drama college personal statement

Undergraduate Personal Statement Example: Drama and Theatre Studies

drama college 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?

Undergraduate personal statements should highlight relevant academic and practical experience, academic skills, ambitions and suitability for the degree field. This undergraduate personal statement example for Drama and Theatre Studies clearly illustrates these three critical elements.

Undergraduate degree personal statement examples are 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 can download a pdf of the whole document to use as inspiration for your own!

drama college personal statement

Personal Statement Example: Introduction

“Performance holds a mirror up to the world and asks questions that we may be too scared to ask individually. It will always be integral to society, and part of that power comes from the force of the ensemble. Studying drama has made me observe life through a different lens and harness the vital tool of the imagination. My secondary school had a theatre in the round with lighting rigs and the opportunity to create varied set designs with a devoted staff team. It was here that I learnt so much of what I know and where my inspired appreciation for performing arts became something I never wanted to stop doing.”

My Commentary and Analysis 

There are lots of different elements present in the first couple of sentences of this undergraduate personal statement example. The writer quite succinctly offers their own definition of drama and links this to an element of the subject inherent in most degree courses.

They go on to give a sense of their personal connection with the subject and then reference some quite generalised experiences. This allows them to sow the seeds of their long-term engagement and reiterate their commitment to the subject.

However, I would suggest that this is a relatively vague opening. There are very few specifics of terminology or experience, and this would have been an excellent opportunity to connect their views with an artist or practitioner they admired. This would have shown a bit more depth of knowledge and engagement.

The term ‘much of what I know’ is also quite vague. The writer could have identified some practical skills or techniques and discussed the value of what they’ve learned.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that Drama and Theatre Studies is largely a practical and experiential subject. Any personal statement should make some reference to the writer’s acting skills, as this is a key indicator of suitability for most courses.

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

drama college personal statement

Personal Statement Example: Section 2

“I learnt how to balance a full schedule through participating in extracurricular opportunities. Directing a play at fourteen exposed the complexities of preproduction roles and how an impact is achieved through different mediums. Around the same age, I began duo Vanguard acting lessons, where I was first introduced to the idea of exploring characters and how to portray them. I later progressed onto solo LAMDA examinations, achieving grade 8 with honours. I was beginning to learn the practice of ensemble work, and joining the local theatre youth group allowed me to expand my horizons beyond the curriculum. This bought to light the uniting force of theatre, a safe space for everybody which nurtures growth in creative spirit and confidence.

In year two of BTEC performing arts, with a cast of five, I curated an immersive Oedipus adaptation that propelled the audience into ancient Greece. This was a tumultuous project, where a new challenge seemed to arise after the last was solved. I poured an abundance of energy and care into the process, and it’s my proudest performance. This collaborative process was special to be part of, and I harnessed the skills I learnt for film projects on Art and Design Foundation. Acting in seven student films in spring familiarised me with on-set practices, and I often offered direction or design ideas. Used to working with a variety of people, I quickly improvised and built dynamics with cast members on the day of production. I have since been asked back to act in more recent projects.”

My Commentary and Analysis

The writer has done a good job of summarising their experience within the subject. Showing a range of experiences within directing, acting and studying show a breadth of engagement over time, which is another strong indicator of their suitability.

It would have been even more effective if the writer had outlined the value of these experiences in relation to their ambitions for a degree. They could also have used these elements to outline how suitable they were for a degree course by making links between their skills and typical course demands.

Referring to their BTEC course makes it clear that the candidate has a good range of experience at a higher level. Again, however, there is no real indication of the skills the writer used. Devising, editing, improvisation, directing, design? Which practitioners were used as inspiration? What academic research was carried out in the project, and why is this useful in relation to a degree?

The reader won’t really be very interested in whether it’s the writer’s proudest performance, and in an undergraduate personal statement, which is limited to a low number of characters, this is a bit of a waste of space. They want to know how it has inspired the writer or given them skills that will allow them to be successful in relation to the courses they’re applying for. 

A good way for the writer to communicate this is to write about how they overcame the challenges they mentioned.

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!

drama college personal statement

Personal Statement Example: Section 3

“I explored the breadth of my creativity on the foundation but focused on photography, film, and textiles. In film classes, I learned more about production by trying out directing, scriptwriting, and cinematography. I frequently discussed TV and film analysis with an interest in the symbolism of cinematography. The creative environment changed my perception of artistry. I now use art as personal documentation, amongst other things, such as the sketchbook I took interrailing in summer, and beginning to create my own clothes. Another form of self-care I indulge in is yoga, where diligence and consistency in practice are vital.”

It’s always sensible to reference related aspects of your previous courses of study, but only if they are relevant. Here, the courses taken are largely relevant to a Drama and Theatre Studies degree, but the outcomes don’t particularly develop the reader’s understanding of the writer’s suitability for the course.

Many of the elements referenced are valuable components of an actor’s preparation, but I don’t see significant justifications made between these and how they make the writer a suitable candidate.

There is little tangible sense of what’s been learned or its value.

References to self-care are welcomed, and certainly, the yoga practice speaks to the writer’s level of physical fitness and stamina, but it is all quite vague and undeveloped.

This is beginning to drift from a personal statement about Drama to a general description of accomplishments, preferences and experiences. Given the highly competitive field, it’s unlikely that the content so far would result in an offer being made, although the practical audition process is critical in this discipline.

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

drama college personal statement

Personal Statement Example: Section 4

“Now taking a year out, I am a full-time waitress and planning my route for solo travelling around Asia. Taking three essay subjects at A-level developed my critical analysis skills and written voice. In English Language, I thoroughly enjoyed cross-examining articles from different decades for an independent research project. Amongst other topics in Classics, I studied the origins of theatre from religious practice to the earliest examples of tragedy in the late 5 th century. I am an avid reader and have continued to learn through books such as Stanislavksy’s An Actor Prepares , Stephen Fry’s Mythos and Bill Bryson’s Mother Tongue.”

My Commentary and Analysis: 

There is some reference here to the value of related studies, as mention is made of transferable skills. In that sense, the content has a degree of merit. Gap year plans are only worth including if they have a direct and positive bearing on the courses being applied for. 

What the reader really wants to understand about a gap year is how that time will be spent building skills, knowledge or contacts that will increase the applicant’s chances of successfully completing the degree courses (and hopefully adding value to the experiences of their peers).

There’s mention here of undertaking a research project, but no clarity on which skills or techniques were used, which lessens the impact. 

Published works are referenced, which is positive, but no arguments are made, and there’s no discussion of the contents. Nothing here is developed, and there’s no evidence that the writer has actually read the books. 

If you mention having read books, don’t just write a list. Pick a couple and explain their impact on you, how your thinking has been altered or how valuable you find the knowledge they contain. 

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.

drama college personal statement

Personal Statement Example: Conclusion

“Through academic learning and practical development, I have built a strong foundation of knowledge about the Performing Arts industry. In this industry, one never stops learning. Every individual you meet or place you go to is an opportunity for a fresh perspective. Immersion in performance studies would help me realise how I can bring my varied skills into what I offer as an artist. The next stepping stone towards my career is a multidisciplinary course allowing me to explore pathways whilst sharpening my academic and performance skills.”

The writer uses some relevant vocabulary here, summarising the importance of the course to their ambitions. This is a sound idea, but quite limited in detail.

What are the writer’s actual ambitions beyond the course? How will the course be ideal for bridging the gap to a creative career? What kind of areas might the writer want to work in, and how might some of the general modules of the courses be of value?

In summary, I feel there needs to be a far stronger focus on the writer’s acting work, the precise skills developed and exactly how these will be of value on the course. For a Drama application, there’s not much actual evidence of engagement or an understanding of the industry or the creative sector as a whole.

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

drama college personal statement

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

drama college 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.

drama college 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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Crafting an impactful personal statement for drama school can be quite a daunting task. It is disheartening to observe that many applicants often receive inadequate guidance, leading to the creation of lackluster personal biographies rather than compelling statements. In the pursuit of gaining admission, applicants frequently resort to the “pick me, pick me, pick me!” approach, which fails to make a lasting impression. What most schools fail to realize is that they often lack the expertise to guide students on how to write an effective personal statement. Thus, many candidates end up with a subpar submission that does not effectively showcase their true potential and passion for drama. Aspiring students need to recognize the tremendous impact a well-crafted personal statement can have on the admissions panel, and they must strive to make their submission stand out as a powerful testament to their abilities.


Undoubtedly, one of the most common misconceptions among auditionees is that the personal statement’s significance pales in comparison to their acting abilities. While it is true that acting prowess holds substantial weight in the evaluation process, discounting the influence of a compelling personal statement would be a grave mistake. The moment an applicant places that sheet of paper before the admissions panel, they essentially offer a glimpse into their personality, aspirations, and potential. Given that this piece of writing can significantly influence the panel’s decision, it is crucial to ensure that the personal statement is nothing short of remarkable. By infusing the statement with authenticity, passion, and confidence, candidates can increase their chances of leaving a lasting impression on the evaluators.


The task of writing a personal statement is not to be underestimated; it presents an unparalleled opportunity for an applicant to speak for themselves. However, this opportunity comes with great responsibility. As a prospective drama student, one must ponder over the message they wish to convey through their personal statement. The first step in this process is to ask oneself, “What do I want the reader to know, think, feel, and do after reading my statement?” By employing a thoughtful approach that aligns with the know/think/feel/do framework, candidates can strategically plan the content and structure of their personal statement. Articulating specific objectives for the reader’s takeaway ensures that the writing remains focused and impactful.


Aspiring drama students should also consider a few essential questions to answer in their personal statements to create a well-rounded and compelling narrative. Firstly, why are they applying for a particular acting course at a specific school? If possible, candidates should conduct thorough research on the course and offer specific evidence to support their choice. A vague response such as, “It’s a practical course,” lacks depth and conviction, as every drama school typically offers practical training. Therefore, candidates must delve into the unique aspects of their chosen program and articulate their reasons for pursuing it.

Another critical question to address in the personal statement is the reason behind the applicant’s profound interest in acting and their aspirations for a future career in this field. While it is understandable that many have nurtured dreams of becoming an actor from an early age, it is essential to elucidate what aspects of acting and the profession particularly intrigue them. Demonstrating a thorough understanding of the profession and the journey ahead is a powerful way to showcase one’s commitment and passion.


Furthermore, the personal statement should shed light on the candidate’s suitability for the chosen course. This goes beyond simply recounting high school experiences in a musical or theater production. Instead, applicants should focus on identifying and highlighting the specific qualities, skills, and background experiences that make them uniquely suited for the course. Admissions panels are interested in candidates who possess the qualities that align with the demands of a rigorous drama program.


In addition to discussing past experiences, the personal statement should provide insights into how the candidate’s current or past education relates to studying acting. This is an opportunity to demonstrate that the decision to pursue acting is not a spur-of-the-moment one. By illustrating the progression and commitment to acting thus far, applicants can provide a compelling narrative of their journey and showcase their genuine interest in the craft.


A candidate’s passion and dedication to acting should be evident throughout the personal statement. To emphasize this commitment, applicants can detail the various steps they have taken to demonstrate their interest and devotion to a future in acting. Whether it involves reading plays for pleasure, attending theatre performances, delving into books on acting, or immersing themselves in documentaries related to the performing arts, showcasing their active engagement with the craft can strengthen the statement’s impact.

Finally, an exceptional personal statement should delve into the candidate’s unique personality traits that make them especially suitable for the chosen course. Whether it is maturity, creativity, imagination, resilience, or any other attributes, providing specific examples and anecdotes that highlight these qualities adds depth and authenticity to the statement. By showcasing these personal attributes, applicants can illustrate how they align with the requirements and expectations of a rigorous drama school program.


As applicants navigate the process of composing their personal statement, they must keep in mind that this piece of writing is, in essence, a marketing tool for themselves. Therefore, honesty, directness, and authenticity are paramount. While it may be tempting to craft a statement that caters to perceived expectations, such an approach often results in generic, wishy-washy content. Instead, the personal statement should reflect the applicant’s true self and provide the admissions panel with an intimate and genuine insight into their character and passion for acting.

