Personal Statements

The personal statement is an important part of the graduate school application. It provides the admissions committee a chance to distinguish you from other top applicants and the opportunity to get to know you at a more personal level. Your personal statement has the ability to determine if you will be accepted or rejected by a school. Therefore, it is necessary that you write an essay that is honest, interesting, and well structured. Your job is to display your distinct personality and provide evidence that confirms your passion and desire for the subject and the school.

Introduction:

  • The introduction is the most important part of the essay, especially the first sentence. The first sentence can say a lot about the content and format of your essay.
  • Keep the reader interested by making them continue to read your essay after reading the first paragraph.
  • The first sentence should be unique and compelling, possibly thought provoking or attention-grabbing.
  • First sentences may explain your desire to study the subject of interest or discuss the motivation that influenced your desire to study the subject of interest. State it in a creative manner.
  • The sentences following the first sentence should provide a brief explanation that supports the claim stated in the first sentence.

The Body:

  • The body should include several paragraphs (usually about 3) that provides detailed evidence to support the statement made in the introductory paragraph. The paragraphs should flow by using transitions and resolutions.
  • Each paragraph should have a transition, which starts each paragraph with a topic statement that will be the theme of that paragraph (See more on transitions and resolutions below).
  • Each paragraph should have a resolution, which ends each paragraph with a meaningful sentence that provides a transition to the next paragraph (See more on transitions and resolutions below).
  • Experiences, accomplishments, or any other evidence that can support your claims should be included in the body. Future Goals should also be mentioned in the body.
  • A short summary of your educational background can be discussed in the 1st paragraph.
  • Personal experiences and the reasons for wanting to attend the school can be discussed in the 2nd paragraph.
  • Do not repeat what was stated in the application.
  • The last paragraph should explain why you should be accepted.[/li

Conclusion:

  • The conclusion is the last paragraph of the personal statement.
  • State why you are interested in studying the subject of interest.
  • State the key points mentioned in the body, such as your experiences or accomplishments, that explain your interest in the subject. State it in a conclusive and brief manner.
  • End on a positive note with one or two attention-grabbing sentences.

 

Do:

  • Prepare an outline and create a draft.
  • Answer all the questions being asked.
  • Make sure your essay has a theme or a thesis.
  • Provide evidence to support your claims.
  • Make your introduction unique.
  • Write clearly and make sure it is easy to read.
  • Be honest, confident, and be yourself.
  • Be interesting and positive.
  • Make sure your essay is organized, coherent, and concise.
  • Write about yourself and use examples from your own life experiences.
  • Use a mixture of long and short sentences.
  • Discuss your future goals.
  • Mention any hobbies, past jobs, community service, or research experience.
  • Speak in the first person (I…).
  • Discuss why you are interested in the school and/or program.
  • Show, don’t tell (Use examples to demonstrate your abilities).
  • Ask for help.
  • Proofread and revise your statement at least 3 times.
  • Have others proofread your essay.

Don’t:

  • Have any grammar or spelling errors. Proofread!
  • Be wordy or use jargon (don’t try to impress the readers by using big words).
  • Swear or use slang.
  • Digress or be repetitive.
  • Be boring.
  • Generalize.
  • Include clichés.
  • Be comical (a little humor is okay but remember it can be misconstrued).
  • Be defensive or arrogant.
  • Complain.
  • Preach.
  • Have your essay focus too much on other individuals.
  • Discuss politics or religion.
  • Give excuses for a low GPA.
  • Make lists of accomplishments, awards, skills, or personal qualities (Show, don’t tell).
  • Write a term paper or an autobiography.
  • Summarize your resume.
  • Include information already cited on the application.

 

Is Graduate School for me?

Graduate School Timeline

Application Process

Additional Resources