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Personal Statement

The personal statement is probably the most time-consuming of the application process. And because of its personal nature, the personal statement can be difficult to write in just one sitting. It has to encompass a number of different things including 1) the reason you’re applying, 2) your career objectives and goals, 3) why you chose the particular school, 4) your strengths, and 5) any other pertinent information you need to include. Note that this is a typical personal statement and each can vary and include different information.

You will be able to use parts of the same personal statement for each application, but don’t expect to copy and paste the entire thing from one application to another. You want to make it specific to the school, while still maintaining your overall theme.

The easiest format to follow for a personal statement is 1) introduce yourself, your theme, and why you want to attend graduate school, 2) talk about the school and program you’re applying for and why you feel it’s a good fit, and 3) tie it together and conclude. Remember to cover any and all prompts schools give you for their individual personal statements.

You may be tempted to use an outside resource to help you write your personal statement. Don’t give in. You are applying for graduate school because you’re a strong writer. Use the tips below to write a strong personal statement.

Tips to remember:

  • Choose a theme. Choose something that is important to you or has some significance and carry it throughout your personal statement (ie. Passion for learning, love of reading, interest in international affairs, volunteer work)
  • Use examples. No one wants a list of accomplishments or work experiences you’ve had. Give specific examples that demonstrate your strengths and what point you’re trying to make.
  • Start early. Personal statements take a lot of drafts to get to the finished product. Give yourself plenty of time for at least 5-7 drafts. Usually leave yourself at least a month to a month and a half to write, revise, edit, and ask for help from other people.
  • Prioritize. Write your first personal statement for the school you’re not seriously considering. By the time you get to your most wanted school, you will know what to include and how you want your personal statement set up.
  • Ask for help. Ask your parents, friends, and definitely professors for ideas and themes. They often see strengths and skills you overlook, so they may have a better idea that can help you get started. Also ask them to read over your personal statement. The more people who read it, the more feedback you will receive and the better your personal statement will be.
  • Be yourself. The admissions committee wants to know you, not someone you think they want to know. Avoid clichés. Be personal and use your own experiences. Don’t lie about things you’ve done or skills you have because eventually you’ll have to prove these whether it’s in the classroom, as a graduate or teaching assistant, or at an internship.

Personal Statement Resources

Purdue Online Writing Lab

  • Personal statement advice
  • Examples
  • Advice from Admissions Officers
  • Top 10 Rules and Pitfalls

The Personal Statement – Berkeley

  • Blunders!
  • Brainstorming
  • Gathering Information

What Not to Write in Your Personal Statement for Law School

  • YouTube video
  • Applies to PWC even though it's intended for law school

Personal Statement Tips

  • YouTube video
  • Applies to PWC even though it's intended for medical school

How to write an excellent personal statement

  • YouTube video

Academic Writing Tips : How to Write a Personal Statement for a Graduate School Application

  • YouTube video


Last Modified: 8/24/23 4:11 PM | Website Feedback