I remember that around this time last year I attended one of my first virtual information sessions for the International Education Policy Master’s program. I was excited to have the opportunity to ask current students many burning questions about the application process.
Of these, I wanted to know how I can ‘stand out’ and make my personal statement as unique as possible. I typed my question into the chat box and eagerly waited for an answer. I recall the student telling me about “writing from the heart” as his best advice to me. I was disappointed at the time but I eventually came to consider this as one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received about my application process. And I hope to share it with a wider audience on this blog!
I think the real breakthrough for me was when I stopped framing my thinking about standing out against other applicants and started thinking about articulating my passion for education. I remember writing my personal statement while brainstorming with no particular structure or audience in mind. This was particularly liberating because I was no longer intimidated by HGSE’s institution name and instead focused on my own priorities for graduate school. That brainstorming ended up serving as a basis for my personal statement but most importantly it was an accidental therapeutic exercise. I found myself reminded that education for me was much more than a career, it was a calling.
So if you’re reading this and stressing over your personal statement, just remember to make sure to write from the heart!
Hibatalla Ibrahim is a Master’s in Education candidate in the International Education Policy Program. Transitioning from marketing to international development, she has special interest in girls’ and urban refugee education. She loves cooking, writing and exercising (OK maybe not).