My youngest brother in law is going to university soon and we were ready to do his personal statement application last night. It ended up with a lot of first sentence options, and going out to dinner instead. At least the first sentence is somewhat sorted huh… haha
I remember how stressful it was to write my personal statement. It went through many many drafts and I’m lucky I could write mine on a laptop and edit, or else I’d have a wastepaper basket overloaded with scrunched-up paper. I consulted a lot of people and my teacher in Badminton School (where I did my A Levels) was my point of reference. She’s been through so many personal statements and she’s seen so many successes and failures, so I trusted her judgment. You need to have someone experienced to guide you, and more often than not, it’s going to be your teacher. God bless teachers!
I can’t imagine the university application committee for each uni… can you imagine how many personal statements they have to “read” through? I doubt they even go through them properly… just read the first line and if it starts with “I was a Head Girl in school….”, they’d take their coffee and yawn. Yes, you have good grades. But almost all those applicants do too. Yes, you were Head Girl. Half the pile are Head Girls from schools all over the world. Yes, you represented your country for something amazing. Again, so did half the pile.
So for me, it wasn’t just bragging about what you’ve done in school and your good grades. You need to have a punchline, you need to start off strong with a controversial statement solely to grab the attention of the (most probably sleepy) person checking your application. I used to be so naive thinking people really take time to check your efforts, but the world is big and vast, no one has the time unless you really give them a reason to remember you. Honestly, your parents might think you’re special (I love you too, Mom and Dad), but you’ve got so much more to prove to the world. Parents repeatedly telling us we are the best and no one else is comparable – I think this is one of the reasons why Gen Y (or Z) is so spoiled these days in terms of not wanting to work the extra mile but want the moon and the stars in return. When it came to academic, my parents were like Mehhh when I got 97% for a test (nothing less than 100%… such Asians!) and I have a feeling I’ll be like this with my own children too. Hehe. #goodluckdanielandmariam
I’m not saying I had a great personal statement, but I did put a lot of thought into it. And it got me accepted into LSE without an interview and it got me an interview at Oxford University (before getting terribly rejected haha. You can read about my interview experience here and also more on my overall education experience here).
So to all of my younger readers who are about to apply for uni, study hard (or better yet, smart) to get all the A’s. Take some time to really think about your personal statement. And kill it at the interviews ok? And remember that if you don’t get what you want, it’s not the end of the world. Life still goes on and Allah swt has good plans for you anyway, but it’s important to never have regrets and looking back knowing that you never took anything for granted. So do the best you can in everything that you do. You owe yourself (and your parents) that.
I wish you all the best!