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Tips for Writing a Killer Personal Statement

This one is for all of the soon to be high school graduates out there! Now look, I have been there. You are filling out college applications left and right, some of which ask you to write a well thought out personal statement. As the literate person you have shaped yourself into, use this as an opportunity to show off the best of your writing skills, express your appreciation for being considered by said university, and provide some insight into your personality. This is your opportunity to shine bright and have the college of your dreams longing for your arrival! Well, I am here to make sure you don’t screw this up.

Now, being a prospective college student, I am quite sure that you are already familiar with personal statements and what they are exactly. But just in case you are still not sure, personal statements support the rest of your application. It’s a chance for you to articulate why you are interested in studying a particular subject and why you chose your prospective school. You also get to brag about yourself a bit and summarize the skills and experiences you possess that display your passion for your area of study and the college you wish to attend.

What was the catalyst? – For the first part of your essay, talk about how the interest in your chosen subject began. But instead of using the typical old cliché of ever since I was a child..., try to think of a particular moment in the past few months or years that made you want to study your chosen field. In other words, provide something more recent. Perhaps it was a conversation with a family member or friend, or a book or article written by a CEO. Or perhaps it was a trip to a museum, a visit to a foreign country, a summer job, or a volunteer experience. Maybe you have orchestrated an online educational/tutoring course. Remember to be specific as to WHY these experiences inspired you.

Academic Skills- I know what you are thinking, and no, you do not have to share your final grades. That is what the student transcript/application form is for. What you want to do here is detail what you know thus far that is applicable to your intended major. For example, if your field of interest is research heavy (like biochemistry), you might want to describe the research skills you have learned. Also, consider your approach to learning. In other words, what learning style best suits you? Are you a note taker? Do you work best individually or are you more suited for working within a team? Are you flexible in terms of teaching styles or do you have a specific preference? Are you a hands-on learner? Explain the academic skills and qualities that may be useful to you and relevant to the type of degree you wish to pursue.

Personal Qualities- This one is pretty straightforward. Jot down the qualities that make you a viable candidate for your potential university (sounds easy enough). Describe the characteristics you possess that will help you meet the demands of the school. For example, if you are planning a career in the field of law, focus on your excellent communication skills. List two or three qualities in depth, as opposed to listing ten skills with little detail as to how they would apply. Next, include any extracurricular activities both in and outside of school, community affiliations and any volunteer work. Explain any barriers and challenges you have overcome and what you have learned about yourself during that process. Most importantly, explain how you can transfer not only your skills, but the lessons you have learned, to your chosen field of study.

To sum it all up, begin by explaining the experience that drove you to your chosen subject. Talk about the experience you have gained in order to feed that passion and the academic background you have to support it. Next, you want to describe yourself and your characteristics. You want the reader to really know who you are as a person when reading your essay. And lastly, the closing statement can be a couple sentences about your aspirations after college. (Typically, the usual “where do I see this degree taking me in 5 years” thing). Or you can talk about what you look forward to most in pursuing your degree.

Now that you are equipped for the challenge of drafting the perfect personal statement, get started! And best of luck on your future endeavors.

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