• Features for Creative Writers
  • Features for Work
  • Features for Higher Education
  • Features for Teachers
  • Features for Non-Native Speakers
  • Learn Blog Grammar Guide Community Events FAQ
  • Grammar Guide

How to Write a Personal Statement (with Tips and Examples)

Hannah Yang headshot

Hannah Yang

How to write a personal statement

Table of Contents

What is a personal statement, 6 tips on how to write a personal statement, personal statement examples (for college and university), faqs about writing personal statements, conclusion on how to write a personal statement.

How do you tell someone who you are in just a few hundred words?

It’s certainly no easy task, but it’s one almost every college applicant must do. The personal statement is a crucial part of any college or university application.

So, how do you write a compelling personal statement?

In this article, we’ll give you all the tools, tips, and examples you need to write an effective personal statement.

A personal statement is a short essay that reveals something important about who you are. It can talk about your background, your interests, your values, your goals in life, or all of the above.

Personal statements are required by many college admission offices and scholarship selection committees. They’re a key part of your application, alongside your academic transcript, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities.

The reason application committees ask you to write a personal statement is so they can get to know who you are. 

Some personal statements have specific prompts, such as “Discuss a period of personal growth in your life” or “Tell us about a challenge or failure you’ve faced.” Others are more open-ended with prompts that essentially boil down to “Tell us about yourself.”

No matter what the prompt is, your goal is the same: to make yourself stand out to the selection committee as a strong candidate for their program.

Here are some things a personal statement can be:

It can be funny. If you have a great sense of humor, your personal statement is a great place to let that shine.  

It can be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to open up about hardships in your life or failures you’ve experienced. Showing vulnerability can make you sound more like a real person rather than just a collection of application materials.  

It can be creative. Candidates have got into top schools with personal statements that take the form of “a day in the life” descriptions, third-person short stories, and even cooking recipes.

Now we’ve talked about what a personal statement is, let’s quickly look at what a personal statement isn’t:

It isn’t a formal academic paper. You should write the personal statement in your natural voice, using first-person pronouns like “I” and “me,” not in the formal, objective language you would use to write an academic paper.

It isn’t a five-paragraph essay. You should use as many paragraphs as you need to tell your story instead of sticking to the essay structure you learned in school.

It isn’t a resumé. You should try to describe yourself by telling a clear and cohesive story rather than providing a jumbled list of all of your accomplishments and ambitions.

personal statement definition

Here are our top six tips for writing a strong personal statement.

Tip 1: Do Some Serious Self-Reflection

The hardest part of writing a personal statement isn’t the actual process of writing it.

Before you start typing, you have to figure out what to write about. And that means taking some time to reflect on who you are and what’s important in your life.

Here are some useful questions you can use to start your self-reflection. You can either answer these on your own by writing down your answers, or you can ask a trusted friend to listen as you talk about them together.

What were the key moments that shaped your life? (e.g. an important friendship, a travel experience, an illness or injury)

What are you proud of? (e.g. you’re a good listener, you always keep your promises, you’re a talented musician)

How do you choose to spend your time? (e.g. reading, practicing soccer, spending time with your friends)

What inspires you? (e.g. your grandmother, a celebrity, your favorite song)

Doing this self-reflection is crucial for figuring out the perfect topics and anecdotes you can use to describe who you are.

Tip 2: Try to Avoid Cliché Topics

College application committees read thousands of personal statements a year. That means there are some personal statement topics they see over and over again.

Here are a few examples of common personal statement topics that have become cliché:

Winning a tournament or sports game

Volunteering in a foreign country

Moving to a new home

Becoming an older sibling

Being an immigrant or having immigrant parents

If you want to make a strong impression in the application process, you need to make your personal statement stand out from the crowd.

But if your chosen personal statement topic falls into one of these categories, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t use it. Just make sure to put a unique spin on it so it still delivers something the committee hasn’t seen before.

tips to write a personal statement

Good writing = better grades

ProWritingAid will help you improve the style, strength, and clarity of all your assignments.

Tip 3: Show, Don’t Tell

One common mistake you might make in your personal statement is to simply tell the reader what you want them to know about you, such as by stating “I have a fear of public speaking” or “I love to cook.”

Instead of simply stating these facts, you should show the committee what you’re talking about through a story or scene, which will make your essay much more immersive and memorable.

For example, let’s say you want the committee to know you overcame your fear of public speaking. Instead of writing “I overcame my fear of public speaking,” show them what it was like to be onstage in front of a microphone. Did your palms get clammy? Did you feel light-headed? Did you forget your words?

Or let’s say you want the committee to know you love to cook. Instead of writing “I love to cook,” show them why you love to cook. What’s your favorite dish to cook? What does the air smell like when you’re cooking it? What kitchen appliances do you use to make it?

Tip 4: Connect the Story to Why You’re Applying

Don’t forget that the purpose of your personal statement isn’t simply to tell the admissions committee who you are. That’s an important part of it, of course, but your ultimate goal is to convince them to choose you as a candidate.

That means it’s important to tie your personal story to your reasons for applying to this specific school or scholarship. Finish your essay with a strong thesis.

For example, if your story is about overcoming your fear of public speaking, you might connect that story to your ambition of becoming a politician. You can then tie that to your application by saying, “I want to apply to this school because of its fantastic politics program, which will give me a perfect opportunity to use my voice.”

Tip 5: Write in Your Own Voice

The personal statement isn’t supposed to be written in a formal tone. That’s why they’re called “personal” statements because you have to shape it to fit your own voice and style.

Don’t use complicated or overwrought language. You don’t need to fill your essay with semicolons and big words, unless that’s how you sound in real life.

One way to write in your own voice is by speaking your personal statement out loud. If it doesn’t feel natural, it may need changing. 

Tip 6: Edit, Edit, Edit!

It’s important to revise your personal statement multiple times in order to make sure it’s as close to perfect as possible.

A single typo won’t kill your application, but if your personal statement contains multiple spelling errors or egregious grammar mistakes, you won’t be putting your best foot forward.

ProWritingAid can help you make sure your personal statement is as clean as possible. In addition to catching your grammar errors, typos, and punctuation mistakes, it will also help you improve weaknesses in your writing, such as passive voice, unnecessary repetition, and more.

Let’s look at some of the best personal statements that have worked for successful candidates in the real world. 

Harvard Personal Statement Example

Love. For a word describing such a powerful emotion, it is always in the air. The word “love” has become so pervasive in everyday conversation that it hardly retains its roots in blazing passion and deep adoration. In fact, the word is thrown about so much that it becomes difficult to believe society isn’t just one huge, smitten party, with everyone holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.” In films, it’s the teenage boy’s grudging response to a doting mother. At school, it’s a habitual farewell between friends. But in my Chinese home, it’s never uttered. Watching my grandmother lie unconscious on the hospital bed, waiting for her body to shut down, was excruciatingly painful. Her final quavering breaths formed a discordant rhythm with the steady beep of hospital equipment and the unsympathetic tapping hands of the clock. That evening, I whispered—into unhearing ears—the first, and only, “I love you” I ever said to her, my rankling guilt haunting me relentlessly for weeks after her passing. My warm confession seemed anticlimactic, met with only the coldness of my surroundings—the blank room, impassive doctors, and empty silence. I struggled to understand why the “love” that so easily rolled off my tongue when bantering with friends dissipated from my vocabulary when I spoke to my family. Do Chinese people simply love less than Americans do?