In conclusion, crafting an exceptional personal statement for drama school is a multifaceted task that requires careful thought, introspection, and honesty. Aspiring students must seize this opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the admissions panel by showcasing their passion, commitment, and suitability for the chosen course. By addressing critical questions, highlighting relevant experiences, and infusing the statement with authenticity, candidates can create a compelling narrative that sets them apart from other applicants. As they embark on their journey into the world of acting, a well-crafted personal statement can be the key to unlocking the doors to their dreams. For those seeking guidance or coaching throughout the audition process, reaching out for assistance from professionals, such as those at [email protected], can prove invaluable in refining their personal statement and enhancing their chances of success.

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What to include in a Personal Statement

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Personal Statement Tips

Personal statement example ba (hons) drama and dance.

Submitted by Sophie

BA (Hons) Drama and Dance

I want to study Dance at university I have always wanted to do dance and I have found that it is something that comes naturally to me. I have always found dance and the preforming art industry, there are no two days that are the same. Every time I dance, I want to feel that I have improved in different abilities.

I am currently studying BTEC dance, drama and, photography. I have enjoyed studying dance at college, I have done a lot of different styles of dance in college and I feel that it is a good way discovering new ways of dancing. In a group, we have had to choreography a dance based on mental health and my part in this was to interrupt different movements that would link to mental health which I really enjoyed doing. Outside of lessons I always want to get involved with anything to do with dance because I want to learn more skill and develop my skills in all different ways in dance so I volunteered to do the college production which are always really fun and amazing to be involved in because I get to show of my skills as a dancer. In Footloose I was a main dancer and an extra in the play.

I also do dance outside of college at a dance school, the main style is contemporary and we also explore over dancers such as jazz dance. We do showcases to show off our ability, we do this twice a year in the local community.

Studying drama , I do practical and theory work. The practical has brought out a lot of my confidence, also the ability to perform in a way where I can show off my skills when performing. I have enjoyed studying Arto, I like his style because it very different and the play doesn’t have to make sense. Following this in a group we had to write are own script and perform it to the other students.

In photography, I enjoy this creative subject because all of my ideas are accepted and find I come up with many ideas. I like using light photography as there is a lot of different ways to use light photography, I have done my own work using light photography, I had to use a mobile phone to capture the image of light streaks.

I was an acrobatic gymnast for eight years, I have found that been a gymnast it has help me with my dancing when doing routines. and I was an assistant coach and I did this volunteer because I have a lot of passionate for acrobatic gymnastic.

I am currently employed at TGIFridays as a severing assistant and a door host. My confidence has developed through working here and has helped me with my communication skill as I feel comfortable speaking with customers. I have also learned skills that I need balance for, I have to three plates carry and three drinks carry; this is a skill that I have learnt over time and I’m still leaning over different skills within my job. I have also gained another skill which is working in a team.

In my spare time, my interest is an extension of my college studies but I also enjoy meeting up with friends.

Going to university is something that I want to do because I want to study further in an area that really interests me and it will also give me better career opportunities as well as different skills and knowledge. Dance has always been an interest of mine, this is where I can be the most creative and make it personal therefor I feel I would be really successful on this course.

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drama college personal statement

How to Write a Personal Statement That Wows Colleges

← What Is an Application Theme and Why Is It Important?

10 Personal Statement Examples That Work →

drama college personal statement

  Most of the college applications process is fairly cut and dry. You’ll submit information about your classes and grades, standardized test scores, and various other accomplishments and honors. On much of the application, your accomplishments must speak for themselves. 

The personal statement is different though, and it’s your chance to let your voice be heard. To learn more about the personal statement, how to choose a topic, and how to write one that wows colleges, don’t miss this post.

What is the Personal Statement?

Personal statements are used in both undergraduate and graduate admissions. For undergrad admissions, personal statements are any essays students must write to submit their main application. For example, the Common App Essay and Coalition Application Essay are examples of personal statements. Similarly, the ApplyTexas Essays and University of California Essays are also good examples .

Personal statements in college admissions are generally not school-specific (those are called “supplemental essays”). Instead, they’re sent to a wide range of schools, usually every school you apply to. 

What is the Purpose of the Personal Statement?

The personal statement is generally your opportunity to speak to your unique experiences, qualities, or beliefs that aren’t elsewhere represented on the application. It is a chance to break away from the data that defines you on paper, and provide a glimpse into who you really are. In short, it’s the admissions committee’s chance to get to know the real you.

So, what are colleges looking for in your personal statement? They are looking for something that sets you apart. They are asking themselves: do you write about something truly unique? Do you write about something common, in a new and interesting way? Do you write about an aspect of your application that needed further explanation? All of these are great ways to impress with your personal statement.

Beyond getting to know you, admissions committees are also evaluating your writing skills. Are you able to write clearly and succinctly? Can you tell an engaging story? Writing effectively is an important skill in both college and life, so be sure to also fine-tune your actual writing (grammar and syntax), not just the content of your essay.

Is your personal statement strong enough? Get a free review of your personal statement with CollegeVine’s Peer Essay Review.

How To a Choose A Topic For Your Personal Statement

Most of the time, you’re given a handful of prompts to choose from. Common personal statement prompts include:

  • Central aspect of your identity (activity, interest, talent, background)
  • Overcoming a failure
  • Time you rose to a challenge or showed leadership
  • Experience that changed your beliefs
  • Problem you’d like to solve
  • Subject or idea that captivates you

One of the questions that we hear most often about the personal statement is, “How do I choose what to write about?” For some students, the personal statement prompt triggers an immediate and strong idea. For many more, there is at least initially some uncertainty.

We often encourage students to think less about the exact prompt and more about what aspects of themselves they think are most worthy of highlighting. This is especially helpful if you’re offered a “topic of your choice” prompt, as the best essay topic for you might actually be one you make up!

For students with an interesting story or a defining background, these can serve as the perfect catalyst to shape your approach. For students with a unique voice or different perspective, simple topics written in a new way can be engaging and insightful.

Finally, you need to consider the rest of your application when you choose a topic for your personal statement. If you are returning from a gap year, failed a single class during sophomore year, or participated extensively in something you’re passionate about that isn’t elsewhere on your application, you might attempt to address one of these topics in your statement. After all, the admissions committee wants to get to know you and understand who you really are, and these are all things that will give them a deeper understanding of that.

Still, tons of students have a decent amount of writer’s block when it comes to choosing a topic. This is understandable since the personal statement tends to be considered rather high stakes. To help you get the ball rolling, we recommend the post What If I Don’t Have Anything Interesting To Write About In My College Essay?

Tips for Writing a Personal Statement for College

1. approach this as a creative writing assignment..

Personal statements are difficult for many students because they’ve never had to do this type of writing. High schoolers are used to writing academic reports or analytical papers, but not creative storytelling pieces.

The point of creative writing is to have fun with it, and to share a meaningful story. Choose a topic that inspires you so that you’ll enjoy writing your essay. It doesn’t have to be intellectual or impressive at all. You have your transcript and test scores to prove your academic skills, so the point of the personal statement is to give you free rein to showcase your personality. This will result in a more engaging essay and reading experience for admissions officers. 

As you’re writing, there’s no need to follow the traditional five-paragraph format with an explicit thesis. Your story should have an overarching message, but it doesn’t need to be explicitly stated—it should shine through organically. 

Your writing should also feel natural. While it will be more refined than a conversation with your best friend, it shouldn’t feel stuffy or contrived when it comes off your tongue. This balance can be difficult to strike, but a tone that would feel natural when talking with an admired teacher or a longtime mentor is usually a good fit.

2. Show, don’t tell.

One of the biggest mistakes students make is to simply state everything that happened, instead of actually bringing the reader to the moment it happened, and telling a story. It’s boring to read: “I was overjoyed and felt empowered when I finished my first half marathon.” It’s much more interesting when the writing actually shows you what happened and what the writer felt in that moment: “As I rounded the final bend before the finish line, my heart fluttered in excitement. The adrenaline drowned out my burning legs and gasping lungs. I was going to finish my first half marathon! This was almost incomprehensible to me, as someone who could barely run a mile just a year ago.”

If you find yourself starting to write your essay like a report, and are having trouble going beyond “telling,” envision yourself in the moment you want to write about. What did you feel, emotionally and physically? Why was this moment meaningful? What did you see or hear? What were your thoughts?

For inspiration, read some memoirs or personal essays, like The New York Times Modern Love Column . You could also listen to podcasts of personal stories, like The Moth . What do these writers and storytellers do that make their stories engaging? If you didn’t enjoy a particular story, what was it that you didn’t like? Analyzing real stories can help you identify techniques that you personally resonate with.

3. Use dialogue.

A great way to keep your writing engaging is to include some dialogue. Instead of writing: “My brothers taunted me,” consider sharing what they actually said. It’s more powerful to read something like:

“Where’s the fire, Princess Clara?” they taunted. “Having some trouble?” They prodded me with the ends of the chewed branches and, with a few effortless scrapes of wood on rock, sparked a red and roaring flame. My face burned long after I left the fire pit. The camp stank of salmon and shame. 

Having dialogue can break up longer paragraphs of text, and bring some action and immediacy to your story. That being said, don’t overdo it. It’s important to strike a balance between relying too much on dialogue, and using it occasionally as an effective writing tool. You don’t want your essay to read like a script for a movie (unless, of course, that’s intentional and you want to showcase your screenwriting skills!).

Want free essay feedback? Submit your essay to CollegeVine’s Peer Essay Review and get fast, actionable edits on your essay. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Personal Statements

1. giving a recap or report of all the events..

Your essay isn’t a play-by-play of everything that happened in that time frame. Only include relevant details that enrich the story, instead of making your personal statement a report of the events. Remember that the goal is to share your voice, what’s important to you, and who you are. 

2. Writing about too many events or experiences. 

Similarly, another common mistake is to make your personal statement a resume or recap of all your high school accomplishments. The Activities Section of the Common App is the place for listing out your achievements, not your personal statement. Focus on one specific experience or a few related experiences, and go into detail on those. 

3. Using cliche language.

Try to avoid overdone quotes from famous people like Gandhi or Thoreau. Better yet, try to avoid quotes from other people in general, unless it’s a message from someone you personally know. Adding these famous quotes won’t make your essay unique, and it takes up valuable space for you to share your voice.

You should also steer away from broad language or lavish claims like “It was the best day of my life.” Since they’re so cliche, these statements also obscure your message, and it’s hard to understand what you actually mean. If it was actually the best day of your life, show us why, rather than just telling us.

If you want to learn more about personal statements, see our post of 11 Common App Essay Examples .

Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses. You can also get your essay peer-reviewed and improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.

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How to Write a Personal Statement – 5 Personal Statement Examples

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How to write a personal statement? – Introduction

The personal statement is one of the most important parts of the college application process. For this reason, it’s often also one of the most anxiety-inducing. If you’ve been searching for personal statement examples because writing your personal statement has you worried (or excited), then you’re in the right place. 

In this article, we’ll present five personal statement examples and teach you how to write a personal statement that highlights who you are and demonstrates your full potential to colleges. We’re going to outline what a personal statement is, how colleges use them in the application process, and which topics tend to work best for college applicants. Then, we’ll offer some advice and tools to help you draft, edit, and finalize your own personal statement. Finally, we’ll walk you through five personal essay examples, breaking them down individually, so you can see just what makes them work. 

Writing a personal statement may seem like a daunting task, especially if you aren’t clear on just exactly what a personal statement for college is. After you see your first personal statement example, things may seem clearer. But first, let’s demystify the term “personal statement.” 

What is a personal statement?

Learning how to write a personal statement starts with understanding the term . I’m sure throughout the college application process you’ve heard your counselors, teachers, and classmates talking about the importance of a personal statement. While you may know that the personal statement for a university is extremely important, you still might not be clear on just what it is. You may have never even seen a personal statement example. So, before you attempt to start writing , let’s answer the questions: what is a personal statement for college? And just how do universities use them to evaluate students?

