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Help on personal statement

Hello,
I have read lots of advices on personal statement. By following these advices, I drafted my own one. I'm not confident about its quality. Please feel free to leave your comments or correct my draft. Any advice is welcomed. I'm really appreciated for your time and effort. My PS is listed as follows.


“Investment has certain risks, be wised with your decision.” It is the most popular caveat that warns/ suggests the retail investors when they open trading accounts for mutual funds or stock market. Although all investors have heard the caveat very often, most of them did not take it seriously and keep the caveat in mind until they suffered huge losses. Unfortunately, I was one of them.


Affected by the famous China Stock Mania in 2006 and 2007, in the second week of May 2007, I opened my first stock account and began to buy stocks with all my savings as a novice investor. In the following week, I obtained a 10 percent profit which made me experience the short-term sweetness of investment. Then it came with the bitterness brought by some accidental yet inevitable major events in China and global financial markets. On May 29th, 2007, Ministry of Finance of China announced a hike in the stamp tax on stock trading to 0.3 percent from 0.1 percent. Triggered by this announcement, Chinese stocks plummeted nearly seven percent on the following day and contracted dramatically in the following three months. Consequently, 30 percent of my principal was evaporated, which made me feel the pain of a bearish market. I felt even worse as I continued to struggle with the declining share price when U.S. subprime mortgage crisis emerged and spread to all corners of the world. In the worst case scenario, 80 percent of my principal was gone. Although China stock market rebounded slightly from recession after 2009, only 40 percent of my principal is left in my stock account. After going through all the exciting and frustrating moments, I start to pay high attention to and get deeper understanding of risks in the financial market.


In the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, risk is defined as “hazard, a chance of bad consequences, loss or exposure to mischance”. In financial market, it could be defined as “any event or action that may adversely affect an organization’s ability to achieve its objectives and execute its strategies” or “the quantifiable likelihood of loss or less-than-expected returns”. Risk in financial market can be divided into financial risk and nonfinancial risk. Financial risk refers to all risks derived from events in the external financial markets and includes market risk, credit risk, and liquidity risk. Nonfinancial risk refers to all other forms of risk, including operation risk, model risk, settlement risk, regulatory risk, legal risk, tax risk, and accounting risk. Both financial and nonfinancial risk must be managed properly otherwise huge loss would be incurred. In an effort to avoid the possible loss or achieve the highest possible level of reward for the risks incurred, risk management has been widely studied since 1955. And great progress has been made since then.


Although many sophisticated risk management techniques have been developed to measure the varying facets of risk and widely applied by financial companies and institutions, they do not fit the financial market perfectly, which has been proved by the numerous financial crises happened in the past 70 years. The root cause is that the explosion of complex instruments and rapid changes in the structure of financial markets can outpace the development of the risk management and processing and settlement infrastructure. The Great Financial Crisis of 2007-09 has revealed significant weaknesses in risk management practices across the financial services industry. Therefore, there is still much work to be done to improve the risk management methodologies and processes.


The MFE program at the XXX University is a perfect program for risk management in terms of course content, semester organization, and faculty configuration. The state-of-the-art, highly structured curriculums in risk management and financial management, mathematics and computational methods prepare students for careers that involve the quantitative financial analysis in the broadest sense. The three-session organization which includes a summer term for internship gives students enough time to learn theoretical knowledge, as well as exposure to real-work situations. The faculties, most of whom are either faculty members or professionals from financial institutions, give inspiring lectures on practical financial problems and provide important contacts with financial community. Therefore, to achieve my career goals in Finance industry, I would like to apply for the MFE program at XXX University. I believe that my background in Mathematics, Statistics, and Finance as well as my programming skills would make me well prepared for the further study in this program.
 

Ken Abbott

Managing Director
@luckyboylxc , you can't simply slap something together and throw it up here, expecting everyone to make it better. This essay is filled with spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Most are easily identified in MS Word. If you make an effort to put a decent draft up here, I'll take the time to read through it and offer my comments. If you're simply looking for someone to do your work for you, I think you've come to the wrong place.
 
