A personal statement is one of the most powerful weapons in your arsenal when you are applying to college. It is the one component that allows you to showcase your unique talents and skills, all those traits that set you apart from all other applicants.
When all applications come accompanied by outstanding academic grades, how do colleges differentiate one applicant from another? They use the personal statement and essays as the defining factor. With so much at stake, it is absolutely crucial to learn the art of crafting an impressive personal statement. Make the reader sit up and go ‘We want this student in our college’.
Start By Making A List
Before you start writing your personal statement, it is a good idea to make a list of things you want to touch upon. Take a moment to think about what kind of image you want to portray to the selection committee.
Do you want to come across as a rational, hardworking individual who is well-suited to a traditional course that requires a single-minded approach? Or do you intend to focus on the fact that you are among those people who are well-suited to a relatively newer, cross-domain course that requires students to be innovative, independent, and willing to push the boundaries of the subject?
You should strive to highlight those points which are in line with the image you want to portray and the goals you wish to achieve.
Forget The Character Count In Your First Draft
Most people tend to stick to the word limit right from the beginning. However, this may not be the best way to approach your personal statement.
When you write your first draft, make sure that you consult the list you have made. This will ensure that you do not miss out on any points. Once this is done, you can read through the write-up again to make it more succinct. Make sure it’s within the character limit while making sure that you have not missed out on anything important.
This approach is especially important. It is easy to go into too much detail on the initial aspects and not give enough importance to the latter parts of your statement, even though they are equally important. It’s always easier to trim away the excess rather than add to an essay.
Jotting down a statement might seem like an overnight job at the most. But, that is where a lot of students make their first mistake. Keep in mind that this personal statement is what is going to set you apart from the others and give the panel a glimpse into your personality, and it is based on this impression that they will decide whether you deserve a chance or not.
You will have to find a way to condense all of your educational and personal experiences into the word count in a way that intrigues the panel. That will definitely take up a lot more time than a short assignment does. A lot of students admit that it took them a couple of weeks, sometimes even a month before they were satisfied with their personal statements.
Don’t Let Your Personal Statement Read Like A List Of Achievements
Colleges aren’t simply interested in a catalog of your academic achievements or your extracurricular records. They are more interested in knowing what you have learned you’re your experiences. Their main aim is to ensure that their campuses are full of people who are critical thinkers and have diverse experiences.
At the same time, keep in mind that your opinions should not be biased due to personal judgments or prejudices. They should be based on facts, not whimsical ideas. If you are passionate about something, let it show, but don’t come across as confrontational or close-minded.
Discuss Your Long-Term Goals
The panel needs to know that you have at least an inkling of what you want to take away from this school. Touch upon what skills you think you can hone and how you intend to take advantage of certain aspects of the program. Directly correlate them to your goals.
Show them that you have the capacity to think ahead—and be specific about it. Just saying that you want to become an artist isn’t really going to help you stand out when you are applying for an Arts course.
Stand Out From The Crowd
Try to imagine what typical students applying for the same course as yours are going to say in their letter. Now, try to say the same thing in a different way. Or even better, use your imagination to lead up to the same thing in an unexpected way.
The admission panel goes through hundreds of applications and it is no secret that it can get repetitive. Making your first sentence interesting is a great way to ensure that the person reading it does so with a positive frame of mind and is impressed by the way you have managed to grab their attention.
Never lie on your personal statement. If you are not fluent in a language, don’t say you are. You are sure to get caught even if you do manage to clear the initial screening. Remember that the panel is used to such antics and is experienced enough to detect your lie.
Check for Errors and Typos
Check and double-check your statement and then get it proofread by at least 2 or 3 other people. It’s best to get a teacher or someone who has already gone through the process to help you out here. However, ask them to keep their inputs limited to the language and grammar. Don’t have them comment about the content, since too many opinions can confuse you.
Make Sure Your Essay Meets All Specifications
All said and done, your personal statement, however well-written, stands no chance unless it fulfills all the required conditions. Make sure you don’t cross the character limit or the word limit.
Your personal statement is an important component of your college application. Taking the time and trouble to submit an essay that is outstanding in every way will boost your chances of acceptance into the college of your choice.
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