Every year, colleges receive countless scholarship applications from students who have excellent academic records and well-rounded interests. As a result, admission officers use the personal statement portion of the application to evaluate which candidates truly stand out and deserve a scholarship. The statement allows the admission staff to learn important things about you that the application alone cannot show, such as goals, values and any lessons you have learnt from your experiences.
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Read carefully and understand the instructions that each college scholarship program provides for their personal statement. Some applications will require you to answer specific questions regarding your experiences, while others will provide a general prompt.
Choose several significant experiences from your life to discuss. Describe the actual experience in no more than two or three sentences. Focus on discussing how each experience demonstrates important qualities such as curiosity, initiative, creativity, motivation, diligence and perseverance. Examples of valuable experiences include foreign travel, extra-curricular activities such as sports or volunteering and involvement in student government.
Explain why you have chosen your intended major. Try to link this interest to your larger life goals, like, for instance, your desire to become a leader in the field of neuroscience.
Highlight how each experience that you describe has changed you. Focus on how it helped you to define goals, develop an appreciation or to identify a belief or value.
Discuss any work experience relevant to your field of study if you are returning to college after an extended hiatus. Describe how the work experience has helped to develop your interest in this area.
Ask a friend or family member to read and critique your statement.
Tips and warnings
- If you are unsure of what particular information you should include in your personal statement, the college counsellor at your school will be able to provide guidance.
- Do not provide a chronological list of the events of your life. Keep in mind that a successful personal statement will cover fewer experiences in depth, as opposed to providing superficial explanations of many experiences.
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