@luckyboylxc , you can't simply slap something together and throw it up here, expecting everyone to make it better. This essay is filled with spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Most are easily identified in MS Word. If you make an effort to put a decent draft up here, I'll take the time to read through it and offer my comments. If you're simply looking for someone to do your work for you, I think you've come to the wrong place.
Hello Mr. Abbott,
Thanks for your advice. Of course, I didn't intend to find someone to do my home work. This is my first draft. I wrote this under MS Word and didn't get prompting message for spelling and grammar error. Maybe I didn't use "spelling and grammar check" correctly. I'll try my best to fix the spelling, grammar and punctuation errors as soon as possible. Then I'll post here for comments.
 
Hello Mr. Abbott,
Thanks for your advice. Of course, I didn't intend to find someone to do my home work. This is my first draft. I wrote this under MS Word and didn't get prompting message for spelling and grammar error. Maybe I didn't use "spelling and grammar check" correctly. I'll try my best to fix the spelling, grammar and punctuation errors as soon as possible. Then I'll post here for comments.

A cursory glance only reveals one spelling mistake but a plethora of grammar and usage mistakes. That's not the root problem, which is that you're not a native English speaker and your limited command is neither fluent nor idiomatic. Other than that, your personal statement is cliched and unfocused.
 
A cursory glance only reveals one spelling mistake but a plethora of grammar and usage mistakes. That's not the root problem, which is that you're not a native English speaker and your limited command is neither fluent nor idiomatic. Other than that, your personal statement is cliched and unfocused.
Honestly speaking, I'm not from finance industry. I don't have expert knowledge. That is the reason I could not write a perfect PS with valuable insight.
I planed to start my PS from my own experience, then focus on how important risk management is and its weakness, and finally emphasize the uniqueness of the program I'm applying for.
Maybe my ideas are not organized well in logic.
Thanks for your advice.
 
You spend more than half of your supposed personal statement explaining risk management and financial crises to the reader, who probably knows a lot more than you about that. Remember that a personal statement is supposed to be personal. No one can dispute you are the expert on yourself, what makes you tick, what you want to accomplish in life, etc. I don't necessarily mean talk about your life in detail, but here's your chance to distinguish yourself from many other applicants who may otherwise look similar to you. Try and take advantage of the opportunity.

The MFE program at the XXX University is a perfect program for risk management in terms of course content, semester organization, and faculty configuration. The state-of-the-art, highly structured curriculums in risk management and financial management, mathematics and computational methods prepare students for careers that involve the quantitative financial analysis in the broadest sense. The three-session organization which includes a summer term for internship gives students enough time to learn theoretical knowledge, as well as exposure to real-work situations. The faculties, most of whom are either faculty members or professionals from financial institutions, give inspiring lectures on practical financial problems and provide important contacts with financial community. Therefore, to achieve my career goals in Finance industry, I would like to apply for the MFE program at XXX University. I believe that my background in Mathematics, Statistics, and Finance as well as my programming skills would make me well prepared for the further study in this program.

I can't imagine anyone reading this and not thinking that you've wrote utterly the most generic possible description of any MFE program. Try to focus on aspects of the program that are unique to it. Yes, that means you'll need to write substantially different paragraphs for each program. That last sentence is problematic in that you sound like every other capable applicant. Try to mention something that makes you sound exceptional. As a tip, I'd suggest mentioning why you would be a great presence to have around, not just how you're "well prepared".
 
You spend more than half of your supposed personal statement explaining risk management and financial crises to the reader, who probably knows a lot more than you about that. Remember that a personal statement is supposed to be personal. No one can dispute you are the expert on yourself, what makes you tick, what you want to accomplish in life, etc. I don't necessarily mean talk about your life in detail, but here's your chance to distinguish yourself from many other applicants who may otherwise look similar to you. Try and take advantage of the opportunity.



