MORE ABOUT PERSONAL STATEMENTS
As you reflect on your Personal Statement for your Fulbright application, it might be useful to think of this distinction: You and Your Plan.
The latter is what you will mostly be describing in your Statement of Grant Purpose (which we covered in last week's edition); whereas, the former is what you should be illuminating in your Personal Statement.
Fulbright provides the following guidance about Personal Statements:
- The statement should be a 1 page narrative that provides a picture of yourself as an individual․
- It should deal with your personal history, family background, influences on your intellectual development, the educational, professional, and cultural opportunities (or lack of them) to which you have been exposed, and the ways in which these experiences have affected you and your personal growth․ Include your special interests and abilities, career plans, and life goals, etc․
- It should not be a recording of facts already listed on the application or an elaboration of your Statement of Grant Purpose․ Rather, it should be . . . specifically related to you and your aspirations relative to the specific Fulbright Program to which you have applied․
- Do not repeat information from other parts of the application.
A helpful approach before you begin writing involves: Reflection and Outlining.
Reflect: Spend some time thinking about your background and the many experiences that have gotten you to this moment in your life. Then ask yourself questions like: Which experiences have been the most transformative and why? What have you learned from these parts or times of your life? And importantly, how have they informed your goals, interests, outlook, and values in such a way that you are now applying for this particular Fulbright opportunity.
Outline: Given this is a one-page essay versus a longer autobiography, you will need to make strategic choices about what experiences to include. As you reflect on the past, the important aspects of your life, and how these specifically relate to your Fulbright application, begin outlining your ideas. Take note of the specific content you want to include and how you will move from one paragraph to the next.
Finally, consider how you want to open your essay:
- Do you want to share a story about a profound experience that has made you interested in living and working in a global setting?
- Do you want to highlight an "aha moment" from your education that helps explain your motivation for further research or study?
- Did you have a teacher or professor who inspired you to want to mentor and teach?
These are a few brief examples just to get you thinking!
Remember to review closely Fulbright's website for more detail about the essay format.
Stop by the Center for Research & Fellowships (3607 O Street NW) to review our library of example Fulbright Personal Statements and Statements of Grant Purpose.