An academic personal statement or scholarship application essay is an opportunity to tell potential employers, donors, and students more about you as a person. It can be difficult trying to find your footing in terms of what information to include in these essays, so we have compiled some tips that may help!
It is very common to see undergraduate applicants add lots of flashy adjectives to their personal statements to try and draw attention to themselves. However, this approach usually backfires when admissions officials read the piece. Flamboyant language can actually hurt your candidacy if it seems like you are trying too hard to be popular.
There’s an easier way to write strong personal statements that will speak clearly to both the reader and the admission committee. Use simple, direct, clear prose that uses appropriate vocabulary. Avoid fancy sentence structures and rhetorical questions unless you are very good at them. Your ideas should flow naturally without much intervention from you.
When writing your own personal statement, remember that your goal is to connect with the audience. You want to show off your strengths and personality, but still leave room for the reader to relate to you. This could be through highlighting experiences similar to theirs, things you have in common, or even asking question about their life.
Writing a powerful personal statement does not happen overnight, so don’t give up if you feel you need extra guidance.
Outline the different sections of your personal statement
Now that you have an overall structure, it’s time to start adding content! The first part of your personal essay should be focused on introducing yourself. This can be done through writing your full name and graduating school underlined or using short phrases like “My name is __________ and I am a recent graduate of _____ University.”
Next, you should include some brief details about yourself. These could be anything from where you went to high school, to what extracurricular activities you are involved in, to your career goal(s).
Lastly, include something about why you want to study liberal arts. This will depend on the field you choose, but typically there is no universal answer to this question.
If you wanted to major in communication studies, for example, then mention how you enjoy listening to stories and watching documentaries and debates. If you prefer reading over talking, say why that is important to you.
Create a personal statement
After you have gathered all your applications, it is time to start creating a personal essay or written statement that will be used to explain why you are a good fit for a particular school. This personal essay or letter should speak about yourself, the academic community, and how these two things match or not with each other.
Start by writing an introductory sentence that sounds natural. Then, underline or bold-face the word PARAGRAPH. Finally, write your main body! Make sure to include some examples and emphasize what topics you feel strongly about.
After completing this step, take a break and come back to edit your work later. You may want to reorder or reorganize parts of the essay to make it more logical.
That way, your brain can focus on other areas, such as how you spent half of your life living in a foreign country, or how you believe passionately in social justice.
Edit your personal statement
After you have gathered all of your applications, it is time to edit your personal statements!
This is one of the most important parts of the process because this sentence will be read several times during the admissions process, so make sure that you are clearly expressing yourself and conveying your message.
Some students start writing their first draft and then try to include every trick they can find to make the essay more attractive. These tricks may or may not work, but if you are using them too early in the application process, you could lose your chance to show off your authentic self.
Don’t worry about being very creative or having lots of interesting ideas; instead, strive to write an honest, thoughtful, and clear argument. Use logic and examples to support your points, and emphasize reasons why what you wrote relates to the field you want to study.
Practice writing with your personal statement
Even if you have a good idea of what your academic major is, creating a strong personal narrative can be tricky. Changing majors is expensive, so make sure you know what you want before investing in tuition!
Writing about yourself is definitely not easy, but it will help you clarify what you believe in and why you are passionate about certain things. Plus, it’s just plain fun to do!
Written by young adults, this article has helpful tips that may inspire you to pick up a pen (or computer keyboard) and start writing. These tips include strategies such as using stories, developing emotional attachments, highlighting strengths, and more.
Disclaimer: The content in this article was created assuming students seeking admission into an undergraduate program at a small liberal arts college or university. However, these concepts apply across all degree programs, including graduate school.
Invite people around you to read and comment on your personal statement
There’s no universal rule about how many peers you should include in your personal statements, but we can offer some tips here!
Start by asking yourself why you’re writing this personal statement. Are you applying as an undergraduate student? An advanced degree candidate? A graduate school applicant?
Once you have that clearly defined goal, then you can start looking at it from a broader perspective.
By including others in your personal statement, you open up opportunities to gain insights, comments, and even questions. You get to invite people into your academic life – which is always interesting!
And while they may not be able to help with your applications directly, there could be lessons or inspiration you learn from them.
Their reactions might give you ideas or clues about what topics are important to you, and what styles of argument appeal to you.
Try to get your personal statement into the hands of a variety of admissions officers
Even if you have a clear idea of what you want to study, having second-hand experiences with the field is very important!
Admissions committees look at how well you can discuss the strengths and weaknesses of different academic areas in order to determine if you are suitable to attend their institution.
They may ask you about these areas directly or use it as a way to evaluate your application. For example, they might ask you to describe a topic, then see which other courses you’ve studied that relate to this and why you chose them.
or they could just read your personal statement and form your own opinion based on that! Either way, they won’t expect you to be familiar with every single area, but being able to talk intelligently about some will help you gain admission.
Getting feedback from various sources helps you improve your writing and makes sure your message gets conveyed properly.
Consistency is one of your personal statement’s greatest strengths, helping to establish your writing as authentic and clear. When applying to an institution that asks you to write a personal essay, this quality will help you convey that you are passionate about studying at their school and why it would be good for them to give you a scholarship or fellowship.
Consistency can be limited by how well you know the professor reviewing your application or yourself as a writer, but it is important to keep things steady if you want to achieve this goal.
Some students may feel overwhelmed when they look at all the places they have to apply to and no matter what they say, everything seems like it could use some improvement. This can make them start saying anything just to avoid making changes to their paper.
This does not work in your favor because you want your paper to speak clearly! If you do not take time to edit your paper, then your message can get lost. Make sure to take your time to ensure your messages come through loud and clear.
Connect with people online
One of the hardest things about studying liberal arts is that there are no clear career paths or practical applications for what you learn. Sure, some art courses teach you how to draw, but most focus more on concepts like form, proportion, and color theory.
That’s not to say there aren’t careers where artists play an important role though! A lawyer may need to know how to paint in order to predict someone’s emotional state from their facial expressions. Or maybe she will have to do artistic research for her job- she will be working on marketing strategies or designing logos, so she needs to understand aesthetics.
These types of jobs exist all across the board, even if they don’t get called “artists and psychologists” yet. But it is great to be prepared in case something like that comes up!
Another area where creativity is highly valued is in advertising. Artists often use creative approaches to convey messages, which can make your product seem more interesting. People who study human psychology can design effective advertisements that appeal to different emotions.
Given this, why not consider becoming an ad designer? You would definitely need to be able to apply theories related to psychology to succeed in the field, but other than that, any degree program should cover good typography, graphic design, and fashion as fundamental skills.