A woman in a light-blue chambray long-sleeved top sitting on a black leather sofa while writing her personal statement on the laptop
Do you want to know the success of writing a successful university application or want to improve your college application? If so, here's what you need to do: research the study program and the course, speak to the college or university admission staff, have an alternative, get yourself recommendation letters, prepare for the test (if any), and apply for scholarships (Source: Unsplash)

Applying for a US university requires you to do what most students avoid: writing a personal statement!

It's the most vital part of your university application not only in the US but all over the world. This document is your only chance to demonstrate to admissions what differentiates you from others.

In only a 4000-character word file, you've to convince admissions tutors that you're the most suitable candidate for the course.

However, that's not it; the application process will have you fill out your details, create a statement of intent, provide GRE/SAT scores, and make a tailored resume for graduate courses.

And since it's the only way to enter your preferred institution, you can't afford to make any mistakes. Therefore, here are a few helpful tips on writing your university application:

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Tips To Improve Your College Application

A woman taking notes on how to write a personal statement for university admission
According to a recent report, many of those who get rejection letters only get it because of a poorly written personal statement. The same report further claims that students who get acceptance letters have one thing in common, i.e., most of them are actively involved in campus activities (Source: Unsplash)

The benefits of joining clubs in college are plenty. For example, you get to learn new skills that you may not learn in the classroom. Also, it may help you prepare for your university application.

Nevertheless, here are some valuable tips on how to improve your college application:

Research The Study Program And University

Opting for the right college and course can be challenging since it will decide what you'll do in the future.

Not only will your decision affect your career choices, but you'll spend two to four years of your life at this academic institution, so you must choose one that will align with your future goals.

Don't let it scare you! You can overcome this by simply researching your priorities. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to do this.

To begin with, visit the universities' websites as you'll find plenty of valuable information there about the institution and its programs.

Most university sites provide a brief outline of every course they teach and offer, including compulsory and optional modules. Some even help with career guidance once you graduate.

You can also compare various universities using different university rankings lists – such as the QS World University Rankings: USA –  to find your ideal institution to apply for and study.

Speak To The College Or University Admission Staff

If you want to know more about any particular course you intend to study at college, speak to their alumni or admissions staff. This way, you can get a clear picture of what's expected when you'll apply for.

Additionally, you can ask the admissions staff any question about the institute, alongside some helpful tips about applying to a particular course.

Moreover, finding a university's contact details is as easy as using Google. And on the admissions page, you'll see the options to email them or call them directly.

Have A Substitute

Though you may have your heart set on joining your first-choice college, it's always good to have an alternative option, just in case.

Unlike the UK, where you can only pick five courses, you can select five to ten courses in the US for admission until you receive an offer letter.

In addition to that, you can apply to two or more courses in the same institution.

Here's a pro tip: when applying, try to target different institutes with varying admission requirements so that you have a fall-back option.

However, don't create a list of possible universities based on names you may have heard. Instead, think long and hard about why you are applying wherever you are applying.

Recommendation Letters

If your college/university application requests recommendation letters, take a moment to think intently about who you should ask to pen them.

Choose someone who really knows you and would happily write about your plus points in detail. This may include your teachers or even supervisors from when you gained work experience.

One important thing to remember in terms of recommendation letters is that they should provide the reader a sense of who you are.

Focus on this instead of emphasizing the academic side to show the college admissions officer you're a well-rounded person with so much to offer.

Remember What You're Writing – Personal Statement

A man is writing a personal statement for a college application
If you want to write an excellent personal statement, make sure to amass meaningful experiences during high school. For instance, the benefits of joining clubs in college are numerous. It sharpens your skills, develops teamwork abilities, provides you opportunities to bond with new peeps, improves your resume, builds a support system, decreases stress levels, and above all, give you content for your university application (Source: Unsplash)

To begin with, remember what it is that you're writing – a personal statement! This means the center of attention is 'you,' therefore, everything you pen down has to be about you. This includes:

  • Development
  • Ideas
  • Thoughts
  • Experiences

Since this is about you, don't hesitate to use the word "I" in your sentences. You have to convey your perception of life; thus, repetitively using the word "I" doesn't portray you as arrogant or self-indulgent.

It could be the only time your tutors and teachers allow you to write in first-person, and if written well, you may end up getting more than one acceptance letter.

Don't write on the subject; instead, write about yourself! Remember, great personal statements don't read or look like essays.

They don't indulge in poignant critique or analysis of ideas, problems, or texts. If you're writing your university application like this, you're heading towards rejection.   

Keep in mind that personal statements are all about 'you.'

Consider this:

  • Write about your experiences
  • Discuss what you've read and are reading nowadays
  • Talk about what you've enjoyed or done and why
  • Shed light on why you think you're the most suitable applicant for the university
  • Avoid making your statement intellectual; instead, make it biographical
  • Make sure you focus on what your ambitions and experiences are

Remember, you have to convince the reader that you possess the required expertise against the course you've applied to.

