This week, I’m launching a new series of newsletter called ‘JS writes PS’. Just to make it clear, this is a series that would go on for 4 or 5 weeks as I share my process of writing my PS. It is a part of the 🍨Sunday Scoop newsletter so there are no changes on that front. (P.S. - Read this issue till the end! 😉)
Let me give you a little bit of context before we enter this week’s content.
Why are you starting this series?
"The fellow-pupil can help more than the master because he knows less. The difficulty we want him to explain is one has recently met. The master has met it so long ago he has forgotten."
It goes without saying that I’m not some experienced University Admissions Officer nor am I an accepted student at any University, for that matter. However, what I am is an aspiring Ivy League applicant who has a passion in writing and even more importantly, finds purpose in providing value to others.
I’m no master. But I’m most definitely a fellow pupil who wants to share his process with you.
How is this series going to add value to my life?
The main driving force behind this series (in addition to the website and newsletter) is to add value to your life by sharing my process.
I’m not saying that what worked for me will surely work for you. But to a certain extent, I want to believe that the more 'tips' I share, the more benefit it can bring to different people.
So, treat everything that I share like a recipe book, instead of an instruction manual. Go through everything, see what works for you/interests you, and experiment with them.
How does this series work?
As I mentioned, this will be a series consisting of 4 or 5 issues but it’s still very well under the 🍨Sunday Scoop newsletter.
I’ll share my journey as I go along. If you follow the progress each week, you should be able to finish your PS within the week I finish mine too and that should take the load of keeping up with the deadlines off your shoulder.
📜 Personal Statement and its importance
Among the many components that Admission Officers use to determine your compatibility with the college they represent, there is one called ‘Personal Scores’. The determinant of this score is an amalgamation of your Alumni Interview, Teacher’s Recommendation and your Personal Statement. Unlike the other 2 components, Personal Statement is the only component that is not subjected to external influences and its narrative and presentation are completely in your control.
Personal Statement is the only chance for you to form a personal connection with the Admission Officer and gives you a space for your unique individuality to shine through. In other words, Personal Statement gives a voice behind your statistics and differentiates you from the masses.
🏁 Getting Started
For starters, you might want to visit this thread that I wrote last week.
Just submitted my email to UR with all the necessary documentations.— JiaShing (@JiaShingWee) August 5, 2020
Had a sudden inspiration to share so here is a thread of the things I learned from completing the Self-Assessment Form in one day and hopefully, it'll help with your PS drafting too! :-
In the thread, I debunk some common myths about writing that hold people back from getting started on their Personal Statement.
However, I also want to provide a clear, actionable plan that people can use to get started immediately. It often amuses me how much more inclined we are to take action once we’re given a set of precise directions to follow through.
So here’s a 10-step action plan for this week.
- Get a test pad and a pen. (Ideally, not your laptop or god forbid, your phone. Too many distractions.)
- Do whatever you need to do to be in a comfortable state, both physically and mentally.
- Set a 25 minutes timer using Tomato Timer. Start the timer.
- Separate your paper into a 2 x 2 table as such and write these question at the top of each quadrant.
- Answer each of those questions in point form. Provide details and context to your main points. However, don’t try too hard to tie the ideas between the four quadrants together. Answer them individually. Do it within the time limit.
- Don’t overthink it. Don’t try to use fancy words. Don’t be overly concerned with your grammatical accuracy etc. Just write.
- Once the time limit is up, you can add some final touches to your brainstorming paper. Don’t allow yourself to exceed the time limit by too much!
- Take a 5-10 minute break.
- Come back to the paper and assess the 'Challenges in your life' quadrant (bottom left). Read the 'Assessment' section below.
- Choose your main essay prompt based on your assessment.
Any captivating story requires 3 components : Challenge, Choice and Outcome. This is why it is vital for you to choose a challenge that allows your unique individuality to shine through and leave an impression on the Admission Officers.
Use the following points to determine your main essay prompt.
Among the few points you’ve stated in that quadrant, which appeals to you the most?
Which challenge(s) accelerated your growth as an individual the most and shaped you to the individual you are today? (Tie to Quadrant 1 : Identity)
Which challenge(s) exposed you to your passions and interests? Can you add a personal twist to it? (Tie to Quadrant 2 : Passions & Interests)
Which challenge(s) taught you the the values that you hold closest to heart these days and why is it impactful to you? (Tie to Quadrant 3: Values)
⏰ Rationale of the 25 minutes time limit
Yes. In my thread, I did mention the importance of entering the 'flow' state when you’re writing.
