So, you have decided to pursue a degree in college or university. Congratulations, you are on the right track! From now on, you have a lot of organizational issues to resolve, and writing a personal statement is one of them. While there are no more or less important things on the way to your degree, a personal statement essay is the one worth putting your efforts in.
The matter is that a well-written paper can set you apart from other applicants and get your foot in the door at the school of your choice. That's why in this article, we will explain how to write a personal statement for college or graduate school step-by-step. Keep on reading or use our college admission essay writing service from the get-go!
What Is a Personal Statement: Definition
A personal statement is a custom-written essay that you have to submit along with other documents when applying for college or a degree program. It's an opportunity to show off your personality, interests, and accomplishments in an original way by writing about something that's meaningful to you.
Unlike a college essay, a personal statement is typically a shorter and more focused piece of writing. Your college or university personal statement should always be tailored to the program that you're applying for. It should also showcase your knowledge, skills, and aspirations in such a way that makes you a perfect applicant for this particular program.
The biggest deal with writing your personal statement is to keep it personal but make it sound professional. So, let's find this fine balance together.
What Makes a Good Personal Statement?
Before we discover how to write a good personal statement, let’s take a look at the requirements it should be compliant with. While this type of academic assignment still leaves room for creativity, there are several features you should keep in mind when writing it. So, the best personal statements should:
- Describe you as a person. A good personal statement will let the admission committee know who you are and what your passions are.
- Describe you as a life learner. Your essay should also demonstrate that you are eager to learn about the world around you, deepening your knowledge in a specific subject.
- Explain your motivation to study a particular subject. It is not enough to say that you want to study the subject or participate in the program just because you like it. You will have to add the context and value, explaining why you want it, how this decision was shaped, and how you plan to use the knowledge obtained.
- Have a classic structure. We bet you know the best academic writing practices pretty well. Fortunately, your personal statement should have the same intro-body-conclusion logic as any other good essay.
- Are well-written and grammatically correct. A personal statement essay is the opportunity to make the first impression on the admissions committee, and it can set the tone for the rest of your application.
- Are compliant with the specific requirements of an educational institution. For example, some schools may require that you include certain information about yourself or your background, such as your GPA or GRE scores. Other schools may require specific content in the applicants’ papers, such as a list of courses you've taken or extracurricular activities you've participated in.
As you can see, powerful personal statements are more than just a list of achievements. They are a reflection of who you are and how you've grown as a person and as a future professional. That’s why writing a good personal statement requires a lot of preparational work to be done. Asking yourself some questions is the first step.
Questions to Ask Before Writing a Personal Statement
Before writing a college or grad school personal statement, find and write down the answers to the next questions. At this step, don’t think for too long — instead, just write down the things that come to your mind. This is not the final version of your paper; it isn’t even the first draft. Now you are free to write everything you want. The sincere and well-reasoned answers you put into the text of your paper are just what will make your essay different from personal statements for graduate school submitted by other students.
So, here are the questions:
- Why I have chosen this particular college/subject/program?
- What sparkles my interest in it?
- What value and meaning do I see in studying this subject?
- What makes me a great candidate to participate in the program?
- How do I stand out among other applicants?
- What are my strengths and weaknesses as a personality?
- What are achievements I’m proud of?
- What study-related challenges have I faced? How did I resolve them and what had I learned from them?
- What will I do after completing the program?
- What value will I be able to offer society, science, and the whole world?
How to Write a Personal Statement Step-by-Step?
After you are done with all answers to the questions below, you can proceed with crafting your personal statement. Here is how to write a personal statement for college or university step-by-step. Follow the battle-proven writing practices, stay compliant with academic writing rules, and keep your personality in the spotlight.
1. Brainstorm Your Ideas
Before you write a college personal statement, you should brainstorm as many ideas as possible. If you haven’t skipped the tip above and answered all or at least some of the questions, you probably already have something to highlight in your personal statement.
Now, it’s time to summarize your answers. Leave only those that are relevant to the program you are applying for. At this stage, you might also want to take one more look at the institution's requirements. It will help align the ideas you’ve brainstormed to the concepts an admission committee expects to read about in submitted statements.
2. Do Your Research
A winning personal statement for university is always a well-researched and well-grounded one. The most successful personal statements are written by students who have done their homework. So, don't be afraid to ask around or read up on what works and what doesn't. You can also look at a school's website or other resources to get an idea of what they are looking for in their applicants' personal statements. At this stage, don’t hesitate to read samples created by other students. The best (and worst) practices you learn from them, the more chances of writing a great piece you will have.
3. Create a Personal Statement Outline
To write a solid personal statement, you need to ensure that your work flows logically from one idea to the next and that it remains concise. To do this, start by creating an outline of your essay. As for organization, a personal statement format doesn't differ from a typical structure of an essay. So, write down the core idea of an intro, move on to the bullet point of statements you want to have in the body, and highlight the most important things in the conclusion of an outline. Revise and rewrite your outline until you achieve a logical flow and ultimate clarity.
>> Read more: How to Write an Outline of an Essay?
4. Write a Strong Opening
So, how to start a personal statement for college? There are two possible approaches but only one of them is especially winning. Usually, students begin a personal statement by introducing themselves and briefly explaining their reasons and motivators to choose this particular program. And this approach is right!
However, the task of your statement is to make you stand out from the crowd. That’s why writing a more attention-grabbing introduction is a better tactic. In this case, you need to add a unique angle or, in other words, hook your readers. Introduce yourself and explain your “why” but do it in a more captivating way. And you guessed it right — you have to tell a story, letting the admission committee know how your decision was shaped. In this case, you can take a little more space and write up to 2 paragraphs as an introduction.
