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.
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.”