I can't imagine anyone reading this and not thinking that you've wrote utterly the most generic possible description of any MFE program. Try to focus on aspects of the program that are unique to it. Yes, that means you'll need to write substantially different paragraphs for each program. That last sentence is problematic in that you sound like every other capable applicant. Try to mention something that makes you sound exceptional. As a tip, I'd suggest mentioning why you would be a great presence to have around, not just how you're "well prepared".

I'll write distinct PS for each program I plan to apply. In fact, this is the PS for the Master of Mathematical Finance program for the University of Toronto.
 
Writing skill is something that you can learn. There's zillions of resources on how to

http://www.wikijob.co.uk/wiki/example-cv-resume-template

Still, if the English you wrote is your own, then I've seen worse :) It's not all that bad but it has lots of issues.

A few iterations are needed. And reduce the length of the sentences.

“Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think”
Niels Bohr
Thank you very much for the useful information.
 
It is very obvious that English is not your first language. Many of the phrases you use are awkward, and misused. There are also many statements you make that are insightful in Chinese, but trite and cliche in English.

But aside from that, even if you fixed the English, this essay wold still not get you any interviews. You use an awful lot of words to describe something that isn't really important to an admissions officer from an MFE program. The admissions officers want to know a few things about you that are not adequately addressed in your essay:

- Can you handle tough graduate level coursework in rapid succession
- Can we sell your resume to employers and increase their job placement rate
- Can you conduct yourself professionally (and speak proper English) during an interview
- Why should you be chosen over thousands of other applicants

Good writing is about telling the reader what is important to them in as least words as possible. Your whole essay can be summed up in three bullet points:

- You lost a lot of money investing
- You know what financial risk is
- You don't know anything about the university to which you are applying

That is all I really know about you after reading your entire essay. Here is a list of my comments on this essay:

- The anecdote about you doesn't make me want to hire you, or let you trade for me. Remeber that an MFE program is highly quantitative. How does this experience make you a better candidate?
- The paragraph you wrote about the definition of risk is probably copied from someone else's template. It is cliche, and unoriginal. What's more, it doesn't tell me anything about you! This is a personal statement, remember?
- The last paragraph tells me you didn't really do any research on universities. I hope you're not going to just replace XXX with any university's name.
- Why don't you talk more about your background in math, econ and stat? That's way more relevant to being an MFE.

If I were you, I'd stop copying essays from others, and sit down and really think about who you are as an applicant, and why you should be accepted. If you don't even believe you should be accepted, you won't be able to sell yourself on an interview.
 
It is very obvious that English is not your first language. Many of the phrases you use are awkward, and misused. There are also many statements you make that are insightful in Chinese, but trite and cliche in English.

But aside from that, even if you fixed the English, this essay wold still not get you any interviews. You use an awful lot of words to describe something that isn't really important to an admissions officer from an MFE program. The admissions officers want to know a few things about you that are not adequately addressed in your essay:

- Can you handle tough graduate level coursework in rapid succession
- Can we sell your resume to employers and increase their job placement rate
- Can you conduct yourself professionally (and speak proper English) during an interview
- Why should you be chosen over thousands of other applicants

Good writing is about telling the reader what is important to them in as least words as possible. Your whole essay can be summed up in three bullet points:

- You lost a lot of money investing
- You know what financial risk is
- You don't know anything about the university to which you are applying

That is all I really know about you after reading your entire essay. Here is a list of my comments on this essay:

- The anecdote about you doesn't make me want to hire you, or let you trade for me. Remeber that an MFE program is highly quantitative. How does this experience make you a better candidate?
- The paragraph you wrote about the definition of risk is probably copied from someone else's template. It is cliche, and unoriginal. What's more, it doesn't tell me anything about you! This is a personal statement, remember?
- The last paragraph tells me you didn't really do any research on universities. I hope you're not going to just replace XXX with any university's name.
- Why don't you talk more about your background in math, econ and stat? That's way more relevant to being an MFE.

