Most selective colleges require you to submit an essay or personal statement as part of your application. The last deadline Feb 1st is approaching. after this date, there is no more college applications for next year.
It may sound like a chore, and it will certainly take a substantial amount of work. But it’s also a unique opportunity that can make a difference at decision time. Admissions committees put the most weight on your high school grades and your test scores . However, selective colleges receive applications from many worthy students with similar scores and grades—too many to admit. So they use your essay, along with your letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities, to find out what sets you apart from the other talented candidates.
There’s a limit on how much you can write: your personal statement can be up to 4,000 characters (including spaces) or 47 lines of 95 characters (including spaces); whichever is shorter. This may appear generous (read: long) but once you’ve got going you may find yourself having to edit heavily.
Tips to Make Your Personal Statement Stand Out!
1. Make it Personal
A personal statement is an opportunity for you to showcase qualities and attributes that may not appear in your application and resume or CV. So make it unique by adding stories about personal experiences and real-life examples where you demonstrated the specific qualities that the program wants.
2. Highlight Strengths
At its core, a personal statement is all about selling yourself to the readers. So make sure that you highlight and focus on the strengths and qualities that make you a worthy candidate.
3. Use a Strong Opening Sentence
Your introduction is what your reader is going to read first, so you need to ensure that it is captivating and powerful enough to hook them. You can make it interesting by starting with a personal story or a unique experience you had. This will ignite the reader’s interest and encourage them to continue reading your statement.
4. Start Early
It takes a lot of time, research, effort, and tons of editing before you can write a killer personal statement. This may take up weeks or even months. So it’s always best to start working on your personal statement as soon as you can. The earlier the better.
5. Being funny is tough.
A student who can make an admissions officer laugh never gets lost in the shuffle. But beware. What you think is funny and what an adult working in a college thinks is funny are probably different. We caution against one-liners, limericks and anything off–color.
6. Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.
A teacher or college counselor is your best resource. And before you send it off, check, check again, and then triple check to make sure your essay is free of spelling or grammar errors.
7. No repeats.
What you write in your application essay or personal statement should not contradict any other part of your application–nor should it repeat it. This isn’t the place to list your awards or discuss your grades or test scores.
Personal statement Don’t
- Don’t write it like a letter. Kicking off with a greeting such as “Dear Sir/Madam” not only looks weird, it also wastes precious space.
- Don’t make jokes. This is simply not the time – save them for your first night in the union.
- Don’t criticise your current school or college or try to blame teachers for any disappointing grades you might have got.
- Be afraid of details – if you want your PS to be personal to you that means explaining exactly which bits of work or topics or activities you’ve taken part in/enjoyed. It’s much more compelling to read about one or two detailed examples than a paragraph that brushes over five or six.
- Just list what you’re doing now. You should pull out the experiences that are relevant to the courses which you’re applying to.
- Mention skills and activities without giving examples of when they have been demonstrated by you or what you learnt from them. Anyone can write “I have great leadership skills” in a PS, actually using a sentence to explain when you demonstrated good leadership skills is much rarer and more valuable.
- Apply for too many different courses, making it difficult to write a convincing personal statement which supports the application.
- Write a statement specific to just one institution, unless you’re only applying to that one choice.