If you want to get into the university of your choice, you have to differentiate yourself. There will be thousands of students with perfect scores, who interned at equally good, if not, better places, and also engaged in volunteer work. Your personal statement will determine if you have anything special to offer. It is the perfect opportunity to gain the favor of the admissions committee.
Here are a few tips to getting your personal statement right, and understanding what the universities are looking for.
1. Make an outline
Your personal statement reflects your communication and writing skills, and both qualities are indispensable for a college student. To ensure that your statement is structured, make an outline.
Think about how you want to start and end your statement. Pick a few qualities that you want to highlight, and structure your statement around them. Give examples of how these qualities have materialized in your life and why they are important.
Add the relevant points as bullets, so that when you start writing, you don’t miss out on any crucial information. Your bullets should mainly focus on your credentials, experience, and awards.
2. The perfect beginning is not everything
Your content does not necessarily need to have the perfect beginning. The admission committee will see right through your efforts of a fake, catchy opening, especially if the rest of your statement cannot live up to it.
Start with why you’re interested in the course and what makes you right for it. Draw upon personal experiences and emotions that convey your enthusiasm about the subject.
Do not beat around the bush. Get to the point with a short sentence. There is no bigger turn-off than a long, drawn-out sentence whose actual value is worth only ten words.
3. Get to the introduction last
Your statement should begin with a personal introduction, which is often the hardest to write. Your introduction should set the pace for your statement, while balancing the amount of detail.
The balance is very hard to find. The easiest way to find this balance is by working on the main body of the content first. Once you have that down, you can make an introduction that will draw the readers in.
4. Think about what your college wants
Go to the university’s website and look at their mission. Universities are going to take in students that agree with their mission and want to take it further.
For example, Ivy League colleges don’t want students who are just interested in their field of study. They want to admit students who are making active efforts to take their discipline into the world and make a difference not just in the U.S., but worldwide.
So, when you’re writing your statement, make sure to include information about how you have already taken efforts to make that happen, why you agree with the mission, and how you plan to further it.
5. What was your past and what will be your future?
While it is completely normal to be indecisive before college, do not let the hesitance seep into your statement. You should seem completely dedicated to the subject.
You can express this dedication by narrating accounts of your past. What has made you the person you are today, the person that makes you perfect for this course?
Also mention your future plans with the subject. How you see the degree translating into an actual career prospect, and your future plans for the degree is essential. Mention both your short-term and long-term goals.
6. Why do you want to study in the U.S.?
You’re applying abroad, this raises the question, why the U.S.? Don’t let the admission committee ponder upon it. Moving abroad is a huge shift that most people can’t handle, you have to make it clear in your statement that studying abroad is what you want.
Think about what distinguishes the U.S. from other countries, and why it is the best choice for you.
7. Be specific
Don’t make claims that you cannot back up. Sentences like, ‘I am perfect for this program,’ or ‘I will excel’ hold no meaning. Back up your sentences with proper explanations drawn from specific instances in your life.
Include information that relates to specific programs, research areas, or professors. You might want to go to Brown University because of the flexibility of the course, or the triple major option that most other colleges don’t offer.
You might want to go to MIT because of the strides they are making in a specific field of study, and you think you can be a valuable part of it.
8. Line edit
You can start the first draft of your statement by ignoring the character limit and including as much information as possible. But, with the proceeding drafts, line edit.
Most universities will give you a character limit, which means that they don’t just take the word count into consideration but characters like, letters, spaces, and punctuation.
Each sentence should carry value and add to your main point. Make sure that your sentences are short and simple.
9. Find your voice
Even though your experiences and perspective will be distinct from other applicants, the gap may not be that wide.
Another way to distinguish yourself is finding your voice and expressing it through your writing style. Experiment with tone and structure until the statement reads like it has been written by you.
One way to ensure this is by asking a close friend to read the statement and incorporating their feedback.
Your statement should contain only relevant information that will help the admission committee decide if you’re suitable for the course. Do not dwell on information such as part-time jobs at fast food joints, personal mishaps, or details from childhood. What you have accomplished in the past 3-4 years in the respective field is what the committee wants to know.
If you have any information that might add to the diversity to the student body, even if it is irrelevant to the course in question, include it. This is because universities across the U.S. deal with interdisciplinary studies, and your knowledge in a field can add to their academic diversity.
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