The UC Personal Statement: Strategies for Students

Report
The Personal Statement:
Strategies for
Fulbright Applicants
Adapted from presentations by University of California Office of the President; and Mark
Isham at DVC
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Overview
• Q & A and Brainstorm
• Purpose of the personal statement
• Instructions and prompts
• Writing basics and strategies
• Feedback
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Q & A and
Brainstorm
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Brainstorm
On a piece of paper, finish these sentences:
• In the US, I would like to study…
• Because…
• It will benefit
 me
because…
 my institution because…
 and El Salvador because…
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Purpose of the personal
statement
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Purpose of the Personal Statement
• Opportunity to provide information that supports and
augments your application
• Avoid redundancy
• Helps readers know and understand you as a person
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Example 1
• Read these excerpts. Are they strong or weak?
Why?
“Life has presented me challenges since the first years
of my life. Twice I was denied admission to one of
the best schools in El Salvador….I accepted the
challenge and studied there for eight years,
graduating from high school with the highest GPA
of my class.”
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Example 2
• “It may sound a little romantic to say I was a
distracted, misbehaved kid who got bad grades and
who suddenly discovered he was good with math,
liked it, and change. It is a little romantic but it’s
true. I was in high school in 9nth grade and saw
two girls trying to solve a mathematical quiz which
was printed on a newspaper page; I asked what it
was, got interested in solving it and actually I
solved the problems.”
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Know Your Audience
• Your reader is an admissions specialist.
• Your personal statement will indirectly tell your reader:
 What is important to you
 What qualities/characteristics define you as a person
 Which of these qualities/characteristics is most prominent
A genuine statement is critical to this process!
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Fulbright:
Instructions and
Prompts
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Instructions
• Two prompts?
• This personal statement should be a narrative
statement describing how you have achieved
your current goals. It should…
• Write a clear and detailed description of your
study/research objectives, and give your
reasons for…
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Prompt #1
This personal statement should be a narrative
statement describing how you have achieved
your current goals. It should not be a mere
listing of facts. It should include information
about your education, practical experience,
special interests, and career plans. Describe
any significant factors that have influenced
your educational or professional development.
Comment on the number of years of practical
experience already completed in the field in
which academic work will be done in the U.S.
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Prompt #2
Write a clear and detailed description of your
study/research objectives, and give your
reasons for wanting to pursue them. Be specific
about your major field and your specialized
interests within this field. Describe the kind of
program you expect to undertake, and explain
how your study plan fits in with your previous
training and your future objectives. Do not
mention specific U.S. universities at which you
would like to study.
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Writing Basics and
Strategies
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Academic Essay
Organization
Describe the key elements in these parts of an
essay:
• Introduction
• Body paragraph/paragraphs
• Conclusion
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Steps to Writing an Effective
Personal Statement
5) Draft, Get Feedback, Revise
4) Develop Topic and Thesis
3) Read Critically
2) Gather Information
1) Complete Your Application
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Important Strategies
• Write about specific, unique experiences that have influenced
you
• Depth rather than breadth. Focus on 1 or 2 key themes, ideas
or experiences
• Evaluate experiences, rather than describe them
• Use a writing process
• Get good feedback
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Writing Process
• Read the application critically, looking for
questions, patterns, and implications.
• Draft.
• Get feedback — give readers at least several days
to respond.
• Revise for organization, clarity, and meaning.
• Proofread (errors are distracting).
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Filling in the Blanks
• Use the Levels of Questions strategy with your
application
 What
data/facts do you find in your application?
 What patterns do you see?
 What questions would you ask?
 What assumptions might you make?
 How well does your essay align with the application?
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How to Get Good Feedback
• Give your reviewer your application and personal
statement, not just your statement.
• Provide your reviewer with a list of questions you
would like them to answer.
• Ask them to comment on ideas and the level of
persuasiveness, not on grammar and usage.
• Find reviewers who resemble your target audience
- adult educators and administrators.
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Resources
• Past Fulbright recipients
• An English instructor
• Contacts at the US Embassy
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