Essays: Writing and Personal Statement

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There are two main types of essays you would be asked to write. One is a personal statement; the other is a proposal or statement of intent.

1. A personal statement should be a narrative giving a picture of you as an individual. It should deal with your personal history, family background, influences on intellectual development, the educational and cultural opportunities (or lack of them) to which you have been exposed, and the ways in which these experiences have affected you. Include your special interests and abilities, career plans, and life goals, etc. It should not be a recording of facts already listed on the application or an elaboration of your statement of proposed study. - Personal statements are short; identify a few points (3-4) that you want to develop; let the other aspects of your application present other important information. Use your personal statement to say what others could not say. -Personal statements are read quickly and often in bulk; yours should be a pleasure to read: it should start fast, quickly taking the reader into the heart of your discussion. - Maintain focus; establish a consistent story line. Consider one or two anecdotes that can help you focus and give a human face to your discussion. -Use this discussion to present a compelling snapshot, of who you are and what contributions you want to make, and to indicate what your priorities are and the kinds of intelligence and passion you bring to your work. -In this regard, you may also want to weave in some mention of any skills or resources that may particularly recommend you. (But again, beware of merely telling when you might be better able to use a moment from your experience to show a number of the qualities you want to convey.)

2. A proposal or statement of intent (or study) can be a number of things. It could be an explanation of why you should receive a bunch of money to study or it could be a detailed account of what you plan to do with all of that money. Academic/Project Proposal-Common Elements: - A description of your course of study or project; topic(s), research focus, degree goals, methodology, itinerary, (budget). -Why you have chosen this course of study (at this particular institution, in this particular country). -Or why you want to undertake this project in this particular setting. -Evidence that your plans are consistent with your preparation, academic qualifications, and long-range goals. -Evidence of project feasibility: knowledge of programs, courses, and facilities; cooperation of host institutions and individuals (professors with whom you wish to study; have they sent or are they willing to send a confirmation of their support?). - Perhaps why you are choosing a new area of study, or what makes your project particularly timely. Combined Statements (Rhodes, Luce, Mitchell): - This statement combines elements of the academic proposal within the framework of a personal reflection. - It should not force an unrealistic unity; you are not a totally unified person. - It should balance both components together effectively. - The balance of these two aspects will vary according to what best represents you and your goals. (Rhodes recommends no more than 1-2 paragraphs to present the academic proposal.)
General Advice

1. You are writing for a purpose. Be persuasive in showing the reader you deserve the award. Remember your audience.

2. Make certain you understand the question or the topic. Your essay should answer the question or speak directly to the given topic.

3. List all ideas-any possibilities. Be creative, brainstorm without censoring.

4. Sort though ideas and prioritize. You can't tell them everything. Be selective.

5. Choose information and ideas that are not reflected in other parts of your application. This is your chance to supplement your application with other information you want readers to know.

6. Think of your application essay(s) as a part of a larger whole (including the letters from…