Time flies, doesn’t it? Just yesterday you were learning to cope with the pressures of junior high and now it is time to create one of the most important pieces of writing that will play a part in deciding your future. Still guessing? I am talking about writing a personal statement for college applications. A personal statement is your small window of opportunity to shine and convince the admissions people to give you a chance.
The Anatomy of a Personal Statement
Remember how people tell you that not everything is about you and to not focus too much on yourself? They are generally right but not this time. A personal statement is exactly what it says ‘personal’, it is all about you. You need to address these three areas to create a winning personal statement:
Why did you choose this major: The first and the foremost thing the school wants to know is why you chose a specific major/subject? You should clearly tell them why this subject interests you and why are you a good candidate to study it. Some of the things you want to address include:
- What do you already know about this subject/field of study?
- What sparked your interest in this subject and what do you find fascinating about it
- What do you hope to accomplish from pursuing this major
Start out with a great opening statement, something to grab their attention right away. However, try to steer clear of the clichés such as:
- From an early age I have been interested in …
- For as long as I can remember,[subject] has fascinated me
Why should they consider you: You have to give them solid reasons to consider you. You will be competing against hundreds of applicants so just saying, ‘pick me, pick me’ won’t cut it. You need to show why you are a good candidate for that program. You should show that you have the requisite knowledge and the academic background. They want to see if you have any field experience in the chosen field, for example, if you want to be a nurse, have you volunteered at a hospital or a nursing home. There are certain items you should include in this section such as:
- The academic background and achievements
- Any practical experience, whether as a volunteer or on the job
- How do you spend your free time? Mention your hobbies and interests
- What have you learned from your experiences, from the books you have read or from TV shows or documentaries you have seen
What’s so special about you: The schools don’t want only a certain type of applicants. They want a diverse group with unique and interesting people. Show them what’s special about you and how would you add vibrancy and life to the student body. The things in this section don’t have to be related to your chosen major or area of study. You can write about anything that makes you a person of interest. This information could include:
- Your hobbies, leisure activities and afterschool activities.
- What sports you play and what extracurricular activities you pursue
- Which clubs, association or societies you are a member of and what is interesting or unique about them
- Do you hold any responsibilities at these clubs etc. or at home?
- Any achievements in life about which you feel proud
- Have your life experiences given you a unique perspective or skills
I leave you with a final tip. Since a personal statement has a significant bearing on your future, plan it ahead of time. Don’t try to pump it out at the eleventh hour. You get only one shot at making a great first impression. Ask your parents and teachers to help you with it so that you can prepare a winning personal statement. It takes some hard work to write it but the payoff is far greater than the effort.
James Thompson is an experienced and passionate writer having diverse expertise in education, career and technology. He provides core Essay Services UK to students for beyond expected results.