Writing a compelling personal statement is crucial within highly competitive academic fields such as criminology. According to the Fellowships Office of the Western Washington University, your aim should be a strong and genuine presentation of yourself as a person, your accomplishments and career goals. The selection committee will consist of highly educated individuals, so you must showcase yourself in an appropriate way to distinguish yourself from other applicants. A convincing personal statement can be achieved with some time and thought.
Start the process early since an outstanding personal statement requires considerable time and attention. Begin by thinking about your skills, strengths and experiences and how these relate to studying criminology. Write down or mind map all your thoughts on these areas and create an outline for the statement.
Write a strong opening paragraph that explains why you want to study criminology at this particular institution. Draft this paragraph several times to ensure it captivates the reader. Provide clear information about why you should be selected to study criminology. Ensure that your statement could only be reviewed for a criminology course; if it is too general, it won't stand out, and your passion for the subject will not be appreciated.
Avoid flowery language and complicated sentence structure. According to the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, the key is to write honestly, simply and clearly about yourself and your aspirations. Avoid clichés, controversial subjects, exaggerating and the excessive use of qualifiers and modifiers--terms like "very," "several" or "some."
Be specific rather than general as it is impossible to cover every aspect of your education and interests fully. Tailor your statement to experiences, achievements and coursework that highlight your interest in criminology.
Personalise each statement to the program and/or school, suggests Dr. Pat Sokolove of the National Institutes of Health, Office of Intermural Training and Education. Explore the research interests of the staff and make connections between any of these areas and your own interests and experiences within your statement. For example, if the program involves a focus on white collar crime, you could include how you reported the Bernie Madoff trial for your school magazine.
Find a mentor to help you with the process. This could be a current student or former student or a professional working within a related area. Approach the Careers Service of the College you wish to attend as it can often provide useful information you can use in your statement. The course admissions staff will want to know what you plan to do with your degree, so include your ideas about what specific professional you'd like to pursue.
Finish writing your draft in good time and then take a break from it for a short while. Return to the draft when you feel refreshed, and make any improvements necessary. Ask a teacher or parent to read it and offer advice on improvement. Ensure the statement flows easily, and when you are wholly satisfied with it, submit the statement.
Making a start is more important than getting it right; you will need to revise your work several times anyway, so focus on beginning rather than worrying about little details at the outset.