This is an excerpt from a personal statement that got the applicant admitted to Harvard University. The applicant discusses her background as a Chinese-American by musing on the word “love” and what that means within her family.

The writer uses vulnerable details about her relationship with her grandmother to give the reader an understanding of where she comes from and how her family has shaped her.  

You can read the full personal statement on the Harvard Crimson website.

Tufts Personal Statement Example

My first dream job was to be a pickle truck driver. I saw it in my favorite book, Richard Scarry’s “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go,” and for some reason, I was absolutely obsessed with the idea of driving a giant pickle. Much to the discontent of my younger sister, I insisted that my parents read us that book as many nights as possible so we could find goldbug, a small little golden bug, on every page. I would imagine the wonderful life I would have: being a pig driving a giant pickle truck across the country, chasing and finding goldbug. I then moved on to wanting to be a Lego Master. Then an architect. Then a surgeon. Then I discovered a real goldbug: gold nanoparticles that can reprogram macrophages to assist in killing tumors, produce clear images of them without sacrificing the subject, and heat them to obliteration. Suddenly the destination of my pickle was clear. I quickly became enveloped by the world of nanomedicine; I scoured articles about liposomes, polymeric micelles, dendrimers, targeting ligands, and self-assembling nanoparticles, all conquering cancer in some exotic way. Completely absorbed, I set out to find a mentor to dive even deeper into these topics. After several rejections, I was immensely grateful to receive an invitation to work alongside Dr. Sangeeta Ray at Johns Hopkins.

This is the beginning of a personal statement by Renner Kwittken, who was admitted into Tufts University as a pre-medical student.

Renner uses a humorous anecdote about being a pickle truck driver to describe his love for nanomedicine and how he got involved in his field. You can feel his passion for medicine throughout his personal statement.

You can find Renner’s full essay on the Tufts Admissions page.

Law School Personal Statement Essay Example

For most people, the slap on the face that turns their life around is figurative. Mine was literal. Actually, it was a punch delivered by a drill sergeant at Fort Dix, New Jersey, while I was in basic training. That day’s activity, just a few weeks into the program, included instruction in “low-crawling,” a sensible method of moving from one place to another on a battlefield. I felt rather clever for having discovered that, by looking right rather than down, I eliminated my helmet’s unfortunate tendency to dig into the ground and slow my progress. I could thus advance more easily, but I also exposed my unprotected face to hostile fire. Drill sergeants are typically very good at detecting this type of laziness, and mine was an excellent drill sergeant. So, after his repeated suggestions that I correct my performance went unheeded, he drove home his point with a fist to my face. We were both stunned. This was, after all, the New Army, and striking a trainee was a career-ending move for a drill sergeant, as we were both aware. I could have reported him; arguably, I should have. I didn’t. It didn’t seem right for this good sergeant, who had not slept for almost four days, to lose his career for losing his temper with my laziness. Choosing not to report him was the first decision I remember making that made me proud.

These are the first three paragraphs of an anonymous personal statement by a Wheaton College graduate, who used this personal statement to get into a top-25 law school.

This statement describes a time the applicant faced a challenging decision while in the army. He ended up making a decision he was proud of, and as a result, the personal statement gives us a sense of his character.

You can find the full essay on the Wheaton Academics website.

Here are some common questions about how to write a personal statement.

How Long Should a Personal Statement Be?

The length of your personal statement depends on the specific program you’re applying to. The application guidelines usually specify a maximum word count or an ideal word count.  

Most personal statements are between 500–800 words. That’s a good general range to aim for if you don’t have more specific guidelines.  

Should Personal Statements Be Different for Scholarships?

Many scholarship applications will ask for personal statements with similar prompts to those of college applications.

However, the purpose of a personal statement you’d write for a scholarship application is different from the purpose of one you’d write for a college application.

For a scholarship application, your goal is to showcase why you deserve the scholarship. To do that, you need to understand the mission of the organization offering that scholarship.

For example, some scholarships are meant to help first-generation college students get their degree, while others are meant to help women break into STEM.

Consider the following questions:

Why is this organization offering scholarships?

What would their ideal scholarship candidate look like?

How do your experiences and goals overlap with those of their ideal scholarship candidate?

You can use the same personal anecdotes you’d use for any other personal statement, but you’ll have a better chance of winning the scholarship if you tailor your essay to match their specific mission.

How to Start a Personal Statement

You should start your personal statement with a “hook” that pulls the reader in. The sooner you catch the reader’s attention, the more likely they’ll want to read the entire essay.

Here are some examples of hooks you can use:

A story (e.g. When the spotlight hit my face, I tried to remind myself to breathe. )

A setting description (e.g. My bedroom floor is covered with dirty laundry, candy wrappers, and crumpled sheet music. )

A funny anecdote (e.g. When I was a little kid, my friends nicknamed me Mowgli because of my haircut. )

A surprising fact (e.g. I've lived in 37 countries .)

There you have it—our complete guide to writing a personal statement that will make you stand out to the application committee.

Here’s a quick recap: 

A personal statement is a short essay that shows an application committee who you are

Start with a strong hook that pulls the reader in

Tell a story to engage the reader 

Write in your own voice, not in a formal tone

Good luck, and happy writing!

Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.

Get started with ProWritingAid

Drop us a line or let's stay in touch via :

tips to write a personal statement

  • SUGGESTED TOPICS
  • The Magazine
  • Newsletters
  • Managing Yourself
  • Managing Teams
  • Work-life Balance
  • The Big Idea
  • Data & Visuals
  • Reading Lists
  • Case Selections
  • HBR Learning
  • Topic Feeds
  • Account Settings
  • Email Preferences

How to Write a Strong Personal Statement

  • Ruth Gotian
  • Ushma S. Neill

tips to write a personal statement

A few adjustments can get your application noticed.

Whether applying for a summer internship, a professional development opportunity, such as a Fulbright, an executive MBA program, or a senior leadership development course, a personal statement threads the ideas of your CV, and is longer and has a different tone and purpose than a traditional cover letter. A few adjustments to your personal statement can get your application noticed by the reviewer.

  • Make sure you’re writing what they want to hear. Most organizations that offer a fellowship or internship are using the experience as a pipeline: It’s smart to spend 10 weeks and $15,000 on someone before committing five years and $300,000. Rarely are the organizations being charitable or altruistic, so align your stated goals with theirs
  • Know when to bury the lead, and when to get to the point. It’s hard to paint a picture and explain your motivations in 200 words, but if you have two pages, give the reader a story arc or ease into your point by setting the scene.
  • Recognize that the reviewer will be reading your statement subjectively, meaning you’re being assessed on unknowable criteria. Most people on evaluation committees are reading for whether or not you’re interesting. Stated differently, do they want to go out to dinner with you to hear more? Write it so that the person reading it wants to hear more.
  • Address the elephant in the room (if there is one). Maybe your grades weren’t great in core courses, or perhaps you’ve never worked in the field you’re applying to. Make sure to address the deficiency rather than hoping the reader ignores it because they won’t. A few sentences suffice. Deficiencies do not need to be the cornerstone of the application.

