How to Write a Personal Statement for a Scholarship Application
A personal statement is an essay written to present your background, aims, goals and aspirations for securing an admission in a college or university. Students also write personal statements for getting a scholarship in their desired college or institution. It’s an important part of the application process and the chances of getting a scholarship very much depend on how well you write your personal statement.
Today, there is intense competition for getting a college/undergraduate scholarship and students need to concentrate on each and every little aspect to make their statement impressive enough for selection. In this tough competition, selective and proper guidance can keep you ahead from others. Your writing skills will determine your presentation skills as the better you are able to express yourself, the better your application will be and the better will be your chances of securing the scholarship.
It’s a very challenging task to write about yourself, which encompasses your background, aspirations, aims, grades, hobbies, interests, strengths and weaknesses in a clear and concise way. The tricky part is that you need to be expressive, candid as well as honest in your statement but without making a negative impression in the minds of the reader/evaluator. Further, you won’t want to miss out on any good points, examples or incidents about your personal and academic life as it can make or break your chances of getting the scholarship. So, you have to be very careful while choosing your words in presenting yourself. You should be expressive but careful in what you say. Above all, your personal statement shouldn’t be just a list of your personal and academic achievements but it should also represent your inner self – your character, abilities, perceptions, attitudes, thoughts and reflections to the outer world, as these will have a definite impact on the statement.
The members of the committee, who will be going through your testimonials and achievements, are intelligent persons and have seen hundreds and thousands of such statements before. There is nothing new for them as they are accustomed to read a wide variety of statements. They would be less impressed with an average or mediocre statement. In fact, they might even throw such statements in trash. So, you need to be above average in order to stand out from the rest. Each paragraph should be neatly knitted from sentence to sentence, from one idea to the other, maintaining the flow of your expression. If you can make your story presentable enough to impress the members of the selection panel, half of the battle is won.
Steps in writing a personal statement for a scholarship application:
- Gather your thoughts first by making a rough outline. Think about your distinctive qualities. The points should present you to your readers in an impressive way - a person with different views, ideology, creativeness, ideas, motives and aspirations. Make it interesting. Try to draw their attention right from the beginning with an impressive sentence.
- It should be grammatically correct without any syntax errors. Describe ideas, dreams and issues that shaped up your life and how you intend to carry them forward in your journey. Mention challenges that you have dealt with and obstacles that you crossed pursuing your destination.
- Mention an incident that has helped in shaping your life, if there is any. If not, don’t try to create it forcefully, as that will not inspire you to write in the best way. Share an issue that you strongly feel about but don’t overaddress it.
- You can mention some important persons who had a great impact on your life like your mother, father, teacher, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, friends, etc. It could be anyone, even a stranger. You should be able to tell why they have been important to you and how they shaped up your life and personality.
- Mention your areas of interest and why they inspire you. Why have you chosen a particular field of study and what do you intend to do in your future by pursuing it? How can your choice benefit the society? You can share your work experience, if any, as part of your statement, but don’t make any false claims or job experience, as they would be detected easily.
- Do not fall away from the track, maintain your focus. You cannot mention every incident or achievement in your life. So stick to your primary goal. Avoid generalizing as what you enjoy or what you would like to get from life since it is not at all relevant to the statement.
- Make your personal statement simple and precise. Maintain the flow of writing; it’s very easy to get carried away. Choose your words intelligently; they should come to you naturally. Don’t try to impress the evaluators by using too much jargon and sophisticated words all over the essay. Avoid words or sentences that are phrases, etc. Don’t try to be flowery or poetic in your writing as it’s not a test of your literary skills. Don’t make it too lengthy. The reader should not lose interest till the last line of the statement. Your goal is to impress the reader, not bore him/her.
- Stick to the core ideas of your subject and let other things revolve around it. The best personal statements are those, which unify the core idea and have a clear perception.
- Keep it clean and simple; make your thoughts flow like a smooth flowing river. Let your reader remember you. Recreate the journey of your life with its success, failures, accidents and mistakes. Tell a story that makes proper sense of your life, which it has been.
- Finally, go through the statement thoroughly. Remove any grammatical and spelling mistakes and do a thorough proofreading. Allow someone else to go through it so that you can be informed on the points or matters that you might have overlooked or missed out.
If you follow the steps mentioned above, you might be able to write a very good personal statement for a scholarship application.
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