Writing Your Personal Statement Part 1: Getting Prepared

October 30, 2019 Writing Personal Statements

Colleges and universities, graduate schools and many professional programs require a personal statement as part of the application process. This first person essay allows you to sell yourself to the applications committee, to give a concise and informative view into your goals and aspirations that may not be found in other parts of the application package.

As your personal statement is the main opportunity you have to introduce yourself and to give the committee a sense of who you really are, not masked by forms and reports, it is important to make it strong and focused, a solid representation of who you are, what your goals are and what you can bring to the program.
Before you get started, make sure that you know exactly what is expected of you – each school and often each program will have their own requirements, some with specific questions and some very open-ended. A few programs will ask for multiple essays. If you are applying for more than one school, it is a good idea to fit your essay to the program rather than simply writing one and sending it away multiple times.

There are some questions to ask before writing. What precisely is the school looking for – stories of past experience, a focus on future goals? What personal achievements or experiences have you had that can be applied to your application and future education and career? What sets you apart from other students who are applying? Consider your skills, your characteristics, your life experiences, including hardships and successes. Until you have a solid picture of yourself, it is hard to sell it to others.