A personal statement for college is your chance to set yourself apart from other students and show admissions who you are. A strong personal statement for a university will describe your unique experiences and background in a first-person narrative. And when done well, it’s your opportunity to catch the right attention of an admission officer. 

No pressure, right? Don’t stress quite yet. The process of writing a personal statement can be fun! It’s an opportunity to write about something you’re passionate about. You’ll be able to see a personal statement example later on (five, actually!), and you’ll notice that it’s not about the perfect topic , but rather, how you tell your story. 

Personal statement basics

Now, let’s talk about personal essay specifics. Generally speaking, a personal statement will be between 400-700 words, depending on the specific university guidelines or application portal. The Common App essay must be 250-650 words. The Coalition App , by contrast, suggests that students write 500-650 words.  Try to aim for the higher end of those ranges, as you’ll be hard pressed to write a compelling personal statement without enticing descriptions. 

Apart from the word count, what’s the personal statement format? The personal statement for a university should be written in a first-person conventional prose format. You may be a wonderful poet or fiction writer but refrain from using those styles in your personal statement. While using those styles in a personal essay could occasionally be a hit with admissions, it’s best to showcase that style of writing elsewhere. If you choose to add your creative writing style to your application, you should do so by submitting a writing portfolio. Generally speaking, the strongest personal statement will be written in first-person prose language. 

General or prompted

When it comes to a personal statement for college, it will generally fall into one of two categories : general, comprehensive personal statement, or a response to a very specific personal essay prompt. In the open-ended option, you’ll want to share a story about something important related to your life. This could be about family, experiences, academics, or extracurriculars . Just be careful not to repeat your entire resume. That’s certainly not the goal of a personal essay.  

Remember, it’s a personal statement. So, share something that you haven’t elsewhere. If given a prompt, it will likely be open-ended so that you can flex your creativity and show off your writing style. You’ll be able to write a story that genuinely matters to you, ideally sharing something that has made you who you are. 

You may also need a personal statement when applying to certain programs, such as business or STEM programs. The basic idea is the same, but you’ll want to connect your experiences to the specific program. Check out the details of writing a personal statement for a specific field . 

That extra push

The college application process can seem rigid at times; the personal statement for college is your chance to show off in a way that has nothing to do with GPA or transcripts. The personal statement is an opportunity for colleges to meet students on their own terms. It’s essentially your written interview . 

At top universities, many students will have similar grades and test scores. A strong personal statement gives students the chance to stand out and show that they’re more than just numbers on a transcript. What’s the extra push that an admissions officer may need to admit a qualified student? A well-written, compelling personal statement can help you gain admittance to competitive schools . 

Having a support system throughout the college admissions process is important. Keep your parents in the loop with this personal statement webinar that offers details about the common app essay and the personal essay for college. 

You are probably wondering the same things as other students about the college application essay or college essay tips. Read an admissions officer’s response to some FAQs and get some useful college essay tips. 

The CommonApp Essay vs. The Personal Statement

common app essay

So, we’ve discussed what a personal statement is and why it matters. Now, let’s discuss one common type of personal statement: the Common App essay. While each school may have their own personal statement topics, the Common App essay section has general prompts that will serve as your personal statement. The Common App essay will respond to one of seven prompts.

For the most up-to-date information on the Common App essay, you can check their website .

Common App Essay Questions for 2022-2023:   

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

Open-ended prompts

The Common App essay personal statement prompts are intentionally open-ended. They are meant to give you the chance to tell your unique story . However, one requirement is that your Common App essay must be between 250-650 words. 

You can choose to respond to any one of the seven prompts. Remember to choose the best prompt for you. It may seem obvious, but the personal statement for college is your opportunity to share your personal story. You’ll want to choose a topic you can write well about that will show how you’ve grown or changed. It’s also your opportunity to show off your writing style. So, pick a topic you enjoy writing about!

Check out some tips on how to tackle each prompt from the Common App essay blog. You may also want to read this Common App essay overview for juniors . We’ll get into more specific details later on how to write the Common App essay– and other personal statement topics in general– later in this article.

How important is a Personal Statement?

As we’ve mentioned, the personal statement is your chance to stand out in a pool of applicants. It’s an extremely important part of any college application. A personal statement for college will be a requirement of nearly every application you complete. Admissions will use your personal statement to get a sense of who you are beyond your grades and scores. So, if you want to show colleges what makes you unique, your personal statement is the place to do it. Figuring out how to write a personal statement is key to a successful application. 

Seeing what works when it comes to your personal statement for university can be a helpful first step. U.S. News breaks down the process of writing a personal statement and gives some successful personal essay examples. Reading another student’s successful personal statement example will give you an idea of what impresses admissions. It may even get you excited about writing your own personal statement for college! 

While every school will likely require some sort of personal statement, it may actually be used differently in the admissions process. How your personal statement is judged during the admissions process will depend on a school’s size, ranking, acceptance rate , and various other factors. Larger state schools will likely put the most importance on an applicant’s grades and scores while spending little time reviewing a student’s personal statement. 

Especially important at top tier schools

However, at Ivy League schools and other elite institutions, many students have the same impressive grades, scores, and extracurriculars. The personal statement allows these schools to distinguish between high-achieving students. If you’re looking at these types of institutions, then a lot of importance should be placed on writing a personal statement that is unforgettable and impresses admissions. 

So, we know that learning how to write a personal statement is key to many successful applications, but you may be thinking: what’s the difference between a personal statement and supplemental essays? Every school you apply to via the Common App will receive an identical copy of your Common App essay. The Common App essay serves as your personal statement. 

However, each school will have their own supplemental requirements, which may include additional supplemental essays . For schools with many supplemental college essay prompts, your personal essay may not have as much of an impact on your overall application. Admissions officers will see your writing style, and likely your personality, in all of the college essay prompts you submit. 

Additional personal statements

Still, you should always treat your personal essay with the utmost care. It can make a huge difference in the admissions process. You may also need to write other personal statements when applying to scholarships or specific programs . It’s good to get used to the process and the personal statement format during college application season. 

When should I start writing my Personal Statement?

When it comes to all things in the college application process, including any college application essay, it’s best to start early . Don’t leave your personal statement for a university until the last moment. Writing a personal statement will take time. The sooner you start your personal statement for college, the more likely you are to succeed. 

how to start a personal statement

This doesn’t mean that you should start writing your personal statement for university the summer before your sophomore year. High school is a time for development, and colleges want to get to know you at your most mature. It’s just good practice to start thinking about how to write a personal statement early on. 

Review personal statement examples

Think about personal statement format, personal statement topics, and personal statement ideas. Look at other students’ personal statement examples. You can start jotting down potential ideas for your personal essay for college at any time, which may be useful down the line. But, you don’t need to actually start writing your personal statement until the summer before your senior year .

Be open-minded to changing your personal statement topic as you grow and discover new things about yourself. Check out this personal statement webinar on how one student switched her personal essay for college at the last moment. Just like there is no set personal statement format, there are no rules against mixing up your topic as you see fit. But, at least try to allow yourself some time to revise and edit your personal essay for college to perfection.

What do I write in a personal statement?

There’s no one-size-fits-all outline when it comes to how to write a personal statement. Your personal statement for university will depend on your own background, interests, and character. Overall, it’s not the personal statement topics that will catch the eye of admissions officers– it’s how you write your story that will. You need to know how to write a personal statement that not only checks the boxes but is also powerful . 

how to write a personal statement

Important things to keep in mind when writing your personal statement: 

Choose a topic you’re passionate about.

What would you be excited to write about? Chase the personal statement topics that seem fun to write, think about, and talk about. If you’re passionate about your personal statement, your audience will feel it and be engaged. 

Really be you

Authenticity is key when it comes to writing a personal statement. After all, it’s your chance to tell your story and really show admissions who you are. Whatever you write about, make sure it is true, honest, and authentic to your experiences.

Give it some flair

Ok, we don’t mean do something too unconventional like a personal statement haiku. But, you should show off your writing style in your personal statement for college. Admissions officers want to get to know you and your writing. 

Knowing how to start a personal statement or how to start a college essay, in general, is often the most difficult part of the process. You’ll want to brainstorm some personal statement topics to get your creative juices flowing. CollegeAdvisor.com offers a masterclass on brainstorming personal statement topics for the Common App essay in case you need some help with how to start a college essay or a personal statement. 

Still have doubts? Read more on how to write a personal statement and get some college essay tips from CollegeAdvisor.com’s admissions experts. It will also be helpful to look at some successful personal essay examples and understand why they worked . Good personal statement examples can inspire you to tackle writing your own personal essay for college.  

Exploring Personal Statement Topics

It seems logical that when exploring the process of how to write a personal statement, you should start thinking about personal statement ideas. What are the best topics to write about in a personal statement? If you look at various successful personal statement examples, you’ll likely realize the topic isn’t necessarily the most important part. You don’t need to write about something that no one else has ever written about. You just need your personal statement to have its own unique spin. Lean into brainstorming personal statement ideas that show who you are. It’s helpful to read some personal statement examples for inspiration. 

While there is no exact formula for “how to write a personal statement”, there are some basic guidelines that students should follow. The personal statement should be written in first-person nonfiction prose form. Often, a personal statement introduction will include a story or an anecdote and then expand to reveal the impact of that experience on the writer. 

You may be specifically wondering how to start a personal statement. Well, it could be with a moment, a place, or a conversation that spurred some sort of change or growth within you. While this isn’t necessarily a “personal statement format,” it’s a very general format that works. 

Things to avoid

We now know that the personal statement format is fluid, but there are some things to avoid when thinking about how to write a personal statement: 

  • Profanity, explicit content, or crude language. 
  • Lying or misinterpreting events. Keep it authentic. 
  • Sharing overly personal descriptions of troubling life experiences. Remember that applying to college requires professional boundaries. 
  • Writing a narrative that revolves around others. The personal statement is all about you and your experiences. 

If you want to know what a bad personal statement example would look like, imagine one that includes any of the formerly listed items. You don’t want to catch an admissions officer’s attention for the wrong reasons. Good personal statement examples will be engaging, but inoffensive. Check out some more do’s and don’ts when it comes to how to write a personal statement.   

When pondering “how to write a personal statement,” it’s good to know that you don’t need to follow conventional essay guidelines. The best personal statement examples will exude passion and professionalism, while a bad personal statement example will lack soul. If you’re excited about a topic, then that’s a great place to start! Now, let’s get into the actual writing. 

How do you write a good Personal Statement?

To review, in the first part of this series of three articles on how to write a personal statement we answered the question “What is a personal statement?” We also explained how schools use a student’s personal statement for college to evaluate them. We described the Common App essay as an example of a personal statement for a university. Next, let’s dig into how to write a personal statement, including how to start a personal statement, the best tips for writing a personal statement, and some good personal statement examples and personal essay examples to inspire you.

personal statement examples

First, you have probably wondered how to write a personal statement that stands out from the rest. It all comes down to one thing: authenticity. The best personal statement examples and personal essay examples show schools what makes the writer unique, and they are written in an authentic voice. When giving advice about how to write a personal statement, admissions officers say that the best personal statement examples tell them who the student is beyond their coursework and grades. They are personal, and they tell a unique and interesting story.

Considering Personal Statement topics

So, as you think about how to write a personal statement, you may also wonder what the best personal statement topics are. When writing a personal statement, including the Common App essay, you don’t have to share an exciting story about the time you wrestled a wild bear or how you discovered a cure for cancer. For example, in their advice on how to write a personal statement, Wellesley College advises , “Tragedy is not a requirement, reflection and depth are.” 

Some of the best personal statement topics focus on insights about common experiences. Begin your brainstorming process by reviewing the list of Common App essay prompts as you think about writing a personal statement, and choose a story that genuinely matters to you. Then, get excited about telling it! Think about writing a personal statement, including the Common App essay and every other personal essay for college, as an opportunity to lean into your quirkiness or to share your unique insights.

