The personal statement—your opportunity to sell yourself in the application process—generally falls into one of two categories:
1. The general personal statement.
This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms. It can also be the most difficult statement to write, as you are given the freedom to write about anything you choose.
2. The very specific question.
Often, business and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and your statement should respond specifically to the question being asked. Some applications favor multiple essays, typically asking for responses to three or more questions.
Start brainstorming your answer by answering these questions:
- What's unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story?
- What details of your life (personal or family history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants?
- When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? How have you learned about this field--through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field?
- What are your career goals? (Hint: Goals should be related to the program you’re applying for!)
- Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (poor test scores but excellent grades)?
- Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life?
- What personal characteristics do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics?
- What skills do you possess?
Personal Statement Workshops:
The Writing Specialist in the ARC conducts one-hour personal statement workshops every semester to assist students in beginning and refining their statements. Learn how to write a compelling personal statement for your graduate school applications.