Writing a Personal statement for Fulbright Scholarship

Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Fulbright Pakistan, Personal Statement | 24 comments

This post was updated in May 2017 to maintain freshness and up-to-date tips on writing Fulbright personal statements

So the 2018 Fulbright applications and interviews have almost come to an end. Last year, 1,300+ students applied for the Fulbright scholarship from Pakistan and around 150 were selected. It is yet to see who got in and who got out but this year I have had the opportunity to help over 100+ students with their Fulbright personal statements and got to read over 170 personal statements of Fulbright applicants.

Today I am going to write about the things that were common in all successful Fulbright personal statements. Along with that I am also going to write about the common flaws in the unsuccessful personal statements.

SEE ALSO: Here is a Sample Personal Statement which has used quotes effectively.

For those of you who don’t know yet or are applying for Fulbright scholarships next year for 2019, you will have to write a 700-750 words long personal statement. In order to write a personal statement, you must first understand the real purpose and value of a ‘Personal Statement’. The basic idea behind a personal statement is to get a piece of original writing and a peak into the mind of the applicant.

Writing a personal statement could be a very daunting task for students in Pakistan, many a times, as they don’t have any prior experience in writing something like this. Also, this could be one of the best chances that you will get to impress the Fulbright committee, who will be reading your personal statement. I personally believe that a personal statement is a kind of a quick interview of a Fulbright applicant – except that you don’t have to answer the interviewer in person but on a piece of paper.

Fulbright personal statement or the Fulbright statement of purpose is not like any other ordinary type of essay writing we do in Pakistan. If your writing matches to a typical essay, it won’t stick to the minds of the Fulbright admissions committee and you will most likely lose any chance of getting in. An impressive personal statement will most likely increase your chances of getting a recommendation for Fulbright interview initiation.

To help students write a personal statement, here are some do’s & don’ts of a Fulbright Personal statement:

What to Write in a Fulbright Personal Statement

Mention Important Points: Never forget to mention the important points in brief. For e.g., give your top reasons to pursue the course that you did in the past etc. While your Curriculum Vitae or Resume would give details about the courses you have done, this is the best chance for you to explain why you chose that course and your passion for it. Fulbright would love to know why you made such a decision in the past.

Don’t Choose Redundant Opening Lines: Whenever Fulbright applicants come to me seeking assistance with their personal statements I always tell them not to write something like: “I want to help the Pakistani society” or “I want to help the poor in Pakistan” or “I want to make a difference to Pakistani people”. Well! This line does look impressive, but when hundreds of Pakistani Fulbright applicants write the same lines, your first impression at the Fulbright officer will be lost.

Give Real life Examples: A personal statement for Fulbright application is the perfect time to think outside the box and to think about different aspects of your life. You can review your life and add important points to your essay. Don’t include your whole life story; present it in an impressive way which highlights your strengths, skills and talents. Portray everything using examples rather than just listing your strengths.

Follow Instructions given by Fulbright Scholarship: It is always advisable to follow the instructions provided. If they have asked for 700-750 words, then provide your content for 700-750 words only. Just follow the instructions.

Write About Yourself: Everyone has their own stories and experiences to share with the Fulbright people. If you have an exciting story about yourself, don’t forget to mention it in your personal statement. Don’t write your story just for the sake of impressing the officers; present it in a sincere manner.

SEE ALSO:

How to explain a low GPA in your personal statement?

What Not to Write in a Fulbright Personal Statement

Don’t Write to Impress: Whenever you write a personal statement, it is a human tendency to think of those points that would impress others. However, this will get you go off the track. Try to be genuine and give only those points which you really feel are important.

Don’t submit Resume: It is okay to pick a couple of things from your resume and elaborate on them; but if you are thinking of writing everything what is already there in your resume, it would definitely kill the chances of your personal statement being the most impressive one.

Don’t submit without checking with a third person: If you are thinking of submitting your personal statement without checking with a third person, think again. There are possibilities of grammatical errors, spelling mistakes etc., which may not be visible to your eyes. Only a third person can identify all those. Moreover only a third person can tell you whether or not he/she was impressed after reading your statement.