What’s more, a good personal statement for a university should be well-written. Consider the advice offered by Purdue Online Writing Lab : “Be specific, write well and correctly, and avoid cliches.” This will take time—writing a good personal statement for a university or a good Common App essay doesn’t happen overnight. The process of writing a personal statement will include multiple sessions between the first phase of brainstorming and the final phase of editing. Be prepared to write and rewrite, and never hesitate to ask for help from an advisor, counselor, parent, or trusted adult. However, remember that your work should always be your own.

Now, let’s discuss how to start a personal statement.

How do you start a personal statement?

So, now you have the basic information on how to write a personal statement, including your Common App essay. Next, you’re probably asking, “But how do you start one?” In this section, we’ll break down the process of exploring personal statement ideas and how to start a personal statement. This information also applies to thinking about how to start a college essay. Then, we’ll discuss how to write a personal statement opening.

how to write a personal statement

Brainstorming is usually the first phase of any writing project to generate personal statement ideas. You may want to read a personal statement example like those here or here for inspiration to help get your personal statement ideas flowing. Next, ask yourself some idea-generating questions : Who have your intellectual influences been?  Which careers are you considering and why? What personal goals do you have? As you think about the answers to these typical college essay prompts, jot down personal statement ideas that occur to you. If you’re still feeling stuck, ask a close friend or family member , “What do you think differentiates me?,” or “What are my quirks?”

Pick a topic that excites you

Then, once you have a few good topics for your personal statement, choose one that you feel most excited to write about. Write a draft of your personal statement introduction and see what other ideas occur to you for later parts of your essay. Choose another topic and do the same thing. Don’t feel like these initial drafts need to be perfect—words on the page are always a great start! The goal right now is to decide which personal statement topics you feel most inspired to write about. Which ideas reflect something interesting about you ? 

Once you have selected which topic you will focus on for your personal statement, Common App essay, or personal essay for college, think about crafting a strong hook. The opening line (or lines) of the best personal statement examples include a “hook” for the reader, grabbing their attention and making them want to keep reading. For example, you could start with a question, an unusual or surprising statement, or an anecdote that will leave readers wondering what comes next. Whichever approach you select when considering how to start a college essay, make sure to use engaging language and vivid imagery.

Remember, start early and write several drafts .

The personal statement is an opportunity to write about a topic that is important to you and that also reflects your personality . Now, let’s discuss the personal statement format.

How do you format a personal statement?

Different applications may require different approaches to your personal statement format. In some cases, you may copy and paste your personal statement into an application and it will format itself automatically. In other situations, you will need to set up your personal statement format yourself. If this is the case, Times New Roman font, 12-point, with conventional margins and double spacing is a safe personal statement format.

When you are submitting your personal statement or Common App essay through the Common App, you may notice that the Common Application text box only allows formatting for bold, italics, and underlining. Therefore, it’s best to write your personal statement in Google Docs or Word and to write your paragraphs with block formatting (not indented). In addition, using Google Docs or Word will also allow you to easily check spelling and word counts before pasting your personal statement into the Common App.

Editing your Personal Statement

Many students wonder what the editing process for their personal statement for college, including the Common App essay and other personal essays for college, should look like. This varies by student and by essay. But, the best personal statements for a university go through at least several rounds of edits.

Firstly, once you have written the first draft of your personal statement for a university or personal essay for college, take a step back for a few hours or even for a day. Then, return with fresh eyes. Is your narrative well organized? Are there sections that seem unclear, ideas that don’t support your main point, or awkward sentences? You may want to reorder your paragraphs or sentences or delete and rework other elements. Revisit a personal statement example and consider how it is organized for comparison. 

personal statement examples

Making the cut

In short, don’t be afraid to cut sentences that don’t directly relate to the main focus of the essay or convey some important detail of the story. This will help clarify your narrative. Also, make sure that you have centered your writing around your own experiences—the story should reflect your perspective and insights.

Next, once you are confident that your personal statement is well organized and your main ideas are clear, do another round of detailed editing. Eliminate any typos or repetitive language; make sure you have proper grammar and spelling throughout.

Finally, ask a trusted adult to read your personal statement and provide feedback. Something that you thought was clear may not be to them. Also, ask them how engaging your personal statement is, and if there are sections that seem dry or unimportant. Ask whether your hook is effective, and review tips on how to start a personal statement if necessary. Sometimes feedback can be difficult to hear, but it helps to remember that even professional writers seek input from others. The goal is to create the best personal statement possible!

For more detailed advice on revising your personal statement, check out this CollegeAdvisor personal statement webinar, “ Revising the Personal Statement .”

How do I know when my personal statement is done?

There’s no definitive way to know when your personal statement for a university is done—you can keep editing most writing forever. However, as you revise and edit, you’ll notice that you have fewer things to fix with every new draft. Once you feel like there’s nothing major left to change, get feedback from someone you trust. 

personal statement examples

Your College Advisor expert can also provide valuable feedback and guidance at this point. If the notes and suggestions from others are also limited, you may be nearly ready to finalize your personal statement for college and press “submit.”

6 Tips for Writing a Great Personal Statement 

1. be authentic.

Remember, admissions officers want to know about you —your personality, your interests, your goals. A great personal statement is personal . Your personal statement for a university needs to express your unique ideas and insights in your own voice. Nobody can tell your story better than you. So, choose a topic that interests you and let your energy and ideas shine through.

Being personal also means that you should share sensory details and your internal dialogue. What did you see or hear at a critical moment? What were you thinking or feeling during that pivotal conversation? The more personal details you share, the more interesting your personal statement will be.

2. Start early

This is one of the most important tips on how to write a personal statement. You can start brainstorming topics for your personal statement at any time during high school. Some students keep a notebook where they write down personal statement topics and ideas as they occur to them over time. They also begin reading other good personal statement examples and Common App essays for inspiration. 

Regardless, a good plan is to solidify a draft of your personal statement for college the summer before your senior year. This will give you time to work on supplemental essays and other parts of your applications during the fall of your senior year.

how to write a personal statement

3. Brainstorm before you write

Take some time to think and reflect deeply before you begin writing. Don’t feel like you need to jump into a full essay draft as soon as you complete your junior year. Do some writing exercises and brainstorming activities first, including reading other personal statement examples. 

In each personal statement example you read, pay close attention to the personal statement introduction, the narrative arc, and the conclusion. Did the writer incorporate an effective technique for how to start a college essay? Why is the essay interesting? What does it tell you about the writer? 

4. Tell a story

Keep in mind that well-told stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. They also engage the reader and arrive at a clear message or point by the end. In short, the best personal statement examples follow a narrative arc. 

Start with an interesting hook and use it as an introduction to a story from your life that addresses the given college essay prompt. Then, use the latter half of your personal statement or Common App essay to show why this story matters and how it reveals a key part of your identity. And always remember: show, don’t tell.

5. Avoid common mistakes

Steer clear of cliches in your writing—they do not help you stand out or demonstrate strong writing skills. Also, do not use your personal statement or Common App essay as an opportunity to rehash your activities or achievements. Remember, these are included in other parts of your application. 

The best personal statement examples show admission officers something about the writer that is not reflected in other parts of the application. They describe first-hand experiences and provide specific examples to illustrate ideas.

6. Edit carefully

Once you’ve written your personal statement for college, look for anything that doesn’t feel right. Eliminate awkward phrasing, delete or replace repeated words and phrases, and work to streamline your language. You might delete entire drafts, and that’s okay! It’s a process, and all the work you do gets you closer to your best work. Also, make sure to ask a few others whom you trust to read your essay and provide suggestions for edits.

Bonus tip: Ask for help

A second set of eyes can make a huge difference. Ask an advisor (like our team at CollegeAdvisor.com), counselor, or parent to look over your work. Don’t let anyone write your sentences for you—instead, use their input to help your voice shine through. 

For more great college essay tips on how to write a personal statement and college essays, check out this advice from college admission experts.

Personal Statement- Frequently Asked Questions

Where can i find a good personal statement example.

There are a variety of websites that offer good personal essay examples as models you can use to inspire you. A good place to begin is here , and there are also examples of personal statements in the next article of this series. As you read these examples, take note of the personal statement introduction, as well as how the writer focuses the essay on a specific topic or idea that reflects their personality.

Is it ever too late to change my personal statement?

While it is much better to begin writing your personal statement early, sometimes students decide later in the writing process that they want to rethink the personal statement topic they have chosen. If you find yourself in this position, you will find some helpful advice in this CommonApplicant.com personal statement webinar . 

My parents didn’t go to college. How do I explain personal statements and how to write a personal statement to them?

CollegeAdvisor.com has created a special personal statement webinar just for parents. In this webinar, we describe personal statements, the specifics of how to write a great college essay, and other college admissions terms.

I’m a high school junior. What should I be doing now to prepare to write my personal statement and college essays?

First, congratulations on thinking ahead! You can begin by reading “ Common App Essay Overview for Juniors .” Then, your CollegeAdvisor admissions expert can help you begin brainstorming and planning for your college application essays. They can provide you with examples of common college essay prompts, as well as helpful college essay tips. Also, they can provide suggestions on how to start a personal statement and share other resources on how to write a great college essay.

How will college admission officers evaluate my personal statement and college application essay?

Admission officers are looking for personal stories that are well told. How closely each of your college application essays is read will vary depending both on the school and the other components of your application. However, as more schools become test-optional, admission officers say that college essays are becoming even more important in the admissions process. So, as you plan your essays keep in mind that admission officers want to learn about you —your experiences, thoughts, and goals. They also want to see that you have solid writing skills, so make sure that you closely edit your essays before you submit them.

If you would like to hear directly from an admission officer and learn more about how to write a great college essay, including specific advice on how to start a college essay, check out this “ 39 Essay Tips ” article.

How is the personal statement for a university different from the Common App essay and personal essay for college? 

The Common App essay asks students to write a personal statement in response to one of seven provided prompts. All types of personal essays for college provide students with an opportunity to introduce themselves to college admission officers on their own terms. For a more detailed description of each of these types of essays, check out the first article in this series, “How to Write a Personal Statement.”

For answers to more frequently asked questions about personal statements for college and college essays, click here .

In the first part of this series discussing how to write a personal statement, we answered the questions “What is a personal statement?” and “How important is the personal statement?” In this second article of the series, we have covered the specifics of how to write a personal statement, including descriptions of the writing phases of the personal statement and personal essay for the college writing process. In the next article, we will examine personal statement examples and highlight key elements of each personal statement example. 

Introducing 5 Personal Statement Examples

By this point, you’ve gone from asking, “What is a personal statement?” to knowing how to write a personal statement. Now, let’s look at some personal statement examples. Reading personal statement examples is great preparation for writing your own personal statement for college.

However, keep in mind that reading about how to write a personal statement is one thing–writing a personal statement is entirely different. By reading these personal statement examples and why they worked, you’ll have a better grasp of how to write a personal statement.

personal statement examples

Each of these personal statement examples shows something that isn’t clear in the rest of the application. Top schools accepted all the writers of these personal statement examples. Our guide will walk you through each of these personal essay examples and discuss what makes them work. We hope by reading these, you can learn more about how to write a personal statement.

Personal Statement Example #1: Choosing a Great Topic

The first of our personal statement examples was written by a student who was accepted to Yale, Princeton, and other top schools. Their personal statement discusses the legacy of antisemitic violence in their family. While political and religious topics can be difficult, this student writes a fantastic college application essay about their topic.

