Tips How to Write a Personal Statement for College
Do you know what is a personal statement? If not, this article will be very useful for you. You will need to submit a personal statement when you are applying for the course of your interest in your selected universities. It is a part of your application and will play a key role in your selection. This article is created to provide you with some tips and an example and help you in creating your personal statement for graduate school courses.
What is a personal statement and why it is needed
A personal statement, which can also be called a short essay, is a description of your suitability for a course or courses you are intending to apply for. You have to provide it with your UCAS application that contains your grades of Highers, A-Level, BTEC etc that you have achieved or predicted.
It can be only one and unique as it is about your personal details. You have to send it to all the universities you in which you are applying to study a course. It will be read by the tutors of respective course at the universities. Your selection or the offer of a place will be decided by the tutor, and the effectiveness of your personal statement will play a key role for the same.
So you have to write it carefully following the general rules and your intuition. Remember that a personal statement is also used in a CV, but the one you have to write in your application for a course in universities is considerably different.
In a job application, you have to convince an employer of your experience and skills you have. But in a course application, you have to convince a university and a tutor with your readiness to study a course.
It’s your chance to show that know the basic things, have some experience with what you are going to learn, and can successfully complete the course. You also have to convey that you have the passion to contribute in the field or the subject, and have a specific career path in mind. This is because a tutor and the university will give priority to the student with a high enthusiasm rather than a student with just high grads.
How long should a personal statement be?
Ideally, you should carefully write it in 45 to 47 lines or maximum 4000 characters. You have to write everything that you need to convince the tutor in as short as possible way. At the same time, whatever you write should be able to have a strong effect in fewer words.
It is very important that your personal statement is complete and don’t have to make changes later. So you should write your draft and make revisions to make it perfect before you finally save it in a word document. Then you can submit it to UCAS system.
Writing a personal statement – a short guide
Although your personal statement should have your style of writing and should be reflecting your personality, there are some general rules to be followed. You may also refer some examples or take help of an experienced friend or a professional if you don’t know how to write it. You can also take an online help if you need.
An effective personal statement should be written in a way that can explain who you are, what you can offer if you are allowed to study this course, what are your career goals, and how are you going to achieve them.
Don’t be too personal or emotional
As it says “Personal”, one may take it incorrectly. Personal statement doesn’t mean you have to show your feelings and write everything about your emotions. In this context, you have to reflect on what are your plus points and why you are a suitable candidate for the course in question. You can do this by explaining your unique thoughts on the subject, your skills, and your experience. For example, if you are looking to get an admission in a medical school, you can express your interest in contributing to the medical field and helping people live a healthy life.
As there is no defined way or style of writing a personal essay, it is obvious that the style which worked for one person may not work for the other. So whatever you write, it should be conveying your own thoughts and style. The universities will see your unique qualities rather than just looking at your grades and other things that are common in all students.
How can a strong personal statement help you?
Although your formal eligibility will be considered by the universities to decide if you should get a seat, your personal statement will make a big impact. If you and another student have the same grades, your personal statement, if written perfectly and effectively, will ensure your selection.
Since it is your reflection of your personality, knowledge on related subjects, experience and what is your plan and path with the course you have selected, it will help boost your confidence during an interview.
The questions you will be asked will depend on what you have written in your statement. So you can get ready and confident in the last minutes by reading your personal statement. It will help you make a memorable first impression on the professors interviewing you.
In case your grades are not enough to get you on the list, you may still have a chance of getting your admission in your course because of your personal statement. Because the universities will give a preference to you if your words show your enthusiasm and commitment towards your dream course.
How to start a personal statement
There is no specific personal essay outline format or method. But the tips given below will give you a fair idea on how to write an effective and attractive personal statement.
Write a draft and make revisions until you have a final polished version.
It is very likely that your personal statement will have mistakes and inappropriate or incomplete information. So you are recommended to write several drafts or have several reviews of a draft you create.
You should also start writing your draft early so that you don’t have to rush in the last minutes and submit a less-appealing statement. You should get the best version of your personal statement before the deadline if you want to secure a place in your favourite university.
Check with your school about the deadline and start working on your draft. If you feel you are stuck with any part of your statement, you can look for a help from your teachers or a counsellor.
