Here’s a comprehensive overview of how to write a personal statement for scholarship applications by Study Success.
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What is a Personal Statement?
A personal statement is a written document that outlines your personal background, experiences, and achievements. It is commonly used in scholarship applications to give the selection committee insights into your motivations, goals, and suitability for the scholarship.
Personal statements are needed in various situations, including:
- Scholarship Applications: Many scholarship programs require applicants to submit a personal statement alongside their application form.
- College and University Admissions: Some educational institutions may ask for a personal statement as part of the application process.
- Job Applications: In some cases, especially for positions that require strong communication skills or creativity, employers may request a personal statement.
- Grant Applications: Individuals or organizations applying for grants may be asked to provide a personal statement to explain their goals, objectives, and the impact they aim to make.
- Residency Applications: Medical residency programs often require applicants to submit a personal statement highlighting their passion for a specific medical field and their career goals.
In these instances, a personal statement serves as an opportunity for you to showcase your unique qualities, articulate your academic and professional goals, and explain how you align with the purpose and values of the scholarship, institution, job, or program you are applying to.
What to include in a Personal Statement?
A personal statement should provide a comprehensive overview of your personal background, experiences, and achievements. Here are some key elements to include in a personal statement:
- Introduction: Begin with a strong opening that grabs the reader’s attention and introduces yourself. Provide a brief overview of who you are and your motivations for applying.
- Personal Background: Share relevant details about your personal background, such as your upbringing, culture, or any personal experiences that have shaped your aspirations and goals. This helps the selection committee understand your unique perspective.
- Academic and Professional Goals: Clearly articulate your academic and professional goals. Explain why you are passionate about your chosen field of study or career path. Showcase your knowledge and enthusiasm, highlighting any relevant achievements or experiences.
- Relevant Experiences: Discuss any relevant experiences, such as internships, research projects, or volunteer work that have contributed to your personal and professional growth. Emphasize the skills you have gained and how they make you a strong candidate for the scholarship or program.
- Impact and Contributions: Explain how you plan to make a positive impact in your chosen field or community. Highlight any specific projects or initiatives you have been involved in that demonstrate your ability to create positive change.
- Alignment with the Scholarship/Program: Show how your personal goals align with the purpose and values of the scholarship or program. Explain why you believe you are a good fit and what you can contribute if given the opportunity.
- Personal Qualities and Strengths: Highlight your personal qualities, such as resilience, leadership, problem-solving skills, or teamwork abilities. Provide examples that showcase these qualities in action.
- Conclusion: Summarize your key points and reiterate your passion and commitment. End on a strong note that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.
How to Write a Personal Statement for Scholarship Application?
Looking at the outline laid above, here’s what I would do if I were to write a personal statement as part of a scholarship application. These sample paragraphs are imaginary and you should modify and expand these to your own story where relevant.
- Introduction & Purpose: Dear Scholarship Committee, I am Brandon, a final-year student at the University of Technology Sydney. I am writing this personal statement to provide a comprehensive overview of my academic and professional achievement as well as my aspirations and why I would be a strong candidate for the scholarship program.
- Personal Background: I grew up in a third-world country where the opportunities are scarce. I had to study hard all the way through my high school years and take English courses to be able to qualify for my undergraduate studies in Australia.
- Academic and Professional History and Aspiration: My dream is to become an economist that can contribute in the economic development and policymaking of my country. To achieve my dream, my plan is to study a Master’s degree in economics at a reputable university.
- Relevant Experiences and Achievement: During my undergraduate studies, I studied hard and was recognized as the best graduating student for achieving the highest GPA among all business-major students. Aside from studies, I was also involved in leadership roles in several organizations.
- Why You Should Be Awarded the Scholarship: I believe that my dream and aspiration are well aligned with the scholarship’s missions. Despite unfavorable conditions, I have persisted to reach to where I am today. This scholarship will tremendously help me in my path to achieving my dream of contributing to my country’s economic development as an economist.
Tips to Making your Personal Statement Stand Out
Several tips for writing a personal statement in the following section.
- Start your preparation early: Personal statements are not ones that you want to procrastinate and write under time pressure. You want to take time, reflect and have multiple iterations when writing personal statements. These are more often than not critical for either job applications or scholarship applications and you want to make sure you give enough time on these.
- Understand the scholarship committee’s mission and purpose: You will need to tailor your personal statements according to the scholarship awarding bodies or the organizations that you are writing these statements to. For example, some organizations will prioritize “leadership qualities” in which case you focus and include your leadership track records in the statements.
- Brainstorm the ideas before actually writing: You should sketch out which one of your experiences to include and not include before writing the personal statements. This way, you avoid entirely rewriting the letter later on since this reduces the chance of sidetracking in your writing process.
- Know yourself and be authentic: This is critical. Several parts of scholarships or job applications will require you to provide questions which will test your self-awareness and maturity. It’s important that you are clear on why you want to pursue the opportunity that you are applying for and what you want out of your life. This will enable you to portrait yourself authentically and stand out among the applicants.
- Be concise and grammatically correct throughout: There are many AI tools that allow you to check your essays and paragraphs (e.g., Grammarly). Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by submitting grammatically wrong statements. Also, always try to remove excess words.
- Share your dream or goals and why they matter to you: Being able to share your dream or goals is critical in writing a personal statement. You should be able to get the scholarship committee excited and inspired with your dream. Tell them how this scholarship opportunity will help you in achieving that goal. Only then that they will lean more towards giving you the opportunity.
- Be structured and organized: A good structure is important for any kind of writing and it’s the same for writing a personal statement for scholarship. Start every paragraph with a strong opening providing glimpse into what that paragraph is all about. Make sure every paragraph is of the right length, not too long.
- Also check our Tips for Writing a Strong Recommendation Letter for Scholarships “HERE“