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Writing a Personal Statement for Studying Abroad

When you are applying for a study abroad program you may be asked to write a personal statement. If you aren’t sure about what a personal statement iswhat it looks like, or what it includes, you can find out right here with our guide to writing a personal statement…

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is often the only opportunity you have to set yourself apart from all the other applicants who also want to study your chosen course. Many admissions officers use it to make their final decision on a shortlist of candidates. Primarily it is a way for them to find out the reasons behind your application answers but they will also want to know what makes you unique. What will you bring to your class that is different? You need to convey your enthusiasm for the subject making sure you give an honest explanation.

You may also need to write a personal statement for a scholarship application, which could mean the difference between studying and not. There is no need to panic though as writing a personal statement for studying abroad is not as hard as it sounds. Just follow our guide and you’ll have a great statement in no time.

What does a personal statement look like?

Most personal statements are just one or two pages that focus on one or two clear themes, and give an in depth explanation of your abilities or interests in that area. Don’t try to fit in your entire life story or all of your achievements, as this will waste valuable space.

The best personal statements have a clear structure – a compelling introduction, between two and five body paragraphs that give solid reasons or explanations for studying, and a strong conclusion. But before you start writing, make sure you read any instructions that were sent. Not all personal statements are the same so be sure to check what your admissions office requires. Once you know what they require, make sure you keep to that format – if they want two A4 pages double-spaced, then don’t send in four pages. If they ask you to answer three specific questions, do so clearly. Otherwise your statement could be rejected before it has even been read.

What does a personal statement include?

Your introduction needs to grab the reader’s attention. It sets the tone for the rest of the statement. Avoid clichés or long-winded explanations. Instead, spark their interest and get to the point – in just one paragraph. Because the introduction is so important, you may want to write it last. That’s OK!

In the body of your personal statement, you need to demonstrate some reasons behind your theme. Think of this as an argument, just like an essay – and just like an essay, you should back up all of your statements. Don’t just state your achievements, explain what is behind them, giving examples of when you have shown certain abilities or skills, as this adds credibility to your argument and can make a big difference in making your statement stand out from the crowd.  You are trying to persuade the reader that you are the best possible student for this class or scholarship so it’s also a good place to mention achievements that you were unable to include in your main application, but only if they are relevant.

Your conclusion needs to flow from the rest of the copy. An attention-grabbing sentence at the end will help give impact to your statement, so be sure you emphasise your desire to study. You may wish to include a specific reason for choosing that university in your conclusion – some unique feature that ties in with the points you have outlined on your goals and experience. It’s a good way to show that you have researched that institution, and that this is not just a generic statement.

 

Whenever possible, leave your statement overnight and then look at it again with fresh eyes. Check that it flows well and ensure there are no grammar and spelling mistakes. Now you’re ready to show it to some friends and relatives asking them for constructive feedback. A second point of view can really add to your statement and is well worth taking the effort. Personal statements are so important and could be the reason for your application to the institution or scholarship failing.

SEE MORE: 10 reasons your scholarship application may fail

If you’re not confident about your English ability, ask a fluent English speaker to proofread it. This is critical, as your personal statement demonstrates your ability to write and communicate in English when you study. For many admissions officers, clear English is the first thing they look for.

A good writer always thinks about the reader’s point of view. In this case, the admissions officer may have only two minutes to review your statement. He or she may read thousands during the admissions process. So keep it clear, simple and to the point. Following this guide will help you to write an excellent personal statement. If you are still unsure of the course you wish to apply for, you can use our course search tool at the top of the page to find your ideal university.

Be sure to read our study abroad advice pages too before applying!

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