Sciences Po: How to Write Your Personal Statement for Sciences Po

Wondering how to write your personal statement for Sciences Po? How long should it be? And what it should cover?

You won’t get to see the essay prompt or required word count until you actually start an application.
Well, unless you’re reading this post!

International undergraduate admissions personal statement prompt for Sciences Po:

"Please introduce yourself. Describe the reasons that led you to apply to Sciences Po’s Bachelor’s Degree program. Explain how and why the educational environment at Sciences Po will help you achieve your professional and personal ambitions. You may also want to articulate how you foresee your engagement in campus life beyond the walls of the classroom. Please be specific and do not exceed 1,000 words."

International graduate admissions personal statement prompt:

"Your personal statement is where you can distinguish yourself from other candidates. What motivates you to take this course at Sciences Po? Mention how your interest developed, what you have done to pursue it and what your longer term goals are."
Once you have a rough draft, ask me to review your work.

In both cases, you are limited to only 1000 words. You cannot go beyond 1000 words as there is an actual word counter within the application.

word counter personal statement sciences po

Stumped on responding to these prompts? Check out:
Sciences Po: 4 Tips for Writing Your Motivation Letter

Language requirements for your personal statement

“The statement must be written in the language of instruction of the programme.

If you are applying for a dual degree programme, please write at least one paragraph in one of the other languages of the programme (i.e. English, German, Russian). If you are applying for more than one programme, please explain each choice in a separate statement."

If you are applying to any program at PSIA, you will need to write your personal statement in English. As a student at PSIA, 70% of your classes will be offered in English and only 30% will be offered in French. Therefore, it is easy to do the degree entirely in English. However, it is not possible to do it entirely in French. Thus, English is the “language of instruction” and you must write you personal statement in English.

Other Writing Requirements

In addition to your personal statement, you will also have to submit a copy of your CV.

"You must include a CV in French or English, according to the language of the programme for which you apply, except for the dual degree programmes for which all required documents must be submitted in English."

Making a good CV is a challenge that tests both your language skills (grammar and the like) and formatting abilities. You’re not applying to become a graphic designer, so there’s no need to use fancy visual icons. Nevertheless, consistent formatting and clear logic are key.

Use the Five-Point Resume Check before sending off your CV or resume.

And if you’d like, you can get my help editing your CV to make sure that everything looks alright.

Related links

Discussing Yourself in an Interview

One of the topics you can be sure to discuss in your college interview is yourself. Talking about yourself might sound easy, but in fact it can be quite difficult. Here are a few tips to decode the questions and make sure you are prepared:

“So, tell us about yourself…”

Often the interviewer will ask you just to talk a bit about yourself. If you’ve already written a good personal statement, make sure you review it beforehand. That way, you’ll remind yourself of any qualities or stories that you want to accentuate. This will also help you to stay true to your editorial line.

Keep in mind those things you should not include in your college essay. You will also generally want to avoid them in your interview.

The hidden meaning behind ‘so tell us about yourself’ is ‘tell us why this college is a good fit for you?

In order to respond appropriately, you’ll need to have done your research. What does the college have that you need?

EXAMPLE: “Although I am interested in engineering in general, I am also particularly interested in working for the defence industry. In fact, one of the reasons I decided to apply to this program is because I have read some of Professor Johnson’s work on radar systems, and I’m hoping to take a class with her.”

You want to show that your relationship with the school will be reciprocal.

In other words, you want to make it clear that not only you will benefit from the school, but the school will also benefit from you. Of course, this can be difficult to do if you don’t have a lot of experience. One good tactic, though, is to discuss how you plan to get involved on campus.

EXAMPLE: “I’m excited to join the Robotics Club! I like to tinker with robots at home.”

Read the rest of this blog post here

Dealing with a College Rejection

Hopefully you’ll be accepted to every school you apply to, but you might also receive a rejection or two.

If you applied mostly to top-notch Ivy Leagues, then you are very likely to get rejected. This can be hard to accept, and telling your friends and family the bad news can be a challenge.

Initially, you may be asking yourself if you even have to tell them at all! However, if you’ve been raving about how you’re certain to get your degree from Harvard, then it’s probably impossible to keep it a secret.

Read 5 simple tips to help break the news about a college rejection and help refocus your energy on what really matters.

Out with the old – in with the new!

Yesterday I received my diploma from Sciences Po!

Given that my graduate ceremony (class of 2016) was held over 6 months ago, you’d think the thing would be embossed in gold. But alas! Twas not the case.

So – in case you were wondering:

How long does it take to get your Sciences Po diploma after graduation? About 6 months.

In fact, although the diploma itself says it was given to me on December 15, I only received it on January 5.

I might also add that, despite vehement disagreement and letter-writing from my class, the diploma is only distributed electronically.

Apparently the internet is the future! And to be honest, I’m not sure it will ever matter. That said, when I get my own office space set up one day I will definitely print and frame my own diploma.

January 13 Sciences Po Deadline

Over the past three days, I’ve received three new requests to review motivation letters for Sciences Po applicants!

