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HOW TO CONSTRUCT A MEANINGFUL PERSONAL STATEMENT (STATEMENT OF PURPOSE) FOR A SCHOLARSHIP?

By Shingirayi Kondongwe CONTRIBUTOR (Opinions expressed by YOH contributors are their own.)

A personal statement is a pre-requisite in many scholarship applications worldwide. Sometimes, a personal statement is referred to as a statement of purpose. For this article, I would like to use the term “personal statement”. There are so many global scholarship opportunities being offered by various organizations and universities. Judging from my own experience, I regard a personal statement as the most crucial document when you are applying for a scholarship. Regardless of the availability of these opportunities, constructing a meaningful personal statement is a big headache for many youths out there. Are you also struggling to write a personal statement? Congratulations my friend! The information I am providing will probably change the course of your life.

Your motivation letter should be eye-catching, interesting and unique. No one wants to spend his or her time reading a long, boring, uninteresting and insignificant personal statement. Please do not confuse a personal statement to an autobiography. Take your time to realize that maybe 2000 or 5000 people are applying for that same scholarship. The first step is to plan. Planning is very important because it allows you to determine or map forward the relevant information to include in your statement.

After planning, it is very crucial to begin the first paragraph by giving a short statement in a story-like manner explaining your purpose of applying. Specifically, highlight the programme that you want just in case where various programmes are being provided. Make life easier for yourself by dividing your personal statement into relevant sub-topics. Consider sub-topics such as why this scholarship? Why this programme and university? Work experience is also another important sub-topic that you must include as well as your future career aspirations. As much as you want to gain from that scholarship, it is wise to include a short account of how your skills and your work will contribute to the department or University.

Why this scholarship? This is an opportunity for you to justify why that particular scholarship is important to you. Explain what you expect to gain from the scholarship in the context of your academic and career life. Most importantly, scholarship providers want to know why you deserve funding support; hence, it is necessary to include an explanation of why you deserve the funding.

Why this programme and university? State why you have chosen that particular programme (degree) and university. Why is the programme appealing to you? How is the programme related to your background and experience? If it is not related, what is your particular motivation for choosing a different field? What is unique about the university itself? What unique skills will you bring to the department? All these questions should be addressed in your personal statement.

Work experience? Yes, it is necessary to give a short account of your past work experiences. How these past work activities do makes you a deserving candidate for the scholarship? Work experience is a serious requirement for scholarship application; however, it is important to acknowledge that not all scholarships require work experience.

“Career aspirations” is also an important topic that you should include in a personal statement. How are you going to use the knowledge you will gain as a direct result of the scholarship? They simply want to know what you will do with the programme (degree) in the long term. This information, including what I have stated in the above, is enough to produce a meaningful personal statement. Good luck in your endeavors.

SHINGIRAYI KONDONGWE is an African Union Scholar, United Nations Graduate Programme Fellow, and A Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneur. He writes in his capacity and does not represent the views of any organization. He can be contacted at the following email: kondongweshingirai2@gmail.com

Shingirayi hail from Harare, Zimbabwe

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