PERSONAL STATEMENT: How do I write my first draft?

In our last post, we talked about how to generate ideas for your personal statement by asking the question, “How do I answer the questions that keep me up at night?”

The good thing about questions that keep us up at night are that they help us consider the things that we find most meaningful to us. They help us discover overarching narratives that we can use to structure our scholarship essays and create cohesiveness through the things we’ve done such as job experiences, volunteer work, etc.

Of course, some scholarship essays will tell you exactly what they want you to address, and the key here is to ensure your “questions” align with what they are asking.

Below is a flowchart to help you structure your thoughts as you begin writing your draft.

  1. First, think about the questions that keep you up at night. What is meaningful to you?
  2. Then look through the scholarship essay requirements. What kind of candidate are they looking for?
  3. Thereafter, brainstorm the experiences that speak to both the questions that keep you up at night and the scholarship essay requirements. Maybe it’s a class you took or a conversation you had. Maybe it’s how you grew up or a project that you started.
  4. Now, you’re ready to begin writing! Hopefully, you’ve been jotting down the ideas that have been coming to mind as you went through the first three steps. There is only one way to write your first draft, and that is to actually WRITE. Here are two ways to go about it:
    • Free writing – Just begin writing. Don’t think about how elegant you sound, or whether you are expressing yourself clearly. Free writing is about getting the flow of your ideas out. It’s about getting the words out. You will come back and rewrite once you have everything together.
    • Outlining – If you feel too daunted by the idea of free writing, then you can try outlining. You will still have to write of course, but you can start by writing out your experiences. For example, write out the question that keeps you up at night. Then move to writing about the project you started and why. Get your juices flowing. Again, you will always come back to rewrite.

On our next post, we will talk about how to rewrite your draft, so stay tuned!

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