Present small negatives in a positive way: If you think that some of your past records may become a cause concern to the admission committee, like a gap in studies, a low GPA, or even a tough semester, present them in a positive way. Personal statement is a great chance where you can address these issues, by mentioning all the good things which you have learnt during the bad time. You can also explain the good reasons behind such small negative things.

Always write a Fulbright personal statement, keeping all the above given points in mind. This will definitely help you to get the best impression from the officers.

24 Comments

  1. Talha m doing pharm d… Can’t i??:(

    • Yes you can

      • Hello sir i want to apply in humphery scholarship and fulbright scholarship english teacher. Plz guide me or help me regarding personal statement.i done double master in english and education i want to apply in both. I am doing job in gov job on contract since years.plz can u send me well written statment as dnt want to miss this chance 7th july is last date.

        • Hello Maryiam – for essays please contact us at 0331-4513196. Thanks

    • Yours is a clever way of thkining about it.

  2. Slam, you gave very good piece of knowledge to all of us. Thanks for it.
    I have a question that this year for undergraduate program usefp ask us to make that statement limited to 200 and 250 words in order to cover the following.
    Your interest and personality.
    Your academic objectives
    Your goals related to your field of study and personal development
    The reasons why you wish to pursue them in US and how it relates to your interest and future objective.

  3. Then how to write all the information into 200 to 250 words.

    • Make sure you are concise and write stuff in compact form – if you exceed it will carry a penalty.

  4. Assalam-o-Alaikum,
    Sir, I am really facing trouble to write a personal statement. I have a good decent academic record though, my personal statement is very weak. I followed your approach, but it is weak due to my poor vocabulary and communication skills. Can you please help me in this regard?

    Thank you for replying each and every question.

  5. Hi Talha.

    Do you you think it is good idea to say in personal statement that you want to set-off a company after returning to the home country ? Does it look arrogant and unrealistic to Fulbright committee? Does the Fulbright prefer more realistic plans like “make teaching career and share with obtained in USA experience” ?

    Thanks,
    Alex

    • Alex – not at all – if you have experience with start ups and if you can prove you have the ability to open up a company on your return then it is fine.

  6. Hi Talha,

    Thank you for your previous answer.

    I also would like to ask about how Fulbright selection committee members read essays.
    Are essays read carefully and how much time does it consume? Is it possible that Fulbright admission officer will read only several sentences or read essay fluently, so that he will not catch really important details?

    Thanks,
    Alex

    • LOL Alex – If i were the member I could have answered it but I am afraid i have no idea 🙂

      • hi
        Talha I have just gone through your precious piece of writing. I am really impressed by you.

        Thanks for you advises, Talha I have written my Personal statement. Can i share it with you for its improvement? ur email address please???

  7. Dear hopefully you will be safe and sound. sir i need help in writing personal statement for higher studies. please share your email address with me

  8. hi
    talha its hira. talha i got the interview call from fulbrigt for the CCI program 2016 but i dont know what will be the questions of the interviewer will u please quide me what should i prepare for my interview

    • Hello Hira – actually I am not aware of the CCI program at all 🙁

  9. Hi Talha.

    You have stated the stunning points at all. Dear, I come from Iraq. I hope that if you can help me in my “Personal Statement”. For instance – first of all my major is English language – when I was a high school student I could not speak, write and read English at all due to many issues related to decreasing quality of education during the past ten years. That influence had then been because of the embargo imposed on Iraq. However, I graduated form high school with very poor scores especially in English. Thus, I decided to enroll in private college to learn English. This enrollment was a challenge for me that I MUST learn this language even though what happened. So far, I graduated from university with good average and now I am working as English Teacher in a high school.

    Do you think such a background in my personal statement will impress the reviewing panel ?

  10. any idea about personal statement of lums??

    • It is the same as all other personal statements such as the ones above.

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