Personal Statements

The personal statement, which is your chance to market yourself throughout the application process, is usually divided into two categories:

1. The general, comprehensive personal statement: This style of statement is commonly produced for conventional medical or law school application forms since it gives you the most latitude in terms of what you write.

2. The response to very specific questions: Business and graduate school applications frequently ask specific questions, and your statement should address the subject directly. Multiple essays are preferred by certain business school applications, which often ask for solutions to three or more questions.

Questions to ask yourself before you write:

  • What's special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story?
  • What details of your life (personal or family problems, history, people, or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants?
  • When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? What insights have you gained?
  • How have you learned about this field—through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field?
  • If you have worked a lot during your college years, what have you learned (leadership or managerial skills, for example), and how has that work contributed to your growth?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (great grades but mediocre LSAT or GRE scores, for example, or a distinct upward pattern to your GPA if it was only average in the beginning)?
  • Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life?
  • What personal characteristics (for example, integrity, compassion, and/or persistence) do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics?
  • What skills (for example, leadership, communication, and analytical) do you possess?
  • Why might you be a stronger candidate for graduate school—and more successful and effective in the profession or field than other applicants?
  • What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you?

General advice

Answer the questions that are asked

  • If you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar.
  • Don't fall into the trap of using the same statement for all of your applications. It is critical to respond to each question, and if somewhat different replies are required, separate statements should be written. In every scenario, make sure your response is appropriate for the inquiry.

Tell a story

  • Consider how you can exhibit or demonstrate something through tangible experience. Boring the admissions committee is one of the worst things you can do. You'll stand out from the crowd if your message is original, energetic, and unusual. You will become unforgettable if you identify yourself via your tale.

Be specific

  • Don't say something like "I'd be a great doctor" unless you can back it up with concrete examples. Your desire to be a lawyer, engineer, or whatever else you want to be should be rational, the outcome of particular experiences stated in your statement. The logical conclusion to your tale should be your application.

Find an angle

  • If your life narrative is anything like most people's, finding a method to make it fascinating becomes a major task. Finding a "hook" or an angle is crucial.

Concentrate on your opening paragraph

  • The first paragraph, or lead, is usually the most significant. It is here that you either gain or lose the reader's interest. The rest of the sentence is built around this paragraph.

Tell what you know

  • Your enthusiasm and experience in your area, as well as some of your understanding of the topic, maybe discussed in the middle half of your essay. Too many students graduate with little or no understanding of the guts and bolts of the profession or subject they wish to pursue. Use the terminology specialists use to express this knowledge and be as precise as possible when describing what you know about the field. Refer to previous experiences (job, research, etc. ), classes, talks with professionals in the industry, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of specialized knowledge about the career you desire and why you're qualified for it. Because you will have to choose what to put in your statement, your selections will frequently reflect your judgment.

Don't include some subjects

  • Certain things should be avoided in personal statements. References to high school or past experiences or successes, for example, are typically not a smart idea. Don't bring up any potentially contentious matters (for example, controversial religious or political issues).

Do some research, if needed

  • If a school wants to know why you're applying to them instead of another, do some study to find out what makes your university or program unique. This might be an issue to consider if the educational environment would represent a significant geographical or cultural transition for you.

Write well and correctly

  • Be meticulous. Carefully type and proofread your essay. As they read these remarks, many admissions officers note that strong writing abilities and knowledge of the right use of language are crucial to them. Make your point clearly and straightforwardly. Stick to the word restrictions that have been set.

Avoid clichés

  • A medical school candidate who states that he enjoys science and wants to assist others isn't exactly articulating a novel idea. Avoid statements that are overused or worn out..

For more information on writing a personal statement, see the personal statement Blog Posts.

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