Personal Statement – Statement of Purpose
A few tips for writing strong personal statement
Use your own style
An employee in the admissions office reads dozens of personal statements every day. Your style must strike a different note than those of the other applications. As a foreigner, you have a different personality for the reader to appreciate. The schools expect foreign applicants to bring diversity to the program and not conformism.
Be professional and structured
Don’t get your reader lost in overcomplicated reasoning. Set out from the very first paragraph your main idea or the goal of your personal statement. As a rule, Americans prefer reasoning which gets straight to the point. use directness in your phrasing as much as possible. The word limit in the questions and statement of purpose is not set in the stone, but if you go past the limit, it must be because you have something fantastic to say.
Be enthusiastic and engaging
Dynamism, enthusiasm and the ability to “shake things up” are the essential qualities for getting into graduate school. The admission office will place enormous emphasis on your personal statement to gauge whether the school is the right environment for you. Don’t be shy about your successes if you want to get ahead of other applicants.
Seduce your reader
The best leaders are those who are liked by their subordinates. At the end of your statement of purpose, the reader should be thinking: “well, there’s someone I’d like to work with, dine with or talk with for an hour”. Be adorable, spotlight your charisma and your ability to influence others. Be funny without, however, taking the risk of shocking your reader.
Make the whole application coherent
Cohere must be applied on two levels:
- You are not supposed to know what exactly your recommenders have said about you, but you’ve certainly got a pretty good idea. You should hand the admissions panel a coherent applicant and should make sure that you don’t contradict what was said in the recommendations.
- Coherence should also apply to the match between the school and your personality: give qualitative points i the criteria which inform your choice, such as a discussion with students, meetings with professors or former students, etc. Highlight your abilities to participate in a group, to integrate yourself into new teams and to be on top of things in every situation you are involved in.
Sample Personal Statements
Your personal statement is an introduction to your portfolio -it sets the stage for who you are and how you arrived at where you are today. Some of the sample personal statements below should help. You do not want to overwhelm the reader – just tell the story in a few pages – the most important things you want the reader to know about you and your choices along the way.
Personal Statement Example 1
I haven’t always known that teaching would be in my future. As a young student I was always interested in science and math and I dreamt of becoming either a pediatrician or a veterinarian. Throughout high school I remained confident that I would study biology in college, but I no longer was interested in pursuing a medical profession. I realized that I loved high school and I could truly picture myself teaching one day. I started college with an open mind and over the past three years, I have become interested in many aspects of my major, biological sciences. I became involved in the animal science department and I am currently a partner in the student-run dairy herd, CREAM, which stands for Cooperative for Real Education in Agriculture Management. The group consists of sixteen students and various advisors that manage thirty milking Holsteins and make all of the decisions affecting the business. I am also interested in the field of microbiology and am currently doing my undergraduate research in the Quality Milk Research Lab.
This past summer I tutored a ninth grade student for his upcoming finals. I helped him with math and biology. It was the first teaching experience I have had and it immediately rekindled my interest in education. I decided that summer that I would get my teaching certification, and consequently, I began my education requirements this spring semester. As soon as I started these classes, especially EDSC 209, 1 knew I had made the right choice. I feel at home in high schools and comfortable teaching and interacting with students. The job, as I see it now, is a great deal more challenging than I had realized, but I am excited about becoming a teacher and I feel as though I will excel as an educator.
My initial portfolio is organized into five basic categories. First, there is a section for recommendations and performance appraisals that I have collected thus far. Second, is the section dedicated to my content area, which includes biology, chemistry, nutrition, physics, statistics, and math. The third section exemplifies my dedication to working with young people. The fourth section depicts my understanding of learner’s needs and my direct experience with secondary school students. The final section includes a collection of resources that I can utilize as an educator.
I have included my first assignment of my education requirements. The assignment was to draw a representation of “equality and justice”. The drawings are located in the beginning and the end of my portfolio. It was an enjoyable assignment and gave me a positive start in the field of education.
Personal Statement Example 2
Ever since I was a little girl and my mother would reprimand me with the words “vite, vite”, (quickly, quickly), I have been in love with the French language. As I grew older, I began to take French classes, anticipating the day when I could speak it fluently. I craved the ability to make the French sounds in my mouth, and to make them while sitting in a cafe in Paris. After entering college, I realized that French was really part of my deeper passion–my passion for language. I decided to study both French and English, and in doing so, I learned to make connections between the two disciplines. By becoming a teacher, I hope to share my passion with others, and I hope to perhaps spark this passion in my own students. By learning a new language, students have the opportunity to learn about a new culture. Embedded in the language are elements of history and culture, and by learning to speak the language, students can open the doors to a whole new world.
I believe that teaching should open students’ eyes to the world around them. In teaching French, I hope to relate the material to the students’ own lives. I also believe it is important to incorporate current events in some of the lessons, so that students see how language is used today, and how it could effect their own lives. I also hope to incorporate lessons on history, geography, and culture as well, because all of these are essential parts of language. As a teacher I will try to accommodate my lessons to individual needs, and I will try to encourage creativity and imagination. Another one of my goals is to teach students that languages can be fun, so I will also try to vary my 1essons with games and projects.
The division between teaching and learning is very subtle. Learners can quickly become teachers, and in the classroom, students can become teachers, helping other classmates learn difficult material. Similarly, teachers are also learners. They must be open to learning from their students, who can often teach them valuable lessons.
As a student in the entering the Education program, I find that I am learning a whole new language: the language of teaching. This language incorporates many elements: observation, participation, planning, discipline, flexibility, and dedication. It is a difficult language to learn. However as teachers, we will always be learning, and modifying this language to help our students learn in the best way possible.
For my preparation as a French teacher, I have taken courses in French literature, written expression, oral expression, grammar and history (see transcript). I will also be an au pair in France this coming summer of 1996 in order to improve my language skills. By the time I have completed my course work in my major, as well as my course work in education, I believe that I will be prepared to teach French at the high school level.
In addition to my work in French, I have also had many experiences teaching and tutoring. In June of 1990,1 was a swimming instructor for children ages 3 to 7. I also taught skating to children ages 3 to 7 during the winters of 1992 and 1993. In the summer of 1994, I was a live-in nanny for three children, ages 10, 8, and 4. And, between October 1994 and March 1995,1 was a skating instructor for children ages 3 to 12 in Essex Junction. For the past two years in college (1994/1995, 1995/1996), I have been a writing tutor at the University of Vermont, where I tutor college students three hours per week with writing for various courses. This past spring 1996, I have also helped incorporate writing tutors into a first-year program.
My most recent teaching experience was in EDSC 209. In this course, I participated in the Basic Skills program, and ESL class, French III, and French V at Burlington High School. In Basic Skills, I worked one-on-one with a student who had a learning disability. In ESL, I observed classroom instruction, and helped students individually when needed. I also played a game with them to help them review their grammar. In French III, I learned about making lesson plans, and I had the opportunity to teach five lessons. In French V, I observed more advanced French instruction, and helped whenever I could. My experience at BHS taught me many teaching techniques and many skills with working with students at the secondary level. But, most importantly, it taught me that I love teaching, and that I want to make it part of my life.
All of my experiences, my French classes, education classes, my work with young people, and my experience I EDSC 209, have played an important role in discovering my philosophy as an emerging teacher. Because of my love of languages, I have learned to see learning and teaching as being languages themselves. There are many important components that must be learned before achieving fluency. Yet by learning each of these parts, I have discovered that I have a passion to learn a new language: the language of teaching.