>> Learn more: How to Start an Essay?
5. Tell a Story and Be Specific
At the next step of writing a college personal statement, continue by telling the story that sets the stage for why you are applying to a certain program. Most likely, it will be a story of successes and failures, ups and downs, mistakes and lessons, disappointments, and excitement. Talk about them in your essay, showing the admission committee how each of the events shaped you as a person and a professional. Your essay should tell a compelling tale about who you are and why the school should admit you.
Let your story flow and evolve in your body paragraphs. Don't be afraid to be reasonably creative and most importantly, find your own tone of voice. Your individual style and story are what will make your personal statement stand out.
6. Use Real-Life Examples
In addition to telling a story, provide real-life examples that add context to your personal statement. For instance, if you apply for a degree in Economy, you can add context by mentioning specific events from the past or present like the Great Depression or Economic Recession.
If you're applying for a degree in Psychology, think back on something that happened to you personally or to somebody close to you. The task of using examples in personal statements is to bring them as close to real life as possible. Show your attitude to specific events in either your life or the life of the whole world.
7. Summarize Key Points
The conclusion of your personal statement summarizes the entire essay. You should also provide some insight into what you will do in the future, and how this program will help you achieve your goals. When writing an undergraduate school personal statement, keep in mind that you shouldn't provide any new information in a conclusion. Instead, it should be just a summary which you can end with a positive statement about yourself and your future aspirations.
8. Proofread Your College Personal Statement
Congratulations, you are almost done with your personal statement. Now, let’s make it shine! After you’ve finished writing the text, make sure to carefully revise and proofread it. Get started with revision and ensure that your paper has a logical structure. The paragraphs you’ve created should have approximately the same volume and a clear flow as well.
Next, proofread your essay, looking for mistakes and typos. You are also welcome to use proofreading and editing tools like Grammarly to achieve even more clarity and make sure no single mistake is missed. If you have such an opportunity, you may ask your teacher to take one more look at your personal statement before submitting it.
How to Write a Personal Statement Example
Writing a personal statement is just the first challenge you will face on the way to getting a degree. Now, you have a step-by-step guide on how to do it right. To get an even better understanding, check the personal statement essay example below. Keep in mind that you can find even more inspiring samples in another blog on our platform.
Personal Statement Writing Tips
Feel like you need more best practices to make your personal statement stand out? We've put together some tips for writing a personal statement for college or university that will get you noticed by the admission committee.
- Don't hesitate to talk about your achievements. Schools want to know that you are capable of achieving great things in your career.
- Make it concise and focused. You don't have much space (usually around two pages), so make sure that every word counts!
- Focus on yourself as an individual. Your paper should explain why you're right for the program, not why one program is right for everyone.
- Follow an introduction-body-conclusion structure. This may seem obvious, but it's important that you follow a general outline for each paragraph of your personal statement.
- Leverage winning examples for inspiration. A great way to get started is by looking at examples from successful applicants who were accepted into grad school programs similar to yours.
Keep these tips for writing a personal statement in mind when crafting your paper. Also, pay attention to certain things you have to avoid.
Things to Avoid in Your Personal Statement Writing
When you're applying for a graduate program or college, you need to make sure that everything about your personal statement is perfect. It's hard to write personal statements for grad school, but it's even harder when you don't know what to avoid. Below are the common mistakes you should keep in mind and never make:
- Describing the program you are applying for in detail.
- Using slang and clichés.
- Making typos and grammar mistakes.
- Trying to appear a different kind of person than you actually are.
- Being too personal.
- Providing irrelevant or excessive details.
Personal Statement Checklist
After you are done with writing a personal statement, take your time for one more revision and make sure it is compliant with key requirements.
- I’ve checked the way I have started my personal statement.
- My essay begins with a strong opening sentence that grabs attention.
- I’ve mentioned my current major and other academic credentials.
- I’ve explained my educational background.
- In my personal statement, I specified my interests and motivation to study this particular field.
- I’ve featured real-life examples that support each of my statements.
- I highlighted my future goals and the ways the program will help me achieve them.
- I’ve explained all reasons that make me a great fit for the program.
- I’ve listed the skills I have now and skills I'd like to develop during my education.
- I described my personality traits that set me apart from other applicants.
Final Thoughts on Graduate School Personal Statement Writing
A personal statement is a crucial part of the application process. It shows an admission committee who you are as a person and why you would be a good fit for their program. Your statement should show that you are not only interested in the field, but that you have the personality traits and experiences that will make you successful in it. Now, after you’ve discovered how to write a grad school personal statement, you are ready to do your best and make it stand out from the crowd!
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FAQ About Personal Statements
1. How long should a personal statement be?
Usually, the length of a personal statement is up to 700 words. This volume is enough to cover the key points but isn’t enough to make an admission committee feel tired.
2. How to format a personal statement?
A personal statement format is as follows:
- Keep it up to two pages (700 words)
- Use double-space and 1-inch margins
- Use Times New Roman font, size 12.
3. What to include in a personal statement?
A personal statement should include your academic background, your interests, and motivators, the reasons why you have chosen this particular program, and the personality traits and characteristics that make you a good fit for studying this field.
4. How to end a personal statement?
To conclude a personal statement, briefly summarize the points you’ve provided in the body. Tell about your future career goals and the ways you believe your knowledge will benefit society or the field of science you are about to study.