What is Personal Statement
Overview of the Personal Statement
Personal statements are sometimes also called "application essays" or "statements of purpose." Whatever they are called, they are essentially essays which are written in response to a question or questions on a graduate or professional school application form which asks for some sort of sustained response.
Some applications ask more specific questions than others. There is no set formula to follow in shaping your response, only choices for you to make, such as whether you should write an essay that is more autobiographically focused or one that is more professionally focused.
From application to application, requested personal ...view middle of the document...
Often times, committees are sorting through large numbers of applications and essays, perhaps doing an initial quick sort to find the best applicants and then later reading some of the personal statements more thoroughly. Given that information, you will want your statement to readily engage the readers, and to clearly demonstrate what makes you a unique candidate--apart from the rest of the stack.
:: One Process for Writing the Personal Statement
1. Analyze the question(s) asked on a specific application.
2. Research the school and/or program to which you are applying.
3. Take a personal inventory (see below). Write out a 2-3 sentence response to each question.
4. Write your essay.
5. Revise your essay for form and content.
6. Ask someone else - preferably a faculty member in your area - to read your essay and make suggestions for further revision.
7. Revise again.
:: Personal Inventory Questions
: What makes you unique, or at least different from, any other applicant?
: What attracts you to your chosen career? What do you expect to get out of it?
: When did you initially become interested in this career? How has this interest developed? When did you become certain that this is what you wanted to do? What solidified your decision?
: What are your intellectual influences? What writers, books, professors, concepts in college have shaped you?
: How has your undergraduate academic experience prepared you for graduate/professional school?
: What are two or three of the academic accomplishments which have most prepared you?
: What research have you conducted? What did you learn from it?
: What non-academic experiences contributed to your choice of school and/or career? (work, volunteer, family)
: Do you have specific career plans? How does graduate or professional school pertain to them?
: How much more education are you interested in?
: What's the most important thing the admissions committee should know about you?
: Think of a professor in your field that you've had already and that you like and respect. If this person were reading your application essay, what would most impress him or her?
:: Do . . .
: Answer all the questions asked.
If you are applying to more than one program, you may find that each application asks a different question or setof questions, and that you don't really feel like writing a bunch of different responses. However, you should avoid the temptation to submit the same essay for different questions—it's far better to tailor your response to each question and each school.
If you do find yourself short on time and must tailor one basic essay to fit a number of different questions from a number of different schools, target your essay to your first-choice school, and keep in mind that the less your essay is suited to an application's particular questions, the more you may be jeopardizing your chances of being admitted to that school.
: Be honest and confident in your statements.