That’s a pretty hefty increase from what I’m used to (which is about one every 1-2 weeks).

The reason? Well, beyond the fact that everyone must just now be waking up from the stupor of the holidays, PSIA has an application deadline set for January 13.

I am more than happy to help out anyone who contacts me with their letter of motivation.

And of course, I understand procrastination. That said, if you’re reading my blog and thinking about contacting me later, go ahead and send me a message now so that I can be sure to set aside time to help you out!

Sciences Po applications: Is it bad to submit at the last minute?

A reader and college application review client recently asked me about applying to Sciences at the last minute:

Yesterday I finally submitted  my application. I am worried to be so close to the deadline as Sciences Po always advises people to not to submit at the last minute.  It that because of the amount of work they receive or because doing it says something negative about you?

At Sciences Po, the earlier you submit your documents, the earlier you will hear if you were accepted or not. Those who apply early are likely to get a decision in just 2-3 weeks. If you apply later, you can expect to wait up to 3 months!

This is because of what’s called “rolling admissions.” With rolling admissions, applications are reviewed as they are received.

For Sciences Po, you can submit your application anytime between December and mid-June. (Of course, keep in mind that there are various deadlines if you want to apply for a scholarship or dual degree program.)

Rolling admissions gives flexibility both to applicants and to the school.

Above all, it allows the school to reduce their work of last-minute application reviewing.

The people who review college applications are, after all, only human. And there are only so many university officials who are willing to sludge through and evaluate hundreds of applicants. (Trust me — after helping with scholarship applicants for the McDermott program at UT Dallas, I can assure you that it can be a grueling process. Although, it’s always a pleasure when you come across the really good applicants!)

But, is there a disadvantage to sending in your application at the last minute?

First of all, deadlines are there for a reason. There can really be no punishment for respecting the deadline, even if you submit at 11:59pm on the last possible day.

Of course, I know what you are thinking.

If the number of students is capped, then surely some good students who apply at the last minute will be turned away. Right?

What you might not realize is that colleges generally have a very good idea about what students they want to admit. They also tend to have some flexibility when it comes to numbers.

In 2014, Sciences Po decided to admit an additional 104 French students and 120 international students to their Master’s programs. Sure, the decision to admit more students was strategic, but the decision to admit exactly 224 more students? I’m sure that number could have easily been 225 if another talented student had applied — even if they’d submitted their application at the last possible second.

Here are the real disadvantages to applying at the last minute:
  • Your internet could crash or a file could be deleted, barring you from meeting the deadline.
  • You might miscalculate the time in the French time zone.
  • You’ll wait significantly longer to find out whether or not you are accepted. (Which, as an international student, can be significant if you might need extra time to plan for your visa, finances, or other arrangements.)
In my experience with other programs (not specifically Sciences Po), I know that students who submit their documents early tend to have a higher % chance of acceptance.

HOWEVER that is probably because applicants who apply early tend to be better applicants.

Students who are seriously interested in a school are less likely to procrastinate. In contrast, an applicant who is clearly not a good fit might feel more hesitant to submit.

Inevitably though, many, many good applicants will also apply at the last minute. And it may not be because of procrastination so much as perfectionism.

Maybe you are reading and re-reading that essay before submitting. Maybe you are working with me to get your work reviewed and increase your chances of acceptance. Far from making you a bad applicant, that would make you top notch!

If that’s your case, then relax.

Ultimately, the very best applicants will get an offer. Regardless of when they hit “send.”

 

Blogging and Making Money

Today I discovered this post about how much one should (or does) get paid for blogging, and it really got me thinking.
The author divides bloggers up by quality and price into four categories, which correspond to four department stores: The Dollar Store, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, and Nordstrom. It’s a cute concept.
As it stands, I think I qualify as a JC Penney writer. Basically, that means that although I’ve had my blog since 2008, I’ve only been working on SEO and actively trying to find work for less than a year. I’m also a recent graduate and, it turns out, my rates are too low. I have yet to charge over $50 for a blog.
I suppose I did what most new freelancers do — I just started out charging a price that I figured was low enough to get work and yet high enough to (though sometimes it really didn’t) justify my time.
Along the way, I found one job that definitely qualified as a Wal-Mart style blogging mill, where work was pumped in from various websites and then bid on by writers who would make only a fraction of what the client paid. I’m here to tell you that I once worked 3 full days on a project for only $15. I wasn’t desperate– they just kept sending me back to do revisions on what should have been a simple task. You don’t have to do the yearly salary math to know that I wasn’t paying the bills with that one.
During my first month freelancing I worked a few hours as a hostess to supplement my income… at just $11/hr, the going rate for a waitress.
I figured that anything above that would be “good enough” for launching my writing career. But what I wasn’t figuring in is that freelancing takes a ton of research and self-promotion to make any $$$ at all, so a gig priced at $15/hr (officially the lowest rate I’ve ever agreed to) comes out to significantly less than waitress pay. And waitresses don’t need Master’s degrees.
I’ve only been freelance blogging for 3 months, but I’ve already stopped accepting those kinds of low-paid gigs. If only the good gigs weren’t so much harder to find! Last month, I broke $1000 for the first time. I’m on track to do it again. That’ll keep the lights on for now, but not forever.
Reading this post and others like it (though this was my fave because of the department store reference), gives me a lot of hope for the future.
The deeper I get sucked into the world of blogging and freelancing (I don’t just write blogs, after all), the more I hear about people who really do make superb money. I don’t expect to make $5000/month anytime soon, but I do hope that, in 2017, I’ll be able to afford rent in a decent 2-bedroom flat with a nice kitchen.