At multiple points in your life, you will need to take action to transition from where you are to where you want to be. This process is layered and time-consuming, and getting yourself to stand out among the masses is an arduous but not impossible task. Having a polished resume that explains what you’ve done is the common first step. But, when an application asks for it, a personal statement can add color and depth to your list of accomplishments. It moves you from a one-dimensional indistinguishable candidate to someone with drive, interest, and nuance.

tips to write a personal statement

  • Ruth Gotian is the chief learning officer and assistant professor of education in anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City and the author of  The Success Factor . She was named the world’s #1 emerging management thinker by Thinkers50. You can access her free list of conversation starters . RuthGotian
  • Ushma S. Neill is the Vice President, Scientific Education & Training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. She runs several summer internships and is involved with the NYC Marshall Scholar Selection Committee. ushmaneill

Partner Center

How To Write a Personal Statement That Stands Out

How To Write a Personal Statement That Stands Out

Table of contents

tips to write a personal statement

Laura Jane Bradbury

A personal statement is a chance to highlight your unique qualities, skills, and experiences, all while showcasing your personality.

But whether you're applying for university, a job, or funding, it can be daunting to write about yourself. To increase your chances of getting accepted, it's important to know how to create an effective personal statement.

In my six years as a copywriter, I’ve written many personal statements that get results. In this article, I’ll guide you through what to include, what to avoid, and how to tailor a personal statement based on your application type.

Key Takeaways

  • A personal statement is an opportunity to share your unique qualities, experiences, and skills.
  • It should always relate to the course, job, or funding you are applying for.
  • Include accomplishments and experiences that demonstrate how suited you are to the position or course you are applying for.
  • Use clear and simple language to ensure your points are understood.

Your personal statement should be concise and demonstrate how you fit the position or opportunity you’re applying for. It’s important to keep information relevant, rather than listing all of your skills and accomplishments.

Follow these steps to accurately write and tailor your statement.

Understand your prompt

Before you start, make sure you understand what's expected of you. Are there specific instructions, keywords, or phrases that stand out in your prompt? Read through it thoroughly and note the requirements. You can then brainstorm ideas for each point.

Let's say I'm applying for a university journalism course. I've been asked to write a statement that shares why I'm interested and why I would be a good fit. I can use columns to plan my content:

tips to write a personal statement

Putting your ideas together first makes it easier to stay on track. Otherwise, you might lose focus and include irrelevant information. 

Show, don't just tell

Once you’ve listed your experiences, skills, and accomplishments, consider how you can demonstrate them with examples. Take a look at the list you created during the previous exercise and organize your points so you have clear examples and proof.

tips to write a personal statement

This technique helps you demonstrate your experiences and how they tie in with your application.

When telling anecdotes, use engaging stories that demonstrate your skills. For instance, a story about how I handled a fast-paced news internship proves I work well under pressure. 

Start strong

Recruiters, application tutors, and funders read lots of personal statements. You can make yours stand out with an engaging introduction.

Examples of a strong opening include:

A meaningful statistic

This draws readers in and increases credibility: 

"Communication is the key to marketing success, according to Business Marketing News. With five years of experience communicating and delivering campaigns to global clients, I have the skills and passion to add value to your team."

A personal story

Anecdotes connect the reader with the author’s real-life experience: 

"My first exposure to microbiology was during my time as a research assistant for a microbiologist. I was fascinated by the complex and intricate processes within cells."

An alarming statement

This piques the reader’s interest by making an issue seem urgent:  

“ The fashion industry churns out clothes at an alarming rate, causing mass production of synthetic fibers and harsh chemicals which have a detrimental impact on the planet. Funding my sustainability initiative is vital to mitigating this environmental impact." 

Avoid cliches such as "From a young age, I have always loved...." and "For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for..."

Pro tip: Use Wordtune Editor 's Shorten feature to cut unnecessary fluff and make your intro sharper. Simply type in your sentence and click Shorten to receive suggestions.

tips to write a personal statement

Get Wordtune for free > Get Wordtune for free >

Admission committees and employers appreciate sincerity and authenticity. While it may be tempting, avoid exaggeration. You can better emphasize your skills and personality by being honest. For instance, rather than claiming I read every type of newspaper in my journalism application, I can focus on my dedication to reading The New York Times.

Your writing style should also feel genuine. Instead of trying to impress with complex language and fancy words, keep sentences simple and direct . This makes them more effective because they’re easier to read. 

Address weaknesses

Addressing weaknesses can show your willingness to confront challenges. It also gives you a chance to share efforts you have made for improvement. When explaining a weakness, exclude excuses.

Instead of saying "I didn't achieve my expected grades due to work commitments impacting my studies," try “While I didn't achieve my expected grades, I am now working with a tutor to help me understand my weak areas so I can succeed in your program.”

Wordtune’s Spices feature can help you develop counterarguments to weaknesses. In the Editor, highlight your text, click on Spices, and then Counterargument . Here’s an example:

Wordtune Editor’s Spices feature can provide a counterargument to help you address weaknesses in a personal statement.

Using Wordtune’s suggestion, I can highlight my eagerness to learn and provide examples to support my argument.

Highlight achievements

This is your chance to shine! A personal statement should highlight your best qualities — provided they relate to your prompt.

Ask yourself:

  • What are your skills and strengths? Identify both academic and non-academic abilities such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork.
  • What challenges have you faced? Reflect on how you have overcome significant challenges and how these experiences have helped you grow. For example, completing a course, learning a new language, or starting a business.
  • What are your unique selling points? Consider what sets you apart from other applicants. For example, you may have a unique set of technical skills or experience learning in a different country.
  • How have your achievements shaped your goals and aspirations? Sharing your goals shows that you think long-term and have taken the time to make sure you’re applying for the right opportunity.

Connect with the institution or company

Tailor your statement to the specific institution or company you're applying to — this shows you understand their values and have carefully considered where you want to seek opportunities.

To do this, head to the company or institution’s website and look for the About page. Many organizations include a mission statement on this page that conveys its purpose and values.

Princeton University’s “In service of humanity” page highlights that they value supporting society and giving back.

For example, universities often include their values under “Community” or “Student Life” sections. Here, Princeton University’s “In Service of Humanity” section highlights how they value using education to benefit society. Applicants can engage with this by explaining how they interact with their communities and seek to use their education to help others.

You can also research a company or institution’s social media. Look for similarities — maybe you both prioritize collaboration or think outside the box. Draw upon this in your personal statement. 

End with a strong conclusion

A strong conclusion is clear, concise, and leaves a lasting impression. Use these three steps:

  • Summarize the main points of your statement. For example, “My experience volunteering for the school newspaper, along with my communication skills and enthusiasm for writing, make me an ideal student for your university."
  • Discuss your future . Share your future ambitions to remind the reader that you’ve carefully considered how the opportunity fits into your plans.
  • Include a closing statement. End on a positive note and offer the reader a final explanation for why you would be a great match. For instance, “Thank you for reviewing my statement. I am confident my skills and experience align with the role and your company culture.”

