Purpose of Your Personal Statement
Your personal statement, also called “application essay” or “statement of purpose”, is an opportunity to explain why you are an ideal candidate for a specific graduate or professional school program. It is a picture of who you are and an opportunity to share how your personal and academic experiences have shaped you and your professional goals.
Ways to Prepare
- Read the prompt(s) you are required to answer.
- Research the program.
- Consider 2 - 3 meaningful experiences that will support your goal.
The Writing Process
- Develop a plan for what you want to say, including the topics you want to cover.
- Write a draft.
- Read your draft and ask yourself if you covered all of the desired topics.
- Revise and obtain feedback.
- Revise again.
Effective Personal Statements Typically Answers and Addresses:
- Who you are as a person.
- What you would like to study and why.
- What type of contribution or impact you would like to make and why.
- Why the program you are applying to will help you reach your goal.
Use the worksheet below to begin brainstorming what you might want to include in your statement.
Writing Your Personal Statement
Admission officers will want to see clear evidence that you are committed to a particular path. You must be able to demonstrate more than a passing curiosity of the field. Focus on your motivation to pursue the degree, the actions you took to prepare, and develop knowledge in the academic area.
- What motivated you to want to study ____________________?
- Provide evidence that you are committed to this choice, i.e. What individuals or incidents have shaped your life, and convey what you value?
- Expand on why you would be a strong addition to this program and avoid discussing what the program could do for you.
- What have you done to prepare for this career choice? Describe your experiences so the reader can make conclusions about your competencies, such as your resilience, maturity, focus, drive, etc.
- Avoid just using specific words to show your competencies. Instead tell stories that demonstrate those skills. Remember, show vs. tell.
- Be sure to explain any questionable items that may appear in your transcripts including withdrawals, incompletes, repeated courses, below average grades and test scores, or even breaks in your education.
- Provide clarity if you are applying again after a failed attempt.
- Other items to clarify include having a criminal record or being documented for negative conduct on campus.
- Stay clear of complicated themes. Your personal statement should be straightforward, easy to read, and in your own words.
- Avoid themes that may confuse the reader. Using quotes or song lyrics may seem like a good starting point, but you are wasting valuable space with someone else’s words.
- Try not to use cliché’s like “I’ve wanted to be a ___________ for as long as I can remember.”
Proofing Your Personal Statement
It is important to proof read your personal statement before submitting it. Be sure to incorporate these steps when proofreading:
Make sure your statement is well written.
- Check your spelling, grammar, and sentence structure all BEFORE sending your application. The flow of your statement should be easy to read.
Do not wait until the last minute.
- Admission officers will be able to tell if your statement was rushed and not well thought out.
Get feedback on your statement.
- Submit your personal statement online for review. The Writer’s Workshop also reviews personal statements.
Do not focus on being unique.
- Instead focus on being genuine. Just tell your story.
Do not plagiarize your statement.
- Write and tell your own story in your own words.