申请被秒拒?因为你的PS写成这样!

个人陈述 ( personal statement, “PS”)是在留学申请的过程中学校要求的反映学生学术经历生活故事的一篇陈述。这也是留学文书中至关重要的一部分,几乎所有的学校都会要求申请者提交的材料中含有一篇PS性质的文章。

当我们看待个人陈述时,应该把它当作申请材料的一个部分。意思是,个人陈述是让学校决定是否给你offer,是否录取你的一个部分。所以在书写过程中的重点应该是:你为什么需要去这个学校,以及你能给这个学校带去什么。同时我们也要清醒地认识到,正因为PS是申请的一部分,在其他软件和硬件材料上也需要下功夫,避免了申请的其它短板,有一篇出彩的个人陈述,获得理想录取的可能才会更高。

写就一篇好的个人陈述,需要个人对于自己学术经历或者申请专业热情的深度挖掘和细心整合,还需要对于可能的错误有所了解,避免可能出现的误区。一般而言,个人陈述的五大误区有:

跑题

个人陈述通常的要求是描述自己的个人经历和学术经验, 但有些学校的官方网站会给出相应的要求,可能具体反映学科特色和有非常具体的问题。这里所说的跑题,第一个是违背一般要求,第二种是违背某一学校的特殊PS要求。

违背一般要求

有些同学喜欢在PS文章大量介绍学科概念,例如:

“Public policy is the principled guide to action taken by the administrative executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues, in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs. The foundation of public policy is composed of national constitutional laws and regulations. Further substrates include both judicial interpretations and regulations which are generally authorized by legislation. Public policy is considered strong when it solves problems efficiently and effectively, serves justice, supports governmental institutions and policies, and encourages active citizenship.”

这些叙述看似没有跑题,和申请专业很相关,但其实看PS的 admission officer 对于这些概念是很熟悉的,他们能看出来你有没有在这个学科描述上用心思。申请者要记住个人陈述是需要很“个人”的,与其花篇幅来做这些介绍,不如谈谈你的主观理解。你的思考不一定有这些概念介绍全面,但是可以体现你对这个学科的探索和思考。比如:

I am fully convinced that Public Policy Study is vital to any modern society. It shapes our understanding of our social systems and responsibilities, and informs government legislation and policy-making. The great attraction of a career in public policy research lies in that it will allow me to play a part in the planning and the building of a future society of our country, which is not only richer, but better.

这一段文字就很好的避免了这个误区,把学科描述转变成自己的理解,让这篇个人陈述变得更加“个人”,加入了自己对于学科的情感和理解。

需要注意的是,如果是你研究过的冷门小分支或者相对本土化的学科里面的概念,且对于后文你的经历描述很重要,是需要解释的,并使用和注明相对权威的信息来源。例如有同学要在文书中描述研究中国农村政策的经历,“大学生村官”这种概念,国外教授不一定会知道,这时候就应该做描述,不要让看文书的人思考,直接告诉名词概念。

违背特殊要求

有些学校对于个人陈述有非常具体的要求,一些只要求描述一段学术经历,一些要求回答一个对于学科概念的看法。在这种情况下,同学们一定要事先通过学校官方网站查看和记录,有针对性的写PS。


罗列CV内容

还有一些同学喜欢在PS里面罗列自己的CV内容。例如:

  • During the summer of 2015, I received a research fellowship and my responsibility includes…
  • During the summer of 2016, I became Research Assistant of Professor XXX…
  • And I interned in Company XX in the December of 2016…

这样的PS浪费了一个宝贵的展现自我的机会,同时反映了写作者对于PS的写作的一个误解,就是相比于经历而言,PS更重视申请人的领悟和感受。具体描述你对于学科产生热情的契机,加上最多不超过两段对你的深刻影响,有感而发的经历了解就行了。罗列CV必然造成PS冗长,且内容散,这也是申请者应该避免的误区。

再看:

“It was, however, an accidental event that prompted me to take Public Policy as my area of focus. An organizer of a student “social practice” activity, I came to a community school operated exclusively for children of migrant workers, who could not enter regular schools because of their “alien” status–an experience I will never forget. The contrast between the school’s facilities with those of ordinary city schools shocked me. In the clear eyes of the children sitting before me I read longing and suffering. I kept asking myself what I could do for these children, not just the one hundred or more in front of me, but millions and millions more like them. It is only through the development of the social welfare system and appropriate government policy that the disadvantaged may be helped and protected, and all children may have an equal opportunity to education and success. Since then, I have been fully determined to devote myself to the cause of public service and social welfare.”