Tip: Learn more about writing an effective conclusion with our handy guide . 

Different types of personal statements

Now you know how to write a personal statement, let’s look at what to focus on depending on your application type.

tips to write a personal statement

The length of your personal statement will vary depending on the type. Generally, it should be around 500 words to 650 words . However, a university application is often longer than a statement for a job, so it’s vital to determine what is expected of you from the beginning.

Whatever the length, it’s important to remove and edit content fluff , including any repetition or copy that does not relate to your prompt.

Personal statement checklist

Use this checklist to ensure that your statement includes: 

  • An engaging introduction.
  • Clear examples of your experiences, skills, and expertise. 
  • A commitment to improvement, if required.
  • Any applicable achievements. 
  • A direct connection to the company or institution’s values.
  • A strong conclusion that summarizes information without adding new content.
  • Authentic, simple language.

Personal statements are an opportunity to delve deeper and share who you are beyond your grades or resume experience. Demonstrate your ability with anecdotes and examples, address any weaknesses, and remember to use genuine and simple language. This is your place to shine, so follow our tips while displaying your unique personality, and you’ll be sure to stand out from the crowd.

Want to get started and create a powerful introduction? Read our step-by-step guide .

What is the difference between a cover letter and a personal statement?

A cover letter expresses your interest in a position and introduces you to an employer. It’s typically shorter and focuses on your qualifications, skills, and experience for a particular role. A personal statement, however, is common for a job, internship, funding, or university application. It explores your background, goals, and aspirations, as well as your skills and experience.

What is the purpose of a personal statement?

A personal statement is an opportunity to stand out by detailing your background, experiences, and aspirations. It should explain why you are interested in and a good match for the company or institution you are applying to.

Share This Article:

The Official Wordtune Guide

The Official Wordtune Guide

An Expert Guide to Writing Effective Compound Sentences (+ Examples)

An Expert Guide to Writing Effective Compound Sentences (+ Examples)

A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Stellar Literature Review (with Help from AI)

A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Stellar Literature Review (with Help from AI)

Looking for fresh content, thank you your submission has been received.

We value your privacy

We use cookies to allow this site to work for you, improve your user experience, and to serve you advertising tailored to your interests. Let us know if you agree to all cookies. You can manage your preferences at any time

Your Privacy

We use cookies, which are small text files placed on your computer, to allow the site to work for you, improve your user experience, to provide us with information about how our site is used, and to deliver personalised ads which help fund our work and deliver our service to you for free.

The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalised web experience.

You can accept all, or else manage cookies individually. However, blocking some types of cookies may affect your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

You can change your cookies preference at any time by visiting our Cookies Notice page. Please remember to clear your browsing data and cookies when you change your cookies preferences. This will remove all cookies previously placed on your browser.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, or how to clear your browser cookies data see our Cookies Notice

Manage consent preferences

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

They are essential for you to browse the website and use its features.

You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. We can’t identify you from these cookies.

These help us personalise our sites for you by remembering your preferences and settings. They may be set by us or by third party providers, whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies, then these services may not function properly.

These cookies allow us to count visits and see where our traffic comes from, so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are popular and see how visitors move around the site. The cookies cannot directly identify any individual users.

If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site and will not be able to improve its performance for you.

These cookies may be set through our site by social media services or our advertising partners. Social media cookies enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They can track your browser across other sites and build up a profile of your interests. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to see or use the content sharing tools.

Advertising cookies may be used to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but work by uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will still see ads, but they won’t be tailored to your interests.

The shortcut to your shortlist

Make your university search faster and less stressful. Get a personalised shortlist by selecting what matters to you.

  • CHOOSE ONE OR MORE

Popular universities

  • University of Kent
  • University of East Anglia UEA
  • University of Chester
  • Coventry University
  • University of Aberdeen
  • University of Portmouth
  • Nottingham Trent University
  • University of Sunderland
  • London Metropolitan University
  • London South Bank University
  • University of East London
  • BROWSE ALL UNIVERSITIES

Course search

Popular undergraduate courses.

  • Computer Science
  • LLB Bachelor of Laws
  • Biomedical Sciences
  • Physiotherapy
  • Sports Science

Open days search

Upcoming open days.

  • University of Essex
  • BIMM University
  • University of Wales Trinity Saint David
  • Arts University Bournemouth

Article search

Popular articles.

  • What is UCAS Extra?
  • Replying to offers
  • What's a university open day
  • Student finance and funding
  • Types of degree in the UK
  • BROWSE ALL ARTICLES

Popular topics

  • Choosing what to study
  • Choosing where to study
  • Applying to university
  • League tables
  • Student life - after you start

Tips for writing your personal statement

How to write a personal statement it's difficult to know where to begin. get hints and tips on structure, content and what not to write from a university expert..

Author image

  • An insider's view
  • What admissions tutors look for

Structuring and preparing your personal statement

What to write in a personal statement, examples to avoid, an insider’s view .

Personal statements may seem formulaic, but they can be critical to the decision-making process, and admissions tutors do read them.

If you’re applying for a high-demand course, your personal statement could be the deciding factor on whether or not you get an interview.

The Director of Marketing and Student Recruitment at the University of Gloucestershire , James Seymour, shares some top tips on how to write a personal statement.

What makes a good personal statement?

This is your chance to demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment and show us what value you can add to a university. In the vast majority of cases, universities are finding ways to make you an offer, not reject you – the personal statement is your chance to make this decision easier for them!

First, you need to explain why you want a place on a course. Take a look at James’ tips on what you should include:

  • Explain the reason for your choice and how it fits in with your aspirations for the future
  • Give examples of any related academic or work experience
  • Show you know what the course will involve and mention any special subjects you’re interested in
  • Demonstrate who you are by listing any positions you’ve held, memberships of teams or societies, and interests and hobbies
  • Show consistency in your five UCAS choices. It may be difficult for an admissions tutor to take you seriously if your other choices, and references to them, are totally different. If your choices are different, you should explain this in your statement. The UCAS form is blind. Admissions tutors don’t know the other universities you’ve applied to, or your priorities, but you should still be consistent
  • Keep it clear and concise – UCAS admissions are increasingly paperless – so most admissions tutors/officers will read your statement onscreen
Explain what you can bring to a course and try not to just list experiences, but describe how they have given you skills that will help you at university.

Don’t just say: I am a member of the college chess club. I also play the clarinet in the orchestra.

When you could say: I have developed my problem-solving skills through playing chess for the college; this requires concentration and analytical thought. I am used to working as part of a team as I play clarinet in the college orchestra and cooperate with others to achieve a finished production.

  • Applying to university and UCAS deadlines
  • Applying and studying in the UK
  • University interviews

What will admissions tutors look for in your personal statement?

To decide if you’re the right fit, universities and colleges are interested in how you express your academic record and potential. This should be backed up by your reference.

Those working in admissions look for evidence of:

  • Motivation and commitment
  • Leadership, teamwork and communication
  • Research into your chosen subject
  • Any relevant key skills

Admissions tutors aren't seeking Nobel laureates. They’re looking for enthusiasm for the course being applied for, and self-reflection into why you’d be suitable to study it. What value could you add to the course? Where would you like to go once you graduate?

