How to write a personal statement? - 5 Useful Tips

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is a brief, double-spaced essay that is submitted along with college and graduate school applicants. The typical personal statement is one to two pages long, and outlines some of the student’s past achievements. It also communicates specifically why the student believes he or she would be a good fit for the academic program to which they are applying, and may additionally describe some of the hardships and other life experiences the student has met with in the past. The following are five tips for creating an effective personal statement.

  1. Use Active Voice
  2. Listing achievements in passive language can lead to an essay that is boring and lacking in personality. Instead of describing your accomplishments in this manner, speak actively about what you have done and experienced. Keep your language punchy and engaging.

  3. Don’t Write Too Much
  4. Many students mistakenly pack their personal statements with excessive information, hoping that this will convince the program to accept them. Instead, an overly long essay suggests that you are not disciplined and that you do not know how to edit and package your achievements. Write in a compact way.

  5. Don’t Be Afraid to Celebrate Your Accomplishments
  6. One of the many roles of the personal statement is to make your CV or resume come alive, and truly “sell” it to the admissions committee. To this end, you should be willing to package yourself as the ideal candidate for the program to which you are applying. Many students find it difficult to speak highly of themselves, but the personal statement is one place where it is perfectly acceptable to paint yourself in the most flattering possible light.

  7. Explain Why You’re A Good Fit
  8. Don’t just focus on why you are an attractive candidate with an impressive background. Instead, pay attention to the requirements, focus, and structure of the program to which you are applying, and make it clear that you would blend in perfectly in that environment. Only describe experiences and accomplishments that are relevant, and tell the reader about how you came to be interested in the academic field you are pursuing.

  9. Do Not Re-Use Statements for Multiple Applications
  10. For each school to which you are applying, you must write a new, personalized statement that is appropriate to that school. In your statement, you should name check several faculty at the school whom you’d like to work with, and mention why you are interested in their research topics. Name check the university explicitly, and describe some qualities of the program you find attractive. If the committee feels like you’ve just copied and pasted a form essay and sent it to multiple schools, they will not take you seriously.