The Best Way to Write Your Personal Statement When Applying for a Scholarship

A female student is writing her personal statement under the sun

Are you ready to begin your journey toward attending a university and obtaining a degree that will change your life? The career of your dreams awaits at the end of that journey. Your destination is right there on the horizon. But are you concerned about how you will pay for your education? At San Francisco Bay University, we take great pride in providing scholarships, including housing scholarships, and tuition grants for students who seek to study here. After all, some of the best companies in the world call our area home. Whether it be for an MBA or otherwise, we offer scholarships for multiple disciplines. From BSCS to MSCS scholarships and more, it is important to us that students obtain the help they need. But why is that?

Each year, more than 1.7 million private scholarships and fellowships are awarded. This may seem like a big number, but also consider that approximately 19.4 million students attended U.S. colleges and universities per data reported in late 2020. That represents only 8.76% of potentially eligible students who receive a scholarship to attend the university of their choice. There is no doubt that more students, both locally and globally, would benefit from obtaining a scholarship, whether it be an MSCS scholarship or otherwise. And yet, obtaining a scholarship is not as easy as simply asking for one. There are a series of steps you must take to be on the receiving end of financial aid.

Colleges and universities generally look at a series of factors when considering whom to award a scholarship, grant, or other forms of financial aid. They include everything from previous academic performance (including GPA) to volunteerism and a demonstrated aspiration or passion toward their chosen field of study. One of the ways students show their aspiration or passion is in their personal statement. The personal statement is used to determine your level of interest and passion. It can be just as crucial to the process as what your high school GPA was. That’s why we wanted to dive a little deeper into what makes a personal statement truly stand out. Let’s use an application for an MSCS scholarship as one example.

Taking a Closer Look at an MSCS Scholarship Personal Statement

Let’s take for example a student who has already received her or his BSCS degree (Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science) degree. Now they want to take their education and career opportunities to the next level. Yet, they may have already put all their financial resources into getting their initial degree. A scholarship might be just the answer to getting them across the finish line towards receiving their MSCS (Master’s of Science in Computer Science) degree.

A critical part of scholarship applications is the personal statement. Remember, you want to stand out from the crowd. Your personal statement should represent your best characteristics and provide you with an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. After all, you need to convince the committee deciding who receives MSCS scholarships that you are worthy of the award. You might have a truly remarkable curriculum vitae, but you are not the only remarkable student applying for this scholarship. After all, in the United States, there are roughly 65,000 CS graduates, which is less than China and Russia, but the quality of education is higher in the U.S., according to international university rankings. This means competition for scholarships in computer science and other disciplines is much tighter.

In many cases, it will be your personal statement that really sets you apart from applicants who have equal if not better qualifications than you do. Personal statements allow you to show your writing prowess and provide you with an opportunity to tell your story in a compelling way. The veracity of how you tell your story might be just what wins you that scholarship. Let’s take a closer look.

How to Build a Beautiful and Compelling Personal Statement

Your personal statement is an important part of an MSCS scholarship application. It’s about more than your birth name and identification number. A personal statement represents the ability to show how unique you are. Your personal statement needs to be good. Really good.

First, consider eliminating your character counter. Just let the thoughts flow and tell your story. The last thing you want is for your word count to hit the ceiling just as you are halfway through telling your story. Don’t panic, just keep writing. You can edit it later. In the end, you’ll find it’s easier to compress and remove superfluous things than to limit yourself.

Second, do not place an arbitrary time limit on preparing your statement. There is no need to rush. Reflect on your accomplishments and take a couple of hours to really dig into who you are and why you would be an excellent fit for a scholarship award. Find the perfect words and expressions that demonstrate your qualities and what makes you special. A good writer’s technique is to write a composition, take a break for a day or two, then come back and read it. Revelations may come to you after you’ve had a night to sleep on it.

Lastly, consider your language. To ‘accomplish’ something sounds so much better than to ‘do’ it. For international students who do not speak English as their first language, there are some good translation and synonym programs and search functionalities on the internet or in a physical thesaurus or dictionary. Whatever you use, there are many great resources to help you find better words to complete a thought in a more elegant or effective way. But do not be overly flowery in your verbiage. The true master shows skill while practicing restraint.

Above All, It’s About your Strengths

In the limited number of words that you have, it is important for you to sell yourself to the university. When a product is being offered to someone, the proponent of the product generally talks about how great that thing is. You are not a product, but there should be no problem talking about how great you are. Write about your experiences, your skills, your knowledge, and your future plans and desires. Why dwell on where you’ve gone wrong? No, you want to focus on where you’ve gone right. But it also might not hurt to show a bit of humility and articulate an experience in which you learned from a mistake.

As you focus on what you do best, make sure you include it somehow in your opening and closing statements. How you introduce yourself and what you conclude on will make all the difference in how the university administrator remembers your story. Starting with something funny, interesting, inspirational, or surprising will often provide a good first impression. Making someone smile is a great way to be introduced. But don’t dwell too long on your opening and closing statements. As you write out your personal statement, the proper opening and closing statements may just come to you out of nowhere.

Finally, do it yourself. Don’t pay someone to write it for you. It must be written in your own voice and be constructed of your own work and ideas. Here’s a pro tip: don’t read any other personal statements before reading yours. You are unique, and it will do you little good to follow someone else’s rules or patterns as to what you should do and how you should write it.

Now, how do you feel? Are you ready to sit down and write the best personal statement of your life? If you aren’t quite there yet but would like more information on MSCS scholarships or otherwise, get in touch with us today!