Personal statement time

Are personal statements some kind of torture that American uni’s and scholarship bodies have made up? I mean what wrong with a few competency based questions? No, instead I have to tell a story, throw in some key words and generally make it a jolly good read. What’s even worse there is no set word limit for the Fulbright personal statement. GULP!

I haven’t attempted a personal statement since I applied for my undergrad, so I’m a bit rusty with the whole concept. The first draft of the personal statement I’ve done is  all over the place. It also has the potential to be a bit long, or is that a bit short? So its safe to say I don’t like my draft.

I’ve done a couple of things to help me get the information I need to improve my draft.

To get a better idea on word limits I phoned up Fulbright UK office to get a bit more guidance on what they expect from the personal statement. Yep, got it confirmed, no set word limit.  But they like it concise. (No comment.)

Fulbright have a couple of good resources on their website and they even have attached a link to a useful video.

I’ve had a look at other examples online.  Here are a couple I dug up:

Their International experience

sample examples

My conclusion after reading them is that I flatly refuse to write in the style I saw. While it might suit a 22 year old, it doesn’t me at 32, nor my writing style. So I have a problem.

Upside I got some really good piece of advice from a friend.  To write a good personal statement all I need to do is identify my personal brand.  I can do this by identifying what is my offer to Fulbright, my unique selling points. Then write the personal statement selling those three/ four things. Brilliant, I can do that. Now what’s my brand?

Anyone got any hints/tips on how to write a good personal statement?


Tags: , ,

5 responses to “Personal statement time”

  1. Lucas says :

    This is how I did my MBA essay brainstorming for two of the top U.S. b-schools, and it is likely to be of some use as well for personal statements.

    1. Start by thinking about (and scribbling down) the highlights of your life, e.g. international experiences, significant milestones in your life (personal, academic, athletic, & professional), accomplishments you are proud of. I like post-its or index cards because you’ll want to be able to group them later. It will definitely be all over the place — but that’s not the point. The point is to get down enough that you can start sifting it for patterns.

    2. Sift for patterns. You’ll usually find that there are some broad themes that pop up from that, things that will say “this is what matters to me” or “this is who I am”. In my case, it was “leaving organizations better than when I found it” and “building connections”. For you, it could be anything, but if you have been in any way consistently following what you believe, you will have some kind of consistent pattern. (Note, this could take some time, it took me almost two weeks to sift through the accumulated experiences of my lifetime to find that pattern. You will also likely find a few themes that are interesting, but not particularly relevant to MBA programs or scholarship applications. Those you’ll need to cut out, because you don’t want to dilute the message you’re sending.)

    3. The “relevant” patterns are the seed of your brand. “Who are you?” “What matters to you?” Then you need to add to this, “What can you do/what have you done?” Think of it as if you’re marketing a product, like an iPad or a MacBook. Why should the customer (the Fulbright Foundation), pick you? What can you do (this basically is what have you done)? What do you stand for? Think of something like the BodyShop, which stands for sustainable trade & no animal testing. What matters to you, and why does it matter?

    4. In the end, you’re going to have to distill all of this down to a few simple, crisp sentences that say, This is who I am, this is what matters to me, and this is what I can do/have done. (This does take a lot of time. It’s deceptive–the shorter and simpler a statement is, the harder it is to write. Hemingway, for example, looks simple. Until you try writing a short story in that style. It takes many careful edits to get it down to that level of spare, precise prose.) This is what you want to convey–your “brand”.

    5. Why MBA? (This should be extremely familiar to you from your MBA essays.)

    6. Now that you know what you want to convey, you need to put all of that into the personal statement: picking and choosing from your experiences & accomplishments to create a story that persuades people that your brand is something they want to back with their money, so to speak.

    Good luck!

  2. Rhonda says :

    Terrifiϲ) liked almost everything very much)
    keep it up aոd don’t quit)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

The Miniclick Photo Talks

Talks, discussions, events, exhibitions, parties and games, all around still and moving images.


The 10-year Shakespeare New Year Resolution


The journey towards the MBA Goal

What an Amazing World!

Seeing, feeling and exploring places and cultures of the world

TED Blog

The TED Blog shares interesting news about TED, TED Talks video, the TED Prize and more.

National Media Museum blog

We explore the science, technology and art of the still and moving image, and its impact on our lives.


We're already living in the future. It's just not evenly distrbuted yet.

The Baseline Scenario

What happened to the global economy and what we can do about it


MBA bound... Join my journey

Emel Aktas

Professor at Cranfield University

A Digital Mentor

Sharing insights, connecting opportunities

the Free MBA

a journey detailing my do-it-yourself MBA

the urban pastor

news, views and reviews from south London's finest suburb!

From Dubai to Durham

MBA Adventures at Duke Fuqua

Reaching the Thirties

My MBA story at Fuqua

Perspectives on entrepreneurship, MBA-related issues, networking, personal branding, technology, investing, education and more...


Loans and MBA...

The adventures of a MBA student

The blunderings of a n00b through the MBA admissions process

Blogging for a Good Book

A suggestion a day from the Williamsburg Regional Library

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

MBA the nonprofit way

MBA + nonprofit work = ??

Girl Meets B-School

Non-traditional MBA doin' it for herself

bschool admit

The will to succeed is important, but what's more important is the will to prepare. - Bobby Knight


A journey to getting an MBA, relocating overseas, raising a family and enjoying the ride

Apprentice Alf’s Blog

Everything you ever wanted to know about DRM and ebooks, but were afraid to ask.

Coffee Beans And Tea Leaves

A little bit of this and a bit of that

We seem to have acquired a caravan

A six week European Odyssey with the Perkins

Road to the MBA Class of 2014

from the eyes of an entrepreneur

HBS Times

The latest news from inside the walls of Harvard Business School


the story of a Stanford GSB student


i want to see more stuff shaped like a cross

Fiction and the Reading Public

Give me a thrill, says the reader, Give me a kick; I don't care how you succeed, or What subject you pick.

Cake, biscuits and maybe casseroles too...

I'm trying out new recipes and writing about them

MBA Over

Get Into a Top Business School After 30 (or at any age)

sarah's mba journey

outlining my journey to applying to business school

%d bloggers like this: