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How to Write a Personal Statement

A personal statement can be a key part of your college application, and you can really make yours shine by following a few tips.

[Featured Image] A lady with pink hair is holding a piece of paper with a laptop on her lap.

When you're applying to college—either to an undergraduate or graduate program—you may be asked to submit a personal statement. It's an essay that gives you the chance to share more about who you are and why you'd like to attend the university you're applying to.  

The information you provide in your personal statement can help build on your other application materials, like your transcripts and letters of recommendation, and build a more cohesive picture to help the admissions committee understand your goals.

In this article, we'll go over more about personal statements, including why they're important, what to include in one, and tips for strengthening yours.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement—sometimes known as a college essay —is a brief written essay you submit with other materials when applying to college or university. Personal statements tend to be most common for undergraduate applications, and they're a great opportunity for an admissions committee to hear your voice directly.

Many colleges and universities in the US, especially those using Common App , provide prompts for you to use. For example, "Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea" or "Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time" [ 1 ]. If the school you're interested in attending doesn't require prompts, you will likely want to craft a response that touches on your story, your values, and your goals if possible.

In grad school, personal statements are sometimes known as letters of intent , and go into more detail about your academic and professional background, while expressing interest in attending the particular program you're applying to.

Why is a personal statement important?

Personal statements are important for a number of reasons. Whereas other materials you submit in an application can address your academic abilities (like your transcripts) or how you perform as a student (like your letters of recommendation), a personal statement is a chance to do exactly that: get more personal.

Personal statements typically:

Permit you to share things that don't fit on your resume, such as personal stories, motivations, and values

Offer schools a chance to see why you're interested in a particular field of study and what you hope to accomplish after you graduate 

Provide an opportunity for you to talk about past employment, volunteer experiences, or skills you have that complement your studies 

Allow colleges to evaluate your writing skills 

Bring life to a college application package otherwise filled with facts and figures 

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How to write a personal statement.

As we mentioned earlier, you may have to respond to a prompt when drafting your personal statement—or a college or university may invite you to respond however you'd like. In either case, use the steps below to begin building your response.

Create a solid hook .

To capture the attention of an admissions committee member, start your personal statement with a hook that relates to the topic of your essay. A hook tends to be a colorful sentence or two at the very beginning that compels the reader to continue reading.

To create a captivating hook, try one of these methods:

Pose a rhetorical question. 

Provide an interesting statistic. 

Insert a quote from a well-known person.

Challenge the reader with a common misconception. 

Use an anecdote, which is a short story that can be true or imaginary. 

Credibility is crucial when writing a personal statement as part of your college application process. If you choose a statistic, quote, or misconception for your hook, make sure it comes from a reliable source.

Follow a narrative.

The best personal statements typically read like a story: they have a common theme, as well as a beginning, middle, and end. This type of format also helps keep your thoughts organized and improves the flow of your essay.

Common themes to consider for your personal statement include:

Special role models from your past

Life-altering events you've experienced

Unusual challenges you've faced

Accomplishments you're especially proud of

Service to others and why you enjoy it

What you've learned from traveling to a particular place

Unique ways you stand out from other candidates

Be specific.

Admissions committees read thousands of personal statements every year, which is why being specific on yours is important. Back up your statements with examples or anecdotes.

For instance, avoid vague assertions like, "I'm interested in your school counseling program because I care about children." Instead, point out experiences you've had with children that emphasize how much you care. For instance, you might mention your summer job as a day camp counselor or your volunteer experience mentoring younger children.

Don't forget to include detail and vibrancy to keep your statement interesting. The use of detail shows how your unique voice and experiences can add value to the college or university you're applying to.

Stay on topic.

It's natural to want to impress the members of the admissions committee who will read your personal statement. The best way to do this is to lead your readers through a cohesive, informative, and descriptive essay.

If you feel you might be going astray, ensure each paragraph in your essay's body supports your introduction. Here are a few more strategies that can help keep you on track:

Know what you want to say and do research if needed. 

Create an outline listing the key points you want to share.

Read your outline aloud to confirm it makes logical sense before proceeding. 

Read your essay aloud while you're writing to confirm you're staying on topic.

Ask a trusted friend or family member to read your essay and make suggestions.

Be true to your own voice.

Because of the importance of your personal statement, you could be tempted to be very formal with structure and language. However, using a more relaxed tone is better than you would for a classroom writing assignment. 

Remember: admissions committees really want to hear from you . Writing in your own voice will help accomplish this. To ensure your tone isn't too relaxed, write your statement as if you were speaking to an older relative or trusted teacher. This way, you'll come across as respectful, confident, and honest.

Tips for drafting an effective personal statement.

Now that you've learned a little about personal statements and how to craft them, here are a few more tips you can follow to strengthen your essay:

1. Customize your statement.

You don't have to completely rewrite your personal statement every time you apply to a new college, but you want to make sure you tailor it as much as possible. For instance, if you talk about wanting to take a certain class or study a certain subject, make sure you adjust any specifics for each application.

2. Avoid cliches.

Admissions committees are ultimately looking for students who will fit the school, and who the school can help guide toward their larger goals. In that case, cliches can get in the way of a reviewer understanding what it is you want from a college education. 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. Does every paragraph flow from one point to the next? Are the ideas you're presenting cohesive?

4. Stick to topics that aren't controversial.

It's best not to discuss political beliefs or inappropriate topics in your essay. These can be controversial; ideally, you want to share something goals- or values-driven with an admissions committee.

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Article sources

1. Common App. " 2022-2023 Common App Essay Prompts , https://www.commonapp.org/blog/2022-2023-common-app-essay-prompts." Accessed January 9, 2024.

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NSE Communication Lab

Graduate School Personal Statement

The graduate school personal statement is your chance to show the graduate committee what it would be like to have you in the department. Would you contribute positively to the program, work well with others, and have the necessary skills to undertake important research? Convince them you are worth the investment and that you’re a good match for their program through a compelling story that’s based on your concrete experiences .

If you are in a hurry, you can also check out this short video for quick tips.

1. Before you start

communications personal statement

1.1. Reflect on your experiences and goals

Reflect on your experience, motivation, and research goals. What drives your research motivations, and how do your motivations link to your background and long-term goals?

Think beyond the technical space when brainstorming ideas for your personal statement. What do you care about and value—besides getting a higher-level degree? Include experiences that demonstrate your leadership, organization, and communication skills as well. Whether it’s growing up on a farm, mentoring high school students, or leading a robotics team, these experiences can be used to demonstrate motivation, commitment, and a good work ethic. These are attributes that can help you be successful in a research lab.

1.2. Do the research on your target program

To demonstrate how well you fit with the program, you must know what they value and what they are working toward. Each department has different goals and missions; some might value fundamental science, others engineering innovation, and others societal impact. Here are initial steps to take while researching a graduate program:

  • Read the program’s website —specifically their mission statement. See what language they use to describe themselves, and echo that language in your personal statement. This is also a good place to see what kind of research is currently being performed. Looking at MIT NSE’s mission statement, what can we notice?

communications personal statement

  • Look up recent publications from your target research group (if you have one). The department’s website might not be up to date with any group’s new research directions. This will avoid the scenario where you express interest in working on a research project that has been abandoned.
  • Get in contact with faculty in your target program. If you have had a positive discussion with someone at the department, describe how those interactions indicate that you will be a good match.
  • State which professors in the program you would plan to work with and why their research interests you. Show how their research areas align with your background and your goals. You can even describe potential research directions or projects. This is even more effective if you have contacted the professor beforehand and spoken with them about the possibility of doing research for them. However, not naming a specific group of interest is not an automatic “reject.”

1.3. Consider your audience

A graduate committee will review your application and determine if you would make a successful graduate student in the department. Although the determination varies from committee to committee, the reviewers will be looking for the following criteria, which you should specifically address in your statement:

  • Your ability to perform high-quality and independent research
  • Your readiness to complete the expected coursework for your program
  • Your likelihood to be a match in the department (ex: If you are currently in a physics program, you will need to explain why you’re seeking an advanced degree in nuclear engineering).

A graduate committee is usually composed of faculty from the program of interest—and may be the same people who will spend years working with you if you’re accepted. They more than likely have the following:

  • A strong knowledge of the program’s general subject areas and familiarity with your proposed research area
  • Familiarity with the academic setting and some courses, but not necessarily the courses you have taken
  • Access to the rest of your application materials.

