How To Write A Personal Statement

The Personal Statement is the most crucial part of your school application. Getting it right matters. The letter is roughly two pages in length and describes who you are, your life, work, academic experience, what you hope to achieve, and why you are applying to a specific school. In other words, the Personal Statement tells admissions committees why they should pick you. It complements your resume or CV, pulling out and expanding on the high points of your life.

If you have great grades and good letters of reference, your Personal Statement is what is going to help you stand out from other applicants with great grades and good letters of reference. It’s the great differentiator. Typically, a great Personal Statement will get you into the university of your choice; a mediocre one will not. Make the small investment that will change the course of your life.

Top 5 things that admissions committees are looking for in a Personal Statement

University admissions committees often have to sort through mountains of applications to fill just a few spots. We know this from experience—we’re professors!

Good grades are table stakes—you have to have them to be considered for entry. However, a great personal statement can put you ahead of someone with even better grades than you have.

1

Great fit

Above all, when admissions committees read personal statements, they are looking for great fit: students whose interests and goals align perfectly with the program and faculty.

Tip: Read the program description very carefully and get to know the background of relevant faculty. Then write your Personal Statement to the strengths of the program. Explain how it’s the one that is right for you.

2

Desire to help

Do you want to help your fellow citizens? Instill a desire to create change among the students that you teach? Do you want to protect the environment? Save the world? Make some sort of difference?

Expressing a desire to do something other than to become rich and famous or a great scholar will go a long way to show an admissions committee that admitting you is a good idea. They want to know that the course of study is going to result in that knowledge being used to do good things.

Tip: Include in your Personal Statement the reason why you want to pursue your course of study. What is your end goal?

3

Life experience

If you have great grades but haven’t much done in your life other than study and enjoy your leisure time, you may not be of great interest to an admissions committee. Committee members are not only looking for students with relevant backgrounds; they’re looking for those whose stories are interesting and varied, too.

Tip: Compile a list of all the interesting things you have done in your life. The ones that are most valuable to admissions committees are the ones that taught you life lessons. Learning to skydive is not particularly valuable; tutoring a friend’s child is. It could be something as simple as learning humility as an office helper.

Include in your Personal Statement the major things you have done that taught you something and caused you to grow as a person. If you can, explain how they are relevant to your course of study and to your intended career.

4

Desire to break new ground

Not all students wish to become academics. But if you wish to pursue your chosen course of study in order to create new research or explore a facet of the discipline that has never been explored, that’s valuable stuff.

Tip: Include in your Personal Statement the academic/research goals of your course of study, if applicable.

5

Desire to study with specific instructors

Schools pride themselves on their professors. And the instructors who will teach a program often have a say in who joins the program. If you have a burning desire to study under a specific academic, say so!

Tip: Research the professors teaching the program. Is there one or more whose work is important to you? Whose ideas you embrace? Contact them, establish a relationship, and mention all of the above in your Personal Statement.

Last Words About Personal Statements

Writing a Personal Statement is not complicated. But because you need to put yourself in the position of an admissions committee, an inside perspective can make all the difference.

If there is one thing you should NOT do, it’s saying how great you are. Your goal should be to make the admissions committee think that you are great, but without giving them the idea that you are full of yourself. No one likes an egotist.

For more help in crafting a great Personal Statement, please contact us. We will be happy to answer any questions and put a polish on what you have already written.

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