Ben, the Admissions Manager for Law at the University of Birmingham , shared with us what he expects applicants to tell him in their personal statement:

The personal statement is not only an excellent opportunity to showcase applicants individual skills, knowledge, and achievements, but it also provides us with an insight into the type of student they aspire to be and how they could fit into the academic community. Ben Atkins, Law Admissions Manager at University of Birmingham

Real-life example: the good

Good personal statement

Real-life example: the not-so-good

Not so good personal statement

  • How to make your personal statement stand out

You could have excellent experiences, but if they’re arranged in a poorly-written statement then the impact will be reduced. So, it’s important to plan your statement well.

A well-written personal statement with a clearly planned and refined structure will not only make the information stand out, but it’ll demonstrate you have an aptitude for structuring written pieces of work – a crucial skill needed for many university courses.

You can use it for other things too, such as gap year applications, jobs, internships, apprenticeships and keep it on file for future applications.

There's no one ‘correct’ way to structure your personal statement. But it’s a good idea to include the following:

  • A clear introduction, explaining why you want to study the course
  • Around 75% can focus on your academic achievements, to prove how you’re qualified to study it
  • Around 25% can be about any extracurricular activity, to show what else makes you suitable
  • A clear conclusion
  • How to start a personal statement

Your personal statement is your chance to really show why you deserve a place on your chosen course. 

Remember to keep these in mind:

  • Be clear and concise – the more concentrated the points and facts, the more powerful
  • Use positive words such as achieved, developed, learned, discovered, enthusiasm, commitment, energy, fascination…
  • Avoid contrived or grandiose language. Instead use short, simple sentences in plain English
  • Insert a personal touch if possible, but be careful with humour and chatty approaches
  • Use evidence of your learning and growth (wherever possible) to support claims and statements
  • Plan the statement as you would an essay or letter of application for a job/scholarship
  • Consider dividing the statement into five or six paragraphs, with headings if appropriate
  • Spelling and grammar DO matter – draft and redraft as many times as you must and ask others to proofread and provide feedback
  • For 2022 – 23 applications, refer to the challenges you've faced during the pandemic in a positive way

Don’t 

  • Over-exaggerate
  • Come across as pretentious
  • Try to include your life history
  • Start with: "I’ve always wanted to be a..."
  • Use gimmicks or quotations, unless they're very relevant and you deal with them in a way that shows your qualities
  • Be tempted to buy or copy a personal statement – plagiarism software is now very sophisticated and if you're caught out you won’t get a place
  • Make excuses about not being able to undertake activities/gain experience – focus on what you were able to do positively, e.g. as a result of coronavirus

For further details, read our detailed guide on  what to include in a personal statement  and the best things to avoid.

Note that if you decide to reapply for university the following year, it's a good idea to consider making some changes to your personal statement. Mention why you took a year off and talk about what skills you've learnt. If you're applying for a completely different subject, you'll need to make more changes.

James gives us real-life examples of things to avoid:

I enjoy the theatre and used to go a couple of times a year. (Drama)
I am a keen reader and am committed to the study of human behaviour through TV soaps!
I have led a full life over the last 18 years and it is a tradition I intend to continue.
I describe myself in the following two words: 'TO ODIN!' the ancient Viking war cry. (Law)
My favourite hobby is bee-keeping and I want to be an engineer.
My interest in Medicine stems from my enjoyment of Casualty and other related TV series.
I have always had a passion to study Medicine, failing that, Pharmacy. (A student putting Pharmacy as her fifth choice after four medical school choices – Pharmacy can be just as popular and high status as Medicine.)

Some final advice

Above all, remember that a personal statement is your opportunity to convince a university why it should offer you a place. So, make it compelling and there’s a much higher chance they will.

Related articles

Man hands typing on a laptop keyboard on a desk

What are university rankings?

University rankings, or league tables, rank universities overall and by a number of...

Edge Hill university campus

How to use the league tables

Use our university rankings to narrow down your choice of unis. Compare UK universities...

Group Of Students Using Computers In university library

Why use our university league tables?

Our university league tables, or rankings, provide you with information about each UK...

Is this page useful?

Sorry about that..., how can we improve it, thanks for your feedback.

  • Undergraduates
  • Ph.Ds & Postdocs
  • Prospective Students & Guests
  • What is a Community?
  • Student Athletes
  • First Generation and/or Low Income Students
  • International Students
  • LGBTQ Students
  • Students of Color
  • Students with Disabilities
  • Student Veterans
  • Exploring Careers
  • Advertising, Marketing & PR
  • Finance, Insurance & Real Estate
  • General Management & Leadership Development Programs
  • Law & Legal Services
  • Startups, Entrepreneurship & Freelance Work
  • Environment, Sustainability & Energy
  • Media & Communications
  • Policy & Think Tanks
  • Engineering
  • Healthcare, Biotech & Global Public Health
  • Life & Physical Sciences
  • Programming & Data Science
  • Graduate School
  • Health Professions
  • Business School
  • Meet with OCS
  • Student Organizations Workshop Request
  • OCS Podcast Series
  • Office of Fellowships
  • Navigating AI in the Job Search Process
  • Cover Letters & Correspondence
  • Job Market Insights
  • Professional Conduct & Etiquette
  • Professional Online Identity
  • Interview Preparation
  • Resource Database
  • Yale Career Link
  • Jobs, Internships & Other Experiences
  • Gap Year & Short-Term Opportunities
  • Planning an International Internship
  • Funding Your Experience
  • Career Fairs/Networking Events
  • On-Campus Recruiting
  • Job Offers & Salary Negotiation
  • Informational Interviewing
  • Peer Networking Lists
  • Building Your LinkedIn Profile
  • YC First Destinations
  • YC Four-Year Out
  • GSAS Program Statistics
  • Statistics & Reports
  • Contact OCS
  • OCS Mission & Policies
  • Additional Yale Career Offices

Personal Statements

  • Share This: Share Personal Statements on Facebook Share Personal Statements on LinkedIn Share Personal Statements on X

Thinking about graduate school? If so, you’ll need to write a personal statement. This short video provides an overview of the writing process and tips to get you on the right track.

tips to write a personal statement

Office of Career Strategy

Visiting yale.

Enago Academy

Top 10 Tips for Writing an Outstanding Personal Statement

' src=

A personal statement is one of the most important parts of your Ph.D. or graduate school application. What is a personal statement? A personal statement tells the admissions board, why they should select you as a student in their program. A strong personal statement can make your application stand out from the rest and be a big factor in whether or not you are admitted to a program. In this article, we will talk about what a personal statement should and shouldn’t contain. We will also give you ten tips to write an excellent personal statement that can increase the chances of your acceptance into the program of your dreams.

Do Personal Statements Really Matter?

Graduate and Ph.D. programs ask for a variety of documents that summarize your academic and professional accomplishments. However, you know that you are more than just the sum of your undergraduate transcripts and job history. That is why a personal statement is so important. A personal statement gives you a unique opportunity to explain why you chose the program you are applying to, and how it fits into your career and aligns with your personal goals.

