Second only to the opening paragraph, the closing paragraph of a personal statement is the part that people often struggle with the most.
From repeating key points to underselling achievements and ambitions, a personal statement conclusion can be the least effective aspect of the document.
That’s frustrating, as a personal statement closing paragraph is often the part that leaves the greatest impression in the mind of the reader.
So how should you end a personal statement and create a great final paragraph?
When considering how to end a personal statement, don’t summarize existing content in a repetitive conclusion. Instead, clarify your suitability with a new example and evidence your value to the institution. Lastly, outline your ambitions in relation to the opportunities presented by the course.
I’ve broken down each of these elements in detail so that you can craft a successful personal statement final paragraph…
The Final Paragraph Must Evidence Your Suitability
Instead of detailing all the key areas in which you are a suitable candidate for the course or role early on in your personal statement, it is valuable to hold back at least one example in order to add credibility and weight to your final paragraph.
This could outline an additional course you have completed or a qualification that you have achieved, but it could equally be a volunteering opportunity or work placement that reinforces your suitability for the higher study of a particular subject.
Admissions teams really want to see that applicants are clearly suitable for the courses they’re applying for, but also that they are suitably prepared for academic success.
Essentially, they want to know that you understand what you’ll be doing on the course and that you’re qualified to do it well. That’s why driving this point home in the last paragraph is so important.
For more of my powerful personal statement strategies, just click here.
The table below gives some examples of ways in which you might evidence your suitability in your final paragraph. They won’t all apply to you, but the chances are that you will recognise some of these aspects from your own preparation for higher education, and be able to include them:
|Connect your prior experiences directly to the course content, giving your subject choice credibility||Explain how an extended project or piece of research has given you the skills for higher education||Outline the ways in which membership of a club or group has given you the resilience to cope with university||Consider the ways in which your current studies have equipped you with a relevant, specific skill|
|Illustrate how work placements/internships have given you an applied understanding of the subject||Show evidence of research into the achievements of course alumni and link your own achievements with theirs||Give an example of your ability to use high-level independent study skills for research and academic writing||Explain how you have used transferable skills to meet deadlines and to remain positive and motivated|
Here’s how a sentence might look in a personal statement example…
If you’d like a detailed post on the skills you need to include in your personal statement, then why not check this out?
Outline Your Value to the University or Employer
It’s important that the final paragraph of your personal statement clearly outlines your potential value to the organisation. To understand exactly the kind of content that admissions tutors are looking for, ask yourself this question:
How will the university I am applying for, the faculty in which I will study and the community in which I will live, be better for having me be a part of it?David Hallen
As Whitney Soule, Dean of Admissions at Bowdoin puts it:
If a university can see evidence that you will make a positive contribution to their organisation clearly in the final paragraph of your personal statement, then you will have left them with an excellent impression of your potential.
But how exactly might you add value, and how do you write about it concisely?
Adding Value to your Personal Statement
- Experience of diversity when contextualised in terms of social, cultural, gender, ethnicity, sexuality or ability. Your experiences will add to the wisdom and education of your cohort at a time when identity and empathy is paramount.
- Knowledge of more than your subject. The life experiences, travel, background and passions that make you an individual and that you can share in a positive context are vital.
- Sports skills or related team and community experiences. From playing soccer to white-water rafting, acapella singing or ultimate frisbee, the skills you bring to share with others are an important way to add value.
- Experience of or intention to mentor. If you can show that you intend to mentor and support other students with a particular level of expertise, you’ll be a tremendous asset.
- Proven commitment and dedication. Explain how you have the tenacity and resilience to overcome challenges by equating that with a specific example from your own life, and give the reader the confidence that you will successfully complete the course regardless of the hardships you face.
- If you have experiences of leadership, make these clear and indicate how these are of value to the organisation. From captaining a team to leading on a research project, your ability to motivate and facilitate those around you make you a genuine asset.
A couple of sentences in your final paragraph that meets this goal might look something like this:
For some excellent advice on developing some outstanding personal statement examples, check out my post here. Alternatively, using a free software package like Grammarly can really help applicants convey the depth of their academic value. Check it out here or hit the banner below…
Finish Your Personal Statement by Showing Ambition
The last essential element of a great final paragraph is proof of ambition relating to the content and outcome of the course you are applying for.
If you can show that you have an informed understanding of where the course can take you and a good idea of the demands of the industry you might want to enter, your final paragraph will be far more convincing.
You’ll need to make sure you’ve achieved 3 important tasks before you type a single word…
- You’ve fully researched the course(s) you are applying for and can reference the academic content, employment opportunities and outcomes
- You’ve got some practical and theoretical understanding of the industries related to the course, prior to application
- You’ve given some contextualised thought to your potential role within those industries, and how the course will help you reach that goal
For more specific content on how original a personal statement should be, and just how to include your ambitions and experiences in a way that readers will find compelling, check this post out.
Once you’ve got some notes on these three points, you can put a sentence together that evidences your ambition, promotes your application and demonstrates your understanding of your sector. An effective couple of sentences might look like this:
You can watch a great tutorial on showing ambition in your personal statement below, or check out some helpful UCAS resouces.
Whatever order you decide to tackle them in, if you ensure you include the three elements detailed in this post, you’ll be sure to write a relevant and compelling final paragraph, leaving the reader confident about making you an offer.
Good luck with your personal statement, and don’t forget to contact me if you’d like some 1-1 support. You’ve got this! D
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