这样的表述是比较推荐的表述,虽然经历上没有过多表述(关于参观留守儿童学校的背景只用了一句话),但感受和个人感悟部分写的很好,充分地发挥了个人陈述的作用。这样的表述会容易得到招生官的青睐。


机械套用

近20年,中国申请留学的人数越来越多,许多前辈留下了很多有参考性的资料和经验分享,很多论坛是流传着许多看似靠谱的PS模版,例如:

“I will never forget my experience of working alongside doctors to fight against the horrible disease, AA, in China in 200X. This work taught me the great impact of disease control and prevention and motivated me to apply for the biostatistics program at Yale University, with the ultimate career goal of becoming an influential professional or researcher in the field. I firmly believe that my constant thirst for knowledge, high regard for the work in the biomedical and public health fields, and my courageousness will drive my graduate studies and help me achieve personal and professional success.”

又例如 “from a young age”, “since I was a child”, “I’ve always been fascinated by”, “I have a thirst for knowledge”, “the world we live in today”.

且不说这些叙述—— 传染病的爆发使我想要学生物,8岁起我就热爱文学——使得阅读者产生严重的审美疲劳,这些表述反应了申请者没有认真思考自己的经历,没有把自己当作一个独立的有思考能力的个体表达一个成年人的学科热情,这对于PS而言是一个不好的开始。

套用限制了申请者对于个人经历的深度挖掘,而且即使是后期做了大量语言润色和修改,PS的逻辑框架被这种模版限制住了,行文的流畅程度也会受到很大的影响。总而言之,PS绝对不可以是套模板写出来的,模板PS会给你精彩的背景拉后腿。


用词花哨

许多申请者认为,PS是一个英语写作的较量,用大词是一种反应自己英文造诣的方法。能用华丽的大词,就不会用小词,例如:

在PS里你可能会写:“The indication of her rhetorical strategy…”而在实际生活中,你会直接说:“Her style of persuasion…”

这种大词其实对于读文章的人而言是一种负担,因为读的时候需要额外理解一下表达。这种多余的用在选择高级词汇上的努力,其实反而会造成反效果。在写就PS的过程中,追求精准的表达,比追求华丽要重要很多。例如:

“Law is an area which has interested me from an early age. I enjoy extensive reading and recognise that this is essential in studying law. I consider myself to be well suited to a career in law as I pay much attention to detail and take pleasure in undergoing work which raises social issues in today’s society and requires the skill to manipulate evidence and present persuasive arguments.”

这段对于自己的性格和法律学科契合的描述虽然语言平实,但是精炼、表达到位,是申请的加分表达。


逻辑性和学术性不足

这是来自牛津皇家学院给出的错误示范:

“Oddly enough it was actually the film 10 Things I Hate About You that made me decide for sure that I wanted to study English. All my friends kept saying how much I remind them of Julia Stiles in that film with her passion for poetry.Its true, I do adore poetry and I have won quite a few awards for my own poems and everyone says how good they are… ”

这段话犯了一个严重的错误,就是使用10 Things I Hate About You 这样的通俗作品来说明自己的兴趣,来申请英文文学学位。虽然我们在写个人陈述的时候是要追求平实叙述,但同时我们的PS还要体现对于严肃学术内容的兴趣和了解。这种用中文做类比,就是说,我看了一个叫做《那些年》的电影,觉得我和里面的女主角很像,也非常文静和喜欢读书。所以我要学中文。这叙述当中的荒谬就更加能够体现了。言溯上文,PS更应该贴近学术方面,谈论学术经历、学术感受,尽可能地避免空洞无意义的叙述。

写一篇个人陈述对于申请者个人而言,其实是一个非常好的回溯自己的生活,寻找自己对于学科兴趣,甚至反思自己究竟适不适合学习这个学科的节点。


关于作者:Rachel Zhou

Rachel 现在是北京一家咨询公司的顾问。本科毕业于武汉大学,获得政治学学士的学位,研究生毕业于位于华盛顿特区的乔治城大学的麦考特公共政策学院。在乔治城期间,她获得了一年两万美元的奖学金,并在学院里担任教学助理和行政助理。

Rachel在本科期间带队过三次调研项目,其中一次获得了南风窗的资助。在美国期间,在华盛顿一家500人的智库的卫生政策中心实习过半年,还在世界银行担任过三个月的短期顾问。

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