Personal Essay Example #1

Across the ocean, there is war. Children mistaking rockets for fireworks, parents too protective—too careful—to correct them.          Back home, there are phone calls. To family, to friends. In English, in Hebrew.          “Are you safe?”         I pray they live far from Jerusalem.          Right here, in my room, there is turmoil.          Furiously swiping through Instagram, I wonder who will betray me next. I wonder which friend will decide that their loosely related, offensive commentary belongs on their profile.          Once the deed is done, I am quick to unfollow. To cut off perpetrators of what Jewish journalists call “the Social Media Pogrom”: when targeting the Jewish people online turns to real antisemitic violence (and a powerful reason to unfollow my friends).          So I flee from my friends’ Instagram accounts. But only because my family fled from much worse.          My grandfather found himself wearing a yellow star, living in a ghetto, and losing everything to the Nazis. One day, he ripped off the star and ran. Even though it meant never seeing his family again.          He did not flee for a better life; he fled for any life.          His son came to marry another refugee: my mother. Her story is a familiar one, shared by many in my hometown: escaping yet another antisemitic regime whose existence threatened her own, my mother fled Revolutionary Iran in 1979. Fortunately, she was reunited years later with all eight of her siblings, who had escaped in various other creative, illegal ways—“on camelback” being a personal favorite.           To this day, she bears a scar on her eyelid from antisemitic violence back home.          My family tree’s roots are settled in the soil of persecution. Swastikas have sawed away at its structure, and Revolutionary Guards have bent its branches. I know too well which winds will threaten the leaves: words wishing my people death, implicitly or explicitly. Calling on my cousins to evacuate their homes, for they are on the Jewish side of the land dispute. Denying the reality that no one deserves to be displaced.         When I hear these words, see them on a screen, I sense a chillingly familiar breeze. Sometimes, the breeze blows away a few leaves: a rabbi is stabbed, a synagogue vandalized.          Suddenly my friends, teetering on the edge of antisemitism with waves of painful posts, are no longer my friends. They are my enemies.          But then I hear a little voice:         “David, what on Earth are you doing?”         And I remember that they are not. They are not Nazis or Revolutionary Guards. I should not shun them or cease to show them love. I cannot wallow in my rage or simply “unfollow”—not on Instagram, not in life.          I soon return those beloved friends to my circle. I “follow” them once again.         Because dialogue is my lifestyle. I ought to be recruiting my friends to Model Congress or engaging them in class. Welcoming the people around me to a world of positive, exciting, and purposeful discourse is the best I can do. It’s also who I am.          My family passed down a sensitive radar for harmful rhetoric, but also gifted me with a powerful belief—a Jewish belief—in informed discussion and coexistence. Holding no hate in their hearts, my ancestors wore lenses of love that did not belong to their oppressors.         Today, I wear those same lenses with pride. Once infuriating Instagram posts no longer cloud my vision. I’ve instead fallen in love with the precious diversity of thought that surrounds me and find myself most at home when I am immersed in political dialogue.          I will face many “enemy” opinions, but I will not shut my eyes and cover my ears, give up a dear human connection, and miss out on a meaningful experience.            I will approach individuals with humanity rather than animosity, acceptance rather than judgement, and love rather than hate.          I will live by the lessons of my ancestors. 

What Worked?

What did this Common App essay do well? Firstly, it covers a great topic. This student writes about their family’s experience with antisemitic violence and its legacy in their life today. When writing a personal statement for college, such sensitive personal statement topics can be challenging. In this case, the writer successfully centers their experiences and thoughts rather than on controversial events.

Moreover, they cut through political tension with a core reality rooted in empathy: “No one deserves to be displaced.” This is a great strategy if you’re wondering how to write a personal statement on a sensitive topic. All personal statement topics have an angle that makes them universally relatable. If your personal essay for college is missing something, try an empathetic approach.

Ask for help revising

Don’t forget to ask other people to revise your personal statement for university. What makes sense to you may not read well to others. Especially with sensitive topics, share your work with someone you can trust to give you feedback. If possible, also include a non-family member like a teacher or guidance counselor who knows how to write a personal statement.

This student connects their family’s troubles with their own worldview. Good personal statement examples offer a look at the author as a person. A strong topic lets you reflect on how your experiences have impacted your engagement with the world and other people. And as shown above, the writer chose a great topic –not necessarily a great college essay prompt. College essay prompts are wide-ranging , and good personal statement ideas can come from any of them. Indeed, whatever your prompt is, personal essay examples are ultimately about you . 

Evocative language and imagery

With this in mind, look at how the writer’s attitude changes throughout their Common App essay. Good personal statement examples contain precise, evocative language and imagery. When you’re writing a personal statement, find the right words—not necessarily the longest ones—and sentence structures you need. This personal statement begins in a panic; the writer “furiously swiping” in the “turmoil” of their room, keenly attuned to betrayal from friends. These words and the short paragraphs bring each thought into sharp focus.

The writer’s passion for their subject shows through their language. Using structural repetition in “Wishing…. Calling…. Denying…” establishes a serious tone and keeps the personal statement fresh. In the latter half, words like “beloved,” “lenses of love,” and “precious diversity” signify a shift to a gentle, loving attitude. The best personal essay examples choose their words precisely. By choosing words carefully in combination with poetic and rhetorical devices, you can write a stellar personal statement for university.

Certainly, family histories can be great personal statement topics. Even so, suffering doesn’t automatically make a strong personal statement for university. If you know how to write a personal statement, even at first mundane personal statement ideas can become good personal statement examples.

Personal Statement Example #2: Finding a Great Hook

The second of our personal statement examples is by a student who was accepted to UC San Diego, Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, and more. In their personal statement for college, this student uses their interest in Rubik’s cubes to frame other parts of their life.

Personal Statement Example #2

My life is as simple as a Rubik’s Cube: a child’s toy that can be solved in 20 moves or less IF and only if enough knowledge is gained. I received one on my 9th birthday and over the following months, I became obsessed with it.  I rotated the rows aimlessly, hoping that eventually the cube would solve itself. I was naive about the complexity of the cube which led me to apply some research. I began looking up tutorials on YouTube about solving the toy and was in awe over the amount of work that had to be done. I forced myself to go step by step until I could arrange a single face, and my progress pushed me forward until I could solve 4 of the 6 faces of the cube. Every night for an hour I would randomize the colors again and work my way back to ⅔ of the cube being complete. Until this point, I lacked the confidence in my everyday life and had never aimed for a difficult goal, especially one without external motivation. However, what I love about solving the cube is that you can follow the steps perfectly and still run into a stalemate based on the arrangement of the squares. This forces you to randomize the cube again and start from step 1. All the hard work and time put into this object can be useless, but it is unavoidable no matter what you do. Multiple times I faced this dilemma of running into a wall, but instead of giving up, my will pushed me forward. I shed many tears over my failures to solve a child’s toy. I needed to push through these failures until I could learn how to arrange the last faces of the cube. And just like that, it was complete! The Rubik’s Cube was arranged correctly. However, I wanted to get faster. I was inspired by the greatest, the individuals who could solve cubes within 5 seconds, and mix up the cube once more. I tried over and over until the point of obsession where I could get the cube arranged in under a minute. Sometimes it is necessary to disarrange a completed face of the cube in order to achieve the end goal of every face being complete. The colors of a cube can be compared to my academics, my athletics, my art, my leadership, my hobbies, and my family life. Though it is a struggle to juggle all these tasks, it is the desire to expand in all these subjects that pushes me forward. I want to learn more and master subjects within my academics, improve my form and get faster within my athletics, grow my skills of digital design within art, become a stronger role model as a leader, volunteer more within my hobbies, and get closer to supporting my family.  This mindset will continue to push me to expand my present knowledge and learn new concepts in order to complete my goals. 43,252,003,274,489,856,000: That is how many combinations there are for a single 3×3 Rubik’s cube, and there are probably even more combinations ahead of me in my journey through college and beyond. I have to struggle to learn how to solve my cube and put in the hard work in order to succeed at this game of life. Once I finish school and solve my cube for the first time, the game is not over. The next steps are to refine my work and ethics until I can get the process of solving my own cube down to 20 moves or less. My life goal is to carve a name for myself among the best and the brightest in the surgical field, yet there is always more knowledge to obtain which will drive me to continue growing.

Take a look at that hook! The classic personal statement format begins with a hook to draw the reader into a story, and this is no different. This personal statement introduction, “My life is as simple as a Rubik’s cube”, is bold, even seemingly contradictory, until you read the rest of the sentence. Either way, it makes you want to keep reading this personal statement example. 

The worst thing a personal statement for a university can be is boring. A good hook starts your reader off on the right foot. While many personal statement examples begin in the middle of a story, making a bold claim is also common. If you’re wondering how to start a personal statement, start thinking about what opening sentence would grab your attention.

Like the first essay’s writer, this student also uses descriptive language to bring their Common App essay to life. They didn’t simply try the Rubik’s cube, but they “rotated the rows aimlessly”. Rather than saying they kept working on the cube, the writer shows us how they scrambled and resolved it every night. When writing a personal statement, do your own experiences justice with the right descriptive language .

Thinking about tone

You may notice the tone of this personal essay example is very different from the first– intensity isn’t everything! In fact, it’s a reflection of the different subject matter of these personal essay examples. When writing your personal statement, your tone should match what you are trying to say. In the same way that one word can make a sentence, another can totally break it. 

From a vivid description of their childhood, the writer expands the scope of their Common App essay to other areas of their life. Good personal statement examples explore subjects that other parts of your application don’t. In this case, this student uses the Rubik’s cube to represent their varied activities and their aspirations for each. They also reflect on life lessons and personal traits: perseverance, ambition, and curiosity.

In other words, the writer creates parallels between their interest in Rubik’s cubes and their personal journey. In the same way that they obsess over speed-solving, the writer works to excel in other subjects. Furthermore, the writer shows us this instead of directly telling — a maneuver fundamental to all good personal statement examples. The writer makes a compelling case as not only an applicant but also as a future member of the campus community. 

Consider chronology

how to write a personal statement

Notice the chronological structure this student uses for their Common App essay. Specifically, see how it follows the writer’s life from their first Rubik’s cube to the present day. This is a simple way to craft a strong Common App essay. Personal essay examples like this make it easy to reflect on your growth, which is crucial for any personal statement for college. Lastly, by ending with the 20 moves needed to solve a cube, the writer neatly ties up this personal statement example.

Personal Statement Example #3: The Value of a Great Ending

The third of our personal statement examples is by a student who got into the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Southern California. The writer talks about how being on the swim team helped them cultivate confidence.

Personal Essay Example #3

When I joined the high school swim team, I never expected to go to school dressed as Shrek. Yet as Freshman Friday approached, I learned it was team tradition for upperclassmen swimmers to dress freshmen teammates in ridiculous costumes. Against my will, my teammates splotched green paint on my face, styled my hair into pigtails covered in green paper, and stuffed a pillow under my sweatshirt. Attending my classes was mortifying. With every stare, I buried my head further into my textbook and shifted my hand to cover my green and now bright red face; with every chuckle, I sank deeper into my seat, attempting to hide my massive pillow stomach. The frown on my face felt like a permanent fixture, and after dealing with the humiliation for a class period, I was done. I yanked the pillow out of my sweatshirt and ripped the paper from my hair. The only hint of swamp ogre that remained was the green face paint. When confronted about my lack of Shrek-ness at the end of the day, I claimed I was overheating and that the paper had fallen apart.  I lied. I was just embarrassed. I always knew I was shy — the “too-timid-to-signal-the-waiter” type of shy — but until Freshman Friday, I hadn’t realized the extent to which it affected the social and academic aspects of my life. Ever since I was young, my jaw would clench at the thought of humiliating myself by deviating from the norm and bringing attention to myself. I often closed myself off from friends by diverting conversations to trivial topics like gym class when they probed me about deeper subjects like my mental health. I even avoided participating in class by scouring Google for hours for physics help to circumvent admitting to my classmates that I was confused by asking questions. By hiding in the shadows to avoid embarrassment, I hindered my ability to cherish the humor in being Shrek, and, more broadly, my comfort in freely expressing myself.  However, I loved swimming and wanted to make my high school team’s environment as wonderful for me as my love for the sport. I slowly started creeping out of my shell, meeting the team, and participating in more voluntary dress-up days. Freshman year, I wore a dragon onesie on pajama day; sophomore year, I wore a Hawaiian shirt, a lei, and sunscreen for tacky tourist day. Junior year, I wore my swimsuit over leggings, goggles, medals, pigtails with award ribbons, and a towel cape, finally surpassing the ridiculousness of the Shrek costume. For the first time, I finally felt confident enough to prance around the school, laughing about my costume with my classmates. I felt like a true part of my team, joking with teammates, taking pictures, and letting the whole school know that I swam. With each year and its dress-up days, I gradually felt more of the sense of community, team spirit, and fun that I had craved.  Dressing up unleashed my confidence. This, in turn, made me happier and more involved in my school community. Most surprisingly, though, was how dressing up eventually better prepared me to enter engineering. Hispanic women are severely underrepresented in engineering, so I used to fear that I would be incapable of establishing a strong enough presence and earning my peers’ respect for my ideas. However, with every group discussion I initiated, every question I asked, and every club meeting I hosted, I saw myself making a place for my input and noticed that my teachers and peers actually valued it. I realized that I had found my voice and even enjoyed sharing my opinions. I’m now ready to take on the challenge of expressing my thoughts in a male-dominated field. In the meantime, I’m just looking forward to my swim team’s next dress-up day.