That rule is reserved for when you’re properly writing your PS. The stage you’re at now is Brainstorming. And the #1 mistake people make at this stage is to over-edit their draft. They get unnecessarily concerned with the sentence structure, word choice, flow and cadence etc, all of which are admittedly incredibly vital in essay writing.
Nevertheless, they collectively contribute close to nothing for your Brainstorming session. They inhibit your creative juices from flowing and prevent you from focusing on the task at hand - coming up with a good prompt. Hence, the time limit keeps you in check and ensures you don’t stray from the objective of brainstorming.
However, you should also note that the time limit shouldn’t rush you excessively or put too much pressure on you to the point where you cannot properly develop your ideas. This is the reason I mentioned that you can add some final touches to your draft if you have to do so. Find the balance.
🎧 Podcast - I’ve been a long time fan of the Not Overthinking podcast hosted by Ali and Taimur Abdaal. However, this episode with the title 'The Abusive Relationships of Productivity YouTubers' has to be the funniest and one of my favorite episodes to date.
📖 (Audio)Book - This week, I finished listening to David Goggin’s autobiography - Can’t Hurt Me. It has to be the single most unique audiobook production I’ve ever came across as it is the hybrid between an audiobook and a podcast. Trust me, this book is as good as any to use your Audible Free trial on.
What is your 'story of self' ? Can you list down the major event(s) in your life that has(have) shaped you to be the person you are today? Are they any intersection between those events?
Tweet of the Week
Dream big, but start small.— JiaShing (@JiaShingWee) August 6, 2020
It's all well and fine to have big, ambitious goals.
But one of the most common traps that people fall into when they start to work towards their goals is the illusion that everything has to be absolutely perfect before they can start.
🎯 Exciting Milestone(s)
There are 2 milestones that I achieved this week and my newsletter subscribers are the first people I want to share it with.
- Last Sunday, I included a section in my newsletter where I told you that I am going to start being active on other social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn.
In a week’s time, I’ve managed to grow my Twitter following to 100! Admittedly, that’s still a very small number and far from what I hope to achieve in the long run but it is progress for me and I am content with it.
- This week, we’ve managed to hit the 100 newsletter subscribers milestone🎉! It was my aim from the start to organically grow the newsletter to 100 subs within a month but I’m so incredibly glad that we did it in just slightly over 3 weeks. (We’re at 122 subs now btw!) From the very first issue on the 19th of July 2020, I’ve received so much support from you guys and I can’t thank all of you enough for that.
I can’t say that you should follow me because I’m a Productivity Master. I can’t promise you that I’m the best content creator out there because I’m not. At this stage in my life, there’s still so much more for me to improve and adapt.
But here is what I can promise. I can promise to learn. I can promise to learn with you and to share what I learn. Not everything will be useful to you, but I can say with a fair amount of certainty that not everything will be useless to you.
In the name of the incredible support that you people have shown me, I see it fit to celebrate these 2 milestones in only one way - to show support to others in whatever way I can.
I have donated MYR 200.00 to UNICEF’s Lebanon Emergency Fund to help with children affected by the Beirut Explosion . I couldn’t have possibly donated MYR1.00 in each of your names but I fully intend for it to be so. A symbol of appreciation from me to you for the support you have shown me and to celebrate these 2 milestones that wouldn’t have been possible, even if just one of you did not show me the support that you did.
It goes without saying that the support each of you have so generously shown me is worth way more than 1 buck (invaluable is probably a better word for it), but know that in my hearts of hearts, I hold your support in utmost gratitude and couldn’t be more appreciative of it. It really means so much to me.
My family will be donating separately to this fund under our family name and I encourage all of you to do the same if its within your capabilities. My support, love and strength goes out to the families who were affected in the Beirut explosion❤️
If you enjoyed this type of content, consider subscribing to my weekly newsletter called Sunday Scoop🍨 where I share :-
* a short article on a few life lessons I've picked up/productivity method I'm experimenting within the week
* links to the favourite contents I consumed that week
* a question to ponder on for the week (or a challenge if I'm feeling cheeky!)
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