What Makes a Good Personal Statement?
How to Write a Personal Interest Statement
Applying for a job, internship, or school often necessitates that you write a personal interest statement. Also known as a statement of interest, this essay gives the potential organization a chance to meet you. Though they already have your resume, application, or transcript, they also want to know your personality, values, character, and passion. Learning how to write a personal interest statement and taking the time to write a strong one will increase your chances of being accepted.
Taking Care of Preliminaries
Look over the requirements for your personal statement.Each school or organization has its own guidelines for length and font. While some personal interest statements ask specific questions they want you to answer, others are wide open for you to write whatever you wish.
- These kinds of formatting requirements usually aren’t very complicated. Typically, they mandate the use of a common font in a specific size, with an additional specification for the margins around the page. It’s important to follow these instructions—they’re not always nitpicking—because the admissions team wants the document to easily transfer across platforms.
Gather materials.Transcripts, resumes or CVs, job histories, and applications are all important documents to have in front of you. This will help you remember extracurricular activities, personal experiences, work experiences, classes, and more.
- Avoid making your personal interest statement arestatementof your resume. Over the course of application season, the admissions officer will read hundreds of personal interest statements, most of which will be poorly written and interchangeable. The point of gathering these documents is to jog your memories of your successes and failures and what you learned from each, not to provide a narrative account of your academic career.
Brainstorm possible themes and answers.There are a few consistent ways personal statements are organized. They are organized around a single event, a series of events to illustrate a theme, or an account of the general personal journey that put you in a position to send in an application.
- Single event narratives recount something in your life that was the proximate cause (or but-for cause) of your academic goal. For instance, “After my grandmother was swindled out of her house, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer” recounts the event that spurred you to go to law school--but for your grandmother getting swindled, you wouldn’t have pursued a legal education.
- Series of events narratives use multiple occurrences to illustrate a personal quality you think is important or the proximate cause of your goal. Perseverance, for example, is not a quality that can be demonstrated by simply writing about one event. You’ll have to tell the story of more than one event in order to show how you persevere.
- Try to avoid general personal journey narratives if you can. They have a tendency to slip into a restatement of your resume. Instead, try to turn those narratives into series of events narratives, sticking to milestones and highlights.
Crafting Your Essay
Write your first draft.Creating the first draft of your personal interest statement isn’t about getting everything perfect. Focus on getting your story onto the page and finding the important details that bring it alive.
- Remember, securing an admission to a college or university is a competition between you and dozens of other aspiring students. It is crucial that you stand out. NEVER begin your personal statement with “I am Janie Higgins, and I’m applying to the college of engineering to become a better chemical engineer.” They already know who you are and where you’re applying, and presumably, already know that an education in a subject will make you better at it.
Rewrite.This time, focus on making your personal statement stronger and more concise. In particular, take some time to craft your introductory hook, which is going to determine whether or not your essay gets read or merely skimmed. Make sure your essay is clear, readable, and easy to follow.
- A good hook doesn’t waste time with a lot of background information. It starts right when the action starts, and fills in the background information as needed. For example “We had just sat down for Thanksgiving Dinner when Grandma told us she was going to lose her house,” is starting right at the beginning of the action.
- Cut out unnecessary words and phrases. Avoid repetition and introductory phrases that could easily be left out without losing any meaning or impact.
Edit.Check spelling, grammar, and sentence structure, but also look over your content. Make sure your personal statement meets the requirements of your application and vividly illustrates the themes you want to impart.
- Vary sentence structure and word choice. Good spelling and grammar and your choice of words demonstrate the writing skills colleges seek in a candidate.
- Edit your paper over a period of several days. The time in between edits allows you to get a fresh perspective.
- Ask other people to read your personal interest statement. They can often catch mistakes you might miss. They can also bring a different perspective to what can make your essay stronger. If you can, ask people who don’t know you well to edit your essay. It’s easier for a passing acquaintance to be objective than it is for a close friend.
Finalize.Consider the advice of others and make any final corrections to the essay. Remember, suggestions are personal opinions and ultimately you need to decide what to change and what to keep. You know the themes you want to impart and the stories you want to tell, you just need to make your essay tell those stories and impart those themes.
- Unless your editors are English professors, their suggestions don’t need to be taken as gospel. Do keep in mind, however, that when multiple people identify a passage that doesn’t work for them, it probably doesn’t work. Novice editors are typically better at identifying problems than they are offering solutions.
QuestionHow do I write an application letter?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTo start off, write that you recently saw an ad for a position, or that you are interested in doing an internship, or whatever it was that got you interested. Then write a few sentences about WHY you are interested in that particular position or company. Tell them something about yourself that makes you a good match. ("I am writing to tell you of my interest in the internship you are advertising. I have worked in retail while attending Clairmont Business College and believe that an internship in your corporate offices would be an invaluable experience.") Next, include a paragraph about where you are headed, what your career goals are, your schooling, etc. Then close with how you can be contacted, thank them for their time, and sign.Thanks!
- Use a theme in your personal statement. This ties everything together and creates a unified progression throughout your essay.
- Read sample personal interest statements. Look for both good examples and bad ones.
- Give yourself plenty of time to write your personal interest statement. Trying to get it finished too quickly can lead to mistakes, typos, and a generic essay that will not stand out from the essays of other applicants.
Video: How to write a Personal Statement for Master's (Postgraduate) | King's College London | Atousa
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