Like our last essay, this personal statement has an awesome hook. In fact, the writer drops us right into the action. This technique, known as in media res , is great for a Common App essay. You can immediately set the scene for your reader, then build context from there. Not only does the writer bring us right in, but they also expertly use language for tone. “Ridiculous,” “against my will,” and “splotched” all illustrate the writer’s opposition to what’s about to happen. This is an effective technique in personal statement examples.

Following the anecdote, the writer reflects on their intense shyness. They show self-awareness by recounting specific instances where fear got the better of them. Yet again, we can see the importance of showing rather than telling in a personal statement. Each sentence provides an example of how the writer’s shyness had a negative impact on their social and academic success. Thus, we see the true conflict in this personal statement isn’t the costume, but the writer overcoming their lifelong shyness. 

Personal growth and development

Ask anyone how to write a personal statement and they’ll tell you about growth. When writing a personal statement for university, demonstrating personal growth and an ability to reflect on it is key. Across college essay prompts, you should explore how your experiences have shaped or changed you. Being able to indicate specific causes and effects is part of all good personal statement examples.

From there, the writer clearly illustrates their journey from insecurity to confidence. They show us the ways that their shyness manifested before. Then, the writer shows us the increasingly ridiculous costumes they wore. Of course, the language changes, too—the writer goes from “creeping” to “prancing”! Yet another example of how small changes to wording can have a huge impact on your personal statement for college.

Finally, the writer provides a sound conclusion. They mention the numerous benefits of their newfound confidence and, more importantly, look forward. In the final paragraph, the writer takes the lessons they’ve learned and discusses how they will use them to accomplish their goals. Like both of the personal essay examples we’ve already seen, the writer closes by talking about the doors they want to open.

Circling back to your hook

We saw the effectiveness of linking the hook and closing paragraph in previous personal statement examples. Similarly, this personal statement example ends with the idea of dress-up day once again. This kind of personal statement format helps bring everything full circle. In learning about how to write a personal statement, the conclusion is one of the most important parts. Especially in chronologically structured personal statements, closing the loop in this way makes your personal statement feel complete .

how to write a personal statement

The best personal statement examples have a well-written conclusion. Taking your personal statement ideas and addressing them neatly in the conclusion is important. Whether you explain particular future goals or simply affirm your personal values, you should have a future-facing closer. Colleges want to know not only how you’ve grown, but also how you will bring that growth to campus. 

Personal Statement Example #4: Why This Essay Worked

Fourth on our list of personal statement examples is by a writer who applied to performing arts programs. This student wrote about their love for the performing arts and their heritage. They were accepted to schools like NYU Tisch, Point Park, and Roosevelt University. Look for the college essay tips we already mentioned in the personal statement below.

Common App Essay Example #4

At six years old, most kids I know get excited to help Blue find clues or recite Elmo’s songs on Sesame Street. So you can imagine my family’s surprise when they saw me ignoring the other kids to go belt alongside my grandfather’s mariachi trio in the backyard. Growing up, I had always loved performing for people. But my passion for performing in front of a packed house never compared to performing for my favorite audience: my great grandmother. From age seven to twelve, my dad would take our family on a three-hour road trip to visit my great grandmother’s nursing home every single weekend. I remember the clean, antiseptic smell, and the beeping of her oxygen concentrator as I perched myself next to her bed and sang all types of songs from romantic boleros to earwormy Disney tunes. Even as she began failing to recognize her loved ones due to her worsening Alzheimer’s, she would always remember me, her “palomita blanca,” or white dove. But as I got older, singing what once were innocent songs, like “Edelweiss” or “Almost There,” started to make me feel like an imposter. I knew I belonged on stage, but I never saw any Mexican representation in any of my favorite musicals and animated cartoons. By seventh grade, I was plucking away at my full eyebrows for community theatre the night before auditions because I was told it would give me a better chance at landing a lead role. When my great grandmother passed away, I had lost the person who constantly reminded me how powerful staying true to your identity is. Without her, I questioned whether I had a chance at pursuing the thing that lights my soul aflame. But I stuck through the late nights, sprained ankles, and endless sweating under stage lights, because I loved theatre more than anything else in the world. In my freshman year, I joined the Conservatory of the Arts program for dance and drama at my high school. After my first show, I remember feeling so comforted by the fact that I finally felt that I belonged in the theatre kid community. In sophomore year, I finally got my first lead role as Gertrude in my high school’s production of Seussical. At last! All of my hard work had paid off and I was going to be a lead after six years of ensembles. I was so excited to get the chance to show myself and the world that my identity was my power. I didn’t want to be any old Gertrude. I’d stay up until 2 a.m. on weekends coming up with ways to make her more memorable. Inspired by Juan Gabriel’s emotional ballads, I added vocal cry to Gertrude’s solos to better portray her insecurities. Instead of sticking to just belting in “All For You,” I sang runs similar to the high energy mariachi songs I grew up with to show off my character’s passion and newfound confidence. But in March 2020, the world stopped, and the show couldn’t go on. Distanced learning made the performing arts programs nowhere near as fun or educational as they used to be. Still though, as president of the drama program in 2021, I am determined to rebuild a community that was torn apart by a worldwide pandemic. I want to be the mentor I never had. My confidence in my identity has been an important tool in teaching others that practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes progress. I work hard encouraging others not to be afraid to show the world what they have. Musical theatre is an art that thrives with innovation, so I’d like to bring the creative spice which my culture has enriched me with to the world’s stage. Maybe someday I can be that actress on stage or TV that’ll get a little Latina girl enthralled by the arts.

In this personal essay example, the writer uses vivid storytelling to show how they became the person they are today. Firstly, the hook tells us how the writer values both performance and her family. This light, fun personal statement introduction quickly goes for the heartstrings by introducing the writer’s great-grandmother. Personal statement examples sometimes avoid talking about family, because it’s easy to lose focus on the writer. But this writer never loses sight of their own memories, emotions, and experiences.

Equally important, those experiences are well-illustrated with rich imagery that clearly conveys the writer’s passion for their topic. Details like the smell and sound of the nursing home bring us into the moment. The writer also provides some examples of what they endured in theatre: “late nights” and “sprained ankles.” Use concrete images to get your personal statement ideas across with impact .

Also, the writer makes a point to explore the intersections of their Hispanic heritage and their passion for theatre. Particularly, the writer discusses their difficulty in putting them together, as shown by plucking their eyebrows. By establishing this conflict in the middle of her personal statement, the writer indicates their awareness of the wider world and their place in it. Many good personal statement examples will create context like this, showing the author thinking beyond themselves.

Show commitment to your topic

Broadly, the writer discusses their twin passions with powerful language and imagery. Exhibiting genuine enthusiasm for your personal statement topics is key. This personal statement shows that the writer has always been moved by their family and by the arts. Their triumph in combining the two feels huge precisely because we understand how much each of these things mean to them. Even if your personal statement topics aren’t as deep-seeded as this writer’s, you should show commitment to what you’re writing about.

If you’re reading this, COVID probably disrupted your school life at some point, as it did for this student. However, be careful not to linger on it more than necessary. This writer doesn’t completely gloss over the pandemic, but they keep their own journey at the center of the personal statement. The writer’s experience with distanced learning propelled them forward. Ideally, your personal statement for the university should keep a tight focus on you. The narrative personal statement format should show not only your experiences but also what you’ve learned from them.

Personal Statement Example #5: Pulling It All Together

The fifth and last of our personal statement examples is by another student who got into several top schools. They write about their participation and leadership at a club event. Keep an eye out for all the tips we’ve mentioned, from a good hook to showing-not-telling.

Personal Statement #5

One hundred and fifty bagels, all completely frozen. I couldn’t believe it. My school’s Model UN Conference was to start in thirty minutes, and breakfast for the delegates was nowhere near ready. I looked with dismay at my friends’ concerned faces peering out from behind piles of frozen bagels. As Secretary-General, it was my job to ensure that this conference went smoothly. However, it seemed that was not going to be the case. I took a moment to weigh my options before instructing Hannah, our “logistics coordinator,” to heat up the frozen circles of doom in the home-ec room. I knew Hannah enjoyed baking, so I trusted her to find a way into the locked room and thaw the assortment of bagels.  Cold bagels were not the only thing weighing heavily on my mind that morning. As I walked from classroom to classroom helping set up committees, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. Our conference wasn’t going to be like those of the private schools- there were no engraved pens or stylish water bottles. Instead, people got post-it notes and whatever pens we could steal from the supply closet. Forcing myself to stop worrying, I chose instead to think of why we made that choice. Since most of the food was donated, and all of the supplies had been “borrowed” from the supply closet, we could afford to charge only a nominal fee to everyone attending. Making Model UN accessible was one of my top priorities as Secretary-General; the same desire motivated me to begin including middle school students in the club. I hurried back down to the cafeteria, and was relieved to see that all the bagels looked warm and ready to eat.  The bagels would not be the sole crisis that day. As debates were about to start, one of the Chairs sent me a panic stricken text: “We only have 5 people in our committee! We can’t reenact the creation of the Treaty of Versailles!” I hurried to where his debate was taking place, and sure enough, only five people were there. I quickly considered my options- cancel the committee?  Convince some delegates to switch into this debate through bagel bribery? Or maybe, come up with a completely new topic?  I settled on idea number three. But what topic could a committee of only five people spend a day discussing? I mulled it over until an idea began to form. I explained to the room, “Each one of you will represent one of the five major Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. The chair will guide you as you tweet, make campaign videos, and debate the most important political issues.” I spent a few minutes figuring out how to go about moderating such an unconventional committee, before heading off to check in on the other debates.  As I walked from committee to committee, fixing problems and helping move debates along, I felt a sense of pride. I had spent months working on this conference, along with the other members of my team. At times, I worried I could never pull it off. A part of me had wished our faculty advisor would just organize the whole thing for us. After all, I’m just a high schooler, how could I put together such a big event? But as the day went by, I realized that with the help of my peers, I had done it. All the little crises that cropped up weren’t because I was doing a bad job; they were inevitable. The fact that I could find solutions to such a wide variety of problems was a testament to my leadership skills, and my level-headedness. I didn’t just feel like a leader—I felt like an adult. As I look towards my future in college and later the workforce, I know that I can succeed, even if my obstacles seem as insurmountable as a mountain of frozen bagels. 

This writer has a great example of how to start a college essay. Their strong hook makes us curious – why are there so many? What’s going on, and can the writer fix it? The essay’s tone is clear from the outset, and we’re drawn in by the conflict. Moreover, the writer establishes themselves as a leader and problem-solver.

Like a short story character, this writer encounters various obstacles. Throughout this personal statement, the writer shows off their resourcefulness, leadership skills, and quick thinking. While other people are in this personal statement example, the focus never wavers from the writer’s thoughts and actions. Additionally, the writer details the thought process behind each of their solutions.

As we’ve mentioned, a good personal statement for a university shows information, rather than telling it. This writer walks through various aspects of the conference in the second paragraph, then explains their reasoning. Instead of just saying they wanted to make the conference accessible, the writer shows us how they made it possible by organizing food donations and only charging a small fee. This Common App essay shows us what the writer is like through actions as well as words.

