Writing your personal statement for your university application may seem like an intimidating task, but you should think of the planning and writing process as a way to think intentionally about yourself, your interests and what you plan to pursue at university.
Your personal statement is an opportunity to describe your experiences inside and outside of the classroom and convince the admissions committee that you are a right fit for their university or programme. Consider including the following elements in crafting your personal statement:
1. Authentic Personal Brand
An authentic personal brand— knowing who you are and what you bring to the table—is the foundation of writing a solid personal statement. Think about qualities and traits that are central to your identity, why they are important to you and how this might be of value to the programme or university that you are applying to.
2. Evidence from academic portfolio to substantiate claims
A strong personal statement will convince the admissions committee that you would be a great fit for their programme or university. If you claim that you have an analytical mind or are a confident leader, you should back it up with concrete evidence and examples of when you have demonstrated these qualities. An academic portfolio that includes both description and rich reflection ensures that your personal statement is grounded in your experiences and the claims that you make are backed up by what you have done.
3. Mature thought and reflection
A university education will be much more self-directed and universities want to see that you are intentional and have thought deeply about what you hope to do and what you have done in the past. Your level of reflection, how you string your experiences together, the takeaways you choose to write about – these all give admissions officers a more textured insight into who you are and your level of maturity.
4. Appropriate essay structure and style
Structures and writing styles will vary depending on your intended destination of study. As a rule of thumb, Singapore and UK personal statements will require a more traditional style. Canadian and U.S. schools are much more flexible in terms of structure and style. Many students opt for more narrative and creative approaches to highlight their unique voice in their personal statements.
5. Clear subject interest
Demonstrating how you have pursued a subject outside of the classroom helps to convince the admissions committee that you are proactive and take the initiative to deepen your academic interests. Additionally, it also has the personal benefit of you confirming your interest in your chosen subject. This is especially important if you are applying to an area of study that you have not studied before pre-university.
Courses like Law, Medicine and even subjects like Computer Science, Sociology or Anthropology are not very commonly offered if at all so take the initiative in your own learning journey.
Remember that writing is an iterative process. Good writers hit a roadblock when crafting their personal statements too, so it is normal to have to go through several drafts before your final submission. You may also consider engaging an admissions coach to help you fine tune your personal statement — having an extra pair of eyes to look over your written work can be extremely valuable. Some students also find it helpful to read their personal statements out loud or share it with a friend to find out if what their intended message is conveyed accurately. While the personal statement should reflect your own authentic voice and story, it never hurts to get an extra pair of eyes on it.