Make the reader aware. But, keep in mind, a mere list of extracurricular activities or life experiences won't suffice.

Tell your reader what you've learned throughout your life and how it will benefit you in the university. And if you're still confused about what to include, here's a brief guideline to follow:

Reasons Why You Want To Study

First, explain to the admissions tutors why you're so interested in the applied course. You have to be specific while showing enthusiasm.

Discuss what inspires you about the course, how the interest developed, how studying this course will help you achieve your future career goals, etc.

Why You're The Right Candidate

Besides mentioning why you intend to do this course, you should also explain why you fit their stated criteria.

This means explaining to them why your abilities – most of which you achieved by getting involved on campus – as well as experience are pertinent and vital.

To hit the nail on the head, make sure you research what the course includes. This way, you'll be able to inform them precisely how you meet the criteria.

Your Related Interests And Hobbies

Hobbies are one of the best ways to demonstrate you're a well-balanced, well-rounded person. Some potential examples can be:

  • Joining clubs in college
  • Online courses
  • Theater or museum visits

Though not necessarily, mention the hobbies or interests that result from getting involved in college.

Your Achievements And Skills

Admission tutors or academics aren't just interested in knowing your impressive and pertinent achievements and skills; they want to know also how you acquired them.

This means you have to provide them with examples of how you gained your social skills or how you behaved in a group project, etc.

Furthermore, getting a job before you apply would add to your skills and immediately make you part of those candidates who have experienced adult responsibilities.

Work Experience

Whether it's part-time or full-time work, internships, or temporary placements – work experiences instill you with a wide variety of valuable skills.

In a personal statement, mention the positions pertinent to your chosen course and illustrate how learning at this university will set you on a career path you always wished for.

Test Preparations

If you've got an admission test as part of your university application, it's best to prep for it in advance so that you can have a fair chance to succeed.

Get acquainted with the type of questions that are asked and search online to find relevant practice tests.

Most college entrance exams don't require additional study, but you should polish your existing skills as they can be tested.

Practicing various online tests will help you get familiar with the test layout and utilize time properly. This way, you'll tackle the university application test without feeling nervous.

Scholarship Applications

If you've decided which university to apply to but are concerned about expenses, you may consider applying for scholarships.

Visit the university's website and read up on their scholarship guidelines; this will help you understand how to apply for one.

And if you're still confused about the process, contact the admissions staff or scholarship staff to get some helpful advice.

Comply With The Deadlines And Be Organized

An incomplete college/university application will not only delay the decision but may also hamper your odds of being approved.

To avoid this, ensure that you're well aware of every deadline and that you're prepared in advance to make sure all components of your university application are complete.

One possible and practical way to perform this is by making notes of all the coming deadlines – either in the notebook or on the calendar, whatever you deem fit – and frequently look at it.

Some Do's And Don'ts

Here are some dos and don'ts for writing a university application:

Do's

  • Always highlight your strengths. Bear in mind; you've to stick out from the crowd. So, make sure you capitalize on your plus points as well as achievements if any. Also, mention your college involvement activities if relevant
  • Make sure to write an authentic personal statement. The Academics or admissions officers want to understand the individual who has penned this statement
  • Write succinctly and clearly, and don't excessively use big words. Just be direct and transparent while making unique ideas, points, and examples
  • Make yourself different! Show enthusiasm and personality along with your interests and passions outside of college, like volunteering
  • Don't forget to use specific examples from your experience to bolster your profile and differentiate yourself from other applicants. This way, you'll write a memorable personal statement, likely to make an impact on admission tutors
  • Before sending your university application, make sure to check your spelling as well as grammar. Please don't rely on spell-check only, instead ask your teachers, family, and friends to double-check your profile

Don'ts

  • Never make unsupported assertions such as "I'm the best you'll see this year." These kinds of claims don't sit well with the academics or admissions tutors even though you can back it
  • Never copy anyone else's personal statement. Or, copy-paste something you found online in its entirety. Remember, universities check every application for plagiarism
  • Don't make things up! The admission tutors of the university may ask you to provide proof of your claimed achievements. Or, during the interview, chances are academics may ask you in detail about things you have stated in the statement. So, always be honest!
  • Don't use immaterial personal facts. This means that before you pen about the school trip or playing soccer, apply the "so what" rule. Is it making any valuable contribution? Does it help describe why you ought to be given this course in the university? If not, don't mention it
  • Never think of a personal statement as a mere 'list.' For example, "I'm experienced. I'm intellectual. I'm attentive…." It's not necessary to mention everything you've ever done. Likewise, don't feel limited to begin each sentence with "I"
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