Applying to a selective school? You will probably be required to submit a personal statement as part of your application
What is a personal statement and why is it important?
Selective colleges and universities make their decisions to admit applicants based on test scores, undergraduate academic performance, co-curricular activities, recommendation letters, an interview, and application essays. Many schools or programs will also ask for a personal statement. The personal statement is an opportunity to write about and differentiate yourself.
You are competing with hundreds of other applicants who have similar test scores and grades. The personal statement can be the factor that helps you stand out from other candidates. It gives the admissions committee a chance to get a glimpse of you as a person rather than as a set of numbers.
The challenge of writing a personal statement
A personal statement is a very different kind of writing than the analytical writing required in many of your college courses. Your personality needs to emerge from the writing. Admissions officers will evaluate your ability to communicate clearly and concisely. Your personal statement should be grammatically correct and error-free.
As you begin to write your personal statement, think about your life and why you are applying to a specific program or school. Ask yourself What do I want the admissions committee to know about me that is not already in my application? To get started, you might want to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is important to me?
- What am I interested in?
- What am I proud of?
- What significant experiences have I had?
- What kinds of qualities are necessary for the profession I wish to pursue?
- Why do I think I possess these qualities?
After you have thought about your life and goals, think about the career you want to have. What are the skills and values of people in that particular profession? How do they match with yours? How can you highlight those values and skills in your personal statement?
Brainstorm your achievements, career goals, leadership, and personal interest.
Narrow your emphasis to one specific theme or point. Begin your essay with this theme and the following paragraphs should logically develop and illustrate it.
Choose an interesting and distinctive topic:
- Significant travel, work or volunteer experience
- Personal triumph, achievement or revelation
- Overcoming or understanding a hardship
- Significant personal influence in your life
- Significant piece of learning, text, or reading and how you were affected or influenced by it.
Edit, edit, edit… until you have a clear, concise, error-free essay!