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Personal Statement and Letter of Recommendation

Since private colleges and universities are often restricted in the number of students they can accept, applicants for admission are often required to submit supporting documentation in the form of personal essays and letters of recommendation. These documents enable the college admissions committee to differentiate applicants from each other and to select the most promising students. The personal statement, as well as the letters of recommendation, are also important data considered in transfer scholarship decisions, whether students are applying to public or private colleges or to special organizations that award scholarship assistance. Therefore, these documents can be important factors in your college acceptance.

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Applicant's Personal Statement

Most private college and scholarship applications require a personal statement (essay) of 350-500 words, typed and double-spaced. In general, this statement should describe briefly your personal and academic background, employment record, interests, life experiences, goals, and social commitment (e.g. school and community service). Since the personal statement often substitutes for a personal interview, it is very important that you be clear, concise, and specific in your writing style. Personal statements are examples of different ways you can highlight your background.

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Outline of Personal Statement

  1. Personal Data
    1. Place of birth
    2. Family background
    3. Significant life experiences

  2. Academic Information
    1. High school or GED (include dates of attendance)
    2. College (include dates of attendance)
      1. Major
      2. Cumulative GPA.
    3. Future educational goal(s)

  3. Extracurricular Activities
    1. High school
      1. Name of activity
      2. My specific role
      3. Dates of participation
      4. What I learned about myself and/or others
    2. College
      1. Name of activity
      2. My specific role
      3. Dates of participation
      4. What I learned about myself and/or others
    3. Other activities (e.g. community, religious)
      1. Name of activity
      2. My specific role
      3. Dates of participation
      4. What I learned about myself and/or others
    4. Other interests or hobbies

  4. Employment Record Include any paid activity in college as well as all outside employment.

  5. List the jobs you have held, starting with the most recent.

  6. Career Goals When did you develop these goals? What life experiences contributed to these goals?
  7. Other Have there been any other significant life experiences which have influenced your development?

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Letter of Recommendation

You will need letters of recommendation for private college and scholarship applications. These letters are usually from faculty members who are in position to evaluate your academic performance and contributions, or leadership and service to the college community. Letters can also be submitted by responsible individuals in community agencies or organizations who are in a position to evaluate your level of social commitment.

Just as your personal statement must be thoughtfully prepared, so should your letters of recommendation reflect the same concern for clarity, details, and specificity. Recommendation letters are taken very seriously by members of review committees, and they should reinforce or substantiate claims you have made about yourself in your personal statement.

Form for Recommendation (of student by faculty)

How can you be sure that letters of recommendation submitted on your behalf actually concentrate on specific qualities and characteristics that measure your academic or work abilities?

  • Select references you know well. These would include instructors who have taught you in several classes, as well as employment supervisors who are in a position to evaluate your work performance.
  • Meet with each reference person individually (not in the hallway after class) and indicate the need for the letter of recommendation. It is often helpful, as well, to make a list of specific activities and personal qualities that you think are appropriate for the reference person to cover in the letter. You may want a particular reference to emphasize some special quality or characteristic about yourself. Therefore, you will have to make sure you say this to your reference.
  • If your letter of recommendation does not have to be confidential, you may ask your reference if you may review the letter before it is mailed.
  • Provide each reference with an envelope that is stamped and addressed to the college office that is to receive the letter. This courtesy helps to make the letter writing easier for busy college professors.
  • Allow sufficient time for your reference to write a thoughtful and thorough letter. Two weeks should be sufficient. Then follow up with your reference to see that the letter has been mailed.

For more information, email transfer@mccc.edu or call 609-586-4800, ext. 3307.

Return to Transfer Homepage

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