If I were you, I'd stop copying essays from others, and sit down and really think about who you are as an applicant, and why you should be accepted. If you don't even believe you should be accepted, you won't be able to sell yourself on an interview.
Really appreciated for your comments.
When I wrote this draft, I'm trying to explain why I want to apply the MFE program. I didn't mention my background in mathematics, economics and statistics because I thought the admission committee would find those information in my transcript.
Now, I found that I was trying to write the PS by focusing some topics I'm not good at. I neglected all my strength/background in Math, Finance, Statistics and programming, which I should emphasize in the PS.
I'll rewrite the PS.

Thank you very much.
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
Every story has a beginning, middle and end.

From Niels Bohr again

1. Tell them what you are going to tell them.
2. Tell them.
3. Tell them what you have told them.

good luck.
 
Really appreciated for your comments.
When I wrote this draft, I'm trying to explain why I want to apply the MFE program. I didn't mention my background in mathematics, economics and statistics because I thought the admission committee would find those information in my transcript.
Now, I found that I was trying to write the PS by focusing some topics I'm not good at. I neglected all my strength/background in Math, Finance, Statistics and programming, which I should emphasize in the PS.
I'll rewrite the PS.

Thank you very much.

Sorry for being a Grammar Nazi, but:

I really appreciate your comments.
When I wrote this draft, I was trying to explain my reasons for applying to an MFE program. However, I neglected to mention my background in mathematics, economics, and statistics because I thought the admissions committee would already have seen this information from my transcript.
Now, I realize I was trying to write the PS by focusing on topics that I am not good at. I failed to mention my strengths in math, finance, statistics and programming. I'll rewrite the PS.

Thank you very much.

^
That fixes the grammar. Then you need to fix the style. I think you will need a native English speaker to help you with this if you are serious about applying. Do not give this to your English teacher in China, and do not give this to your friends. Find someone in the U.S. (preferably someone in the industry) who is willing to help you with style, flow, and syntax. That should be your focus.

At first, I didn't think English and writing skills mattered much as a quant, but I realize that all of my peers from China are all very good at English, and can write very well. If you are applying to a top program, make sure you learn not only how to write, but how to speak eloquently during an interview.
 

Ken Abbott

Managing Director
Here's what I suggest: have you ever seen the Facebook posts that relate "8 things you didn't know about me"? Start with that. Identify things about you that are interesting. You lost money investing? No one cares. Everybody did. How did you react? What did you do next? What's the worst thing that ever happened to you? The best? What do you hate the most?
 
Sorry for being a Grammar Nazi, but:

I really appreciate your comments.
When I wrote this draft, I was trying to explain my reasons for applying to an MFE program. However, I neglected to mention my background in mathematics, economics, and statistics because I thought the admissions committee would already have seen this information from my transcript.
Now, I realize I was trying to write the PS by focusing on topics that I am not good at. I failed to mention my strengths in math, finance, statistics and programming. I'll rewrite the PS.

Thank you very much.

^
That fixes the grammar. Then you need to fix the style. I think you will need a native English speaker to help you with this if you are serious about applying. Do not give this to your English teacher in China, and do not give this to your friends. Find someone in the U.S. (preferably someone in the industry) who is willing to help you with style, flow, and syntax. That should be your focus.

At first, I didn't think English and writing skills mattered much as a quant, but I realize that all of my peers from China are all very good at English, and can write very well. If you are applying to a top program, make sure you learn not only how to write, but how to speak eloquently during an interview.
That is really nice. I will find a native English speaker to help me improve my writing.
Thank you very much.
 
Here's what I suggest: have you ever seen the Facebook posts that relate "8 things you didn't know about me"? Start with that. Identify things about you that are interesting. You lost money investing? No one cares. Everybody did. How did you react? What did you do next? What's the worst thing that ever happened to you? The best? What do you hate the most?
I will re-organize my ideas according to your hint and make the PS logical.
Thank you very much.
 
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