Winning Personal Statements

Winning Personal Statements

Writing a personal statement can seem like the most daunting task in the application process.

To write a statement that will help you win a seat in the graduate program of your choice, you need to think like a member of the admissions committee. You are welcome to schedule an appointment to meet with a career counselor to start the process, help with ideas or receive a critique of your draft.

Tell a story.

The best personal statements give the reader a window into who you are, often by the use of an example or story.

Ask yourself key questions.

  1. Does the essay introduce me as a person and a future practitioner in the field?
  2. Does it have elements that will stick with the reader?
  3. Do the action words accurately describe me?
  4. Are there specific, personal examples to back up my statements and illustrate my qualities?
  5. Are there guiding questions posed in the program application and have I answered them?
  6. Would the reader want to meet me after reading my statement?

Organize your material.

Even the best content will be lost if the ideas are presented in a jumbled incoherent manner. Clear writing begins with an outline.

What is your message? Write that first.

  1. How will your ideas logically progress to get to that conclusion?
  2. Write your key sentences. These may be parts of your larger story but should lead to the message.
  3. Provide a framework for your essay, with the first and last sentences referring to the same topic.
  4. Do the key sentences flow in a logical order? Does the entire think make sense?
  5. Can you “flesh out” each of the key sentences with interesting paragraphs that complete the sentence’s idea?
  6. Does the final essay say what you wanted in a logical and compelling way?

Edit, then edit again.

Poor grammar, spelling and typographical errors can ruin your statement. Review your essay:

  • Check guidelines for appropriate length.
  • Used varied sentence structures.
  • Avoid starting sentences with “I”.
  • Use standard punctuation, capitalization and spelling.
  • Use no exclamation points, except in dialogue.
  • Use active, rather than passive voice when possible, (e.g., “I found the book.” vs. “The book was found by me.”).
  • Write sentences no longer than approximately 30 words in length. Some should be much shorter.
  • Shorten paragraphs so that the page doesn’t look like a gray wall of type.
  • Avoid contractions.
  • Maintain agreement between subjects and verbs.
  • Use at least 10-point font.

When you are finished writing, consider contacting us to make an appointment for a critique. We would be glad to help support you in achieving your goals.