English Personal Statement
As a burgeoning writer, hopeful author, and long-time reader, the power of words has held a pull for me since a time when my vocabulary consisted of the contents of “Harry Potter”, and “The Chronicles of Narnia”. My decision to study English in Scotland, however, was catalyzed by analysing a single piece of literature.
Language is the avenue to expressing and sharing the best of the human consciousness, and fully understanding the depth of my investment in English has enabled me to plan past the current novel I’m working on and my other linguistic pursuits, and envision a future with one necessity: literary expression.
Jorge Luis Borges’s short story “Death and the Compass” forced me to reevaluate my long-held belief that thinking, pondering, and grappling in a mental wrestling match over life, experiences, and the inexplicable is a good thing.
In his piece, Borges implied that thinking too much can construct a mental labyrinth, wherein no right answers exist, only madness. I concluded that conclusions themselves may not be valid, yet this seemingly pointless thought process sparked a realization: I don’t care if my philosophies are “right”- what is fulfilling to me as a student and a person is the critical and analytical process, particularly the expression of my thoughts.
Even before I fully understood my interest in English, I began to pursue the literary form I most coveted: the novel. The twenty-nine thousand plus words of metafictional fantasy I have completed so far have not come easily- writer’s block, satiation, and the necessarily cut-throat process of self-editing have all challenged me, but they have also helped build me into a stronger, more adept writer.
As my interests developed throughout my final three years of secondary school, it became clear that where my passion dwells, my motivation to excel lies as well.
Given the opportunity at New Vista High School to specialize in my studies, I worked to finish my credit in the sciences and maths in order to devote more time to classes such as Mark Twain, Shakespeare, Public Speaking, British Literature, Screenplays, Contemporary Literature and Society, Tolkien, and more.
My grades improved from C’s in 9th grade to nearly straight A’s in 12th, and I ultimately thrived in the university-level writing class that tops my school’s English curriculum.
I graduated significantly over-credit, with four hundred and twenty hours more time spent towards my studies than required for graduation and nearly fifty percent more English credit than most U.S. universities require.
The final English class I was able to enroll in during my high school career, College Writing, cemented my desire to continue to challenge myself academically. But I also wanted to continue to grow as a member of society.
Furthering my education overseas will not only allow me to continue to pursue my academic potential, but also to expand my understanding of a different culture and widen my perspective as a global citizen.
The Scottish higher education system permits me to continue to study my other academic passions- maintaining and improving my Spanish, investigating philosophy and historical patterns- ultimately narrowing down the academic pursuits I’m most driven to thrive in.
So many factors pointed to continuing my studies in English, yet the catalyst for my decision came from an Argentine writer who died ten years before I was born; there is power to be harnessed in literature, and I plan on doing so.
This personal statement was written by Annie A for application in 2014.
Annie A's university choices
The University of Edinburgh
Green: offer made
Red: no offer made
Annie A's Comments
I had worked quite extensively on a much more narrative-based personal statement surrounding my analyzation and thought process regarding "Death and the Compass", but after consulting an adviser, re-wrote it in a 24-hour period and managed to communicate what I feel. There are imperfections (obviously), but I must say that I am quite proud of the result, as it helped earn me a response from one of my choices within two days of applying. BTW, I'm an international applicant from Colorado, USA, and don't have the best GPA (although it improved to almost straight A's my senior year. I also took the ACT several times, and although my score in Math was 25, Science was 22, I got a 34 in English and 30 in Reading. I guess I just want to communicate that they WILL LOOK AT YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL, and to have faith in yourself if you truly believe you have what it takes.) Good luck!