If applying to MIT’s Nuclear Science and Engineering department, you can assume your audience knows what a tokamak is, but you cannot expect (all of) them to know every component. Likewise, you need not list all of your courses but could emphasize one or two advanced subjects if they are relevant to your past and intended future research.

Return to Contents

2. Structure of a personal statement

communications personal statement

As long as you stay within the specifications set by your target program, you have the freedom to structure your personal statement as you wish. Still, you can use the structure shown on the right as a loose guide for demonstrating match.

2.1. Create a personal narrative 

Build a personal narrative that ties together your personal history, experiences, and motivations. In addition to a few paragraphs (2-3) at the beginning of your statement, you can weave your motivation and goals throughout your document to create a cohesive story. This cements your identity into the minds of the graduate committee. If they remember you, they will be more likely to accept you!

When crafting a personal narrative, consider the following:

  • What research directions are you passionate about, and why?
  • Was there a moment that sparked your interest in your proposed field?
  • What do you picture yourself doing in 10 years?

Keep these questions in mind as you are writing other sections of your personal statement.

2.2. Your Experiences

This section is typically 2-4 paragraphs long, with examples to illustrate your point. To decide which experiences to share, ask yourself these two questions: In which ways did this experience help me grow? Why should the review committee care? One common mistake is to describe an experience in great detail and then fail to translate it into relevant strengths that the committee would care about. Therefore, explicitly say what that experience means for your future goals, including your work as a graduate student.

2.3. Specific research interest  

Spend 1-2 paragraphs describing your research goals. Briefly summarize the projects you want to work on (and professors you’d like to work with, if applicable), and how those fit in with your experiences. Describe how your past experiences have prepared you for working on this new project in graduate school. If you’re already in graduate school, you can spend more time on this section, as it is also a part of your past experiences.

2.4. Career goals 

Finally, your long-term career goals should be a logical completion of the personal narrative you’ve built throughout the document, and usually takes up one paragraph. How will this graduate program fit into your future career? How will graduate school in general allow you to pursue these goals? Because your personal statement should show that you are a qualified match, describe how your goals overlap with those of the department or program. Your readers will not hold you to these goals, but they will see you are forward-thinking and have ambitions.

3. Maximize Effectiveness

3.1. use concrete examples.

Make your relevant experiences tangible by stating specific outcomes such as awards, discoveries, and publications. Whenever possible, try to quantify the experience. How many people were on your team? How many protocols did you develop? As a TA, how often did you meet with your students? Here are some examples of vague and concrete experiences:

3.2. Explain the meaning of your experiences

communications personal statement

  • Why was this experience important to your growth as a scientist?
  • What did you gain from or demonstrate during that experience?
  • How will this make you a better grad student?

Even if it feels obvious to you, you need to explicitly answer these questions to your audience. Here are some examples experiences that have been expanded to contain meaning:

4. Quick Tips and Additional Resources

  • Read the prompt carefully. Each school is unique, and will have unique requirements for their applications. If anything in those requirements contradicts with advice you read here or elsewhere, go with the application guidelines. Make sure your document meets criteria for length, formatting, font, file type, etc. specified in the application, and answers any specific questions asked.
  • Double check your spelling and grammar. A well-written statement demonstrates your communication skills, which are essential for success in graduate school.
  • Triple check that you have the right program and avoid accidentally putting the name of another graduate school into the document. Also check for specific labs or professors that you have mentioned in other statements. Using the search feature of your text editor will catch whatever you miss.
  • Seek feedback from someone who’s not familiar with your work. Departments are diverse and your statement should make sense to someone in your field but outside your specific research area.
  • Be strategic with letters of references. Do not go to professors who you think will write you the most positive letters. Instead, go to those who can write about specific experiences that demonstrates the skills that you want to highlight in your application. Each letter should bring new and complementing insights into who you are as a student and researcher.
  • Check out other resources , such as The Key to Successful Applications (a blog post from MIT Graduate Admissions) and Apply to Grad School from MIT’s Career Development and Professional Development (CAPD).

5. Annotated Examples

Here are examples of graduate school personal statements from students who have been accepted into MIT NSE. Note that prompts vary from program to program, and sometimes from year to year within the same department. Be sure to follow the prompt for your program and your application cycle.

To get started or receive feedback on your graduate school personal statement, make an appointment with one of us. We would love to help you!

Writing Center

Personal statements, getting started, brainstorming.

  • Why do I want to pursue graduate studies or professional training?
  • What aspect of this field is most compelling to me?
  • How have I prepared myself (e.g. with jobs, internships, research) to succeed in this field?
  • What are my academic interests and career goals?
  • Have I faced any adversities that have impacted my studies? Are there any discrepancies in my academic or personal record that should be explained?
  • What else can I say about myself to convince the committee that I am a serious candidate?
  • Why have I chosen this particular school and program?
  • How can my background, skills, or experiences contribute to the diversity of this program?

Writing Your Personal Statement

  • How did this experience change me?
  • What did I learn from this experience and how can I apply it in the future?
  • How does this experience relate to my academic or career goals?
  • What do I want the admissions committee to learn about me from this experience?

Also recommended for you:

Advice for Applying to Master's in Communication Programs

communications personal statement

Admission Requirements for a Master’s in Communication Program

Advice for applying to master’s in communication programs, #1: every part of the application matters, #2: what schools look for in prospective students, #3: advice for completing your personal statement, #4: advice on requesting letters of recommendation, #5: apply early – do not wait to submit your application, concluding remarks.

Applying to a master’s degree program can be intimidating for even the most qualified individuals. These programs are often quite selective, with a strict list of requirements applicants must fulfill in order to be considered for admission. Typically, this means meeting certain thresholds in terms of past academic performance and professional experience, as well as providing thorough documentation proving one is a good fit for graduate-level instruction. Master’s in communication programs are no exception. Many have a rigorous selection process, and prospective students will need to stand out among their fellow applicants if they hope to be accepted.

In an effort to help students navigate the application process, and maximize their chances of admission, we spoke with faculty members from some of the top master’s in communication programs in the country to get their advice on the matter. They had plenty of tips to offer, including the top qualities to demonstrate in an application, what students should address in their personal statement, and how to best go about requesting letters of recommendation. Additional advice in this article comes from a panel discussion lead by four communication professors that took place during the Graduate Student Workshop at the Western States Communication Association’s 2018 annual convention in Santa Clara, California.

Read through all the advice these professors and faculty members had to share for applying to a master’s in communication program in the sections below.

The application process and admission requirements for a master’s in communication vary by program. In order to apply, students typically must complete and submit an application form to their school of choice, along with an associated fee, if required. Many programs only accept applicants with an undergraduate GPA over a certain threshold, such as a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 or 3.0. Most often, students are required to send in official transcripts from all previous postsecondary institutions to show they meet this GPA requirement or any other academic prerequisites. Along with this, schools may ask for a resume detailing relevant professional experience, and possibly contact information for one or more references.

Two major components required by most master’s in communication programs are a personal goal statement and letters of recommendation. The personal statement is a chance for students to discuss their qualifications and what they hope to achieve in the program, all while demonstrating they are adequately prepared for graduate-level study. This gives the admissions committee a better understanding of each applicant’s personality and passions, and ultimately, whether or not they would make a good fit for the particular program. Additionally, the personal statement essay provides applicants with a place to discuss any potential weaknesses in other aspects of their application, for example, their GPA or standardized tests scores. In certain cases, additional writing samples may be requested. Some schools also require an in-person, phone, or Skype interview with program faculty, or even ask students to record a video interview answering specific questions about their background and goals.

Along with a personal statement, it is common for programs to require one or more letters of recommendation as part of the application package. These are typically written by past professors or employers who can vouch for the applicant’s personal qualifications and aptitude. Depending on their particular focus, some programs may prefer or even require letters of recommendation from a certain type of reference. For example, programs designed to prepare students for doctoral studies in communication typically prefer recommendations from professors who can speak to an applicant’s ability to succeed at the graduate level. Whereas applied communication programs that require several years of experience often prefer recommendations from employers who can better speak to an applicant’s current professional strengths.

While some master’s in communication programs require students to submit GRE or GMAT test scores as part of the application process, many do not. Those that include the GRE as an admission requirement may also do so on a conditional basis, only requiring test scores from students who fail to meet other admission criteria, such as the minimum GPA threshold. Additionally, some programs might allow students to apply for a GRE waiver based on their professional experience or past academic achievements (such as already possessing a graduate degree in another field).

An example of a program that requires the GRE on a conditional basis is the Master of Science in Communication Management program at the University of North Florida (UNF), which asks applicants for standardized test scores if their undergraduate GPA is below a 3.0. John Parmelee, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Communication at UNF, explains, “We are looking for applicants with a GPA of 3.0 or higher in all work attempted in the last 60 credit hours of undergraduate study. If it’s much lower than our usual standard of 3.0, applicants will need to provide additional evidence that they are ready for graduate school.” In this case, Dr. Parmelee says, “The additional evidence is their choice of one of the following: either a GRE score of at least 153 verbal, 144 quantitative or a GMAT minimum 500 total score.”

It is important that prospective students pay close attention to all admissions criteria when researching master’s in communication programs, as different program types and specializations may have different requirements. For example, academic or research-based programs, such as master’s degrees in communication studies or interpersonal communication, often require the GRE, while applied communication programs, which focus on career-oriented specialties like technical communication and strategic communication, generally do not.

Many programs also have selective admission policies, meaning that even if students meet the requirements for admission, they may not be accepted to the program. Some might be highly competitive, and only enroll a small number of students each year, which in some cases may be as few as six to 10. That means only a small fraction of the students who submit applications will be accepted to the program, so a particularly strong personal statement or letter of recommendation could be the difference between being accepted and not getting into the program.

When applying to a master’s in communication program, it is important that students place equal weight on every aspect of their application. Many of the professors we interviewed stressed that they evaluate applicants holistically, taking each component of a student’s application into careful consideration when deciding who to accept. As the Director of Graduate Study for the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Leanne Knobloch, Ph.D. explains, “We evaluate students based on their application as a whole (taking into account undergraduate grades and coursework, career goals, research experience, personal statement, writing sample, GRE scores, and letters of recommendation).” She adds, “We are looking for students who are prepared for graduate-level work and have given considerable thought to their career goals. Ideal candidates spell out in their personal statement why they are interested in our department and how their interests fit with our expertise.”

We are looking for students who are prepared for graduate-level work and have given considerable thought to their career goals. Ideal candidates spell out in their personal statement why they are interested in our department and how their interests fit with our expertise.

Dr. Leanne Knobloch – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Professor Wendy Zajack, MBA, Faculty Director for the Master of Professional Studies in Integrated Marketing Communications and Design Management and Communications Programs in the School of Continuing Studies at Georgetown University, echoes these statements. “We holistically review applications so we like to see a combination of things from our students,” she says. These include, “1) a good undergraduate academic performance 2) excellent and relevant work experience – we like to see at least a year of working experience (or amazing internships). We have an opportunity to submit work samples – so please do! and 3) an application that really helps us understand why our IMC program is of interest to you and fits your career goals. This could include looking through our list of courses and letting us know which ones you are excited about, as well as an explanation of your career aspirations.”

To help get a better understanding of both the program itself and what admissions staff look for in applicants, Bernardo Alexander Attias, Ph.D., Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Communication Studies at California State University, Northridge, recommends students reach out to school faculty early on in the research process. “It’s a good idea to contact the Graduate Coordinator to find out more about whether this program meets your needs,’ he says. “It’s important to understand what you want out of a graduate program before you decide which ones to apply to.” When it comes time to submit an application, Dr. Attias stresses, “It should be clear from your personal statement that the coursework and program that we offer helps you advance your own personal and professional goals.”

Simply meeting the admission requirements for a master’s in communication program may not always be enough to secure one’s admittance. As discussed earlier, these programs often have selective admissions policies, meaning students will need to submit a noteworthy application if they hope to be accepted. Many of the faculty members we interviewed made it clear they look for well-rounded applicants, who display not only academic prowess, but an excitement about the particular program of study and where it might take their career. This is typically communicated to the selection committee through the personal goal statement and any long-form questions on the application itself, as well as through interviews with faculty members, if required during the application process. In order to stand out from the other applicants, it is important to make sure every component of one’s application demonstrates they are ready and eager to succeed in the specific master’s program they are applying to.

According to the faculty members we spoke with, here are some qualities students should be sure to demonstrate in their application:

  • A passion for academic endeavors (such as any extracurricular activities)
  • Maturity and collegiality
  • Alignment with program goals
  • Readiness for graduate school
  • Intellectual curiosity, inquisitiveness (a readiness to to think, not just read and write)
  • Excellent writing skills

Athena du Pré, Ph.D. has reviewed countless applications in her role as Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Communication at the University of West Florida. When it comes to choosing the ideal candidate, she says, “Our top priorities are evidence of academic or professional achievement and personal goals that would be well served by our curriculum.” Additionally, Dr. du Pré mentions her department looks for applicants who communicate well and show enthusiasm for the program. “We put a premium on good writing skills and inquisitiveness,” she adds. “Because this is an action-oriented program, we favor applicants who are interested in getting involved and being part of a team.”

Students who have a clear idea of what they want to do with their degree often make the best students and have the most success. An application that demonstrates both passion and clear goals gets noticed.

Dr. Rocky Dailey – South Dakota State University

This motivation to learn and excel, both in the program and professionally, is a major factor schools look for in master’s in communication applicants. Rocky Dailey, Ed.D., Online Graduate Advisor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at South Dakota State University, explains, “We look for students ready to take the next step with their professional mass communication career, so we want highly motivated individuals who come in with some professional experience to build off of.” In their application, students should be sure to convey exactly how they plan to use what they learn in the program to further their careers after graduation. According to Dr. Dailey, “Students who have a clear idea of what they want to do with their degree often make the best students and have the most success. An application that demonstrates both passion and clear goals gets noticed.”

Meina Liu, Ph.D. is the Graduate Director for the Master of Arts in Communication Management Program at The George Washington University. She too stresses the importance of illustrating exactly how one’s goals align with that of the program. “The Graduate Studies Committee reviews applications by looking at the entire package rather than one specific aspect,” says Dr. Liu. “Our MA students come from a variety of academic backgrounds, including international affairs, economics, organizational sciences, political communication, strategic communication, mass communication, women’s studies, and so on.” No matter their particular background, Dr. Liu explains, “In general, applicants that articulate a good fit between their backgrounds/interests and what our program offers are given more serious consideration than those that write a generic essay. For example, a student who describes how the program’s course offerings may help advance his or her career goals is considered to have a stronger fit and motivation than a student seeking a career in journalism.”

Due to their often interdisciplinary nature, master’s in communication programs tend to draw applicants with a wide range of industry backgrounds. While professional experience is something selection committees consider when reviewing applications, they typically place less weight on one’s specific area of expertise, and more on what students hope to achieve through the degree program. Paula Weissman, Ph.D., Program Director for the Online MA in Strategic Communication at American University, says, “We take a holistic approach to reviewing applications. All factors, including previous academic experience, professional experience, letters of recommendation, and the personal essay are considered.” As for the ideal candidate, Dr. Weissman explains, “Some students already have substantial experience in the communications industry; others are experienced in other areas, but looking to make a career switch; and a smaller number are still quite early on in their careers. We look for strong students who have a demonstrated passion for learning more about strategic communication and clear career goals that align with our degree program.”

Above all, most master’s in communication programs are looking for students who display a passion to succeed both in and out of the classroom. This enthusiasm for learning and furthering one’s career is exactly what John McArthur, Ph.D., Director of Graduate Programs at the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, hopes to find in applicants to the school’s online Master of Arts in Communication program. “At Queens, our typical students have a passion for the study of communication as a way to advance their careers in their selected industries,” Dr. McArthur explains. “We have a diverse mix of seasoned professionals who are advancing their careers and recent undergraduates who are just starting to find their place.” In his opinion, “The optimal applicant is one who can match his or her interests to the goals of our program and demonstrates the personal motivation to succeed as an online learner. Our students are practitioners AND scholars, concerned about their own development AND the development of their classmates, and ready to learn AND be a part of a vibrant community.”

One of the best ways applicants to a master’s in communication program can convey their personality, passion, and goals to the admissions committee is through their personal statement essay. This portion of the application is when students have a chance to show admissions faculty who they are as a person, and why they think they would make a good fit for the program. Transcripts and resumes only tell part of the story; schools want to know exactly what applicants hope to achieve through graduate study, as well as how these goals line up specifically with what their program has to offer. The personal statement essay is also an opportunity for students to display their writing skills, discuss any weaknesses in their qualifications, and elaborate on achievements or other elements of their background outlined elsewhere in the application.

Here are the top tips our interviewees had to offer for writing an effective and impactful personal statement essay:

  • Be authentic
  • Research the program
  • Describe your goals
  • Detail how the program will help you achieve them
  • Be an excellent communicator
  • Proofread carefully
  • Demonstrate maturity

Before students sit down to write their personal statement essay, it is important that they have thoroughly researched the program they are applying to, and are prepared to explain exactly how the curriculum aligns with their academic and professional aspirations. Rebekah Farrugia, Ph.D., Graduate Program Director for the Department of Communication and Journalism at Oakland University, says, “We encourage students applying to our MA program to do their research and take their time when crafting their Statement of Purpose.” As for the essay itself, Dr. Farrugia stresses, “It should clearly indicate why they believe that they are a good fit for our program and how their interests and goals align with our program offerings.”

In your personal statement, tell us why you want to join our master’s program. Ours specifically, not why you want to join a master’s program.

Dr. Christopher Bell – University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Another faculty member we interviewed who emphasized the importance of proper research is Magdelana Red, Ph.D., who works as the Academic Director for the Master of Arts in Communication Management Program at the University of Denver’s University College. “It sounds simple, but I love to see applications that show how students see themselves contributing to and benefitting from the MA in Communication Management,” she notes. “A strong grasp of how they’ll fit into the program (or, how they’ll get the most out of it!) demonstrates that they’ve done their homework, see the unique value proposition that we provide, and are committed to making a contribution to our community.”

According to Christopher Bell, Ph.D., the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, there are several questions students should address in their essay to show they have done the research and truly believe the program is right for them. “In your personal statement, tell us why you want to join our master’s program. Ours specifically , not why you want to join a master’s program,” he explains. “What is it about our specific program that excites you? What do you plan to study, keeping in mind that’s often going to change over the course of your time here. Whom among our professors are you looking toward working with? What are your plans for after you complete the program?” Ultimately, Dr. Bell says, “We want to know who you are, what you want to study, and why you’re choosing us. That will help us determine if we’re also choosing you.”

When it comes time to craft the statement essay, Karrin Vasby Anderson, Ph.D. from Colorado State University Fort Collins, who spoke at the Western States Communication Association’s (WSCA) 2018 annual convention, says students should be authentic and use simple declarative statements, avoiding effusive language that may read as unprofessional. Along with tailoring their personal statement to the program itself, Dr. Anderson recommends applicants highlight their professional goals and ambitions, while describing in detail how the program will help them reach these objectives. Her fellow panel member, Teresa Bergman, Ph.D., a professor at the University of the Pacific, also stressed the importance of being open and genuine in one’s goal essay, even if that means stating you are unsure about your career aspirations, but excited and open to the possibilities the program might lead to. By being as honest as possible in their personal statement, applicants can better help schools determine if they would make a good fit for the program, or ultimately be unhappy in the course of study.

Robert DeChaine, Ph.D. from California State University, Los Angeles, another speaker at the WSCA convention, emphasizes that the personal statement essay should not just be a laundry list of talents or accomplishments. Instead, he recommends applicants provide an account of their personal interests and passions, and not try to impress admissions staff with their knowledge in the field. For many schools, the way in which the essay is written is just as important as the content itself. The fourth member of the Graduate Student Workshop panel, Margaret Pitts, Ph.D., who teaches at the University of Arizona, says students should strive to be concise and display excellent communication skills in their personal statement. In particular, she likes essays that directly outline the applicant’s direction, the types of approaches they will use in the program, and who specifically (i.e. which faculty members) they hope to work with during their studies.

Of course, several of the faculty members we interviewed also recommend applicants try to make explicit connections between their professional experience and the program itself in their personal essay. For example, Judy Foster Davis, Ph.D., Chair of the Faculty Committee for the Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Program at Eastern Michigan University, suggests students applying to the program “highlight their experience connecting with customers – such as any projects in which they created customer engagement by incorporating effective contact points that provide a setting for interactive communication; or created a seamless experience for customers to interact with a brand by melding elements of marketing and/or communication across various channels to act as one unified force.” In addition to this, she says, “Displaying their understanding of the importance of branding, customer relationships, public relations, and target marketing will make for a strong application.”

Graduate school is a significantly different experience from undergraduate. It requires dedication and focus. So we’re looking for students who are mature and committed to learning about human communication, have the intellectual capability for graduate-level work, and have the drive to grow into independent thinkers.

Dr. Hye-ryeon Lee – University of Hawaii at Manoa

Along with detailing any relevant work experience, students should use their personal essay to demonstrate they are adequately prepared for the rigors of a master’s program. Director of Graduate Studies and a Professor in the Department of Communicology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Hye-ryeon Lee, Ph.D. offers this advice, “In our program, we look at several key things. First, we’re looking at your academic capability,” she explains. “Graduate school is a significantly different experience from undergraduate. It requires dedication and focus. So we’re looking for students who are mature and committed to learning about human communication, have the intellectual capability for graduate-level work, and have the drive to grow into independent thinkers.” As for the personal statement, Dr. Lee says, “You want to describe the experiences you have had and your achievements that can give us the confidence in your intellectual capability to handle the courses and projects.” She adds, “Our program is also quite demanding, so you need to have that ‘fire in the belly,’ meaning that you really care about what we study, and about understanding human communication processes.”

For Dr. Lee, ideal candidates for UH Manoa’s Master of Arts in Communicology program are those that exhibit a genuine enthusiasm towards learning. “Whatever you can do to show that you have that passion and that you’re not coming to our program simply because you didn’t know what to do after graduation is helpful to illustrate in your application,” she notes. “You should show us that this field is something that is intensely interesting to you, and that you are ready to give your all to try to study and understand and further your knowledge about how human communication processes work.”

Above all, students should see their personal statement essay as a chance to speak directly to the program faculty evaluating their application. “For your personal statement, use it as your opportunity to really talk to the admissions committee,” says Cylor Spaulding, Ph.D., Faculty Director for the Master of Professional Studies in Public Relations and Corporate Communications Program at Georgetown University. “Our committee meets almost every week for several hours to sit down and go through the applications that have come in at that time. We try to get a sense of each person’s experiences, goals, work ethic, and personality as represented on the page. So, put your best foot forward in your personal statement.”

Dr. Spaulding also suggests prospective students use their personal essay to address any potential weak spots in their application. “I would say even if you had a bad semester at some point in your undergraduate career, address that in your personal statement. Explain to the committee what was going on, because we really do look at students holistically,” he says. “If you don’t have that background in public relations, it’s not necessarily a deal breaker. But make a good case for yourself as to why this is what you want to do. We want to see what the end goal is.”

My best advice… edit. Second best piece of advice… edit again.

Dr. Michael G. Strawser – Bellarmine University

Once the personal statement is complete, students should be sure to meticulously proofread their essay multiple times to ensure there are no mistakes or omissions. “My best advice… edit. Second best piece of advice… edit again,” says Michael Strawser, Ph.D., Director of Graduate Programs for the School of Communication at Bellarmine University. “Applications with typos, spelling errors and/or mechanical/grammatical mistakes show the committee a red flag.” A strong attention to detail will not only improve the overall quality of the essay, but show admissions staff that you are taking the application seriously, and diligent about getting a spot in the program. “I am a big believer (and I hate to be cliché) in grit,” Dr. Strawser adds. “Meaning, when I read your personal statement I want to know that you are passionate about communication and will persevere through the program.”

It is typical for a master’s in communication program to ask applicants to submit several references or letters of recommendation as part of the application process. This is so admissions staff can get a better idea of each student’s personality and work ethic from people who know them firsthand, as well as corroborate certain aspects of their academic or professional background. Positive recommendations that speak enthusiastically about an applicant’s strengths and potential, while reinforcing the qualifications outlined elsewhere in their application, can help bolster one’s chances of being accepted into their program of interest, especially if the selection process is competitive.

In most cases, these letters of recommendation come from either previous instructors or employers. Some schools might explicitly require one or the other, asking for academic references over professional ones, or vice versa. Others may prefer a certain type of reference based on the program’s focus or an applicant’s background. For example, if the person applying has been out of school for a significant period of time, a recent employer may be better able to speak to their qualifications than their last professor. On the other hand, academic or research-based master’s programs often prefer letters of recommendation from undergraduate faculty members as opposed to past employers. Students interested in applying to a master’s in communication program should reach out to admissions staff beforehand to find out which type of reference is preferred.

During the Graduate Student Workshop at WSCA, Dr. Anderson, Dr. Bergman, Dr. DeChaine and Dr. Pitts also had advice for students regarding letters of recommendation. Their advice is summarized below along with information from our faculty interviews.

To get the most effective recommendations possible, students should ask for letters from people they currently know, who can speak to the kind of person they are and work they are doing at the time of application. The faculty members we interviewed also stressed the importance of selecting references that can touch on personal qualities and refer to specifics in their reference letter, meaning they should be someone who knows the applicant well. “Good letters of recommendation from people who actually know you and your work always helps,” explains Dr. Spaulding from Georgetown University. “Generic letters of recommendation are fine, but they really don’t speak to your characteristics. So even if it’s not a professor, but it’s a supervisor or someone who knows you a little better and can actually speak to why this program is a good fit for you, and what you could bring to the program, goes a long way towards selling yourself in the application.”

I highly recommend that students form relationships with their instructors and maximize their efforts at the undergraduate level to ensure strong references when applying to MA programs.

Dr. Rebekah Farrugia – Oakland University

When requesting letters of recommendation from instructors or professors, it is important for students to choose faculty members they have a close relationship with, who can address their academic prowess and potential in detail. “I highly recommend that students form relationships with their instructors and maximize their efforts at the undergraduate level to ensure strong references when applying to MA programs,” says Dr. Farrugia from Oakland University.

One way to go about this is to approach professors and tell them you are considering pursuing a master’s degree, then ask if they would be willing to have a conversation about graduate school. Tell them what you hope to achieve through your master’s studies and ask questions about different program options or the admissions process. When it comes time to ask for a letter of recommendation, they will know more about you personally and hopefully be inspired to help. Additionally, while this may not be possible for every student, if you can find professors who know faculty at the programs you are applying to, their recommendations may carry more weight, as the admissions committee will know the quality of students he or she recommends. The same goes for recommendations from professors with connections to your school or program of interest, for example, an alumnus of the program who knows exactly what it takes to succeed in that particular course of study, and can discuss why you would be a good fit.

Finally, while this may seem obvious, be sure to ask any prospective reference if they can provide you with a positive reference tailored to you specifically, not just a generic or neutral letter of recommendation. If they are unable to do so, try another instructor or faculty member.

Whether academic or professional, Kevin Meyer, Ph.D., Graduate Coordinator for the School of Communication at Illinois State University, encourages students to seek out references who have gone to graduate school themselves, and understand the importance of a strong recommendation letter. “I generally advise applicants to seek letters of recommendation from those who have attended a graduate program themselves,” he says. “These letters from faculty tend to be longer and more detailed than those from other recommenders, often speak to the academic and scholarly potential of the applicant (something the selection committee wants to know), and carry the credibility of coming from someone who knows what it takes to succeed in graduate studies.”

In order to give program faculty ample time to review one’s application, students should be sure to submit their documents as soon as possible. Several of the faculty members we interviewed warned against waiting until the deadline, as it can be harder to stand out among the sea of applications submitted at that time. Furthermore, some master’s in communication programs have rolling admission policies. This means they accept applications over a long period of time and review candidates throughout, instead of waiting for a particular deadline to make their decision. In these cases, it is possible for the program to reach enrollment capacity even before the actual application deadline. Students who are accepted after enrollment is full for a given start date typically must wait for the next start date in order to begin the program.

According to Dr. Meyer, submitting one’s application materials early is important because it gives admissions staff more time to get to know a candidate. “I always encourage applicants to have their files complete and submitted weeks before the deadline,” he explains. “The more time the selection committee can spend with a file before being inundated with a stack of materials at the deadline, the more opportunity there is for committee members to fall in love with a file.”

MastersinCommunications.com wants to thank all of the faculty we interviewed, and Dr. Anderson, Dr. Bergman, Dr. DeChaine and Dr. Pitts for their excellent advice on applying to a Master’s in Communication program. We hope this article helps prospective students who are currently in the application process or considering a graduate program in the field.


communications personal statement

Postgraduate Personal Statement Example: Communication

communications personal statement

Reading examples of personal statements can be valuable when applying to a university or college course. After all, personal statement examples can teach you how to write and structure your application, and you can quickly learn how to write a personal statement by examining others.

But with so many university personal statement examples available, how do you know if you’re reading a good one?

Postgraduate personal statements should highlight relevant academic and practical experience, research skills and ambitions and their suitability for the course. This postgraduate personal statement example for Communication clearly illustrates these three critical elements.

Studying Master’s degree personal statement examples can be especially valuable. They’re sometimes referred to as personal mission statements or statements of purpose , so if you’re tasked with writing a personal mission statement, the following example will work for you.

I’ve broken down this personal statement example section by section, with a commentary on each element. 

That way, you’ll see its strengths and weaknesses and get some inspiration for your own personal statement .

Once you’ve read the personal statement example and analysis, you’ll be able to download a pdf of the whole document, to use as inspiration for your own!

communications personal statement

Personal Statement Example: Introduction

“The power and value attached to the tools and processes of mass communication are incredible, to the extent that the exchange of ideas through digital media fills our lives. Contemporary social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook spread information and knowledge that affects everyone, impacting our unconscious thoughts and behaviours. 

As a graduate student of Communication, I aim to examine the strategies used in digital communications and understand how meaning is absorbed and actioned. I aim to continually acquire new skills, broaden my knowledge and meet new challenges. This philosophy motivates my decision to pursue a graduate degree in Communication and increase my competitive and professional edge.”

Commentary and Analysis 

The start of this personal statement is positive and immediately connects with the content and nature of the course, which is ideal. The writer also offers some opinion, although it’s uninformed and lacks a specific reference or source.

By writing “As a graduate student of Communication”, the applicant links themselves with the course in the reader’s mind. That’s a sophisticated approach that works well. There’s a general justification for the degree, but with no specific detail about a career plan or particular aspect of the course that would be of value.

If you’re struggling with your personal statement introduction, check out my article on how to write perfect opening paragraphs here .

communications personal statement

Personal Statement Example: Academic Background

“Studying Management as an undergraduate, I understood how vital internal and external communication is to a business. Keen to develop this knowledge further, I intend to learn more about persuading an audience to receive messages and act accordingly. My academic management experience will be of direct value to courses such as Marketing, Ethical Business, HR Management and Labour Relations because it’s essential to understand an organisation’s context when formulating communication strategies. 

The undergraduate curriculum offered me numerous individual and group work opportunities, and these improved my academic writing, critical thinking and collaborative skills. Responsible for coordinating the division of work within a group, I established each member’s skills and allocated roles, allowing us to complete assignments successfully. Consequently, I learned to embrace the diversity of team members’ views and realised the importance of two-way communication and active listening. 

To add to my academic preparedness for this graduate course, I also completed two online courses in Communication on Coursera. This added to my in-depth knowledge of this challenging discipline and reconfirmed my desire to study this subject.”

Commentary and Analysis

This section outlining the writer’s academic background begins well. They have connected their undergraduate studies in Management with the focus of the master’s course, linking their experience with the course content. They’ve also referenced several of the modules in the postgraduate course, deepening their connection and showing the reader that they understand the course content.

They’ve also mentioned the opportunities for collaborative work gained as an undergraduate and implied that it would be of value to the postgraduate course. However, little detail shows the reader precisely what the quality or learning outcomes of these experiences were or what the writer gained in the way of tangible skills. It doesn’t connect the group work with specific elements of the master’s course, which is a missed opportunity.

Adding that additional skills were gained by taking extra courses shows a reasonable degree of independent learning and ambition. Again, it would be more effective to directly link the learning outcomes of the online courses with specific aspects of the master’s course, to strengthen the sense of connection and suitability.

If you’d like to learn more about how to structure your personal statement or statement of purpose , check out my awesome Personal Statement Template eBook here . It’s full of detailed examples of what to include!

communications personal statement

Personal Statement Example: Practical Experience 1

“As a promotions assistant for a clothing studio, I run the official WeChat account. Having completed online courses in photo editing, I publish push articles on the official account, introducing product brand stories. One of our new lines was rooted in the goal of racial equality and used continental plate imagery as a concept, which I found very impressive. The brand hopes to call for racial equality through fashion, and I worked hard to plan a social campaign linking critical aspects of racial discrimination with potential cultural solutions. 

However, when I received the final details for content writing, I realised the design did not cover every country or follow the world map. I felt that this was a serious issue, so after communicating with the design team and the supervisor, I decided to add “only part of the plate shapes are captured, including design factors and non-political stance issues” as a statement in the post, helping the brand avoid potentially negative political responses and generating new interest and understanding in the audience.”

The first paragraph outlining the writer’s practical experience gives their application a sense of context, which is valuable. There’s a clear sense of professional connection with the course and a degree of subject-specific vocabulary, which is a positive. It’s very descriptive, however, outlining what was done but not what was learned or how it relates to the demands of the master’s degree, which should also be included.

The second paragraph shows motivation, clarity of vision, an understanding of professional communication strategies and some ethical integrity. It then needs additional content related to the course the writer is applying to, or the full value of this experience is lost.

Check out lots more examples of personal statements here , and see how they can inspire your application!

communications personal statement

Personal Statement Example: Practical Experience 2

“During my experience assisting a fashion live-streamer, I witnessed the power of communication in live-streaming commerce. The live-streamer posts videos and pictures on social media platforms such as TikTok, while other viewers comment with feedback. After these communications, they build a relationship with that creator, become her followers and recognise her as an influencer. 

When the creator live-streams related products, they are more likely to reach an agreement with her and tend to view the products she recommends as in line with their own standards. She has learned how to engage, lead and compel an audience and, subsequently, how to capitalise on that process, which is reflective of the kind of power and profitability that an in-depth knowledge of contemporary communication strategies brings. 

In summarising and feeding back follower engagement, I improved my ability to extract meaningful information from qualitative data. Additionally, communicating with customers and offering them solutions enhanced my capacity for empathy, which is a highly effective communication tool.”

Commentary and Analysis: 

This section of the writer’s personal statement shows they have experience with contemporary social media marketing strategies, illustrating a sound knowledge base.  There’s a substantial range of relevant vocabulary in use and a sense that the writer is aware of the knowledge they want to improve on as a graduate student.

The content is mainly descriptive of the writer’s experience. While aspects such as qualitative data analysis are valuable, there’s minimal discussion of why this experience or knowledge is relevant to specific parts of the course they are applying for.

The writer hasn’t clarified why empathy will be a valuable skill in the course or how the course will help them meet a specific goal in relation to this content.

The one thing that all successful personal statements have in common is that they are concise, engaging and accurate in spelling, punctuation and grammar. Consequently, I always recommend Grammarly to my students and clients. 

It’s an outstanding tool for ensuring your personal statement is rich with detail whilst hitting those all-important word limits. Check out the free version of Grammarly here , or hit the banner for more information.

communications personal statement

Personal Statement Example: Conclusion

“PLFU is an internationally renowned and culturally diverse university offering excellent teaching resources and high-profile, influential faculty staff. This, combined with a professionally and culturally diverse set of peers, provides an academically stimulating environment to draw on my experiences and gain new skills and networks. Providing students with the opportunity to apply for mentorship and internships at some of the top communication businesses in the field is another factor behind my application, as this will enable me to put prior learning into practice in real-world contexts. Additionally, studying Communication will help me strengthen my professional capabilities and increase my work prospects in the media, public relations and advertising fields, in which graduate-level data collection and analysis skills are vital.

A skilled PR role necessitates formulating communication strategies and building and maintaining strong relationships with major media. These skills can be acquired through PLFU’s rich curriculum, which includes courses on Audience Analysis, Crisis Management and Public Relations Campaigns and Cases. I look forward to developing my understanding of communication strategies and building professional skills within your respected faculty.”

This conclusion starts well. There’s a clear and concise rationale for why the candidate is keen to study this course and a sense that they have researched the faculty more broadly. The writer has also connected the value of the course to their career goals, linking to specific modules, which is an excellent strategy. 

No particular faculty members or teaching staff have been identified, and there’s no sense of wanting to participate in ongoing research projects or working with specific professors. That’s important for a postgraduate application, so don’t omit it. There’s no tangible explanation of how this candidate plans to contribute to the broader life of the university or how they will add value to the faculty. 

Overall, this personal statement clearly connects with the subject and gives the reader confidence that the writer is articulate and has researched the course. 

However, a deeper sense of the value of those experiences and a greater connection to specific elements of the course would strengthen it, as would more informed reasons for wanting to study this particular course. Including specific and relevant career aims and outlining a greater sense of the qualities they would bring to the faculty would also strengthen this application.

For more great advice, check out my article on writing an excellent final personal statement paragraph here .

communications personal statement

Click here or on the banner below to get your free download of this complete personal statement example . 

communications personal statement

Whether you’re looking for personal mission statement examples or an example of personal purpose statement, I hope this personal statement example has been helpful. Above all, I wish you every success in your academic career. 

If you’d like to work with me to develop your personal statement 1:1 and write a powerful mission statement, I’d be delighted to hear from you. 

Find out about my personal statement support services by clicking here or on the image below.

communications personal statement

Research and content verified by Personal Statement Planet .

David Hallen

I've worked in the Further Education and University Admissions sector for nearly 20 years as a teacher, department head, Head of Sixth Form, UCAS Admissions Advisor, UK Centre Lead and freelance personal statement advisor, editor and writer. And now I'm here for you...

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How to Write a Strong Personal Statement

  • Ruth Gotian
  • Ushma S. Neill

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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.

communications personal statement

  • Ruth Gotian is the chief learning officer and associate professor of education in anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, and the author of The Success Factor and Financial Times Guide to Mentoring . She was named the #1 emerging management thinker by Thinkers50. You can access her free list of conversation starters and test your mentoring impact . 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

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How To Write a Personal Statement That Stands Out

How To Write a Personal Statement That Stands Out

Table of contents

communications 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:

communications 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.

communications 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.

communications 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.

communications 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.

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

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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.

communications personal statement

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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.

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How to write a personal statement

If you want to give current article to your teenage child you might be right. But adults can be interested in it too. Personal statement is a piece of individual writing a person usually encloses to his or her university application. It's never too late to study, universities accept not only young and enthusiastic people but representatives of all ages. Anyway, we think it's vital to know how to write a personal statement. Who knows maybe next year you'll express desire to go back to school! Internet as usual can offer you a huge amount of personal statement examples for any case. We prefer to stick to theory that it should be unique and reflect best traits of your character and has a full story of your achievements. Personal statement format is not strict but of course there is a plan to follow. First is introduction. It should be catchy and captivate reader's attention from first sentence. In several blocks tell briefly but vividly about your education, experience and skills. Don't ask anyone for help, use your own words and phrases, let the committee know what a person you are. Search for tips on how to write a personal statement but do writing part yourself, without appropriating anyone's thoughts. In personal financial statement explain need of scholarship or financial aid. In personal mission statement define your primary goals you plan to achieve in life with help of high school.

Personal statement examples for different aims

Not to get lost under flood of information about personal statements, everyone should know that for each type of high school there should be a unique piece of paper.

Personal statement for graduate school won't contain any information about your desperate need of financial assistance in studying. This is what a personal financial statement for.

Planning to become a famous doctor and getting a medical certificate? Write a medical school personal statement, describe your preference. There is surely a noble reason for choosing career of doctor. After finishing studies and applying for a place in hospital as an intern there is a necessity to write residency personal statement. And again you say what made you think this very hospital would provide the best experience for you.

Dreaming of a career in jurisprudence? Be sure to make best law school personal statement ever. The competition between applicants is quite hard, as there are plenty of them. With moderate or low grades knowledge of how to write a personal statement is not just important, it's vital. When looking through samples ignore those that don't belong to necessary sphere. Medical school personal statement examples are not proper when applying for law school.

Importance of a good statement

Use of correct personal statement format is significant. Grades matter too but a brilliant piece of writing may win you a place in high school. Devote as much time as possible to compose it. Even when making a personal statement for college do your best. Examine your work several times, make notes, change part you don't like, give it to you teacher or senior to evaluate. Personal mission statement examples will help to make a right decision and sometimes completely change your mind.

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Writing the Personal Statement

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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 .



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Many applications for jobs, college, school or university places, require candidates to submit a personal statement.

For some people, this may be the first time that they have ever had to write anything like this, and it can feel like a daunting prospect.

What should you include? What should you not include? And how do you promote yourself without seeming to boast about your achievements?

This page will help you to navigate these potential pitfalls, and create a personal statement to stand out for all the right reasons.

The Purpose of a Personal Statement

A personal statement has one simple purpose: to promote you.

In other words, it should be designed to make your application stand out for all the right reasons. When they read it, the recipient should be saying:

“Wow! We really want this one to come here!”

You do, however, need to be careful not to exaggerate, as this will quickly become clear at interview, and you will not get the job or place that you want.

Before You Start

Check the requirements carefully

There are likely to be some constraints set on your personal statement. For example, you may be asked to keep what you say within a certain number of words or characters, or cover certain issues. Check these requirements carefully both before you start, and when you think you have finished, and make sure that what you do is consistent with them.

Think about what you want to include

Make a list of the things that you really want the person receiving your personal statement to know about you.

You might, for example, want them to know why you want to attend this college, or study this course, or you might want them to know that you have recently been involved in an activity that has really helped you decide what you want to do with your life. List these things, and then check back when you have finished to make sure that you have included them.

You can add to this list as you go if you think of other things that should be included.

What to include in your Personal Statement

There are no hard and fast rules about what exactly you should include, or indeed, exclude.

It will depend on you, and what you are trying to demonstrate in your personal statement.

However, there are some simple rules that you should follow to decide what to include.

1. Show that you know what you are talking about

When you write a covering letter for a job application , you need to show that you understand the nature of the job. When you write a personal statement, you also need to show that you understand what you are applying for .

If it is a university course, demonstrate that you know about the course or subject, and what studying it will involve. If it is a sixth form, show that you are interested in your potential subjects, and the college or school. If a job, show that you understand something about what you will have to do each day, and that you have knowledge of the company or organisation.

2. Say why you want to study the course or do the job.

You may think this is obvious, but the reader does not know. It is worth explaining what makes you interested in the subject or job. You might, for example, say how you first came across the subject, and what interested you, then what you have done to explore it further.

3. Focus on what makes you unique and suitable, and include evidence

The purpose of a personal statement is to make you stand out from the crowd, for all the right reasons. It therefore needs to focus on what makes you unique, and why the employer/school/college/university should select you over and above all the other candidates.

Your personal statement should, therefore, explain what skills you have, and also why they are relevant to the course or job. Always include evidence to back up your assertions about your skills and, wherever possible, use independent witnesses. For example, instead of saying:

‘I have really good communication skills’

You should be saying:

‘I have really good communication skills, honed by a year spent as secretary to the Sixth Form committee and running an events group. Teachers commented that the notes of meetings and messages to others were particularly clear’.

You can include information from all areas of your life: work, home, school, extra studies, and so on, but do make sure it is part of explaining how you are suitable.

4. Make sure that everything you include is relevant

Focus on what you really need to get across, and make sure that is fully covered. Check that everything that you have said is relevant to the task in hand. This may well mean cutting down some of the explanations of what you were doing when you developed that particular skill, but that is better than excluding details of another relevant skill.

Deciding on the Structure of Your Personal Statement

You may be given guidelines on structure. If so, follow them.

If not, it is a good idea to decide on a structure before you start, and stick to it. Rather like an essay, a good broad outline is something like:

  • An opening paragraph to explain why you want to attend that school/college/university, and why you want to study that course, or why you think you would be perfect for the job.
  • A middle section , which provides all the evidence to back up your opening paragraph, broken down into some sensible order.
  • A conclusion , which sums up your statement, and reminds the reader of your perfect fit for the course or job.

Some style rules to follow

Avoid clichés and jargon

A cliché is a word or phrase that is overused in writing. For a personal statement, it might include comments like:

“I have always wanted to be a lawyer”
“I just want to help people, and that’s why I want to study medicine”

Instead, try to use your own words. Read them out loud, and make sure that you don’t sound like a character in a bad soap opera. There is more about this on our page: Clichés to Avoid .

Draft, draft, and draft again

You will not get it right first time, or possibly even the second. Keep drafting and tweaking until you are sure it is as clear as possible, and says everything that you need. Be prepared to have at least two or three drafts before you are satisfied, and make sure you leave enough time for this before your deadline.

Use plain English and keep it simple

Plain English is always better than using complicated language. Keep it simple, and keep your sentences short. As a rule of thumb, sentences should not be much longer than one line. It is also a good idea to avoid sub-clauses, as these can over-complicate your text.

Reduce, reduce and reduce some more, until you are absolutely certain that you have used no more words than necessary, and the simplest words possible.

If you are not sure about this, have a look at our page on Plain English .

Reading something out loud is a very good way to make sure it is easy to read. If you find you are getting lost in your own sentences, you will need to shorten them, and make them simpler.

When you have finished…

Read it over carefully for any errors or inconsistencies

When you think you have finished, read your personal statement over carefully, and check for spelling and grammatical errors. The spelling and grammar checks in word processing packages are not fully reliable, but they will be a good starting point.

Ask someone else to check it over for you

It is a good idea to ask someone else to read your personal statement over for you as they may spot errors that you have missed, and also bits that are not as clear as they could be.

Check that you have included everything that was on your initial list of ideas

Go back to your initial list of ideas, and make sure that you have included everything.

And finally…

…remember that every personal statement is unique.

It is no good copying someone else’s, or using the same one for several different applications. Of course you will be able to reuse elements of previous versions, especially if you are, for example, applying to several different schools at the same time, or for several jobs. But it needs to be tailored: specific to both you and the situation.

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Media and communication personal statement example.

Considering my skills and interests, I believe, I would find fulfillment in working in the creative industry. I am aware that media jobs are highly competitive and that is why I decided to apply for the British university. The variety of modules and professional video and audio equipment would help me to develop my talents. The education gotten at your university combined with my language skills and commitment to the subject would allow me to pursue a career in the dream field.

Nowadays media plays a significant role in our lives and I want to understand the way it influences us. The psychological aspect of media appears to be fascinating to me as well as the fact that it works closely with a range of other disciplines, like history or modern languages. I especially value the knowledge of modern languages, and that is why I took part in a student exchange in Germany and finished with the certificate “Education First” language course in London.

These experiences not only appeared to be an effective way of learning but also provided me with the unique opportunity to meet people from all around the world and develop some important communication skills. Even though, I still consider myself as an individualist, I manage to work effectively in a team of people from different cultures, therefore, with various points of view. That is because I am able to express my opinion in the discussion while listening and respecting coworkers. I also gained problem-solving skills and adaptability, which I believe, are very important qualities while working in such fast evaluating job. The time spent overseas increased my global issues awareness and as a consequence made me an empathic person, ready to take action.

Effective time management and organizational skills allow me to get excellent results at school while not giving up my greatest hobbies – literature and films. Reading books not only broadens my general knowledge but also enhances my creativity. My passion for literature is one of the reasons why I enjoy writing. My feedback from the teachers on my essays have always been very satisfying. The written assignments are challenge I am always willing to take to test my knowledge and skills. I was involved in creating a school’s newspaper the whole time I was attending junior high school. I refer to it as a rewarding experience not only because it allowed me to improve my writing abilities, but also taught me how to be disciplined and meet deadlines.

When it comes to the second biggest passion of mine, films, I am not a passive viewer. Analysing film productions let me develop critical thinking. I pay attention to every single detail which I am always willing to discuss in the group of friends or online. The process of production interests me no less. In fact, I created my own content. Together, with my friends, we won the nationwide film contest organised by Macmillan Publishers. The success is valuable for me mostly because I wrote the script as well as edited the video.

Attending an interesting course, meeting international students and being active in societies can enrich me as a person, not only as a prospective employee. It comes without saying that attending your university would appear highly beneficial for me. I believe that I will be a capable and motivated student which comes from the passion for the subject and I am willing and determined to put extra effort to pursue the dream career in media. I believe that with my creativity, energy and hard work, I would appear as a valuable person who can add something new to the academic society.

