I am in the process of applying for transfer to the University of Washington. My personal statement is not yet finished, but I feel that it is already too long and does not cover some important topics that define me as a student (study abroad, humanitarian trips to Africa, etc.). I would greatly appreciate any input and suggestions regarding how to improve the essay and make it more concise. Thank you all for your help! I will gladly return the favor.
The prompt is as follows :Academic History
I had already bought my plane ticket back to [state] when I came to the realization that it was time to leave [college] and move forward. Despite all of the opportunities and personal attention that I received at [college], I could not help but find myself feeling stagnant and unfulfilled. [college] had changed and I had changed with it, my academic and personal needs no longer being satisfied by the college. Having matured both intellectually and personally since first stepping onto the [college] campus, I now realize that my academic endeavors and sustained growth as an individual require that I attend a larger university with more diverse course offerings, opportunities for undergraduate research, and a metropolitan location that welcomes rather than resists progressive ideals. My goal is to find an institution that offers a degree with actual human value rather than mere material payoff. Years of searching, learning, experimentation, introspection and retrospection have brought me here.
I was fifteen when I traveled to rural Uganda to work as an assistant at a dilapidated orphanage outside of Mbale. I witnessed and experienced poverty in ways that no late-night infomercial nor celebrity testimony could realistically convey. Having grown up in an affluent metropolis where poverty and hunger are unknown, I had never seen the human face of poverty. I wanted answers. I set out to familiarize myself with the works of development economists and policymakers, immersing myself in the works of Sen, Easterly, Sachs, and other development specialists. I returned to Africa again at age seventeen, this time working in the war-torn countries of Burundi and Rwanda. I approached my second trip with a more defined understanding of the internal mechanics and socio-economic dynamics that contributed to the prevalence of poverty and economic stagnation that lay before me. To this day, I continue to immerse myself in the study of economic development in hopes that someday I will make a memorable impact within Africa, no matter how substantial or menial.
My academic interests and pursuits do not neatly fit into a single major. Following my trips to Sub-Saharan Africa, I initially intended to study International Relations and African Studies expecting that the subjects would prepare me for a career in the international development sector. I soon realized that theory and conjecture are not enough, for one must be able to apply their studies. Given the complex nature of economic development, it seemed that an interdisciplinary major was not only appropriate but a necessity. Since most colleges and universities do not offer a major in Development Studies, I set out to design my own major in a way that effectively and thoroughly utilized the elegant interplay that exists between my subjects of interest. As an International Development Studies major, I study a discipline that applies the technical and quantitative methods of economics and statistics toward the distinctly human challenges that plague much of the developing world: poverty, economic stagnation, and social inequality. Drawing heavily from the fields of International Relations and Economics as well as African history, Statistics, and Sociology, the result is a single major that provides the interdisciplinary knowledge and skills required to approach the multifaceted issue of sustainable economic growth and development.
My coursework at [college] was heavily influenced by development studies curriculum even before I had officially declared my major. During my first year, I enrolled in several history and political science courses that provided the foundations necessary for a holistic approach to studying developing economies. That same year, I was accepted into a study abroad program at the University of Oxford, where I studied African politics and applied development economics. The experience fulfilled and invigorated me in a way that I had not experienced back at [college].
Having spent several semesters at a liberal arts college, I have come to realize that my needs and expectations are better suited for a large university. While I have nothing but praise for the academic experience that [college] has to offer, the interdisciplinary nature of my studies requires a degree of course specificity that [college] does not offer. Although I gained much from my studies at [college], I desire greater depth and understanding that cannot be satisfied by generic international relations and economics courses alone. At the University of Washington, I will have access to a multitude of relevant courses within an atmosphere that complements rather than impedes my undergraduate aspirations.
In a world where over one billion people live on less than one dollar per day, it seems that most of affluent society has all but forgotten those in need. I have made it my life's ambition to be an exception to this statement. But ambition is not enough, for ambition without action rarely leads to progress. C. S. Lewis once wrote, "We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road." As a transfer student, I find Lewis' observation encouraging. It is time to start again and follow the path that will allow me to accomplish my expectations and ambitions. The path leads through the University of Washington and I am ready to move forward.