Until then, it’s vacation time. I’m off to Paris!

College Essay: What to Leave Out

Your college essay should be open and honest. With that in mind, almost any story can be appropriate to include in your college essay if it helps to explain your motivations.

However, there are some things that you do NOT want to include in your college essay:

Below are some examples.

EXAMPLE: “Even though I did poorly in math in high school, I will work harder in college because I really want to be a doctor.”

Click to read why this shouldn’t be included.

EXAMPLE: “Throughout high school, I kept a 4.0 GPA. I was also on the Honor’s list and received a scholarship for my academic excellence. That’s why I am confident in my decision to be pre-med.”

Click to read why this shouldn’t be included.

EXAMPLE: “My parents always encouraged me to study law.”

Click to read why this shouldn’t be included.

EXAMPLE: “I want to be a doctor so that I can pay off my student loans easily, help to support my parents, and be a leader in the community.”

Click to read why this shouldn’t be included.

Why is hands-on education important?

Many school programs claim to provide hands-on education for their students. Of course, participating in lab experiments and building things with your hands sounds fun. But are there additional reasons why hands-on education is important?

Personally, I grew up attending a school that really championed the importance of learning by doing. As a student at the Clear Spring School in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, I crafted a handmade desk for my studies. (See the Wisdom of the Hands blog for information on the benefits of woodworking in hands-on education.) I also picked up litter from community roadsides, camped with classmates, and tutored younger students in Spanish.

The Clear Spring School aims to leave children:

“with a love of learning instilled in their hearts and with the knowledge and skills that will empower them to pursue their interests.”

One of the ways they achieve this is by allowing students to pursue independent studies. They don’t force children to follow cookie-cutter programs. Not every student achieves the same progress in the same topics at the same time. Rather, they allow the child to develop skills in areas that interest them.

During a recent visit to the Clear Spring, I spoke with teacher Jessica Fitzpatrick.

I asked her why is hands-on education so valuable.
“Hands-on learning is valuable because most humans need to practice what they ‘learn’ in order to integrate knowledge into the self,” she told me.
Actually, the concept is far from rocket science. Everybody learns somewhat differently, but most humans learn (and remember things!) quite well by doing them.
For example, Fitzpatrick explained that you can research tennis for years and learn all about the physics of a good hit. But, “until you step out onto a court and try to play, you wont be a very good tennis player.”
So, how can a hands-on education help a high school student get accepted to college?

“A hands-on education ideally helps an individual connect knowledge to their own life,” she told me. “This means they understand the process of learning. They know how to seek out what they need in order to learn.”

You may be thinking — but why do I need to seek out something to help me learn? Isn’t that the job of the college I’m applying to?

College can be a very hands-off process compared to high school, so the skill of knowing how to seek out needed resources for learning can make the difference between a successful college freshman and one that fails out after the first semester.

“Students who have an understanding of the process of learning are more likely to make good choices of ‘fit’… meaning seeking out institutions that match their interests and desires. They will be better at explaining who they are, and what their educational interests are. Universities are interested in admitting students who are likely to complete their programs, and they know that students who have an interest and drive are more likely to stick it out.”

In other words, receiving a hands-on education in high school can help you to both identify the university of your choice and get admitted.

I believe that the same goes for a hands-on education in college. It will help you to both identify the job of your choice and get hired.

Curious how to use your hands-on education to write a top-notch college essay? I work with students to help them perfect their personal statements.

What is a CLEP test, anyways?

Maybe you didn’t have AP/IB class options in high school. But that doesn’t mean you didn’t have really good teachers, and it certainly doesn’t mean you didn’t master some concepts at a college level.

Maybe you learned a skill outside of school. Perhaps you learned some French at home, or by spending summers in Paris. Maybe you read up on macroeconomics in your free time or took private lessons in English literature. If you’re looking for a way to validate your skills and get out of entry-level college classes — allowing you to skip straight to the hard stuff (or never take another literature class ever again) — then CLEP can help.

What is CLEP?

A CLEP test is a 90-120 minute long test that you can take for $80. If you pass, you can send your scores to your U.S. college and get college credit… without ever actually having to take the class!

CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program, and these tests are created by the College Board (the same company that’s responsible for the SAT).

If you earn enough CLEP credit, it’s possible to “CLEP out” of (or skip) enough classes to graduate a semester early!

What classes can I CLEP out of?

Of course, there aren’t CLEP tests for everything. You can’t skip all of your college classes (sorry). Available tests cover…

Read full article or learn more about CLEP from its official website.

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