The key to having a personal statement that flows well is strong transitions. These are sentences that connect concepts like little bridges throughout your essay. Without them, your essay can feel choppy, disconnected and confusing.
Here are some ways you can create transitions for a smooth and seamless essay:
- Placement. First and foremost, when transitioning between paragraphs, your transitional sentence should always come as the first sentence of the new paragraph.
- Find the common element. If you’re trying to link two very different concepts, try to find what the two have in common and focus on that. For example, if your last paragraph was about your volunteer work and your next one is about some important lab research you did, you can focus on how one reinforces the other.
- Transition Example: After working with children suffering from heart defects for three months, I was excited to investigate those same issues from a different angle, this time under a microscope.
- Lean on your timeline. When you're trying to bridge one sentence to the next and things are flowing in a chronological order, you can use time to your advantage. For example, if your last paragraph discussed your accomplishments in college, and your next paragraph discusses the work you did after graduating, go with the flow.
- Transition Example: After graduation, I put my architecture degree to work immediately at an interior design firm in San Francisco.
- Lean on a story. If you’re trying to transition from a general statement to a story, it can sometimes be tricky to figure out how to weave into it without an awkward jump. There’s no need to set it up with an overly complex introduction — just dive in with leads like: “One example of this…”; “One way I was able to accomplish this was…”; “By doing…”; “When I…”
- Transition Example: “I believe that developing strong doctor-patient relationships is key to delivering quality healthcare. I put this value into practice while working with at-risk children in Chicago. For example, I always started our sessions by asking them to tell me about themselves and what they love to do.”
- When in doubt, turn to these transitional words to start your transitional sentences:
- Even though
- In addition
- What’s more
- For the same reason
- In fact
Transitional sentences are key to creating a personal statement that flows well and that guides the admissions reader effortlessly through your past, present and future. If you’re struggling with a choppy essay, try these tips and then send your essay to one of our experienced editors at www.edityour.net. They can help polish your essay until it’s as smooth as glass.
You finally have time to sit down and write you personal statement. You know it’s a big deal, and maybe you know vaguely what you want to write about. But all you can do is stare at that blank white screen helplessly.
“Where do I even begin?”
There are several key points you want to hit with a personal statement, regardless of what your background is and what type of program you’re applying to. A good starting point is to answer the following questions:
- What ignited your passion for career X?
- What moments reaffirmed your decision that YES, this is the career for you?
- How do your background, personality and experiences make you a great fit for career X?
- How does the program you’re applying to take your career to the next level? How is it a good fit for you?
- What are your long-term career goals?
By the way, if you need a little more guidance than that, we have an awesome Brainstorming Packet that we highly recommend for any applicant: https://edityour.net/product/personal-statement-brainstorming-packet/
Ok so if you’ve figured out generally what you’re going to write about, believe it or not, that’s not actually enough! You also need to structure your personal statement in a way that will draw the admissions team into your story and keep them hooked from start to finish. The structure and flow can have a big impact on how powerfully your experiences come across and how organized as a person you seem. For some tips on how to best structure your personal statement, check out our blog post on the topic of structure: https://edityour.net/structuring-your-personal-statement-with-a-strong-backbone/
Once you know what you’re going to write about and how you’re going to structure it, you are well on your way! After that first draft is complete, don’t forget the last step: Get it edited by a professional editor. That way you know it’s as strong as it can possibly be from a grammatical, structural and content point of view.
See all our best tips and resources on the EditYour Blog: https://edityour.net/blog/
Applicants typically have the toughest time writing the introductions of personal statements. You have all this great experience — where to begin? If you find yourself thinking the same thing, these 4 tips are about to change everything:
#1: Start with a story
The best way hook the admissions team into your essay is to start with a gripping story from a moment that changed your life. For example, one applicant described how she had lost a friend in a car accident and pulled the reader right into the thick of that life-changing situation: “Her body laid on the gurney, cold to the touch. I looked at her face once more, kissed her forehead, and whispered goodbye.” A little story like this not only gives the selection committee better insight into who you are, but it also keeps their attention longer so they WANT to learn more about you.
#2: Use vivid imagery
By including little details, active verbs and a more story-like format, you can transform your introduction into a gripping start to your essay. Incorporate aspects of the five senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) to really take it to the next level. As you can see in the following two examples, the little details make all the difference:
Not very vivid: We were sitting in the emergency room and were staring at the ground. It was hard to wait so long and not know if she was ok.
More vivid: The fluorescent lights buzzed as we sat in the emergency room. I sat bent forward with my head resting on my knees, staring blankly at the cracks in the tile floor below. Would she make it? Would I ever see her again?
#3: Bridge your past, present and future
Your introduction has one primary goal: It must tell the admissions team where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going. You can do this by using transitions that seamlessly weave those parts together. For example:
“After working for five years as a researcher , I discovered that while I loved problem-solving, I longed to be able to work directly with the real people behind the data. By applying to medical school , I look forward to bringing my unique lab experience into a clinical setting. Becoming a physician , will allow me to form strong relationships with my patients and problem solve for them on an individual level.”
#4: End with your ultimate goal
In the above example, you’ll notice that the final sentence includes a note about what the long-term goal is: becoming a physician. Always make sure to include this in the last sentence or two of your introduction! The admissions team wants to know that you have a specific career goal in mind, which will give them more confidence in you.
Once you sew together a great introduction, it's always smart to run it past an editor to make sure you're on the right track. Don't hesitate to send your first paragraph to our team of pros and we'll help you craft the best intro possible for your killer personal statement.