A personal statement ties all your application documents together to tell the admissions board a story of why you are applying for their program. A good personal statement is authentic, sincere, and tailored to the specific program you are submitting it to. It describes your background, how and why you became interested in studying a specific subject, and how going to the school will help you achieve your goals. It is not your entire life story, but rather the story of how life has led you to apply for a particular graduate school program.

How Can I Make My Personal Statement Strong?

There are several ways you can make sure you craft and submit a strong personal statement. First, think of your personal statement as an argument for why you belong in the program you are applying to. This includes not only what the program will do for you, but also what you can bring to it . Examples of conferences you have presented at or grants and scholarships you have won can strengthen your candidacy , but make sure they are relevant to the program. Illustrate why it makes sense for you, specifically, to join this particular program.

Second, make sure to avoid overly generic statements and descriptions. Your story of learning the value of persistence and struggle during your first part-time service job is very likely not helpful. However, explaining how you won a grant to study in China when you’re applying to a graduate school to do East Asian studies provides important context about you and your motivation. Along the same lines, don’t use tired cliches or broad descriptions of your personality that could apply to anyone. If your statement includes anything like “Webster’s dictionary defines ‘dedicated’ as…” then you are writing a weak personal statement.

Third, provide examples of your achievements. Don’t just say “I became a good scientist when I spent the summer working in Dr. Kevorkian’s lab.” Tell the admissions board how you went from taking notes and organizing the supply closet to designing and running your own experiments with a team. Explain the lessons you have learned and how you will apply them in your graduate studies. At the same time, avoid portraying yourself as you know it all- after all, you are applying to a program to continue learning!

Top Ten Tips for Writing A Great Personal Statement

To help you get started writing a great personal statement, here are the top ten tips highlighting the most important strategies.

  • Begin with a checklist of why you want to apply for the program. What is great about it? How does it fit into your goals? Who do you hope to study or work with?
  • Explain why you have chosen to study this topic . What about medieval literature appeals to you? Why do you want to be a cardiologist? Again, avoid generic statements like “I have always enjoyed reading” or “I love helping people.”
  • Write about why you are qualified to study this topic. What is your academic background? Don’t just list the classes on your transcript; highlight specific papers you wrote or internships you’ve held.
  • Think about what you hope to accomplish in graduate school . What skills do you want to leave with? Do you want to go into academia? Industry? How will this program get you there?
  • If you have any “black marks” on your record, like a bad grade or time off from school, explain what happened and how you learned from it . Failure in the past is not an indication of future ability! Don’t just ignore something if it is evident from your transcripts that you have had an issue.
  • Don’t focus too much on your career. Professional experience can be important and relevant, but ultimately you are applying to enter an academic program, and you want to focus on your academic skills and interests.
  • Show, don’t tell: rather than saying “I am a hard worker,” give an example of something you did that demonstrates you are a hard worker.
  • Ask for feedback! Don’t be afraid to turn to your friends or colleagues to ask for feedback on your first (or second) draft. An objective observer can highlight issues or points you may have overlooked. They can also proofread for you, which leads us to tip number 9.
  • Proofread your work. Graduate school, no matter the field, is writing intensive. Your personal statement reflects your writing skills, and grammatical errors and spelling mistakes do not look great. Proofread multiple times, use spell check , and have someone else review your application before you hand it in. You want to make a great impression!
  • Finally, make sure to tailor your application to each school you apply to. You can reuse some parts of your personal statement. However, you should make sure each school is getting a statement specific to their program and faculty.

Do you have any tips for our readers about writing a great personal statement? Let us know in the comments below.

Rate this article Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.

tips to write a personal statement

Enago Academy's Most Popular Articles

Content Analysis vs Thematic Analysis: What's the difference?

  • Reporting Research

Choosing the Right Analytical Approach: Thematic analysis vs. content analysis for data interpretation

In research, choosing the right approach to understand data is crucial for deriving meaningful insights.…

Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Study Design

Comparing Cross Sectional and Longitudinal Studies: 5 steps for choosing the right approach

The process of choosing the right research design can put ourselves at the crossroads of…

Networking in Academic Conferences

  • Career Corner

Unlocking the Power of Networking in Academic Conferences

Embarking on your first academic conference experience? Fear not, we got you covered! Academic conferences…

Research recommendation

Research Recommendations – Guiding policy-makers for evidence-based decision making

Research recommendations play a crucial role in guiding scholars and researchers toward fruitful avenues of…

tips to write a personal statement

  • AI in Academia

Disclosing the Use of Generative AI: Best practices for authors in manuscript preparation

The rapid proliferation of generative and other AI-based tools in research writing has ignited an…

Intersectionality in Academia: Dealing with diverse perspectives

Meritocracy and Diversity in Science: Increasing inclusivity in STEM education

Avoiding the AI Trap: Pitfalls of relying on ChatGPT for PhD applications

tips to write a personal statement

Sign-up to read more

Subscribe for free to get unrestricted access to all our resources on research writing and academic publishing including:

  • 2000+ blog articles
  • 50+ Webinars
  • 10+ Expert podcasts
  • 50+ Infographics
  • 10+ Checklists
  • Research Guides

We hate spam too. We promise to protect your privacy and never spam you.

I am looking for Editing/ Proofreading services for my manuscript Tentative date of next journal submission:

tips to write a personal statement

What should universities' stance be on AI tools in research and academic writing?

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Writing the Personal Statement

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

This handout provides information about writing personal statements for academic and other positions.

The personal statement, your opportunity to sell yourself in the application process, generally falls into one of two categories:

1. The general, comprehensive personal statement:

This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms.

2. The response to very specific questions:

Often, business and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and your statement should respond specifically to the question being asked. Some business school applications favor multiple essays, typically asking for responses to three or more questions.

Questions to ask yourself before you write:

  • What's special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story?
  • What details of your life (personal or family problems, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants?
  • When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? What insights have you gained?
  • How have you learned about this field—through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field?
  • If you have worked a lot during your college years, what have you learned (leadership or managerial skills, for example), and how has that work contributed to your growth?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (great grades but mediocre LSAT or GRE scores, for example, or a distinct upward pattern to your GPA if it was only average in the beginning)?
  • Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life?
  • What personal characteristics (for example, integrity, compassion, and/or persistence) do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics?
  • What skills (for example, leadership, communicative, analytical) do you possess?
  • Why might you be a stronger candidate for graduate school—and more successful and effective in the profession or field than other applicants?
  • What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you?

General advice

Answer the questions that are asked

  • If you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar.
  • Don't be tempted to use the same statement for all applications. It is important to answer each question being asked, and if slightly different answers are needed, you should write separate statements. In every case, be sure your answer fits the question being asked.

Tell a story

  • Think in terms of showing or demonstrating through concrete experience. One of the worst things you can do is to bore the admissions committee. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.

Be specific

  • Don't, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, engineer, or whatever should be logical, the result of specific experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as the logical conclusion to your story.

Find an angle

  • If you're like most people, your life story lacks drama, so figuring out a way to make it interesting becomes the big challenge. Finding an angle or a "hook" is vital.

Concentrate on your opening paragraph

  • The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It is here that you grab the reader's attention or lose it. This paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement.

