfall.
The guide above has all that you need to complete your personal statement successfully. The Grade Miners understands the amount of attention given to personal statements by admission officers. Therefore, The Grade Miners is here to assist you to write a strong personal statement that will make you memorable. Talk to us today if you need any assistance regarding personal statements. The Grade Miners will give you additional advice if you need it. We also offer writing services from scratch and proofreading services.
The Grade Miners has first-rate writers who have rich experience in writing all types of college admission essays. Their writing prowess is second to none. They also have a good command of English language. The writers at The Grade Miners have assisted thousands of students to apply to college successfully. Consult us today, and we will provide you with a well-written, original, comprehensive, and an individualized personal statement that is free of any errors.