Personal StatementTHE PERSONAL STATEMENT
(for Graduate or Professional School)
WHAT is the personal statement?
The Personal Statement is your chance to introduce yourself and sell yourself to a graduate school.
HOW should you get started writing your personal statement?
Ask yourself a few questions:
Why do I want to pursue graduate study in this field?
Why do I want to pursue graduate study at this school?
What makes me a good candidate for graduate school?
What do I want to do when I have completed graduate study?
The most important question is:
WHAT MAKES ME UNIQUE?
Remember you are one of many applicants. Your most important task is to make
yourself stick out from the crowd. If you’re applying to medical school, for example,
you’re not the only applicant who “loves science” and “helping people.”
Give the admissions committee something to remember you by!
HOW do you show the admissions committee that you are a unique individual?
· Tell a story to show how and why you got into the field.
o Use active voice and present tense. You are still interested in your field, and you
are actively involved in it.
o Don’t tell your entire life story. Tell which life experiences led you to your field of study.
o Don’t use money as a reason for choosing your field or occupation.
· Tell about unique work, practical, or research experience you have in the field.
o The committee should be able to see why you chose this field based on
your interests and experience.
o If you don’t have experience in the field, show how your atypical background
makes you a better candidate than others.
· Be yourself, let your personality come through, and give your unique views.
o Show your individualism through your story, not your language or format.
Stick to simple language, 12-point Times New Roman font, and plain
white paper – unless requested to do otherwise.
o Don’t try to be the perfect applicant (the perfect applicant doesn’t exist).
WHAT ELSE can you do to make your essay great?
· Find an angle
o Even if your life story is not that exciting, you should be able to find a unique experience or angle from which you can tell that story. If possible, you can base your entire essay on a theme.
· Tailor your remarks to each school
o Find out about specific professors and their research, publications, and projects
and use the information to explain why you want to attend a certain school.
( You may need to rewrite all or part of your essay for each school
you apply to, but the schools will notice your efforts.)
o You should explain any discrepancies in your academic record: a low GPA, low test scores, or a period out of college.
o Try to cover this information in as little space as possible – one sentence or less.
o Explain how you have overcome any unusual personal, familial, or economic hardships, and explain how these hardships have made you a better person. (These discussions should show your strengths, not your weaknesses.)
· Ask for help
o Ask for advice before, during, and after you write: from professors, friends,
family, employers, and, of course, writing center consultants .
o Others might be able to give you insight on yourself that you don’t immediately see.
(You should plan on writing multiple drafts.)
What should you NOT do in your personal statement?
DON’T forget to proofread. Mistakes in grammar or spelling can spoil an otherwise fine essay.
DON’T get the name of the school wrong, or send the wrong essay to the wrong school.
DON’T forget to answer all parts of all questions asked.
DON’T list aspects of your résumé found elsewhere in your application.
What RESOURCES can you use to help you write your personal statement?
· BOOKS and WEBSITES: Get all the advice and samples you can!
· PEOPLE: Ask your professors, ask friends who are graduate students, or ask last year’s entering graduate class for advice and samples.
· THE CAREER DEVELOPMENT CENTER at U of L offers help with the graduate admissions process: Website: http://louisville.edu/career/ Location: Houchens Building LL04/03 Phone: (502) 852-6701
· THE WRITING CENTER: You can make an appointment to work on your personal statement with a Writing Center consultant. Most consultants are graduate students who wrote personal statements during their own application processes.