Presented by the Texas State Writing Center
WHAT IS A PERSONAL STATEMENT?
A first chance to “meet” you as an individual (not a
series of numbers).
Calls attention to important parts of your
A chance to explain discrepancies or potentially
Shows that you can write and logically
answer an essay question
TYPES OF PERSONAL STATEMENTS
The comprehensive personal statement:
Maximum amount of freedom
You pick the theme and thesis
Often used for medical and law applications
The response to a specific question statement:
A tight, logical, well thought out response is required.
Multiple questions may be asked.
Often used of graduate and business applications
HOW DO I BEGIN?
Start early because a good personal statement
Research the schools that you are applying to.
Get to know yourself.
Determine your angle, thesis, or theme.
GET TO KNOW YOURSELF
Talk to family and friends.
Consider academic and personal strengths.
Use a questionnaire.
Use an upbeat and positive tone.
Write in the first person: “I”
Consider your audience.
INTRODUCTION / FIRST PARAGRAPH
Generally the most important paragraph.
Make your introduction unique and catchy to
grab the reader’s attention.
Sets the framework for the rest of the statement.
Two scenes stand out in my mind from my visit to Brazil’s Wetland:
Forests burning before seed planting and trees as hedgerows. Before the
planting season, I could see the leafless remnants of burnt trees still standing.
The burning of pristine forests destroys both the habitats and countless
species which depend on and thrive in these habitats. The few remaining
bare, scarred trees silently convey the cost to our natural resources of
pursuing our economic interests. Some forests are preserved by government
edict issued in response to international pressure. But most of this
preservation occurs alongside major roads — not to protect the ecosystem,
but to prevent disturbance to ranches and farms along the highways. The
clash between economic and environmental concerns that I witnessed in
Brazil fascinates me and attracts me to the Environmental Studies Program.
Make sure you answer the question.
Provide evidence to support your claim
Tell a story.
“Show Not Tell” – use details and be specific
Statements are usually short, so keep the focus
Mention why you are interested in the school or
program (if you haven’t already done so).
Keep it short.
(Author wrote about his experience with a developmentally
disabled man and why he wants to go to law school.)
In a very real sense, I inhabit a world of my own experience
just like any of my clients. I don't know much about or properly
understand many aspects of the world with which I interact daily,
and were I to find my own conceptions in conflict with the law I
would be just as lost as T. - needing assistance to reconcile my
perceived reality with the one imposing itself upon me. The study of
law, for me, is more than just a stepping stone to a career I'm certain
I'll enjoy – it's an opportunity to better understand my environment,
and help others do the same. (from top-law-schools.com/forums)
Edit your statement.
Ideas Word choice
Have someone else read and comment on your
Friends and family who know you.
The Writing Center.
Allow yourself a full week away from your
statement then go back and polish it.
Do not use a generic personal statement for all schools.
Do not get the name of the school wrong.
Do not discuss your minority status or disadvantaged
Do not include controversial topics: Religion & Politics.
Do not include events from high school.
Do not include every achievement
Do not use clichés.
SHOULD I EXPLAIN A POOR GPA
OR TEST SCORE?
You can mention it if you have extenuating
Have a valid reason.
Keep the explanation to a minimum
Use a neutral tone.
Complain or whine