Here’s an example of a common prompt: ”A personal statement of 1,000 words or less from the nominee describing his or her background, interests, plans for graduate study and career aspirations. The statement should include a discussion of some experiences and ideas that have shaped those interests, plans and aspirations.”
As Mary Tolar has noted, “If you are applying for nationally competitive scholarships, for graduate school, or for a number of post-graduate service or employment opportunities, you have seen the vaguely phrased request; in one form or another, it comes down to “tell us something about yourself… You are asked to share your “academic and other interests. A clearer charge might be: compose an essay that reveals who you are, what you care about, and what you intend to do in this life. Tell this story in a compelling manner, and do so in less than a thousand words. What’s so hard about that? Simply make sense of your life. (right.) But what does that mean?”
The personal statement is more like a genre than a rubric; there are set of constraints, but no formulas. This means that we need to triangulate our understanding of what it will be with more than one piece of advice rather than a single definition.
For that reason, I recommend you begin by printing out Mary Tolar’s advice. Highlight the phrases that strike you as helpful. Chances are, these are the phrases that surprise you or confirm what was a hunch. Noticing what stands out will help reveal assumptions you may not have even known you had. (This is a stage in the process that should not be overlooked in your rush to master the personal statement. The more you notice what you are learning, the easier the process will become.)
Choosing a Unique Title for a Personal Statement
I had a friend who was an editor for a well-known poetry journal. If she did not like the tile of a submitted poem, she would not read the poem. That is a bit extreme and harsh, but a title of any piece of writing is most important. The title must beckon to the reader to sit down, read, and stay awhile.
Your personal statement is a piece of writing that defines who you are to a person who has never met you. Your title must be strong and interesting enough that the admissions director is magnetically drawn to read the personal statement, so he or she can discover more about you.
Tricks of the Trade
There are a few writing and reading tricks that can be used to draw the admission personnel to your paper. When writing your personal statement title choice consider:
- The top left corner of any piece of writing is where readers are first drawn to and it is where readers will spend most of their reading attention. This is a proven fact that business majors learn in Marketing 101. Start the title with a strong noun or an unusual verb, not an article or preposition. Put as much punch in that left corner as you can.
- Alliteration can be our friend. We when repeat the same sounds in a row, the words roll off of our tongues. The words flow smoothly. Consider using alliteration in the title. I do not recommend that every title word has the same sound, or it may end up sounding like a nursery rhyme.
- Keep the title short. People are busy and they do not want to read a title that is two or three lines long. An extremely long title means the writer did not know where to cut and edit words. The reader is going to assume that the paper will be just as wordy as the title.
- The title needs to be unique. If you are writing a personal statement about a car wreck you had as a young person and how you learned from it, do not call the paper “The Car Wreck.” You have to be more creative than that.
None of these tricks are difficult to implement, so use them. These four simple tips can help you with creating the perfect title for your personal statement!
Writing an application paper is not an easy task. You have to interest the admissions committee while being sincere, realistic and simply being yourself. However, there are several tricks and secrets that any student may use to secure a place in a respected college or university. Our educational resource has been created for this exact purpose - help you get into your dream school.
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