Mention your subject in the starting lines of your statement
If you try to convey something without having a focus on a common thing, you would end up with no results. Same will be applied to your statement if you are writing it without mentioning the subject you are going to study as part of your course.
So it is very important that you mention the subject and correlate your knowledge and experience as well as your strengths and weaknesses with it. The tutor will notice this in the first look at your personal statement.
Write it by keeping different courses in mind
Although your statement may be focused on a single course or subject, you are better with not to be too specific. This is because your statement will be seen by all the universities you are applying too. And hence you have a wide range of choices. You can look for the different courses offered by different universities.
It will be helpful to you if you do some research about the courses containing the subject you want to study. This will help you know what is involved in your preferred course and accordingly how to write your statement. Thus you can write in a focused manner and still it will be free from being too specific about the course.
The writing style and quality
Writing a personal statement is like writing a short essay about you, so the rules of quality and writing style apply here as well.
You should neither be too buttery nor be too straight that may seem rude. You should write in a sincere manner and make your reader, i.e. the tutor, feel familiar and friendly while he/she is reading it.
Also make sure that the sentences are not too long to read and understand, because the tutors have to read a lot of personal statements. If your statement seems too difficult to digest due to heavy words and too long and complex sentences, it may lower the chances of your selection in the course.
The text should also be free from the grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. This can save you from the bad impression. Apart from this, you also have to ensure that your personal essay is not having plagiarised lines. It is strongly recommended that you write your essay in your own words to maintain its uniqueness. You can ask for the feedback from your friends and teachers later to polish it. But the plagiarism should be avoided at any cost.
If UCAS system finds your personal statement plagiarised, it will flag it. It will also notify all the universities you have applied to, making it difficult for you to clear the selection process.
Points to keep in mind
Below are some important points you should keep in mind when writing your personal statement.
- State your motivation to take this specific course. Describe what raised your interest and inspiration from your current studies. This will help make your position strong in the competition for the seat in your preferred course.
- Mention the external sources that has helped you gain a confidence in taking your studies further. For example, you can mention about your experience in a law firm as an assistant if you are aspiring to do a masters degree from law school. You can list the benefits and experience you have got from the other sources. You can mention about books, blogs, magazines, newspapers, documentaries, films or any other source you have used to advance your knowledge in the subjects you will be studying in your course.
- Explain why you are a right fit for this course by stating your experience you have gained by researching and working on the subject you are interested in. It will convince the tutor that you are actually suitable for the course and will be able to gain a noticeable expertise as a result.
- Explain how your experience inspired you and helped you in developing your interest in your preferred subject. If you have an experience working on a position, volunteering in some activity, visiting museum, theatre, archaeological sites, gallery or any other activity, you should mention it if it is relevant to your subject.
- You should also explain how your experience and observations during your studies will help you in your career. It will show that you understand the importance and connection of the course and relevant experience and will get excellent results.
- Express your thoughts on the subject like a critical thinker as it will demonstrate your efforts and enthusiasm towards your chosen career and course. State your analysis and independent viewpoints on about a subject. It will set you out of the crowd and impress the tutor with your ability to think critically and independently.
- Write about your long-term plan. This will show you are focused and have future plans in your mind in advance. Clearly state if you planning to take a gap year and what you will be doing during that year. Write how you intend to spend that year and how it will help you grasp your subjects in remaining years of your study.
- Mention about your portable skills. Write those skills which are somehow related to the course you have chosen. They can be time management, leadership, organisational skills, problem solving skills, good team player and the ability to work independently. These are the skills and abilities that will help you in different areas of your life and career.
- Keep everything as short as possible. Making long lists of your ideas and experiences may make your personal statement too boring to read and irrelevant to your course. Avoid mentioning anything unless it is relevant and important. Remember that you have to express only those things which can increase your chance of getting admission in the course of your choice.
Some useful personal statement examples
By reading this article so far, now you may be very clear about what is a personal statement, how to write it, what to include and what to avoid. However, you can refer some examples of good personal statements from the links given below.
- Graduate school personal statement – 3 examples.
- Example of a personal statement written by a student for the LLB degree in Law and Human Rights.
- Example of a personal statement for a masters degree.