By Rachelle Scott
While the attractiveness of a resume, qualification, or a recommendation later is hardly under your control, the personal statement is your one and only opportunity to have a clean slate and “wow” a college recruiter. This makes the personal statement one of the most important elements of your college application—and one that should be given a significant amount of effort and attention.
Since, personal statements are mean to be “personal”, what you write (within the given guidelines) is entirely up to you. However, college admission experts have admitted to liking certain key characteristics present in a personal statement.
Based on those key characteristics, we’ve gathered a list of tips that might help students write a compelling personal statement a college recruiter would be highly reluctant to turn down.
- Take your time: Never take only a day or two to finalize your personal statement. Plan it out, try various types, have them checked, and make sure you’re 100% sure about them before you hit submit. Your personal statement should never be a last minute thing!
- Make it about you—but not quite: Here’s the confusing part. Your personal statement should be personal—that means it has to be specific to you. However, if you look at it from a recruiter’s perspective, what’s important is why you are a good fit for the course, the college, or the program. In order words, they are interested in knowing what you can contribute to their program/university. Ask yourself questions like, “what sets me apart from other students?” or “what experiences do I have that are critical to study program?”Make sure you have a POD (point of differentiation) to elaborate on.
- Be descriptive: The more descriptive your essay, the clearer the picture you paint. This can be tricky if English is not your native language, in which case you might have to keep a dictionary and a thesaurus by your side. Look for words that are specific rather than generic. For instance, using “experienced” instead of “had” or “`favorable” instead of “nice”.
- Do your research: The same way you would for a resume intended to be for a particular organization, it’s important to tailor your personal statement according to the University you will be applying to. You can also research on the University or faculty members to figure out exactly why you are interested in joining them. For instance, you could be interested in doing research with a particular notable professor in the University, who’s a leading figure in the industry you’re interested in. Make sure you include these sorts of reasons.
- Follow the instructions: We don’t know if anyone ever told you this before, but every University has its own guidelines and preferences when it comes to personal statements. While some universities prefer a structured essay with word count limits, formatting, and other specification, others prefer to give the student’s freedom to write whatever they like. Make sure you follow the instructions or guidelines, and if necessary ask for help, see some examples, or pick something at groovy essays to be sure.
- Avoid Clichés: Never bore your admission officer with quotes like, “In order to succeed, we must first believe” or “education is the most powerful weapon”. Buzz words and topics are a complete turn off.
Try to make your personal statement different from what they’d find in the bunch of other personal statement they’ve read or will be reading. Regardless of what the moral or gist of your essay is, the trick is to write it in a way they’ve never seen before.
Rachelle Scott loves to research about new ways technology can be implemented in education and how the two can revolutionize the sector. She also loves to blog on the topics related to Education, College.