PERSONAL STATEMENT: THE BASICS

This goes by various names, statement of purpose, and statement of motivation to say a few. It is best described as the chance to say your story. Note that it should not just be a duplication of your resume and transcript instead it should include what you want the admission board to know about what makes you tick. WHAT DRIVES YOU?

WHAT IS IT?

The personal statement should provide answers to the following questions?

  • Who are you?
  • What course are you interested in?
  • What school are you interested in?
  • What was a turning point in your life that influenced your decision to study your course of choice? / What is your source of inspiration?
  • What are your greatest attributes with examples of where you demonstrated this and how this translates to an assurance that you would do well in graduate school?
  • How strong you are academically and how have your academic achievements culminated in your choice of career so far, what course are you good at?
  • What important extracurricular particularly those relevant to your career path have you participated in?
  • What are you doing that makes you different from everyone else? In other words why should I choose you over a thousand other candidates?
  • Why do you think you are a good fit for the school?
  • Why do you think the school is a good fit for you?

WHAT SHOULD IT CONTAIN?

  • why you want to study Global Health and Development at graduate level?
  • How your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme?
  • why you want to study Global Health and Development at U.C.L?
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme?
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree?

The image above is a University College London’s description of what a personal statement should contain. Ensure you check the institution you are interested in to find out the school specific requirements.

WHAT ARE THE PARTS OF A PERSONAL STATEMENT?

  • the personal statement is divided into three parts;
  • the introduction
  • the body
  • the conclusion.

The introduction:

There are a lot of ways to start this but, try to start in a way that you are comfortable with. You can be direct and go straight to the point that is stating the course you are interested in like some of our samples portray. You can state a quote or a clause from your favourite novel or movie ensuring it is relevant to a point you are trying to make. You can state a short story as your introduction. It may take a while to get the perfect personal statement so, the trick is to write something first, a draft that can be modified subsequently.

The body:

Depending on the instructions provided by the schools and the required length of your personal statement, the structure of the introduction will vary it may be five paragraphed or three paragraphs. it should highlight your source of inspiration, attributes and answer most of the questions earlier listed. In other words, it should let them know who you are?

The conclusion:

This is where you wrap it up. I usually let my conclusion provide answers to these two questions:

  • Why do you think you are a good fit for the school?
  • Why do you think the school is a good fit for you?

TYPES OF PERSONAL STATEMENT

Personal statements are of two types:

  • Academic personal statement
  • Scholarship personal statement.

There is a whole lot of difference between these two types. The first category pays attention to your academic strength which includes your grades, awards, prices and other scholastic achievements. Little attention is paid to extracurricular activities. On the other hand, the second category deals with both scholastic achievement and extracurricular activities which includes leadership, sports, volunteering activities e.t.c

HOW TO START

Be prepared to write a lot of drafts and have a bin close to you to dispose of rumpled papers. Go to the institution or scholarship body’s website and read about the specifics of the personal statement which include the length, specific questions that should be answered, the number of paragraphs, presence of a clause.