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Asked • 07/09/20

What are your tips for crafting a great Personal Statement essay?

The Personal Statement is an essay that people who are applying to college, graduate school, and many scholarships and prestigious awards will certainly encounter. It is a way to show the program that you are a unique candidate, and that you have something special and valuable to offer the program.

This essay can be difficult for people. This is likely because of the fact that unlike argumentative essays, expository writing, or even creative writing, we are not usually taught how to write Personal Statements in high school or even college courses. Still, with a bit of guidance, you can craft a first-rate Personal Statement that highlights your story and your accomplishments.

Here are my top tips for crafting a great Personal Statement:

  1. Create a Narrative. Your Personal Statement should have a timeline with past, present, and future. What was the moment in your life that made you want to apply to this program? What are you doing now to prepare for that program? When you get into that program, what specifically are you interested in doing within it? And once you complete that program, how will that experience help you with your ultimate future goals?
  2. Recent & Relevant. The experiences you include in your Personal Statement should be recent and relevant. The most common error I have seen when helping people with their Personal Statements is that they often write extensively about stories from childhood. It is far more effective to include experiences from a recent internship, job, or even class that you took in school or college.
  3. Get to the point, quickly. Most programs limit the length of applicant's Personal Statements to one page. That is not a lot of time to showcase your strengths, experiences, and future plans. Do not waste space talking about how great the program itself is, or that it will be helpful to you - they already know! Instead tell the admissions committee about something they don't know: you, and what you can bring to the table.
  4. Be specific. While it's not helpful to state general facts about how highly ranked or prestigious the program you are applying for is, it is helpful to talk about highly specific things within your program that you hope to do. For example, if you are applying for a graduate school program, you already know what it is you want to study. Take it a step further - research and talk about specific courses you want to take and why. Research and talk about specific faculty you wish to study or research under and how their academic interests align with yours.

Those are my top few tips for crafting a great Personal Statement essay. If you're having trouble with yours, reach out to me, and I can help you with your specific essay. Best of luck!

-Sofia A.

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