University admissions: How to enhance your personal statement

Don't forget, it's all about you

By Asha Iyer Kumar

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Published: Thu 2 May 2024, 5:54 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 May 2024, 8:27 AM

Dear Children, back to you with one last instalment on college essays, although it is something we can discuss till the cows return home. There you go, if you wondered what that idiom means, look up. That’s how you build your language and hone your writing skills. That’s how I did it when I started out — one word at a time; jotting new expressions and phrases in a book; looking up for the meaning in a dictionary that could fracture my foot if it fell on it and using those words in the very next instance. And for this, the first prerequisite is to have a reading habit.

For unspecified reasons, reading and writing skills have never been considered valuable assets by many students, although schools do have their own set of writing lessons in the syllabus. There is no doubt about your fluency in spoken English even if you are not native speakers, but the truth is even children who grew up speaking English find it difficult to express themselves proficiently in the written format.

The trick is to start learning to write your thoughts down as early as possible, so that you become competent at it, acquiring the right skill to precisely know what your thoughts are and how to convey them effectively. It’s never too late, and you could start today, but only if you staunchly believe that your language is more authentic than language tools. For those seeking short-cuts, none of these lessons apply.

A quick recap of what you must keep in mind when you sit to write your next admission essay. What you are writing is essentially about you. Your objective is to communicate in no uncertain terms what your personality is. Make sure that you present the best side of you supporting the attributes with examples from real life. Next, what you are writing is about your goals and dreams, and why they matter to you. The person evaluating your essay is interested in knowing you; your positives; your value as a student and future citizen of the world, and whether you can write well enough to tell them what you have in your mind.

In case you still haven’t figured out a convincing reason or the big WHY to choose a particular career or course, be sure to lay out your strong points and favourable characteristics that will highlight your worthiness as a student on the campus.

You will have accumulated a string of extracurricular feats by now that will bolster your candidature. While these accomplishments will stand in good stead, they alone will not fetch you a seat. What will is your ability to tell a narrative effectively. Your narratives that would have been inspired by past struggles and challenges, and how the lessons you learnt from them led to your transformation or the setting of your goals in life. Or the narrative could be punctuated with your innate stand-out qualities that will explain why you are a good fit for the course.

You will need to spend a lot of time reflecting on the essential points that will delineate the above in clear, precise and simple terms. Structure it in an interesting way, but beware of bragging. When writing about yourself, exercise caution or you may end up creating a litany of positive qualities that will seem more like paid advertisement.

Draw the admission officer into your story slowly and without clouding his or her vision about you. By the end of the piece, they should have a favourable view of the person on the other side of the application. And that will come when you have clarity about yourself and your goals. Your essays are drawn from your past, written in the present to build your future. Take sufficient time to draft them and clinch the seat you deserve.

Until next, keep glowing; keep growing.

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