A narrative of learning and growth

As with our other personal statement examples, the writer wraps up with a strong conclusion that recalls the hook. They recount their personal growth throughout this process. In addition, the writer elaborates on the lessons they have taken from this experience. As shown above, introspection on personal growth and values is part of any good personal essay for college. This Common App essay makes a solid case for its writer as a future student and community member.

personal statement examples; growth narrative

In sum, this writer takes a seemingly insignificant anecdote and uses it to reveal something critical about their experiences. By highlighting particular, telling moments, the writer shows us their personality and capability. What’s more, by using engaging language and a clear structure, the writer makes a lasting impact on the reader. For these reasons, this is a superb example of a personal statement for college.

CollegeAdvisor Resources on Writing a Great Personal Statement

By now, you’ve seen several personal statement examples and confidently say you know how to write a personal statement. But maybe you feel you need a little more information. A good personal statement for college starts with early preparation. Getting a head start on writing your personal essay for college is a great idea.

We at CollegeAdvisor have no shortage of guides on how to write a personal statement. We’ve got quick college essay tips from our admissions experts . If you have some more time, here are some frequently asked questions answered by an Admissions Officer. If you’re more of a watcher than a reader, check out a personal statement webinar from CollegeAdvisor.

How to Write a Personal Statement: Final Thoughts

You made it to the end! Now you know how to write a great college essay. Let’s briefly recap what we covered in this “How to Write a Personal Statement” guide.

Firstly, we answered the question, “What is a personal statement?” We outlined the expected length, personal statement format, and how important they are in the application process. Then, we explored some of the most common and effective personal statement topics.

Next, we looked at how to write a personal statement. We gave advice and tips on drafting, editing, and finalizing your personal essay for college. Specifically, we talked about the value of strong hooks, your unique voice, and editing.

Finally, we reviewed five personal statement examples and discussed what made them work. Each of our personal essay examples had effective language, structure, and other techniques that may inspire your writing.

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LSU coach Kim Mulkey's feuding with the Washington Post. Here's what we know so far

drama college personal statement

As it turns out, the madness of March extends past the confines of the court.

LSU women's head basketball coach Kim Mulkey spent four minutes of a Saturday press conference going after her next opponent: the Washington Post .

Mulkey, who led the Tigers back to the NCAA tournament one year after winning a national title, accused the Post of writing an upcoming article framed as a "hit piece" about her. According to Mulkey, the Post's reporter has been working on the piece for the last two years and contacted multiple former coaches and players.

"I’ve hired the best defamation law firm in the country, and I will sue The Washington Post if they publish a false story about me," Mulkey said. "Not many people are in a position to hold these kinds of journalists accountable but I am, and I’ll do it."

A Washington Post spokesperson declined a comment request from USA TODAY on Saturday.

FOLLOW THE MADNESS: NCAA basketball bracket, scores, schedules, teams and more.

On Sunday, Mulkey had more to say when asked about her team's slow start against No. 11 Middle Tennessee State Tigers. While LSU eventually won handily, 83-56, the sluggish first half begged the question of whether the team was distracted.

“No. Listen, we’re not going to let one sleazy reporter distract us from what we’re trying to do. Absolutely not,” Mulkey said.

Here's everything we know so far about the upcoming article.

March Madness picks: Our Sunday bracket predictions for 2024 NCAA women's tournament

Rumors about a Kim Mulkey article surfaced on Friday

Pat Forde, a writer for Sports Illustrated, reported via social media platform X (formerly Twitter) on Friday that he heard about a "big Washington Post story in the works." According to Forde, the piece may come out as early as next week.

The Washington Post reporter has covered LSU in the past

According to Mulkey, the reporter in question, Kent Babb, had previously written an article about Brian Kelly for the Post. She "didn't appreciate" the story and refused to sit down with him as a result.

Mulkey said the writer sent LSU "more than a dozen questions" on Tuesday with a deadline to respond on Thursday, "right before we’re scheduled to tip-off." (LSU's women's basketball team played their first game of the tournament against Rice on Friday afternoon. They won, 70-60.)

She went on to say she believed the timing of the questioning and deadline were intentional, an attempt to distract her and her team from their current postseason run.

"It ain’t gonna work, buddy," Mulkey said.

"This is exactly why people don’t trust journalists and the media anymore. It’s these kinds of sleazy tactics and hatchet jobs that people are just tired of."

Women's March Madness games: Schedule, how to watch Sunday's NCAA Tournament games

Kent Babb has responded to Mulkey's comments

Though both Babb and the Post have declined most requests for comment from multiple outlets, Babb did confirm to the Associated Press he is working on a Mulkey profile. He also seemingly responded to Mulkey's press conference allegations and lawsuit threats in a Saturday post on X.

"Hit piece?" the post read with a link to Babb's aforementioned 2022 article on Brian Kelly.

It is so far unclear when the Washington Post will publish the upcoming story.

drama college personal statement

13 Best Legal Drama Shows on Netflix Right Now (March 2024)

D o you feel the adrenaline rushing when you see attorneys striving for justice in a legal show? Or does the tension of the courtroom keep you on the edge of your seat? If the answer is yes to either or both of these questions, then you are at the right place. Whether you are a law enthusiast, a legal drama fan, or simply passionate about good storytelling, legal drama shows can be one of the most satisfying entertainment experiences. From real-life events and well-researched documentaries to fascinating fiction, these are the best legal drama on Netflix right now. Now, approach the bench, counsel.

For recommendations, check out our list of the best movies and shows on Netflix .

Disclaimer: These titles are available on US Netflix.

'Suits' (2011 - 2019)

Rotten tomatoes: 91% | imdb: 8.4/10.

Release Date June 23, 2011

Creator Aaron Korsh

Cast Gabriel Macht, Rick Hoffman, Katherine Heigl, Dule Hill, Amanda Schull

Genres Drama, Comedy

Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams seamlessly share the screen as co-stars in the beloved cable series Suits , created by Aaron Korsh . Combining workplace tension mixed with legal drama, Suits blossoms from a base premise of a super smart college drop-out (Adams) landing a job at an elite law firm, evolving into a complex interpersonal story of charming characters navigating office politics. Featuring a stellar and expansive cast, including royalty Meghan Markle as well as science-fiction royalty Gina Torres , Suits is a witty series with a dedicated fandom that has only grown over the years. – Yael Tygiel

Watch on Netflix

'The Night Agent' (2023 - Present)

Rotten tomatoes: 74% | imdb: 7.5/10, the night agent.

Release Date March 23, 2023

Creator Shawn Ryan

Cast Phoenix Raei, Fola Evans-Akingbola, Sarah Desjardins, Luciane Buchanan, Eve Harlow, Gabriel Basso

Genres Drama, Thriller, Action

Prominent show creator Shawn Ryan ( The Shield ) brings the novel of the same name by Matthew Quirk off the page and onto television screens in this explosive new series filled with action, conspiracies, and political espionage. The Night Agent follows FBI agent Peter Sutherland ( Gabriel Basso ), who gets a call at the White House that pulls him into a desperate manhunt for a potential traitor in the US government that could endanger the whole country. Anyone who loves a good spy show with all the bells, whistles, and heart-pumping gunplay is sure to enjoy falling down this rabbit hole along with our stalwart, Agent Sutherland.

'Partner Track' (2022)

Rotten tomatoes: 57% | imdb: 6.7/10, partner track.

Release Date August 26, 2022

Creator Georgia Lee

Cast Rob Heaps, Nolan Gerard Funk, Dominic Sherwood, Arden Cho

Genres Drama

Based on the 2013 novel by Helen Wan, Partner Track follows a young, idealistic lawyer named Ingrid ( Arden Cho ), who will do anything to make partner at her firm, including skipping holidays, blowing off her boyfriend, and not getting involved in confrontations at work. There are just two little problems: a casually racist coworker ( Nolan Gerard Funk ) who’s also vying for the position and a new addition to the team ( Dominic Sherwood ) who she has a past with. The show combines steamy romance with real-life issues like microaggressions – both of which set it apart for the genre. – Taylor Gates

'The Lincoln Lawyer' (2022 - Present)

Rotten tomatoes: 85% | imdb: 7.7/10, the lincoln lawyer.

Release Date May 13, 2022

Cast Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Becki Newton, Neve Campbell, Angus Sampson

Genres Drama, Mystery, Crime

From the men behind so many of the best legal dramas on television, David E. Kelley ( Boston Legal , Ally McBeal ) and Ted Humphrey ( The Good Wife ), comes The Lincoln Lawyer – a cleverly written legal drama erupting with action, mystery, and even some comedy. Based on Michael Connelly’s novels of the same name, The Lincoln Lawyer ’s premise is simple: He’s a lawyer who practices law out of his Lincoln Town Car. But the story becomes quite more intricate as it unfolds. Manuel Garcia-Rulfo ( Murder on the Orient Express ) takes on the lead role previously occupied by Matthew McConaughey in the film adaptation, starring alongside the incredible Neve Campbell ( Scream ) and underrated Becki Newton ( Ugly Betty ). – Yael Tygiel

'NCIS' (2003 - Present)

Imdb: 7.8/10.

Cast Rocky Carroll, Brian Dietzen, Pauley Perrette, sean murray, Mark Harmon, david mccallum

Created by Donald P. Bellisario

Criminal dramas and procedurals are a dime a dozen these days, but few make it past a handful of seasons, and even fewer manage to maintain the level of quality as NCIS , currently in its nineteenth season. Following the titular Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the show is a contemporary of shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit , and is arguably the most charming of television’s most famous dramas. Despite numerous cast shake-ups in recent years, the series remains a primetime staple, one of the few police procedurals still airing that remains firmly within the “bad guy of the week” formula popularized in the early 2000s. As the third longest-running scripted, non-animated series currently airing in the US, the show has spawned numerous spinoffs, including NCIS: New Orleans and the newer NCIS: Hawaii , but there’s nothing quite like the panache of the original, helmed, up until recently, by the stoic and dependable Leroy Jethro Gibbs ( Mark Harmon ), and its clear commitment to tying up its loose ends with a smile. — Maggie Boccella

'Mindhunter' (2017 - 2019)

Rotten tomatoes: 97% | imdb: 8.6/10.

Release Date October 13, 2017

Cast Hannah Gross, Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv

Genres Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Crime

The FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Unit, currently a part of the Behavioral Analysis Unit, is well-known by fans of crime dramas, featuring prominently in various shows of the genre. Mindhunter tells the fictionalized story of a group of BSU agents tasked with investigating serial killers between the late 70s and early 80s to solve the ever-growing number of cases that defied the traditional police approach. Often praised for the accuracy with which it portrays infamous murderers such as Ed Kemper ( Cameron Britton ) and Charles Manson ( Damon Herriman ), Mindhunter goes beyond the usual procedural structure, that focuses almost exclusively on the crimes themselves, to allow its mains characters time to shine and present viewers with their own stories. It’s a moving and thrilling series, that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats, wondering what will the next development be, whether officers Ford ( Groff ) and Tench ( McCallany ) next interview with Kemper, on the crimes they are currently investigating, or on officer Tench’s attempt at figuring out his quiet six-year-old son. — Elisa Guimarães

'When They See Us' (2019)

Rotten tomatoes: 97% | imdb: 8.9/10, when they see us.

Release Date May 31, 2019

Creator Ava DuVernay

Cast Asante Blackk, John Leguizamo, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Aunjanue Ellis, Niecy Nash, Michael K. Williams

Genres Biography, Drama, Crime

Sometimes, a story feels so important that even though it’s heartbreaking, it must be told and heard. When They See Us is a story like that. When five teens from Harlem, Kevin Richardson ( Asante Blackk ), Antron McCray ( Caleel Harris ), Yusef Salaam ( Ethan Herisse ), Korey Wise ( Jharrel Jerome ), and Raymond Santana ( Marquis Rodriguez ), are falsely accused of a brutal assault on a jogger in Central Park, their lives become a nightmare. The limited series follows the real-life story of these five people, from discovery by the police to an extended courtroom trial.

The limited series is based on events that happened in 1989 in New York City’s Central Park. The show narrates the events and the experiences of these teenage boys and spotlights the biases of the justice system.

