How to Write a Personal Statement for a School Application
If you plan to apply to a university, law school, or other academic institution, you will likely need to compose a personal statement. This document gives admissions professionals a sense of your personality, accomplishments, and personal and professional goals. As simple as writing a personal statement might sound, prospective students are often overwhelmed by fear when they actually sit down to start writing. It’s important to remember, though, that you aren’t expected to produce a lengthy written work; instead, you only need to compose a page or two about yourself and your ambitions. These tips can help you compose a personal statement that is both well-written and effective:
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1. Make Lists
Because the body of your personal statement will focus on past experiences and future goals, making lists of each can be an effective way to establish the framework for your personal statement. Think about struggles you have overcome, challenges you have met, and goals you have achieved. They don’t have to be directly related to the program you are applying for; instead, they can be accomplishments that show the personal growth that has enabled and led you to further your education. Similarly, think about how you want to use your education to accomplish future goals. Once you have compiled lists of your accomplishments and goals, you can begin paring them down to find the most appropriate material for your personal statement. With a bit of contemplation, you can find the perfect angle for your personal statement. You can learn more about choosing topics through Udemy’s college application essay course.
2. Tell a Story
In order to make an impact, you will need to engage your readers. Admissions professionals should find your personal statement interesting, informative, and compelling. One of the simplest ways to engage your readers is by telling a story. Once you have identified the experience you want to use to present yourself, develop the experience into a narrative that will draw in admissions professionals and make them want to learn more about you. For example, if you have achieved the level of black belt in a martial arts discipline, your story could explain how you felt the first time you attended a class, detail times when you encountered setbacks or felt discouraged, and describe inspiring events and strategies you used to continue progressing through the belt ranks. Providing a clear, descriptive story will help your readers connect with you, which can increase your chance of acceptance. Take this free course on Becoming a Writer to improve your storytelling skills.
3. Write a Strong Introduction and Conclusion
Your introduction is a critical element of your personal statement. It should effectively grab readers’ attention and make them want to continue reading. It should also provide a glimpse of what readers will have learned at the end of the statement. The first line of the opening paragraph should be the strongest line in your personal statement.
The conclusion should summarize the main points of your statement and tie your experiences to your reasons for furthering your education. It should end with a sentence that powerfully conveys why your experiences and goals make you an ideal candidate.
4. Edit Judiciously
The process of writing a personal statement doesn’t end with the concluding paragraph. After you have completed the first draft, put it away for a few days. This allows you to revisit your statement with a fresh mindset. Read through the personal statement as objectively as possible and decide if each word, sentence, and paragraph supports the information you want to convey. If a word or phrase doesn’t add to the message, get rid of it. Editing not only polishes your personal statement, it also helps you hone critical thinking skills, which is essential for excelling in college. For more help developing a critical thinking mindset, check out Udemy’s Learning Samurai – How to Kick @$$ in School course!
Editing doesn’t just mean looking over your personal statement yourself. Enlist the help of a professional editor or someone who works in your desired career field to read your letter and offer suggestions for improvement. Having several people read and evaluate your personal statement can help you refine your message and optimize your academic opportunities.
It might seem strange to put in the enormous amount of effort it takes to write a stellar personal statement. The time and effort you invest into this task, though, can open the door to an empowering and educational academic experience.
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