Tell what you know

  • The middle section of your essay might detail your interest and experience in your particular field, as well as some of your knowledge of the field. Too many people graduate with little or no knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the profession or field they hope to enter. Be as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field and use the language professionals use in conveying this information. Refer to experiences (work, research, etc.), classes, conversations with people in the field, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of specific information about the career you want and why you're suited to it. Since you will have to select what you include in your statement, the choices you make are often an indication of your judgment.

Don't include some subjects

  • There are certain things best left out of personal statements. For example, references to experiences or accomplishments in high school or earlier are generally not a good idea. Don't mention potentially controversial subjects (for example, controversial religious or political issues).

Do some research, if needed

  • If a school wants to know why you're applying to it rather than another school, do some research to find out what sets your choice apart from other universities or programs. If the school setting would provide an important geographical or cultural change for you, this might be a factor to mention.

Write well and correctly

  • Be meticulous. Type and proofread your essay very carefully. Many admissions officers say that good written skills and command of correct use of language are important to them as they read these statements. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word limits.

Avoid clichés

  • A medical school applicant who writes that he is good at science and wants to help other people is not exactly expressing an original thought. Stay away from often-repeated or tired statements.

For more information on writing a personal statement, see the personal statement vidcast .

Glenn Geher Ph.D.

Tips for Writing a Personal Statement

Keep your writing straightforward and honest..

Posted October 16, 2019

PublicCo / Pixabay

Here are some situations that require writing a personal statement:

  • Applying to college
  • Applying to special camps or programs
  • Applying to graduate school, law school, or medical school
  • Applying to an internship program
  • Applying for a job
  • Applying for a promotion
  • … and more!

Like it or not, you’ll be writing personal statements (sometimes referred to as a "statement of purpose") pretty much throughout your adult life. I bet that some retirement communities may even require personal statements in their application process!

As a college professor for over two decades, I’ve advised and edited hundreds—even thousands—of personal statements for students. I take this work seriously, as I know how these statements have the capacity to make or break an application.

Based on this experience (see my new book Own Your Psychology Major! A Guide to Student Success ), below are some tips for making your personal statement sing, along with some classic no-nos in the process.

Tips for Making Your Personal Statement Sing

First and foremost, realize this: A large but often-unstated purpose of this statement-of-purpose assignment is to allow folks to get a sense of your writing skills. Keep this point in mind the whole while. Here are some other tips:

1. Keep it short! Students often develop this idea that the longer their paper is, the better. As my mom would say, the opposite! All things being equal, you should use as few words as possible in trying to make your point. Think about the points you are trying to make and then make those points.

Efforts to add fluff are always pretty obvious. Further, the people reading your application may have dozens or even hundreds of applications to sift through. Do them a favor by keeping it short!

2. Avoid the big-word trap. Sometimes, students feel a need to use all kinds of fancy, multi-syllabic words in their writing. Try to avoid this trap at all costs! All things being equal, I suggest this approach: Write exactly as you speak (minus slang and, of course, any profanity!).

Sure, you may use some fancy words every now and again in your speech. But speech is all about communication—trying to get someone else to understand something. Writing is no different. Big words used for the sake of using big words are not doing anyone any favors.

3. Follow the guidelines. Whatever the details of the particular application process, know that there are going to be specific guidelines. This all may pertain to word count, specific questions that you are asked to address, etc.

Here is the simplest possible suggestion I can give you: Read those guidelines and follow them 100 percent in every single way. Doing so will make sure that you make it into the pile of applications to be even considered.

4. Proofread your work. Imagine this scenario: You are applying to a job at Southeast State University. After you have submitted the application, you reread your cover letter. Check it out:

“… I am thrilled to be considered for this position at Southeast State University. …. In conclusion, let me say that I am excited about this opportunity at Fresno Institute of Technology. …”

Given that you are applying to multiple positions and/or programs, it is very likely that you are writing statements that are “tailored” for each particular position and program. That is fine and is typical. But the second that you write the name of the incorrect institution in your letter due to a lack of detailed proofreading, you might as well be throwing your application into the recycling bin. Proofread your letter carefully before sending it.

5. Have an “expert” look things over. When I was a senior in college, I recall my advisor, the formidable Dr. Gwen Gustafson of the Psychology Department at UCONN, suggesting that I bring a draft of my personal statement for her to look over before applying to Ph.D. programs. So I did.

I was surprised by how much red ink she put on my paper. But I was also grateful . And I also learned a lot. Every suggestion that she had made sense. And, at the end of the day, I took those suggestions, worked hard, and got into a great Ph.D. program in psychology that shaped the rest of my life in positive ways.

Your professors and mentors have sat on admissions and hiring committees for years. Use their wisdom to your advantage. And pay things forward when you are older and wiser.

Personal Statement No-No’s

1. Don’t overemphasize personal details. A letter that focuses on your own personal traumas and history will only go so far. Sure, it is often the case that someone has a significant personal event or history that is influential in shaping his or her interests. Myself included.

tips to write a personal statement

But letters that over-emphasize one’s own adversities lose a bit when it comes to getting members of a committee to see the applicant in a professional setting. Sure, you may have baggage. And it may well ultimately have come to shape you in a positive manner. But unless the guidelines of the letter are asking about that in particular, don’t make that your headline.

2. Remember that you are not texting your friend. Be professional in your statement of purpose. Don’t use emojis. Don’t use acronyms. Use your most professional and respectful writing and communication skills. You can send all kinds of silly texts to the group chat about it after you’ve been accepted...

3. Seem like you care about them. A statement of purpose, or a personal statement, is largely about you. But the last thing you want to come across as is unempathetic and disinterested in the organization and/or program that you are applying to.

If you are applying to the master’s program in mental health counseling at Western State College, learn about who they are. Care about who they are. And include something in your statement which demonstrates that you both know about them and care about who they are.

Bottom Line

Modern professional life these days includes writing personal statements/essays at various junctions. Pretty much forever. Don’t be daunted by this task. You should be proud of who you are and capable of describing yourself, your interests, and your goals in a clear, engaging, and powerful manner.

Write from your heart. Follow the guidelines. And follow the common-sense suggestions here. You’ll go far.

Geher, G. (2019). Own Your Psychology Major! A Guide to Student Success. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Glenn Geher Ph.D.

Glenn Geher, Ph.D. , is professor of psychology at the State University of New York at New Paltz. He is founding director of the campus’ Evolutionary Studies (EvoS) program.

  • Find a Therapist
  • Find a Treatment Center
  • Find a Psychiatrist
  • Find a Support Group
  • Find Teletherapy
  • United States
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • Chicago, IL
  • Houston, TX
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • New York, NY
  • Portland, OR
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Washington, DC
  • Asperger's
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Chronic Pain
  • Eating Disorders
  • Passive Aggression
  • Personality
  • Goal Setting
  • Positive Psychology
  • Stopping Smoking
  • Low Sexual Desire
  • Relationships
  • Child Development
  • Therapy Center NEW
  • Diagnosis Dictionary
  • Types of Therapy

March 2024 magazine cover

Understanding what emotional intelligence looks like and the steps needed to improve it could light a path to a more emotionally adept world.

