Melissa Tan

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I remember the despair of staring at the blank sheet of paper in front of me. After countless disposed drafts of my supposed -to- be personal statement, I still couldn't figure out what to write.

Written on a separate piece of paper was this question, "How do I make my application stand out from those written by thousands of other applicants who have equally good grades if not better ones than mine?"

Looking back, it is where all the years of experience  eventually shaped my personal statement. One such experience is in taking part in the Commonwealth Essay Competition which is now key to my personal statement.

The frustration I felt editing my essay was the same as the frustration I felt now staring at my draft of my personal statement. I remember back at the English Language centre when my teacher would tell me to keep going even when times are tough. Not to sound presumptuous, it was that very "keep going" I hear in my head that keeps me from saying "Ah, forget this and just throw the application out of the door!"

I  have so many interesting memories of my time at ELC. The good was having made friends that until today, despite being on different continents, one or two close friends would still take time to guide me and comfort me when I am feeling down. Then there were times when I made the wrong decision that ended up with me getting into trouble with some teachers.

All these experiences are what makes me who I am today. These experiences would eventually distinguish myself from the countless of other applicants.

When preparing for university interviews, my thoughts turned back once again to ELC. Taking part in the Trinity GESE exams was something that has helped me through life on so many occasions. It is the confidence that I now possess as a result of being successful in the exam, and in knowing that I can do it again.

To summarize, it all boils down to experience when applying to universities. Grades do play a role but it is mostly your experience that gets you there in the end. Your experiences shape who you are and how you handle yourself when you find yourself faced with yet another hurdle. I would be lying if I said that university application was a breeze, as I have faced numerous challenges such as trying to juggle my five subjects while preparing for interviews and writing essays to support my application.

For those curious about the outcome of my university applications, I got all five choices of my UCAS applications. One thing I know for sure, is my experiences at ELC, which I might not be able to fully list out, played a key role. If I hadn't attempted the Commonwealth Essay Competition, or sat for the Trinity GESE,  would I have given up writing my personal statement? Probably.

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