Studying abroad is an increasingly frequent possibility and it is sought after by students. However, those young people who aspire to train at a foreign university should learn how to prepare their personal statement or cover letter.
The personal statement must convince the University’s selection board to accept the student in the program to which they are applying. Deciding to choose a foreign university and train outside the borders is not easy. It may seem simple at first, but in reality, the process of studying in another country is long and complex.
In the beginning, it is not only about choosing an educational destination, a course, and a university in which to study it, there are a wide series of procedures to be passed through which one must consider well. These requirements change according to the chosen University, but, in general, they are maintained for practically all foreign destinations.
One of the most requested documents in this process is the Personal Statement or cover letter, demanded by practically all universities in the United States and other destinations. With this document, the student tells the University about his life and provides reasons that position him as the ideal candidate to train at the said centre and the motivation that has led him to choose that particular course.
In other words, this document is a kind of cover letter that focuses on student motivation and commitment.
1. Write a personal statement aligned with the scholarship objectives
Some scholarships are for “leaders of the future,” prominent scientists, or people dedicated to community service. Thus, you need to make sure that what you write is closely tied to this vision, showing that you are exactly what the organization is looking for. It would be best to choose which aspects of your life are relevant to whoever provides the financing. No matter how well written the text is, it is highly unlikely that you will get the scholarship if you convey otherwise.
2. Answer the underlying question
The statement’s objective is to convince the organization that you are the best choice for the scholarship. So, if the statement question is, for example, “Why do you want to study medicine?” What they want to know is, “Why will you be the best doctor, and why should we give you our money?”
Remember that many people with similar contexts and objectives are likely to apply. Therefore, saying why you want to be a doctor is not enough, as everyone will say the same thing. What you must do is stand out from the rest of the candidates and prove that you deserve the scholarship.
Please explain why you think that training at this particular University will be useful in your professional career and what makes it stand out from others.
3. Present a central argument
Your personal statement must have – yes or no – a central argument that expresses a clear idea to the reader. If you are not sure if your statement has it, try to summarize it in one sentence. There should be something like “Growing up in the country taught me to be an independent person,” or “Addiction treatment is the only way to win the war on drugs.” If you can’t condense your essay into a central idea, your text may not be entirely clear or simply lack the main argument.
4. Show a part of your life
Besides listing the reasons, you deserve the scholarship, you should also expose some part of your life. It is important that you focus on one aspect and not on all facets of yourself; otherwise, your essay will lose impact. This text should not be like a resume or detail all your achievements. By concentrating on one aspect, you can give it more depth and provide valuable information about who you are.
5. Convey your passion
This statement is not like any of those you wrote as a student, as it is about showing what you are passionate about and why you do it. Make sure that the subject of your essay excites you and let your words reflect that enthusiasm.
6. Be concrete
Instead of using phrases as broad and impersonal as “education is the key to success,” define the influence of education on specific aspects of your life. If you are writing about your desire to be a writer, explain that it originated after listening to your grandmother’s stories at the age of four. In this way, the reader can identify with your experiences and will not forget your statement after five minutes.
7. Display your achievements
Surely you have specified your qualifications and merits in detail in the application form, so it is not recommended that you repeat everything in your essay. Instead, please take advantage of the opportunity to delve into one or two achievements that have marked you, put them in context, and share the true meaning they had in your life.
8. Save yourself the melodramatic story
Delving into your tragedies to move the jury will hardly make you win the scholarship. Your central argument cannot be “I deserve the scholarship because I have suffered a lot in life” since you will only be focusing on the problem and not on the solution. Focus on transmitting what you have achieved despite your difficult circumstances, how you have overcome yourself. Remember that many candidates are probably trying to appeal to emotion, and perhaps several of them have gone through situations just as or more painful than you. Emphasize how you managed to overcome those obstacles to differentiate yourself from the rest.
It would be best if you focused on the solution, not the problem.
9. Show a positive vision
Avoid giving your essay a pessimistic, cynical, antagonistic, or overly critical atmosphere. The organization wants to give the scholarship to someone who is enthusiastic about the future and what it will be able to achieve. This does not mean that you should pretend that everything is good and happy, but that whenever you present a problem.
10. Reveal your plan after the program
As a follow up to the last point, include what you plan to do after the program, the goals that will allow you to achieve, both academically and professionally.
11. Get a second opinion
You cannot do this alone. If you want to write an excellent personal statement, it is essential that people you trust to read it—people who can sincerely express their opinion about what you have written. Teachers, counsellors, academics, family, and friends can all provide a valuable contribution to improve the quality of your text, both in terms of its form and content.
As an extra recommendation, it will always be useful to do a little research on the University itself and the requirements that it usually values in its students. In this way, you will have a successful personal statement and one appropriate to the University for which you are applying.