The personal statement can be considered the heart of your application and generally takes two forms:
- General, Comprehensive Personal Statement: In this style you are not limited to writing about a specific topic; you are provided maximum freedom in terms of what you write. This is most commonly used for standard medical or law school applications.
- Response to Specific Questions: In this style you must respond explicitly to the question/s posed. Business or graduate school applications favor multiple essays.
The Writing Process
Before: Conduct a Personal Inventory
- When and how did you become interested in the field?
- What is special, unique and distinctive about you that makes you a more marketable candidate?
- What is your related experience to the field?
- Why are you interested in that specific program?
- What are your career goals?
- What do you plan to ‘give back’ to the field upon graduation from the program?
During: Focus on the Content
Answer the questions asked
- If applying to several schools, you may find similar questions throughout various applications.
- Don't be tempted to use the same statement for all applications. It is important to answer each question being asked, and if slightly different answers are needed, you should write separate statements. In every case, be sure your answer fits the question.
Tell a story
- Think in terms of showing or demonstrating through concrete experience. Do not bore the admissions committee; if your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. By distinguishing yourself through the story, you will make yourself more memorable.
- Your desire to become a lawyer, engineer, or other professional should be logical, the result of specific experience described in your statement. Make sure you can back up your statements with specific examples. Your application should emerge as the logical conclusion to your story.
Find an angle
- If you're like most people, your life story might lack drama, so figuring out a way to make it interesting becomes the big challenge. Finding an angle or a "hook" is vital.
Concentrate on your opening paragraph
- The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important; here you grab the reader's attention or lose it. This paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement.
Tell what you know
- The middle section of your essay might detail your interest and experience in your particular field, as well as some of your knowledge of the field. Too many people graduate with little or no knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the profession or field they hope to enter. Be as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field and use the language professionals use in conveying this information. Refer to experiences, classes, conversations with people in the field, books, seminars or any other source of specific information and why you're suited to it. Since you will have to select what you include in your statement, the choices you make are often an indication of your judgment.
Don't include some subjects
- There are certain things best left out of personal statements. Avoid referencing accomplishments in high school or earlier. Don't mention potentially controversial subjects, including religious or political issues.
Do some research
- If a school wants to know why you're applying there versus another school, research to find out what sets your choice apart from other universities or programs. If the school setting would provide an important geographical or cultural change for you, this might be a factor to mention.
Write well and correctly
- Be meticulous. Type and proofread your essay carefully. Many admissions officers say good written skills and command of correct use of language are important to them. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word limits.
- A medical school applicant writing he is good at science and wants to help others is not exactly expressing an original thought.
Doran, Jo and Allen Brizee. “Writing the Personal Statement.” Purdue OWL. May 8, 2012. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/642/01/ Mar. 10 , 2017. Web.
- Submit your work confidently!
- Thank those who provided support during the writing process.