How to Write a Personal Statement in 5 Steps (With 4 Crucial Tips)
Any graduate school student knows that entering a dream college may be a real challenge. It not only requires outstanding grades but also an ability to persuade the board that you have the necessary skills, knowledge, and aspirations to be useful for the chosen educational establishment.
One of the ways to prove that your candidacy will fit the place is to write an outstanding personal statement. It is one of the first things colleges or universities will consider deciding whether to accept you or not. This is your main chance to ‘sell’ yourself and to explain what makes you stand out from the rest.
Imagine that every day the board may receive hundreds of similar letters from students across the world. You need to persuade readers that you stand out from the rest using only words, not your gestures, charm or appearance.
So what is a personal statement? You may find tens of different definitions online, so we have decided to choose a few of them to give you a better picture. Your statement should be:
- A picture of your personality. You will need to explain who you are, what makes you a proper candidacy and why the board should waste their time on you;
- An invitation to get to know you. Through the statement you need to build a bridge to the committee and let them know that you want to build a ‘relationship’ with their college;
- An indication of your life priorities. Choosing what to include in your statement shows what things you put first and how you may be valuable for the university;
- Your own story. Personal statement for graduate school gives lots of space for creativity, so you can reflect on yourself, your achievements and directions you want to choose for your future.
As you see, applying to college and presenting yourself may be very challenging, especially considering that you don’t have experience writing such papers. That is why before getting started we recommend getting familiar with school applications. With their help, you will understand the accepted format, common structure of such a statement and winning tools to catch the attention of the reader.
However, they are just examples to show you how to write a personal statement. You can’t simply copy and paste someone else’s words. Colleges and universities take plagiarism very seriously and always use detectors to check whether there is any plagiarism in your work. Remember, there is a reason why such a statement is called personal, so it should render your own ideas and not someone’s thoughts and achievements.
When you read your essay make sure that it contains all of the necessary elements:
- Personal statement introduction, which should contain a hook and a thesis to highlight what ideas you will concentrate on;
- Information about your background and subject;
- Courses, certificates, and all the programs you have participated in;
- Work experience (if you have any) and your hobbies, preferably related to the course;
- Personal statement ending with a catchy phrase.
How to outline and write a personal statement? (5 steps)
Personal statement format and outline is a great tool for those who want to be sure that they fit requirements and deliver a first-class paper. The outline is a structure and a plan of your future statement, which will show you what direction to choose.
As any written assignment or essay, your statement should consist of an introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. Below we have described each of them, providing specific questions and information that you will need to include.
Start with an eye-catching introductory paragraph
We understand that you may want to start talking about achievements at once but it is better to slow down a bit and start with an introductory paragraph.
Here you need to focus on the main features that attract you to a chosen medical or law school, college or university. You should also describe why you think that you are a perfect fit for the position. It doesn’t mean that the introductory paragraph must be extensive. However, it should explain why you consider yourself a person that has necessary skills, talent, knowledge and maturity to enter the selected educational establishment or program.
To grab the reader’s attention, you need to finish your introduction with a thesis statement. It should consist of a single sentence and render the main idea of your message: in a few words explain why you are the best candidate and then support this claim in body paragraphs.
Describe the recent past in the first body paragraph
Remember, only Saint Mary’s scholars follow politeness in their works without trying to beat competitors and to show everything they are capable of. You need to keep in mind that you must do your best in writing your statement because others will do exactly the same.
It doesn’t mean that your graduate statement must be egotistical. However, it shouldn’t be modest either. The board will be looking for reasons to throw your essay in a bin, so you will need to use all of the instruments to make them read it from cover to cover.
When you are writing about your education or working experience during the first paragraphs, you need to explain how they helped to make you who you are. Of course, you can mention your surroundings, i.e. family and friends, and their influence on your personality but try to focus on yourself, not on others.
You need to find a way to show the worth of your education and experience by providing clear examples and details.
Tell about the present events in the second body paragraph
Once you discuss your achievements, it is the right time to talk about who you are at the moment. Write about the qualities, which characterize you in the best light: maturity, curiosity, confidence, working as a team and so on. In this part of your statement, you will need to explain who you are at present.
The key to success is to concentrate on your positive image and to back it with clear examples.
Express your thoughts on the future in the third body paragraph
In the next section, you should forecast your development and your path in a certain profession or career. These paragraphs are very important because they show that you know what direction to go.
In this section you can try and answer the following questions:
- How will the chosen school, college or program help you to occupy the position of your dreams?
- What do you want to achieve in life?
- What are your main career and personal goals?
- How do you see your personal improvement in a few years?
If you find it difficult to answer such questions, you can always get familiar with a statement sample and find inspiration in the answers of others.
