A personal statement is an essay that describes your personality and experiences in a reflective way. The aim of this essay type is to persuade the admission committee that you are a second to none candidate for the college you are applying for. Along with your SAT, BTEC scores or other school leaving qualification results (depending on the country of residence), admission officers attentively read your personal statement. Very often they select their future students with the help of this essay as only it can show them who you really are. There are hundreds of A-level scores, brilliant records, etc. but a personal statement is what makes you unique. As your essay is powerful and impressive, so your college enrollment is successful.
So what is a personal essay about? It can be a story about you and your life. It also can tell about someone else who influenced your views, your frame of mind or feelings. On the whole, a personal statement is more towards you and the events, people and other things related to your life.
Your story can begin in different ways. If you feel insecure to start writing about yourself, you may prelude with a short story about a person who has significantly influenced and inspired you like a parent, teacher, a screen idol, a hero from your childhood, a coach, etc. Whatever you portray, you use it to demonstrate your own development, achievements and aspirations.
Another way to start your personal essay is to choose an anecdote, a quotation or a joke relevant to your future studies and occupation. Some applicants raise a certain issue and build their essay around it. But this task is rather challenging and requires some outstanding thinking and writing skills from the author. Anyway, every applicant must focus on his or her life and personality. No matter how weird, plain or elegant your story is, it should be about you.
Hope you have realized what your personal statement should be about. Still, there are lots of important things you must know about this essay if you indeed want to be admitted to the college of your dream. Commonly, school leavers buckle to their entrance essays or personal statements far in advance. We also recommend you to read this personal statement introduction guideline and beat your way to the successful university entrance.
What is an introductory paragraph?
The introduction is a part of the essay that needs particular care and thorough writing. Its primary purpose is to attract readers’ attention – draw their interest to your story and your personality as well. You should do it right from the first line without delay, otherwise, you risk having a bored reader and even worse you may lose him at the very start. Therefore, professional writers recommend employing a wise technique like hooking the audience. It has some analogy with fishing as once you hook a fish, it is almost 100 percent yours. Do fish like hooks so much that they are ready to eat them? No! You need a hook with nice tasty bait, only then you will be able to have a fine catch. This is the case of a personal statement introduction.
Here are some splendid epithets that will let you better understand what an introduction should be like:
Do not make a common mistake by orienting the reader to the topic of your essay – it is a waste of time. It can be helpful but is not essential for the personal statement. Your readers are admission tutors who already know that you will address to your high school life, experiences, volunteering, extra-school activities, hobbies and so on. Do not over-explain what you are going to write in other paragraphs - speak to the point! What you must do is to highlight the most important experience or event and structure your paper around this idea.
Several approaches to effective introduction
If you want to make your introduction attractive to the readers, we suggest you a couple of ways to approach it effectively. Keep in mind that the first sentence matters.
- Grasp the nettle
- Many applicants, when having decided on a significant experience, preface it with a generic sentence. For example, “After my first one-week hiking tour to the mountains, I knew that I would dedicate myself to geography.” By this, they are wasting space and more likely fail to draw the interest of the reader. Do not be a bore by setting the stage or summarizing facts, show why you are writing instead. If you start the introduction with a short story, describe the action, not the scene.
- Be original
- If you manage to create your unique image from the first statement, you will get more opportunities for admission. To do it, you should brainstorm carefully to pick out the most interesting fact about you and present it creatively. Do not confuse it with some exotic things, just think what makes you stand out from the others and you will definitely write an effective first line for your intro.
- Set up a problem
- Doing so, you will have a curious reader who will be eager to know how you are going to address it in the body paragraphs. If you choose this approach, your first introductory sentence can be a rhetorical question – which is a perfect solution! On the other hand, you may touch on a current social issue. For the record: do not try to solve the problem, but show that you understand how it occurred and what it is. Another good idea is to discuss the difficulties you have overcome. For more effectiveness of the first paragraph, your story should have some element of drama.
