Statement of purpose or personal statement is very important when it comes to study abroad. I might use the terms statement of purpose or personal statement interchangeably, but they mean the same thing. You will also find them being used interchangeably in different programs so just remember, they mean the same thing.
A personal statement is very important for your program in the sense that it is your first impression on the selection committee. They don’t know you at all. Academic transcripts only deliver some quantitative information about your study background and academic standing but they don’t tell who you are as a person, a personal statement does.
You may be required to write a personal statement for a number of programs like, exchange programs, scholarship programs, internships etc. in fact you will be required to write a personal statement for almost anything nowadays. The content will depend upon the type of personal statement you are required to write and generally the guidelines are given to you as to what is expected out of your statement of purpose. However, there are some general tips that apply to all kinds of personal statements.
No one knows you better than you do so if you try to copy a personal statement, you are not only killing the purpose of this activity but also greatly reducing the chances of your selection. The selection committee is usually so experienced that they remember the general outline of statements available on the internet and the moment you copy a pattern, you are caught and your effort does down the drain. It shows that you are not serious about your position. If you are not willing to write a few lines about yourself, there is no reason for the selection committee to believe that you will give your heart and soul to the program they are considering you for.
Stick to word limit:
There is usually a word limit defined for your statement of purpose. Be moderate about it. I mean, yeah, you can exceed it a little bit, if need be but don’t take it to an extreme. Too short personal statement does not convey adequate information and too long statement will bore the reader. You don’t wanna do either of them. Be concise about what you write. Use short sentences and keep it to the point.
The reason I discourage the use of sample personal statements is that people tend to copy them or at least their style. This does not allow your statement to sound natural anymore. Don’t try to make it look as fancy as someone else did by falsifying the facts. He/she might have done what makes a statement fancy looking which you did not. Or he may be writing a statement just to put it up on his website not send in for a competition. So be natural and say what is true. Don’t masquerade, don’t make things up.
Allow adequate time:
Do not attempt to write a personal statement in the nick of time. Once you know you have this task ahead and get the guidelines from the concerned institute, start writing a statement of purpose at the earliest. Believe me, once you start to write a statement you would realize as if you don’t know anything about yourself. So you will write one draft, then second, then third and so on. Allow yourself enough time to write at least a couple drafts before finalizing them into a statement. Also fine tune each draft to your best before moving onto the next. Take help from your English teacher or mentor regarding your drafts and final statement if possible.
Avoid grammatical mistakes:
This is one of the most fundamental and disastrous mistake you could make while writing a statement of purpose. It shows the non-seriousness in your attitude toward pursuing anything. Because grammar and spelling are the things you learn from very early on and does not require more than few minutes to correct, while other things like sentence structure or critical analysis may be difficult. So make sure you make a good impact by showing how concerned you are about the little details.