  • Coronavirus Disease 2019
  • Affective Forecasting
  • Neuroscience

IMAGES

  1. College Personal Statement Example

    tips to write a personal statement

  2. How To Write My Personal Statement For College

    tips to write a personal statement

  3. Professional and Best 500 Word Personal Statement Samples Online

    tips to write a personal statement

  4. 10 Best Personal Statement Examples (How to Write)

    tips to write a personal statement

  5. Best Personal Statement Examples in 2023 + Why Do They Work?

    tips to write a personal statement

  6. How to Write a Personal Statement (with Pictures)

    tips to write a personal statement

VIDEO

  1. How to write a personal statement perfectly in your Resume

  2. How to Write a Personal Statement for Graduate School Scribbr 🎓

  3. How to write personal statement for UK universities

  4. How to write personal statement and study plan?

  5. How To Write A Perfect Personal Statement FAST With This Template

  6. How to write the best personal statement *Simple Three Step Guide*

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Personal Statement (Tips + Essay Examples)

    In a great personal statement, we should be able to get a sense of what fulfills, motivates, or excites the author. These can be things like humor, beauty, community, and autonomy, just to name a few. So when you read back through your essay, you should be able to detect at least 4-5 different values throughout.

  2. How To Write a Good Personal Statement (With Examples)

    Include information that describes more about you than the details in your transcript. 5. Identify your plans for the future. Part of your personal statement can include future goals and ambitions. Explain what can happen if you gain acceptance to the university of your choice or you receive the job you want.

  3. How to Write a Personal Statement (with Tips and Examples)

    6 Tips on How to Write a Personal Statement. Here are our top six tips for writing a strong personal statement. Tip 1: Do Some Serious Self-Reflection. The hardest part of writing a personal statement isn't the actual process of writing it. Before you start typing, you have to figure out what to write about.

  4. How to Write a Personal Statement

    Watch out for cliches like "making a difference," "broadening my horizons," or "the best thing that ever happened to me." 3. Stay focused. Try to avoid getting off-track or including tangents in your personal statement. Stay focused by writing a first draft and then re-reading what you've written.

  5. How to Write a Strong Personal Statement

    Address the elephant in the room (if there is one). Maybe your grades weren't great in core courses, or perhaps you've never worked in the field you're applying to. Make sure to address the ...

  6. How to Write Your Personal Statement

    Strategy 1: Open with a concrete scene. An effective way to catch the reader's attention is to set up a scene that illustrates something about your character and interests. If you're stuck, try thinking about: A personal experience that changed your perspective. A story from your family's history.

  7. How To Write an Effective Personal Statement (With Examples)

    A strong conclusion is clear, concise, and leaves a lasting impression. Use these three steps: Summarize the main points of your statement. For example, "My experience volunteering for the school newspaper, along with my communication skills and enthusiasm for writing, make me an ideal student for your university."

  8. How to write an excellent personal statement in 10 steps

    Use your closing couple of lines to summarise the most important points in your statement. 9. Check your writing thoroughly and get someone else to check it, too. 10. Give your brain a rest by forgetting about your personal statement for a while before going back to review it one last time with fresh eyes.

  9. Tips for writing your personal statement

    Avoid contrived or grandiose language. Instead use short, simple sentences in plain English. Insert a personal touch if possible, but be careful with humour and chatty approaches. Use evidence of your learning and growth (wherever possible) to support claims and statements. Plan the statement as you would an essay or letter of application for a ...

  10. How To Write Your Undergraduate Personal Statement

    Just start by showing your enthusiasm for the subject, showcasing your knowledge and understanding, and sharing your ambitions of what you want to achieve. Avoid cliches! Remember, this opening part is simply about introducing yourself, so let the admissions tutor reading your personal statement get to know you. Keep it relevant and simple.

  11. How to Write a Personal Statement [Tips + Essay Examples]

    6 Tips to Help You Write a Great Personal Statement. Don't rush the process of writing a personal statement. It can be intimidating — especially since the admissions committee is your audience — so allow yourself plenty of time to draft and revise. These six tips can help college-bound high school seniors write a great personal statement ...

  12. How to Write a Powerful Personal Statement

    For a university application, discuss what parts of the program or school align with your passions. Your university introduction should be a full paragraph. 2. Expand on relevant skills, interests and experiences. The body of your personal statement lets you share more about your relevant skills, interests and experiences.

  13. How to Write an Impactful Personal Statement (Examples Included)

    Tips for writing a personal statement. Let's take a look at the tips and tricks to write a personal statement along with relevant examples: 1. Keep it personal. Although there are certain rules to be followed when writing a personal statement, it is important not to lose your own voice. The admissions committee wants to get to know you as a ...

  14. How to Write an Amazing Personal Statement (Includes Examples!)

    5. Use an authentic voice. Your personal statement reflects who you are, so you should use a tone that represents you. That means you shouldn't try to sound like someone else, and you shouldn't use fancy words just to show off. This isn't an academic paper, so you don't have to adopt a super formal tone.

  15. How to Write a Personal Statement for Grad School: Tips & Samples

    Top Tips for Writing a Graduate School Personal Statement. Pick a few points to emphasize about yourself. Introduce yourself to the admissions board. Select key factors about your background that you want the university to know — elements that reveal what kind of person you are and demonstrate why you're a strong candidate for the school ...

  16. Personal Statements

    If so, you'll need to write a personal statement. This short video provides an overview of the writing process and tips to get you on the right track. Play Video Related Resources. Yale Resource Show more Yale Resource. GoinGlobal; OCS YouTube Channel;

  17. Top 10 Tips for Writing an Outstanding Personal Statement

    A personal statement is a brief summary that talks about your achievements, and interests typically written when applying for school or fellowship programs. To help you get started writing an impressive personal statement, here are the top ten tips highlighting the most important strategies.

  18. Writing the Personal Statement

    1. The general, comprehensive personal statement: This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms. 2. The response to very specific questions: Often, business and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and your statement ...

  19. Tips for Writing a Personal Statement

    Tips for Making Your Personal Statement Sing. First and foremost, realize this: A large but often-unstated purpose of this statement-of-purpose assignment is to allow folks to get a sense of your ...

  20. How to write a personal statement

    Mention any skills and experience you have that are relevant to the job. Finish off with a summary of your professional goals. The structure to adopt when writing a personal statement is: Use an active voice. Keep sentences brief and paragraphs short. Make it unique to the role you're applying for. Ensure correct grammar and punctuation is ...

  21. How to start a personal statement: The attention grabber

    2. Write about why you want to study that course. Think about why you want to study the course and how you can demonstrate this in your written statement: 'Your interest in the course is the biggest thing. Start with a short sentence that captures the reason why you're interested in studying the area you're applying for and that ...

  22. 9 winning personal statement examples for a job

    Here are some examples of personal and professional statements: 1. Personal statement for a postgraduate programme. Joan David Personal statement for master's programme in Public Policy and Administration London School of Policy 'I held my first textbook when I was a 23-year-old undergraduate.

  23. How to Create and Use a Personal Brand Statement

    5 Tips for creating and using a personal brand statement When crafting your personal brand statement, it's important to be specific and relevant. Focus on your niche, expertise, and value proposition.