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What is a Personal Statement?

October 30, 2019 Writing Personal Statements

A personal statement is an essay that is written as part of the application process for colleges and universities, graduate schools and professional programs. Written in the first person, it serves as a concise summary of your interests and goals as they relate to the program you are applying for, and sometimes extending into your goals for your career path after graduation. A personal statement may also be called an admissions essay, goals statement, letter of intent or personal statement.


The requirements and parameters of a personal statement differ from school to school and program to program, so it is vital to be clear on what is being asked for. Some personal statements are very focused, with questions that must be answered, while others are left fairly wide open. While open ended papers may seem easier at the outset, they must not stray off track too much.


Not only the content of the personal statement can be a deciding factor in acceptance to a program of study; the actual writing itself can and usually is scrutinized and taken into consideration. Proofreading is extremely important, checking for grammar, punctuation and spelling as well as overall content. Displaying critical and analytical thinking skills and an ability to set and meet goals can also be extremely important.


The personal statement is a way to stand out from the other applicants, and to connect with the admissions committee. It is a good idea to not fall into clichéd answers, but to find suitable ways to stand out, yet remaining clear and on topic. A solid personal statement will leave you in good standing with the applications committee.


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