Personal Statement Guide

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Writing your Personal Statement

Personal Statement Guide

The personal statement, your opportunity to sell yourself in the application process, generally falls into one of two categories:

The General

comprehensive personal statement:

This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application.

The Response

To very specific questions:

Often, business, art and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and
your statement should respond specifically to the question being asked. Some
business school applications favor multiple essays, typically asking for responses to
three or more questions.

Structure

Personal Statement Guide

Opening Paragraph

Structure

The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It is here that you grab the reader’s attention or lose it. This paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement.

Middle Section

Structure

You might find it helpful to loosely split your personal statement into four sections. These are:

  • Why do you want to study the course?
  • What have you done that makes you suitable for the course?
  • What are your future plans?
  • Why did you choose this country/university?

Section one

why do you want to study the course?

If it’s a vocational course, such as nursing, think about what you like about this profession and why you think it’s the right career for you. If it’s an academic degree, such as geography or chemistry, why do you want to spend a long time studying this subject in detail? Think about what you’ve enjoyed so far and what you want to learn more about.

Section Two

What have you done that makes you suitable for the course?

This is the biggest part of your personal statement. You’ll need to draw on your experiences to explain why you think you’d be a good student on the course and how you’ve developed the skills and knowledge needed. Type of course:

  • Vocational
  • Academic
  • Creative

Section Three

What are your future plans?

You can list what you actually plan to do in your career, and why this field of study is
something that will get you a few steps closer to your passion.

Section Four

Why this specific country? Why this specific university?

Mention why you want to go to this country and university in particular. Read about it and write it, it shows that you have done your research and you know what you are talking about.

Questions to ask yourself

Personal Statement Guide

  • What’s special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story? (personal or family problems, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals)
  • How have you learned about this field—through classes, readings, or conversations with people already in the field?
  • Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain
  • Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life?
  • Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life?
  • What personal characteristics (for example. integrity. compassion. persistence) do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession?
  • Have you been awarded any special rewards? Have you won any competition?
  • What are you extra curricula activities? What do you do in your free time?
  • What skills (for example, leadership, communicative, analytical) do you possess?

Do’s & Do Nots

Personal Statement Guide

Do’s

  • Strive for depth rather than breadth. Narrow focus to one or two key themes, ideas or experiences
  • Try to tell the reader something that no other applicant will be able to say
  • Provide the reader with insight into what drives you
  • Be yourself, not the ‘ideal’ applicant
  • Get creative and imaginative in the opening remarks, but make sure it’s something that no one else could write
  • Address the school’s unique features that interest you
  • Focus on the affirmative in the personal statement; consider an addendum to explain deficiencies or blemishes
  • Evaluate experiences, rather than describe them
  • Proofread carefully for grammar, syntax, punctuation, word usage, and style
  • Use readable fonts, typeface, and conventional spacing and margins

Do Nots

  • Do not submit an expository resume; avoid repeating information found elsewhere on the application
  • Do not complain or whine about the “system” or circumstances in your life
  • Do not preach to your reader. You can express opinions, but do not come across as fanatical or extreme
  • Do not discuss your minority status or disadvantaged background unless you have a compelling and unique story that relates to it
  • Do not use unconventional and gimmicky formats and packages
  • Do not submit supplemental materials unless they are requested
  • Do not get the name of the school wrong
  • Do not incorporate technical language or very uncommon words
  • Do not use boring clichéd intros or conclusions:
    • “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is…”
    • “This question asks me to discuss…”
    • “I would like to thank the admissions committee for considering my application.”
    • “It is my sincere hope that you will grant me the opportunity to attend your fine school.”
    • “In sum, there are three reasons why you should admit me…”

General Advice

Personal Statement Guide

Tell a Story

Think in terms of showing or demonstrating through concrete experience. One of the worst things you can do is to bore the admissions committee. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you’ll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.

Find an Angle

If you’re like most people, your life story lacks drama, so figuring out a way to make it interesting becomes the big challenge. Finding an angle or a “hook” is vital.

Be Specific

Don’t, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, engineer, or whatever should be logical, the result of specific experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as the logical conclusion to your story.

Avoid Cliches

A medical school applicant who writes that he is good at science and wants to help other people is not exactly expressing an original thought. Stay away from often-repeated or tired statements.