When They See Us received widespread critical acclaim on its release and was nominated for a host of awards, winning a Peabody and an Emmy Award. With an ensemble cast, a pressing social issue, and positive reviews, this is a show that you don’t want to miss.

'Unbelievable' (2019)

Rotten tomatoes: 98% | imdb: 8.3/10, unbelievable.

Release Date September 13, 2019

Cast Blake Ellis, Merritt Wever, Kaitlyn Dever, Toni Collette

Genres Drama, Crime

Even the best people in law and order can make horrible mistakes. Unbelievable proves this over and over. It is the story of Marie Adler, an 18-year- old girl who reports being raped by a masked intruder who broke into her house. But instead of getting justice, she is accused of lying and victimized by detectives who claim she’s making false allegations. And so, she recants her statement. Eventually, two female detectives decide to follow all the pieces of evidence and uncover the truth so that they can bring justice to Marie.

The Netflix original miniseries is based on a 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning news story by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong , and their book A False Report . The show focuses on Marie and her experiences with the police, courts, judges, and jury over eight episodes. The award-winning series earned many rave reviews and critical acclaim.

'Hyena' (2020)

Imdb: 7.6/10.

Release Date February 21, 2020

Creator SBS Drama Headquarters

Cast Kim Hye-soo, Ju Ji-Hoon

Genres Drama, K-Drama

Hyena is another thrilling legal K-drama that is worth a watch. It is the story of two ambitious rival lawyers, Jung Geum-ja ( Kim Hye-soo ) and Yoon Hee-Jae ( Ju Ji-hoon ) who work at Song & Kim, a law firm that represents the crème-de-la-crème of South Korea. Jung and Yoon are both extremely competitive and ambitious, but each with their own legal arsenal. Jung is a daring soul who would not stop at the boundaries of ethics, emotions, law, and justice, and would do anything to succeed. With her whatever-it-takes attitude, sharp mind, and strong survival instincts, Jung can tear her competitor down at any point. Yoon, on the other hand, is Jung’s extreme opposite. He is an elite lawyer, who is brilliant, egotistical, and confident, and believes in himself. But he cannot always keep up with Jung’s slick nature and gets outsmarted by her. Yet, he will never let anything stand in the way of his ambition.

As the title suggests, the series portrays the metaphorical animalistic nature of the rival lawyers, to keep their heads up in the dog-eat-dog world of the legal system. Hyena only has one season with 16 episodes.

'Better Call Saul' (2015 - 2022)

Rotten tomatoes: 98% | imdb: 9.0/10, better call saul.

Release Date February 8, 2015

Cast Tony Dalton, Bob Odenkirk, Michael Mando, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian, Giancarlo Esposito

Here comes another exceptional work from the creators of Breaking Bad . A spin-off of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould ’s hit crime drama, Better Call Saul begins around six years before the events of Breaking Bad in Albuquerque, New Mexico, while also delving into the backstory of Saul Goodman. The story follows the journey of James McGill ( Bob Odenkirk ), from a con-man turned small-time lawyer to the morally challenged criminal lawyer Saul Goodman.

Bob Odenkirk steals the show as Jimmy McGill, through his struggles and achievements in professional and personal lives, endless escapes, and encounters with dangerous enemies, ranging from high-profile corporate sharks to ruthless drug lords. The quirky, witty, and engaging series has been critically acclaimed and has earned many nominations and awards, including Primetime Emmy Awards and Golden Globe Awards.

'Alias Grace' (2017)

Rotten tomatoes: 99% | imdb: 7.6/10, alias grace.

Release Date September 25, 2017

Cast Rebecca Liddiard, Paul Gross, Anna Paquin, Zachary Levi, David Cronenberg, Sarah Gadon

Writers Sarah Polley

Directors Mary Harron

If you are a Margaret Atwood fan, or just love 19th-century thrillers, then this is the perfect show for you. Even if you aren’t, Alias Grace has all the ingredients of good literature: a gripping story, intriguing characters, and a peek into history, especially the legal system of a bygone era.

Set in 1843 Canada, Alias Grace depicts the true story of Grace Marks, based on the eponymous historical fiction by Margaret Atwood. The plot follows the 16-year-old housemaid, Grace ( Sarah Gadon ), who was convicted of murdering her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and was also suspected of killing the housekeeper, Nancy Montgomery.

'How To Get Away With Murder' (2014 - 2020)

Rotten tomatoes: 88% | imdb: 8.1/10, how to get away with murder.

Release Date September 25, 2014

Cast Jack Falahee, Billy Brown, Aja Naomi King, Viola Davis, Liza Weil

Annalise Keating ( Viola Davis ) is a professor and one of the most brilliant lawyers in Philadelphia. How to Get Away With Murder follows Annalise and five of her students as they use their intelligence, skills, and classroom lessons to cover up a murder. The power-packed show revolves around the consequences of one major incident that spans years and upends not just every character’s life, but the social and legal system as well. The plot thickens and twists in every season with new problems and characters, all striving to escape one thing – death!

Another striking feather in producer Shonda Rhimes ’s hat, HTGAWM earned high accolades and great reception from the audience and critics alike. This Emmy and Golden Globe-winning legal drama series is one of the most popular and most-watched shows on Netflix at the moment.

'House of Cards' (2013 - 2018)

Rotten tomatoes: 77% | imdb: 8.6/10, house of cards (2013).

Release Date February 1, 2013

Cast Campbell Scott, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Derek Cecil, Lars Mikkelsen, Boris McGiver, Patricia Clarkson, Greg Kinnear

Genres Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Understandably, you may be hesitant about watching a Kevin Spacey series right now considering his crimes. However, Spacey’s involvement shouldn’t overshadow the fact that House of Cards changed television forever. The first major Netflix original series raised the game with its production value, and the first two episodes were helmed by none other than David Fincher . House of Cards essentially started the binge-watching phenomenon. Although the show dipped in quality over time, the first two seasons are among the most riveting political television ever created. We also got one of the greatest female characters in recent memory: Robin Wright ’s Claire Underwood. — Liam Gaughan

13 Best Legal Drama Shows on Netflix Right Now (March 2024)

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Central School of Speech and Drama Personal Statements

These UCAS personal statements have been kindly provided by students applying to Central School of Speech and Drama. You can click on one of the links below to view the entire statement and find out if the applicant was offered a place.

You can also view our entire collection of personal statements or view personal statements for application at other universities .

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    drama college personal statement

  2. Drama Personal Statement Structure

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  1. Reading My Personal Statement

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  5. Need help with college applications, scholarships, personal statement? Call 614-686-0285


  1. Drama Personal Statement Examples

    Drama Personal Statement Example 5. "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt" (Measure for Measure, I, IV) Here Shakespeare verbalises the overwhelming necessity of losing your inhibitions and daring to achieve, that have aided my open mind, confident demeanour and positive outlook ...

  2. Personal statement advice: drama

    Ensure your personality comes across in your personal statement - in particular your creativity, enthusiasm, energy or dedication to drama. If you can, articulate your career aspirations and how your degree will help you gain the experience, knowledge, and skills to help you prepare for it. Professor Anna Furse, Head of Theatre and ...

  3. Undergraduate Personal Statement Example: Drama and Theatre Studies

    Personal Statement Example: Section 2. "I learnt how to balance a full schedule through participating in extracurricular opportunities. Directing a play at fourteen exposed the complexities of preproduction roles and how an impact is achieved through different mediums.

  4. Drama Personal Statement Examples

    A Drama personal statement makes up the final and arguably the most important part of your overall UCAS application. A Drama personal statement is a chance for students to demonstrate their passion, knowledge and interest in Drama in a meaningful way that also allows them to speak about themselves in a way that shows off their passions ...

  5. Writing the Perfect Drama School Statement

    REFLECTION. In conclusion, crafting an exceptional personal statement for drama school is a multifaceted task that requires careful thought, introspection, and honesty. Aspiring students must seize this opportunity to leave a lasting impression on the admissions panel by showcasing their passion, commitment, and suitability for the chosen course.

  6. Drama degree personal statement example (1a)

    Drama degree personal statement example (1a) This is a real personal statement written by a student for their university application. It might help you decide what to include in your own. There are lots more examples in our collection of sample personal statements. To act is to allow yourself to be limitless. To act is to captivate an audience ...

  7. Drama degree personal statement example (1f)

    Drama degree personal statement example (1f) This is a real personal statement written by a student for their university application. It might help you decide what to include in your own. There are lots more examples in our collection of sample personal statements. Drama is a way of sharing my thoughts and desires, as well as expressing my ...

  8. PDF UCAS: What to include

    Personal statements should be well written and articulate. Spelling, accuracy of grammar and diversity of vocabulary are important. Things to consider and include in your statement • Why do you want to study this subject? • Speciic aspects of the course that are of interest to you • Experience in performing arts/dance/Musical Theatre

  9. Applying to Drama School: The Essential Guide

    These two steps will ground your artistic statement around your core values. Check out this article, How to Write a Personal Statement for Acting School from Backstage, an excellent resource for all things acting-related. Transcripts: As with any other college application, transcripts are required to demonstrate evidence of your academic potential.

  10. Drama Personal Statement 3

    BA (Hons) Drama and Dance. I want to study Dance at university I have always wanted to do dance and I have found that it is something that comes naturally to me. I have always found dance and the preforming art industry, there are no two days that are the same. Every time I dance, I want to feel that I have improved in different abilities.

  11. Acting degree personal statement example (1a)

    Acting degree personal statement example (1a) This is a real personal statement written by a student for their university application. It might help you decide what to include in your own. There are lots more examples in our collection of sample personal statements.

  12. How To Write a Personal Statement for Acting School

    Keep in mind that this isn't an academic essay. Words like "therefore" and "upon" don't really belong in your story, unless that's how you actually speak. Regardless of your tone ...

  13. How to Write a Personal Statement That Wows Colleges

    Tips for Writing a Personal Statement for College. 1. Approach this as a creative writing assignment. Personal statements are difficult for many students because they've never had to do this type of writing. High schoolers are used to writing academic reports or analytical papers, but not creative storytelling pieces.

  14. Personal Statement Examples

    A personal statement for college is your chance to set yourself apart from other students and show admissions who you are. A strong personal statement for a university will describe your unique experiences and background in a first-person narrative. ... Still though, as president of the drama program in 2021, I am determined to rebuild a ...

  15. What Is a Personal Statement? Everything You Need to Know About the

    Personal statement —an essay you write to show a college admissions committee who you are and why you deserve to be admitted to their school. It's worth noting that, unlike "college essay," this term is used for application essays for graduate school as well. College essay —basically the same as a personal statement (I'll be using the terms ...

  16. 12 Outstanding Personal Statement Examples

    Example #7 - Entoptic Phenomena. Example #8 - The Builder & Problem Solver. Example #10 - The Little Porch and a Dog (With Spanish Translation) Example #10 - Life As an Undocumented Student. Example #11 - Umbra. Example #12 - Angry brown girl, feminist, singer, meme lover.

  17. How to Write a Personal Statement

    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 ...

  18. Kim Mulkey Washington Post story explained: What we know

    As it turns out, the madness of March extends past the confines of the court. LSU women's head basketball coach Kim Mulkey spent four minutes of a Saturday press conference going after her next ...

  19. Drama & English Personal Statement Example

    Drama & English Personal Statement Example. As I witnessed a production of Anton Chekhov's 'The Seagull', watching how utterly obsessive and enamoured by literature Konstantin was, a quote from another author, Donna Tartt, at last made sense to me. "I am nothing in my soul if not obsessive".

  20. 13 Best Legal Drama Shows on Netflix Right Now (March 2024)

    Combining workplace tension mixed with legal drama, Suits blossoms from a base premise of a super smart college drop-out (Adams) landing a job at an elite law firm, evolving into a complex ...

  21. Central School of Speech and Drama Personal Statements

    You can also view our entire collection of personal statements or view personal statements for application at other universities. Drama Personal Statement Example 1. A wise man once said "…how dreadful knowledge of the truth can be, when there's no help in truth.". I think, out of all thoughtful things one can think about, this quotes ...