Your personal statement (or admission essay) is your opportunity to show the admission officers why you would be a perfect fit at the university, how you would contribute to the student body, and why the university should accept you over other candidates.
The admission officers of top universities have shared their opinion on what common mistakes the students make when writing their personal statement.
- Repeating what is written in the application form. Your essay is your opportunity to tell the admission officers something that you could not include into your application form or delve into something you wrote there. There is no point in simply retelling your application or CV.
- Not writing to the specific university. Apart from telling about yourself, your statement should also demonstrate how you would fit in at the university you are applying to. Explain one or two things about the university that make it the best one for you. Make sure that you are not writing only the general things that can be true for any university.
- Having a boring introduction. It is not a good idea to start your essay by repeating the question asked or introducing yourself. Think about something to grab the attention of the admission committee. For example, you can start from conveying something that you really believe in or describing a situation which influenced your way of thinking.
- Trying to make too many points. It is better to focus on a single well thought-out point than briefly mentioning many different ones. Think about supporting your points with various examples.
- Not sharing something about yourself. When writing you should always ask yourself if your essay reveals something about your character. Your essay should be unique and personal.
- Forgetting to proofread. Not only proofreading helps to avoid spelling, grammatical or punctuation errors, but also gives you an opportunity to check if your essay does not accidentally contain the name of another university you are applying to.
- Forcing humour. Do not try to sound witty or funny if you are not. In any case if you include a joke into your essay, be sure to ask an adult or two to read it to see if they agree with you that it is funny.
- Trying to be someone else. Don’t try to seem like a perfect student who is committed to every subject area, has numerous talents, plays multiple sports and enjoys volunteering and extra-curricular activities if it is not who you are. Just be yourself and express your genuine thoughts and feelings.
- Not answering the question. Each application form includes brief instructions on the points you are asked to cover in your essay. Make sure that your essay addresses those particular issues.
- Writing your personal statement (essay) at the last moment. It is not wise to hurry up and writing your essay the night before it is due. Start writing well in advance, take some time to think about it and return to it later to polish.
Examples of successful personal statements (admission essays)
- Personal statement of a student applying to technological university
- Motivation letter of a student applying to Biology programme.
- Admission essay of a student applying to medical programme.
- Motivation letter of a student applying to Dutch technological university.
- Motivation letter, written by a student applying for the MSc Computer Science programme.
- Motivation letter of a student enrolling in the Master's Logistics programme at a Dutch university.
- The letter of motivation of a student applying for the Natural Science programme at a Dutch university.
- Admission essay of a student enrolling in the Bachelor's IBMS programme at a university of applied sciences in Holland.
- Motivation letter of a students applying for the Arts programme taught in the Netherlands and Austria.
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If you think about it, human beings are the only species that have relationships with themselves.
We don’t only live to survive, we live to understand our survival. We live to analyze. To craft an image of ourselves that is “acceptable” as we have been conditioned to understand it. To believe that following and outlined trajectory will yield our own contentment and happiness. Just the fact that we can be aware to the degree that we feel that yearning for awakening and lightening and overcoming and joyousness says something. The fact that we absolutely torture ourselves over even the simplest of daily transgressions says even more.
We accept this torture as the human condition, as an unmoving, salient part of our existence. We regard the physical as the only; our shortcomings faults we have to live with forever. We accept ourselves as what we are and not for who we are, mostly because we don’t care to look beneath the surface.
Even the simple idea of an “us” is created by our minds. It’s a fictitious definition from which — and by which — we think we will find love and companionship and meaning and purpose and acceptance. It’s also the thing in which we find the most fault because those things do not come from an idea of a self.
When I was in high school, there came a point in which it made me so sick to look at myself, even in little glances and passings by, that I took orange construction paper that I had left over from a project and covered every mirror in my room with it. I remember it being strange, getting up from my bed in the morning and not even evaluating how much my upper thigh jutted into my other one, that the image of myself was completely gone — replaced instead by a sad, orange void.
My appearance seemed the easiest thing to digest — the part of me that was so consumable, so readily available for other people to judge. Of all the things of mine that could be improved upon, it was the thing that was never good enough. And the more I was attuned to how imperfect it was, the more it drove me insane. Because I couldn’t fix it all. And at some level I didn’t want to. But that didn’t stop the voice of “nobody will ever want you this way. You aren’t good enough.” And of course, that voice didn’t just say that in regard to my physical appearance. Rather, it was an allusion toward the fact that I didn’t feel worthy in any other way, so to take the thing that was most easily understandable, was the fastest, most natural thing to relay that frustration on.
An admission like this isn’t exactly easy or unembarrassing to make. But I do it, as I do when admitting to all the unbeautiful things about myself, with purpose. I came to believe that getting to a point of being okay with my body was accepting that I had flaws and that that was okay. That I would just have to deal with always being a little insecure.
We tend to accept ourselves as a matter of course. It’s what’s preached to us all the time: that all of life and happiness and goodness can only begin with accepting ourselves as we are. As we are.
When we accept ourselves “as (what) we are,” we’re overlooking a huge aspect of that overarching statement: there are parts of us that are not really us. There are things we’re holding onto, pain we’ve identified with, labels and titles and issues that are so part of our lives we make ourselves them. We’re insecure, we’re nervous, we’re anxious, we’re this and that and the other shitty thing. And then we just not only become “okay” with that, we placate it into existence by doing so.
I learned that I wasn’t an insecure person, and that the insecurity wasn’t what I had to accept. I didn’t have to accept myself as I was, I had to accept myself as I wasn’t — when I removed myself from all of the ideas of who I should be.
Or rather, what I really mean by this title is: don’t accept yourself how you think you are. People often take their resolvable issues, their blocks or whatever, and let them be part of their lives because that’s “part of who they are” when it’s not. It’s what they’ve come to learn is a part of them, what they’ve been told is a problem, all the little poisons they’ve let sink under the skin. But those don’t have to be there. You can heal yourself.
All I had to do — and all I eventually did do — was take down the construction paper and stare at myself and realize that I wasn’t insecure by the virtue of having to accept that I was imperfect and that’s something I’d have to live with — but because my subconscious, inner monologue kept telling me that I was unworthy and unlovable and never going to find or achieve anything. That nobody would ever love me. And because I stayed trapped in these beliefs, two things happened: I fought harder than I ever thought I could for what I wanted, but I also blocked out a lot of the joy and happiness along the way. I sought accolade and approval and merit so ardently that I completely missed the fact that receiving those things doesn’t make you happier. Being present does. Loving your life and doing what you enjoy, on a simple, moment-to-moment basis does.
What I had to do, and what we all have to do, is take the papers off our mirrors and sit and illuminate the part of our subconscious conversation that tells us we aren’t enough, we’re supposed to be anxious, life is supposed to look some way or another, and even when it’s most uncomfortable, sit with that running current of thought until hot tears are streaming down our faces as we realize what we’ve been chanting to ourselves all along.
All we really have to do is shine a light in the dark closet, and realize there aren’t any monsters inside. All we really have to do is pull down the orange construction paper and realize that our fears aren’t real, they’re just stories we tell ourselves.
image – Flickr/Haley