Personal Statement Sample

Personal Statement Guide

Since my childhood, I have always been interested in learning new things within the scientific world. Everything that includes “a scientific discovery” in its title has always attracted my attention. For example, I have been always impressed by the mystery of our universe and the secrets that it holds, or even the functioning of our stunning planet Earth, with its countless environments and wild-creatures. But what always has been of special interest to me is the human body and how it functions. The numerous structural details and tasks of our body never fail to amaze me. With new research, technology, medicine and treatments, doctors are constantly able to improve the health care and treatment they provide patients for illness such as many genetic diseases, cancer or even infectious and non-infectious diseases. I enjoyed studying chapters about genetic disorders, as now doctors have more hopes in treating patients with genetic problems, such as cystic fibrosis. Although this field is further under research, the results are showing positive signs, and hence illustrating the growing opportunities/treatments in the field of medicine. This field of study is constantly evolving and dynamic, and there is so much to learn about the human body, and I am fascinated by all the systems in our body, such as nervous system, homeostasis and particularly the cardiovascular system. Our body depends on the proper functioning of the heart, as it pumps blood, hence delivering vital substances, to our cells. This incredible muscle is coordinated by the synchronized activity of the Sinoatrial node, the atrioventricular node and Purkyne tissue. Hence, causing the heart muscle to contract and relax at specific intervals of time. This is one brief example of many, which demonstrates how the way in which the human body works is complicated yet very organized, and how it operates in a systematic manner. I am fascinated by this and it has motivated me to study this astonishing machine, and the best way to do that is through studying the field of medicine further.

Studying medicine will not only satisfy my needs to learn more about the human body but also it will give me the chance to help people. I always have this tremendous feeling of satisfaction when I help someone in need, and it just feels incredible when I am able to solve and help them with their problem. Therefore, I feel medicine is the best field where helping people and learning come together perfectly. I can practice what I love while contributing to society and humankind at the same time. Plus being a young adult that loves challenges and new experiences, I am confident that studying medicine will be highly satisfying, as I am always enthused to move forward and self-motivated. I’m hard-working and confident I can do this.

Academically I have always been a top A grade student, and I have continually strived to do my best. My good academic results are a testament to my hard work and dedication to my studies. When I was able to achieve high grades in my A level exams, it further encouraged me to fulfil my dream of going into medicine, and I always keep in my mind that nothing is impossible to achieve. I know the field of study is very hard and competitive, but I believe if I continue to work hard and remain committed to my studies, I will be successful.

Following my research and advice from my counsellor, I believe one of the best countries to study medicine in is Germany. Moreover, my mother used to travel extensively to Germany for work purposes previously when she used to work with the company Wella. She was highly impressed with the country, its people and ethics and highly recommended it to me too. Germany has been always known for its extensive scientific contributions to the world, such as the invention of Aspirin, which is considered to be one of the most used medicines worldwide. As well, when it comes to universities, Germany is internationally known for its high teaching standards, top-ranked universities and innovative technology and facilities offered. I constantly read about German hospitals and research facilities continuing to produce ground-breaking new medical technology, innovation and research in the field of medicine, and I see people continually going to Germany for treatment. I would like to learn from these best practices and make use of the modern facilities and knowledge offered by your institutes.

Even the society is known for its cultural-diversity and known to encourage the human brain to come up with ideas that will help promote technology and living standards to the next level. Therefore, Germany is the perfect environment for research, creativity, motivation and studying. Moreover, going to Germany will further enhance my German language and I will be able to perfectly speak Arabic, German and English. This will be a great advantage for my future career as a Doctor as it will help me communicate with various types of patients.

I believe my transition into living in a German society will be easy for me since I spent my last 6 years in Dubai, I learned to be open to all types of cultures. Living in a multicultural society has given me a worthy experience, as I’m able to know how to communicate with various types of nationalities. Therefore, since Germany is culturally diverse too, I will be able to communicate with people easily and adjust to the lifestyle that the country has to offer.

Moreover, I have been studying the German language for the past few months at the Goethe Institute in Dubai, thus giving me further insight into the language and culture of Germany. I am currently studying for my B1 exam. I believe I have a good grasp of the language and look forward to completing my remaining levels at Eurasia Institute, in Berlin, Germany. I believe this institute will further prepare me in language and university preparation well, helping me then able to successfully enter into the University of Heidelberg.

I greatly appreciate the opportunity of studying in Germany, and I look forward to learning from the best. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Student Name

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