Finish with a strong conclusion
Once you forecast your future you would probably be tempted to finish your statement right away and to submit it to the board. However, a clear and brief conclusion is a great way to summarize your ideas, your accomplishments, present position, and goals.
You need to make everything possible to grab readers’ attention with the last paragraph and make them want to invite you over for an interview. Include a hook sentence, a catchy detail, a quote or any other appropriate element that will motivate readers to learn more about your personality and ideas.
Four tips for better personal statement writing
The personal statement may become a real challenge for many students because it is not a common assignment and most of the scholars don’t know how to deal with it.
The main goal of a statement is to provide recipients with a clear message on what makes you a great applicant. That is why you need to start with making a list of the main features and points, which you would want to tell about yourself. Then you will only need to understand how to discuss those points.
Keep in mind that these points must be relevant to the field and should explain how you can contribute to the program.
When writing a personal statement, you should consider how to address gaps in your profile. Do you have a low GPA because of illnesses? Had to work part-time or took care of a relative? If you decide to include these issues to your statement, make sure to emphasize positive qualities and lessons you have learned and not simply to make excuses.
WriteAnyPapers made a list of the most important and popular tips, which will help you write about yourself, your experience and achievements.
1. Provide readers with clear examples
When writing a personal statement, you need to use specific examples to illustrate the messages you want to render. Depending on the tone of your statement, its general idea, and goals, you can use jokes or anecdotes, examples from your experience, quotes and so on. You can also reference other scholars and scientists that have influenced your modern views.
Using them you will show that you are familiar with the literature in your field and that you know how to start a personal statement. Just stating ‘I love reading’ is not enough. Instead, you can describe your experience working in a college library and how you managed to find an old manuscript, which others didn’t notice.
Such simple but clear examples from your own life show that you are not only interested in the field but also have the necessary skills to contribute to the area. Even if you can’t boast direct personal examples, you can still tell about your treats of character and how you applied them in complex situations.
2. Answer the question “Why am I the perfect fit?”
A personal essay is a sort of a business card that can explain what makes you a perfect candidate for a certain program and why this program is suitable for you.
It is crucial to identify the things in the program, which attract you and how you can benefit from them. If you have time and opportunity, you can talk to experts and professors that also participate in the program.
This will not only help you to understand whether the program really is a good fit but also to show that you are well informed about the program and know the team you may potentially work with in future.
3. Make your writing more powerful
If you read attentively any personal statement example you will notice that the writing style is truly academic and professional. Even if the program you are interested in concerns only science and quantitative disciplines, you need to show solid writing skills.
You need to make sure that you communicate clearly and render your ideas in a simple but yet powerful manner. In addition, your language should be flawless and contain no spelling or grammar errors. If you are not sure whether your writing is perfect, you can ask others to read the paper and give you feedback.
Don’t forget to write several drafts, fixing mistakes, crossing own sentences or changing the structure as many times as needed to achieve the result you expect.
If you want to impress admissions committees, it is also important to avoid slang and clichés. Try not to overuse common phrases and never include false information. Of course, you may be tempted to draw a more attractive picture about yourself but eventually, the board will find out the truth and you will need to explain yourself.
When the final draft is ready, we recommend using one of many online programs that will highlight possible mistakes, copied parts, and structural imperfections. In addition, you can always turn to your school or university professor and ask for recommendations on how to improve your writing.
4. Keep the balance between engaging and academic writing
It is very easy to confuse your statement with a statement of purpose, although the first one is more about your personality. However, you still need to remember that there are writing boundaries, which you should follow when talking about yourself.
There is no need to share too personal information about your relationships, organism functions or possible illegal activity. In addition, avoid mentioning anything that may show that you are mentally unstable or are out of control. Remember, your application is not a confession, so if you share any inappropriate details you need to be ready to face negative judgments and can forget about the program you are applying to.
In addition, you need to be very attentive when using jokes and humor. Of course, your statement is not only serious and boring writing but the admissions committee may not have the same sense of humor. If you have any doubts whether your joke is appropriate, just try to skip it.
On the other hand, being too formal may also harm the general impression. Try to stick to the golden rule: be professional and conversational at the same time.
Personal statement examples
It is difficult to find a more suitable and working tool than browsing and to get familiar with different personal statement examples.
With their help, you will understand how to structure and format your own statement, what elements to include and what tools to use to make your text catchy and remarkable. However, you need to make sure that you use only a quality personal statement sample, not the one written by high school students.
Remember that even if you base your own statement on examples, it doesn’t mean that you can copy and paste separate sections. It is only a tool to boost your inspiration and creativity, not a chance to plagiarize someone else’s works. The writing process has never been easier when you know how your personal statement should look like!