Top Tips For Writing A Personal Statement For Your Study Abroad Application
If you haven’t already seen my first blog post about my Study Year Abroad, then be sure to check it out! In it, I detail all of the application process here at Warwick and what you can expect if you’re planning to take a study year abroad (at least in my experience in the English department).
In this blog post, I’ll be talking about the personal statement, which forms the main part of your study year abroad application. In my experience, the personal statement was limited to one side of A4 (which is about 500 words). This isn’t really a lot of words at all to cram in all of your experiences, interests and more, so I’ll be sharing my best ways to stick to the word count and make the most out of each and every word in your application.
First and foremost, I would recommend that in your personal statement for a study abroad application, you constantly mention how the experience will benefit you personally, professionally (i.e: how it could expand your career opportunities) and academically. By including each of these three factors, you’ll be sure to cover all of the necessary ground and really flesh out your application. Imagine this stage of the process like the top of a funnel – you want to think widely, so write down each and every thought you might have for each of these categories.
You can do this by making a spider diagram, or headings with notes underneath. For example, a personal benefit could be that study abroad allows you to have first-hand experience of a culture that is of particular interest to you. An academic benefit could be the opportunity to explore and study modules that Warwick doesn’t offer, or start up an introductory module at the host institution that could tie into your studies when you return back to Warwick. Finally, a professional benefit could be that certain modules that you wish to take at the host institution directly feed into your career plans, or that you want to expand your knowledge of particular nations’ social, political or economical concerns.
Then, go through again and highlight the best one or two things from each of these categories. This is the part of the application process that is similar to the thinner part of a funnel, when you refine your ideas and pick out the best ones. Finally, go back to your word documents about each of the universities that you want to apply to. If you’re not sure what I mean here, I mentioned in my previous blog post about making a word document for each university that you want to study at, writing down interesting factors such as module selection, teaching quality, location and extra-curricular activities. Dually, this helps with both deciding what order to place your three institutions in, as well as making it easier to write your personal statement.
Once you’ve got these word documents, highlight the key parts which interest you the most and make you want to study at each institution. At this point, you should have a selection of the most pivotal and crucial parts that you want to mention, from both your own experiences (personal, professional and academic), as well as about the universities themselves. The task now is to attempt to join up some of the personal, professional and academic motivations with the features of the institutions you want to attend.
For example, if you have written down that you want to try out a particular cultural sport on your year abroad in one of your personal motivations, you could pair this with the fact that a particular university offers great sports facilities or an amazing selection of sports societies. This way, you are keeping a balance of talking about your own interests, with how a study abroad can help fulfill and enhance them.
Also, don’t feel the need to write excessively about the academic side of your Study Year Abroad. Remember to keep it well rounded – are there any particular reasons outside of an academic sphere that you want to embark on the year abroad? Is it a particular holiday which inspired you to study there? Have you always had an inkling to travel and want to combine your hobby with academic interests? Or do you just simply love the culture of the country you’re visiting? Be specific, and don’t be afraid to talk about yourself in a personal way! This is a personal statement, and so Warwick want to see why this experience is personally interesting and fitting for you.
Another tip I would recommend is to get a friend or family member to proof read your personal statement. It can be so frustrating to see you need to cut twenty words, and can’t find any to take out. By showing your personal statement to a family member or friend, they can help you unpick particular difficult parts or even spot mistakes that you may have glossed over.
Finally, my last top tip is to calm yourself. A study abroad application can be extremely stressful, as with any application that rides on a single submission of writing. Be yourself, be authentic in your personal statement and take your time. Allow yourself enough tome to come back and edit your work, and be proud when you submit it off!