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Guidelines to Writing a Personal Statement for an Honours Thesis Application

A personal statement for an Honours thesis (PS499) application is an important document that helps you introduce yourself to the professor who might supervise your thesis. It's an opportunity to convey your passion, motivation, and suitability for the proposed research and to stand out among other candidates.

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to writing a personal statement. It's a highly personal document that should reflect your genuine interest and aptitude for your chosen field of study. While we provide some general suggestions below on what to include, feel free to adapt these guidelines to best represent your unique experiences and aspirations.

Before You Start Writing

Before you embark on the writing process, it is important to clarify your thoughts and ideas. Consider the following questions to help guide your reflection:

  • Why are you interested in doing an honours thesis in Psychology?
  • What has inspired your general area of interest?
  • What unique perspectives or skills can you bring to this thesis?
  • How do your academic and personal experiences support your research interests?
  • What are your long-term academic and career goals, and how does completing a thesis align with them?

Consider Your Audience

Remember, it takes a lot of time for professors to mentor students, so they want to work with someone who will be committed to the research process and will grow and benefit from the course in different ways be it learning new skills or learning what working in a lab is like.

Your personal statement is primarily intended for the professor(s) you are hoping will supervise your thesis – you will indicate up to 8 professors of interest and 3 broad topic areas of interest (I.e., social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, behavioral neuroscience, community psychology, developmental psychology, and clinical psychology. Because they are an expert in psychology and your areas of interest, your statement should showcase your knowledge, respect, and enthusiasm for psychology in general, and describe some of the broad areas in psychology that you would be most excited to learn more about and conduct research in. Remember though – in this letter you don’t need to specify specific labs or projects you want to focus on. In the application survey, you will have other spaces to select up to 8 labs of interested give a brief explanation for why you are interested in those labs specifically

Writing Your Personal Statement

Here is a checklist of some key elements you might consider including in your personal statement:

  • Introduction: Begin by introducing yourself and expressing your interest in taking part in the PS499 course. Explain why the course appeals to you and how it aligns with your goals.
  • Academic Achievements: Highlight any academic achievements that are relevant to the completion of your thesis. This could include relevant courses or previous research projects
  • Work Experience: If you have work or internship experience relating to your interests, detail this experience and the skills you've gained that would be beneficial for your thesis.
  • Personal Experiences: If personal experiences have shaped your interests, share these stories. This can be an effective way to demonstrate your motivation and dedication. This could also help your letter stand out as a unique reflection of who you are
  • Skills and Abilities: Discuss the skills and abilities you have that would make you a good candidate for the thesis. This could include skills, such as critical thinking or time management.
  • Future: Describe your goals and aspirations for doing the course and how it will prepare you for further studies or career opportunities in the field.
  • Conclusion: Conclude your statement with a courteous and professional tone, expressing your excitement about the possibility of working on your honour's thesis.

Writing Tips

Some things to remember and consider when writing your statement include:

  • Being concise and clear. Avoid jargon or overly complex sentences.
  • Ensure your statement is free of grammatical errors and typos.
  • Most importantly, be genuine, honest, and don't be afraid to let your personality shine through! Remember, the personal statement is just that – personal. It should reflect who you are, your passion for the field, and your commitment to your proposed research.

Below are some more resources to help guide your personal statement writing.

You Are Not Alone. Contact Writing Services

Crafting a compelling personal statement can seem like a daunting task, but remember, you are not alone in this process. Laurier's Writing Services are here to support you every step of the way.

The Writing Services at both Waterloo and Brantford are dedicated to helping undergraduate and graduate students enhance the writing skills necessary for academic success. They provide an accessible, supportive, and student-focused environment where ideas can flourish, and students can hone their writing through critical thinking.

Here's what Writing Services offers:

  1. One-on-One Writing Appointments: You can schedule appointments (both online and in-person) with student or professional staff members. They can provide you with personalized feedback and guidance on your personal statement.
  2. Writing Workshops: The Writing Services organize on-campus, in-class, and online writing workshops. These workshops can equip you with valuable writing techniques and strategies.
  3. Online Writing Resources: You can access a wealth of online resources that provide tips and advice on various aspects of academic writing.

So, don't hesitate to reach out to Laurier's Writing Services. They are an excellent resource to help you craft a personal statement that effectively communicates your unique experiences, interests, and aspirations.