Personal Statements are exactly what they state they are, Personal. But in as much as they are unique they are aimed at serving a common purpose, to convince the selection committee panel that you deserve to be considered for the scholarship. In other words, there are some common ways in which you are expected to ‘package’ your uniqueness. The list below is not exhaustive, but touches on some key issues that you may need to consider
- It is a serious document; give it the seriousness it deserves.
A Personal Statement is not a high school composition about ‘Myself’. It is a well thought, well presented, truthful and convincing statement about you. You are not creating anything about yourself, but just ‘spreading yourself’ logically on paper. Not only do you expect it to outshine other statements from equally competent aspirants, but you also want it to survive the thorough scrutiny from even more competent judges. So, take your time and put your entire mind to it.
- Don’t sell yourself cheap, don’t sell yourself fake either
You are applying for the scholarship because you are convinced you make the grade, pass on the conviction of your value to the panel; just don’t brag! On the other hand, be honest and convey a true reflection of yourself. Remember, if invited for interview most questions are likely to come from your statement, and if you told the truth you won’t have to worry about remembering anything, but liars will need to have a great memory.
- Demonstrate your human side
Convince the panel on the impact or change you intend to bring to the community, particularly in the country from where you come. Highlight the role of the scholarship in this ambition. Social change should be one of the major motivations for education. Here, evidence of what you are already doing (or have done) as a change agent should do well for you.
- Prove that you are capable of, and aiming at, achieving greatness
The personal statement should not end at providing a picture of your current self. Proceed to give a picture of yourself in five or more years’ time. This new picture and level should acknowledge the role played by the scholarship and should have the scholarship brand imbedded in it.
- Bridge the Gap
You want the panel to know and ‘meet’ you personally, so get closer. Get personal, ‘talk’ to them! Feel like, at the end of your statement you and the panel are not strangers anymore.
- Mind your grammar, spellings and punctuations
It becomes a frustrating conversation where the listener keeps saying ‘Pardon?’ because s/he has not heard you well. This is what happens with a Personal Statement that is riddled with poor grammar, wrong spellings and punctuations. Having to re-read phrases and sentences to get the sense puts the readers off, especially when they have dozens of other scripts to go through. The error may look small, but the impact could be disastrous. I heard of a young Veterinary graduate whose hobbies were ‘cooking’ and ‘playing with dogs’ but wrote in his resume “cooking dogs”. I hear he is still looking for a job.
Author Edington Muchokwani