- Sounding offbeat
- This approach will be effective only if you do not overplay. Often, students start with a joke but they should be careful as jokes, along with amusement, should serve more substantive aims. However, a successful joke can create some relaxed atmosphere and adjust the readers to the author’s style. It is important to understand that being offbeat is being creative and subtle rather than abusive.
Tips to write a killer opening
To compose a killer introduction, one should act like this:
- Show your interest in the college you apply for.
- Get right to the point.
- Show enthusiasm for studying at this college.
- Explain your motives.
- Be specific; don’t waste space on vague, generic phrases.
- Be honest, modest and a bit critical of yourself. In this way, you will sound natural.
- Show that you are pretty aware of the college mission, academic studies, rules and students’ life. Explain why you are interested in the college and what college activities attract you most.
- Focus on the things that are currently important to you. Do not open your essay with the recollections from the remote past. Tell about the things that inspire you at the present day or about the recent experiences.
- Relate your experiences to the field of your studies.
While thinking how to write the introduction for your personal statement, you should decide on a writing style. There are many styles to choose from:
- Academic Style. When assigned a scholarly essay, the first thing you should follow is the formal writing style. Along with academic language and common formats like MLA, APA, Chicago, you have to provide your introduction with a clear thesis statement and persuasive arguments.
- Narration style. This is the style which gives a writer a lot of freedom in how to start the story. For a note: the rest of the essay can be done in a different style, for example, academic or argumentative.
- Contrast and compare style. Your whole essay will be focused on similarities and differences of the subjects you compare, therefore, start the introduction in the same mode – create a thesis statement and present the ideas for further comparison.
- Action style. If you are going to write a narrative personal statement, action introduction will be a fine solution. The aim of this style to encourage the reader to find out what led to a certain event and what followed it. So the main task of this introduction is to show the cause and effects rather than a story. With the help of it, you can easily intrigue your readers.
- Quotation style.
- Are you tempted to start your personal essay with a quote? Then you should resist using quotes as most of them look hackneyed and forced. Moreover, students tend to choose quotes that they personally cannot interpret or sayings that are simply difficult to understand. Admission officers already know hundreds of sophisticated sayings of famous writers, philosophers and scientists. Thus, your essay will not be original as the chances are great that other applicants use this quote.
- However, if you cannot do without a quote in your introduction, please choose some amusing, obscure and unhackneyed one. Remember that you should reveal its meaning in the essay body as well as respond to it. This way, you will tell about yourself.
- Question style.
- Beginning your introduction with a question is not a good idea as the admission officers are not eager to figure out the answers. They are reading about you and want to see your reflections and attitudes on the experiences you have had.
- Moreover, the questions like “Are you looking for a diligent and determined student?” or “Is it good or not?” look weird.
- The question will work only if it is compelling enough and is provided with the answers from your experience.
What is next?
Here is a collection of advice taken from experienced admission officers which will help you keep away from the common mistakes:
- Avoid radical statements as well as humour ones.
- Do not connect the reason why you want to enter this college with every word in your essay. Students have the experiences that do not coincide with their education and career goals. And it is OK! Keep a balance.
- Do not rely on spellcheckers or grammar check tools too much. If some grammar mistakes are accepted by professors – they know that you are just a teenager and still have drawbacks in writing; spelling mistakes will kill your essay immediately. Do you think that the applicant who has misspelt his or her name will be chosen among the rest flawless papers? Of course, not. Professors hate spelling errors together with other typos, therefore always ask someone to proofread your essay.
- Do you know what kinds of students colleges need? They require people who are interested in the course and the ones who are able to contribute to the academic and social life of the college. That is why choose and tell about those skills and activities in your life that are relevant to the college’s interests.
- Don’t brag about your achievements and avoid showing off as a selfish and opinionated person. Modesty is appreciated more!
- Admission tutors love personal statements that have a note of individual flavour. Being sick and tired of pomposity and clichés, they ask the applicants to write as they feel. Remain true to yourself, and perhaps your personal statement will attract the admission body by its sincerity and openness.
We are waiting for your feedback on this article. Was it useful? Are you looking for more advice on how to craft an impressive personal statement? If so, then surf our website again, we have prepared best academic writing guidelines ever!
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