I saw the railroad car and broke off from my group, wandering into the car's interior. I paused in the middle, looking to my left and to my right. I could almost hear the voices of the victims who had ridden to their deaths. I remember shaking my head and stepping through to the other side of the car.
My skin was crawling with goosebumps and my hands were shaking. I looked down and saw this pile of suitcases, stacked next to the exit. That luggage had belonged to someone's son. Someone's daughter. Someone who had possessed enough hope to pack an extra set of clothes for his or her trip east. For the first time in my short life, I realized that the things that had happened before I came into existence mattered. The people who had lived before me mattered. And they mattered profoundly. Before that trip, history was simply one of many subjects I had to study in school, facts and dates to memorize for tests.
But passing through the railroad car changed the way I thought about history.
It changed the way I thought about the world. History became that stack of suitcases—the hopes and dreams and actions of people who may or may not have had a chance to tell their stories. Several years and three majors in college would pass before I decided to dedicate my life to studying the subject. Even though I knew history mattered, making it my career choice seemed so impractical. But after two years as an undergraduate, floating from major to major, I signed up for a history class to fill out my schedule: "Germany since ". Something clicked for me during that class.
All the uncertainty I had about my possible career paths melted away. I knew I wanted to be a historian. I wanted to be a teacher.
Year 11 – Personal statement
History wasn't impractical—it was vital. A few things have changed since I made that decision. I'm no longer specializing in European history. Now my research focuses on American history, specifically the modern South. I know that I want to spend the rest of my life telling those stories, and I've chosen to focus on the modern South because that is the world in which I grew up—I have a connection to this region and its past. I want to get my doctorate in history so I can deepen not only my understanding of the lives and events gone by, but deepen the understanding of others as well.
Perhaps what fascinates me the most is why the South seems at times to be a separate entity, set apart from the rest of the country. Why is this? And does this mythology reflect reality, or is the South more American than it likes to think?
Optional elements (include if applicable)
What does it mean to be southern? What does it mean to be American?
How are the two connected? And how have the answers to these questions changed over time, especially since Reconstruction? I think reactions to accepted norms can provide crucial insight into a broader social framework. My thesis touches on this topic: I am researching the development of offshore oil drilling in Alabama in the s and the resulting environmental protests. Not exactly known for having an aggressive record of environmental protection, the state has historically prioritized jobs over conserving its natural resources—yet the process of approving offshore oil drilling took almost a decade.
How did that happen in Alabama? The writing sample I have submitted is the genesis of my thesis, which is currently under revision. I wrote the paper for a Southern history seminar in Since that initial paper, I have worked to expand the scope and content of my research. I am also trying to place this opposition in the broader framework of Alabama history.
Why Do Colleges Ask For an Essay?
Reform, when it has come in Alabama, has often been conservative. Was this environmental reaction similar to previous reform efforts? Or was it a departure? I have yet to come to a conclusive answer to these questions, but I hope that by continuing my research I can come closer to finding out. The language of a personal statement is often less formal than other kinds of academic essay. Make sure you write clearly and concisely, and follow these tips to strengthen your text. This might be a story, a question, or just a snappy statement that makes them want to read more.
Are they truly dedicated to their passions?
Do they actively seek to contribute to their community? Do they possess a genuine spirit of intellectual curiosity? Accordingly, a safe, run-of-the-mill personal statement is unlikely to wow an admissions committee, while a creative and bold personal statement that allows adcoms to understand an applicant in a new light can have a huge positive impact on an application. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. There are many students who read this prompt and immediately know what to write on; a lifelong illness or other significant adversity, a defining personal characteristic or ability, or a unique set of life circumstances could all be great material for a personal statement.
If this sounds like you, by all means, pursue this topic! Many students look at this prompt and brainstorm for hours before deciding to answer the prompt with a description of a sufficiently impressive accomplishment or extracurricular activity. This prompt, and the personal statement in general, are not intended as another outlet for you to list your various accomplishments and awards. If you have an extracurricular activity or experience that you wish to write about for your personal statement, we encourage you to do so! The key to writing about these experiences — championship sports games, victories at academic competitions, and the like — is putting a unique spin on how they affected you.
Free Personal Statement Essays and Papers
One way to do this is via figurative language ; a commonly used device is a conceit, or extended metaphor, that can add a layer of complexity to a straightforward story check out our blog post on how to use rhetorical devices in your personal statement for advice on conceits and more! Just as with extracurriculars, the key to successfully recounting a tale of adversity in your personal statement is by explaining how that situation has shaped who you are as a person and student.
The ability to overcome adverse circumstances and achieve success is highly prized by admissions committees. When skillfully done, essays addressing personal struggles can be highly effective and moving. In truth, though such distinctive situations may make for great personal statements if executed correctly, they are by no means necessary to have a powerful personal statement. Some of the best personal statements are crafted from circumstances, experiences, or characteristics that may seem unremarkable on the surface, but in which the author has found a deeper meaning or which serve as a platform for a wider philosophical discussion.
For example, a member of our team wrote her essay on her distinctive hair, and how it was a reflection of her larger struggle as a Hispanic student in a predominantly white community. Essays on the mundane can be so effective because they allow an applicant to showcase their unique perspective on life without the distraction of exotic or exciting happenings. Inspiration for a moving personal statement can be found in the most unexpected of places.