Personal history statement writing basics

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To choose the best candidates from many applicants, many educational programs require extra materials to supplement their application. A personal history statement is required to demonstrate how your important decision to pursue a particular career with the chosen college or university is informed by your upbringing and background. Besides, this paper outlines how your future academic goals are based on past experiences. Mastering the main principles of writing a great personal history is your statement can let you distinguish yourself from many other qualified candidates.

Helpful steps to successful writing

If you have no idea of how to start writing a personal statement, take several helpful steps that will guide you to excellent results.

  • Research given prompts and identify the requirements necessary to be addressed in your paper;
  • Gather useful information to demonstrate why you’re a perfect fit;
  • Free write honestly and continuously about the main reasons for pursuing the chosen educational career, and use results as your first draft;
  • Write down everything that comes to your mind about the past experiences that led you to the chosen institution, including interactions with teachers, working experiences, inspiring books, and others;
  • List personal accomplishments and experiences, but limit yourself to the ones related to your intended academic interests;
  • List personal goals, but choose the ones related to the chosen institution;
  • Turn a rough draft of your personal statement into a remarkable expression of your reasoning for applying to a particular institution;
  • Connect personal experiences with your goals and accomplishments to demonstrate how your personal history enables you to achieve them;
  • Select a few past experiences that resulted in unique accomplishments and future academic goals.

The definition of a personal statement

What is a personal statement? It’s all about writing a successful admission essay focused on personal reasoning for applying to a specific field of study or academic program. You’re required to tell the committee a personal story of who you really and how you developed current educational interests. Is it similar to a statement of purpose? It’s not always so, and that’s why you should know general distinctions between these papers.

A comparison of both statements

A statement of purpose is the formal paper focused on a summary of your academic backgrounds, future goals, and research interests. You’re asked to explain your reasoning for applying to a particular institution and why you think that you can be a good fit.

A personal statement is always a less formal paper focused on your motivation and passion to enter the chosen educational program or field. This essay is more flexible and has a bigger emphasis on your storytelling. Many modern colleges encourage their applicants to discuss relevant life challenges and how they succeeded to overcome them. Both papers should be 1-3 pages long based on the chosen program. When writing your personal history statement, ensure that it contains the following:

  • Your motivation to enter a particular academic field;
  • Research interests;
  • Relevant life accomplishments, struggles, and experiences;
  • Personal reasoning for selecting a specific educational program;
  • Explanations of why it’s a good fit;
  • A less formal format.

Important personal statement elements

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What do admissions officers search for in personal statements? They want to learn more about:

  • Applicants;
  • Their struggles;
  • Interests;
  • Motivations to enter the chosen field.

Through this paper, they can get to know candidates on a deeper and more personal level while learning about them in different ways than formal applications. There are some basic elements that a successful personal statement must have.

Your compelling story

This essay should tell your personal story and that’s why it may resemble your autobiography. Basically, a personal statement introduces your personality, motivations, interests, and reasons to apply to the chosen institution. It’s mostly focused on a specific personal history, from failures to your success.

However, all experiences should be related to a particular field of study while explaining everything you’ve learned and what these lessons mean in terms of your academic potential. Be conversational in this paper because you’re talking about yourself. You can use your authentic voice, include a joke, and tell readers more about your experiences. Although you’re writing an academic paper, it’s appropriate to be a bit less informal.

Inspirations for your academic interests

Admissions officers not only want to see well-defined interests, but also why applicants have them. That’s why a personal statement must explain everything that motivates you to explore interests. Avoid the mistake of returning to the beginning to start this paper and using broad statements because they lack zest and creativity.

Motivations for applying

A personal history should be focused on what motivated you to apply to the chosen institution and field. In general, most admissions officers want to get answers to these questions:

  • How will your future education help you achieve important goals?
  • Why is your application the right step?
  • Are there any problems or struggles faced by you?

Stay honest about your reasoning and answer all the above-mentioned questions clearly.

Excellent writing skills

A winning personal statement proves that you can write coherently and cogently. Excellent writing skills are important for your successful application. In addition to telling your personal history, you need to use correct spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation. Use logical and smooth paragraphs to discuss your ideas and play around with their length and form. Good writing doesn’t always equal big words. Remember that you’re writing about your personality, so use only the words that come naturally. On the other hand, avoid getting too colloquial.

Explanations of any academic obstacles and challenges

Lastly, a personal statement provides you with a good chance to explain any challenges and problems that you faced, including educational gaps and low grades. This paper is used to understand their causes and how you succeed to overcome these obstacles in your education. You get a full rein to emphasize your success over different struggles and explain yourself.

Things that you shouldn’t do

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Don’t open your personal statement with any quote because it may take too much space and most officers don’t need it. Using clichés is another mistake, so you should consider unique ways to tell a personal history while being honest and creative. However, don’t get too creative in this type of writing because your basic goal is to seem a committed and serious candidate. Write your statement clearly and avoid different distractions, including colors, images, and informal fonts. Most importantly, it should focus on personal successes, so use encouraging and strong words while putting positive twists on hard life experiences.

Why you should start early and read instructions

Personal statement writing usually takes a lot of time and work, so you shouldn’t procrastinate until the last moment, especially if your deadlines are tight. Start working on this task as soon as possible and give yourself enough time to write a good paper. Although you can write it fast, it’s advisable to spend more time on your statement to out more thought into how you present your personal history.

Reading instructions is one of the most important steps because your failure to follow them all is quite likely to lead to a rejection. Determine how long your personal statement must be and what content it should include.

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