Profile info

There is no profile associated with this personal statement, as the writer has requested to remain anonymous.

Author's Comments

Hi, I'm a little bit overwhelmed. I'm Polish and that's why I didn't mention A-levels. I hope there are no gramma/spelling mistakes. I'm afraid that my PS is not good enough. Please, if you have any suggestions, help me.

This personal statement is unrated

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Hope Hicks, former Trump confidant, testifies against him in New York criminal trial

Ximena Bustillo headshot

Ximena Bustillo

communications personal statement

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, one of President Trump's closest aides and advisers, arrived to meet behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee, at the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 27, 2018. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, one of President Trump's closest aides and advisers, arrived to meet behind closed doors with the House Intelligence Committee, at the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 27, 2018.

NEW YORK — Hope Hicks, a Trump-era White House adviser and communications director, testified in former President Donald Trump's criminal trial on Friday.

Hicks' name had been brought up by several witnesses who have testified before her. She was questioned by prosecutors about her knowledge of the deal brokered between Trump and the leadership at the National Enquirer tabloid to "catch and kill" stories that could harm his 2016 presidential run and the campaign's handling of the media fallout of those stories.

Hicks was the ninth witness to testify in Manhattan against the former president. Trump faces 34 felony counts alleging that he falsified New York business records in order to conceal damaging information to influence the 2016 presidential election. Trump claims the trial itself is "election interference" because of how it is disrupting his 2024 bid for president because he must be present in court every day and can't campaign when he is.

On social media and to reporters outside the courtroom, Trump reiterated his claim that the trial is a witch hunt. Although he said he could not comment on testimony because of a gag order , he said he was "very interested in what took place today."

Who is Hope Hicks? And how does she fit into the prosecution's case?

Hicks has worked for Trump since 2014 when she worked for the Trump Organization under Ivanka Trump, the former president's daughter, and Trump himself. Hicks joined Trump's first presidential campaign in 2015 as press secretary. After Trump was elected, she joined the administration as director of strategic communications and later as communications director . She resigned from the role in 2018 .

Hicks went on to join the Fox Corp., as chief communications officer and executive vice president but came back to the White House in 2020 as an aide to Jared Kushner, Ivanka's husband, and counselor to Trump.

First day of Trump's hush money trial kicks off with opening statements and a witness

First day of Trump's hush money trial kicks off with opening statements and a witness

Politics Weekly Roundup: Hush Money, Pocket Money

The NPR Politics Podcast

Politics weekly roundup: hush money, pocket money.

Hicks' early testimony detailed her history with the Trump family, both in business and in politics. While on the stand, she detailed the moments in which the Access Hollywood tape first came out and the campaign response to it.

Hicks also testified to receiving a media inquiry from a Wall Street Journal reporter who was seeking comment from the campaign for a story on the allegations that Trump had an affair with Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels. Trump has denied both allegations.

She acknowledged that during that time, the focus for those in Trump's orbit was the election. Hicks said it also would have been out of character for Cohen to issue the payment to Daniels "out of the kindness of his heart," as she said Trump suggested to her then.

Hicks said she didn't know Cohen to be "charitable" and is the "kind of person who seeks credit."

In earlier testimony, David Pecker, former publisher of the National Enquirer , testified that Hicks was in and out of an initial meeting he had in August 2015 where the deal to aid the campaign was made. Hicks also used to work for a communication and strategy firm that worked with American Media Inc., which at the time owned the National Enquirer .

In testimony Friday, she said she recalled often being in and out of meetings with Trump at Trump Tower and had seen Pecker at Trump Tower, but she didn't remember any meeting details.

During opening statements, prosecutors noted the Access Hollywood tape was released a month before the election.

"The campaign went into immediate damage control mode," prosecutor Matthew Colangelo said in opening statements, adding that Trump received word the next day that another woman — Daniels — was about to come forward with her own alleged sexual encounter with the GOP nominee.

A story of infidelity with a porn star would have been damaging to the campaign, Colangelo said, and Trump wanted to "prevent American voters from learning about that information before Election Day."

In 2019 hundreds of pages of court papers were made public and showed communication between Hicks, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Pecker, Trump and others in the fallout of the release of the tape and in the lead up to the deal with Daniels.

The payments made constitute the 34 "falsified" business records the prosecution alleged Trump made. In opening statements, prosecutors argued that Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen submitted 11 "phony invoices" paid for by checks with "false entries" signed by Trump himself.

Trump has pleaded not guilty and instead argues that all he did was pay his lawyer.

What did Trump's lawyers ask her about?

Hicks got emotional asking for a break as she sniffled when asked about her history with the Trump Organization.

When asked if Cohen was on the campaign, Hicks said not formally and the campaign had separate counsel though Cohen made statements and TV appearances. She notes that Cohen would call himself Trump's "fixer."

"I used to say that he liked to call himself a fixer or Mr. Fix It, and it was only because he first broke it," Hicks said prompting laughter in the courtroom.

Trump lawyer Emil Bove also asked Hicks if it was a regular practice to work with the media to promote stories, such as amplifying positive stories.

"I have only been on one campaign, and it was a great one," Hicks said, acknowledging that it was commonplace in the Trump campaign. "I wouldn't have a job if that wasn't a regular practice."

When answering questions for the prosecution, Hicks also noted that when media reports first came out about the payments and alleged affairs, Trump was concerned about the story and how it would be viewed by his wife, Melania. "He wanted to make sure the newspapers weren't delivered to their residence that morning," she said.

In opening statements, Trump's lawyers aimed to establish that any payment to keep stories out of the press had less to do with the election and more to do with Trump's protection of his family.

Trump ordered to pay $9,000 for violating gag order in criminal hush money trial

Trump ordered to pay $9,000 for violating gag order in criminal hush money trial

Who else has the jury heard from so far.

Jurors have heard from eight other witnesses including:

  • David Pecker , former CEO of American Media Inc. He testified about making a deal with Trump and Cohen in 2015 to help Trump's campaign by finding potentially damaging stories and helping to kill them.
  • Keith Davidson , the former lawyer for McDougal and Daniels' who negotiated their payments in exchange for the rights to their stories. He testified and verified various text messages, phone calls and conversations surrounding the deals.
  • Rhona Graff, a longtime executive assistant at the Trump Organization. She testified against her former boss about how she entered McDougal's and Daniels' contact information into the Trump Organization's directory. Her testimony verified Trump's contact lists.
  • Gary Farro, a former banker at First Republic Bank. He testified about opening accounts for Cohen that would eventually be used to pay Daniels. He said if he had known what the accounts would be used for they may not have ever been opened. 
  • Robert Browning, executive director for archives for C-SPAN. He verified two 2016 Trump campaign clips and one 2017 press conference clip where Trump called Cohen a talented lawyer and where Trump called allegations from women lies.
  • Phillip Thompson of Esquire Deposition Solutions. He verified video and transcript of a 2022 deposition Trump gave for his civil defamation lawsuit against writer E. Jean Carroll. In a video clip played from the deposition, Trump confirms his wife is Melania Trump and his Truth Social handle, among other things.
  • Doug Daus, a supervising forensics analyst in the Manhattan District Attorney's office. He testified to authenticating phone data; prosecutors played a recording of Cohen and Trump in which Cohen can be heard telling Trump, "I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David."
  • Georgia Longstreet, a paralegal in the Manhattan DA's office . She testified to analyzing Trump's social media posts.
  • National Enquirer
  • White House
  • trump organization

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    J. Scott Applewhite/AP. NEW YORK — Hope Hicks, a Trump-era White House adviser and communications director, is next to testify in former President Donald Trump's criminal trial. Hick's name has ...

  26. China Seen as Likely Culprit in UK Defense Ministry Hack

    By Alex Wickham. May 7, 2024 at 12:32 AM PDT. UK armed forces personnel had personal data accessed in a recent cyberattack that was likely carried out by China, British officials familiar with the ...

  27. A cooperatively breeding mouse shows flexible use of its vocal

    Mice exchange information using chemical, visual and acoustic signals. Long ignored, mouse ultrasonic communication is now considered to be an important aspect of their social life, transferring information such as individual identity or stress levels. However, whether and how mice modulate their acoustic communications is largely unknown. Here we show that a wild mouse species with a complex ...