Students: The Personal Statement
The Personal Statement
by Fariba Kakroudi, UWC Tutor, CSULA
Section A: About The Personal Statement
What is a Personal Statement?
What should I write?
- An essay about yourself, and who you are.
- A reference used by the examiners to distinguish you from others.
- A statement of reasons why you should be included in what you are applying for.
- AN IMPRESSION.
- A statement which provides relevant autobiographical information and concentrates on why you are writing it.
Relevant Career and/or Volunteer Experience
- Sets of goals: (Short & Long term) and expand on description of background
- State specific interest in area of study and why.
- Specify how interest developed.
- Clearly summarize educational background.
- Mention the obstacles/barriers conquered and what you learned from them.
- Focus on level of support from family, friends, etc.
- Skills and personality characteristics developed.
- Where, when, what type of service, responsibilities.
- How the experiences are related to or reflective of goals.
- How they connect to the objectives.
- What did you learn from your experiences and background? How did these experiences contribute to your personal development?
- How do these experiences (volunteer service, extracurricular involvement, employment, etc.) contribute to your academic, career, and personal goals?
- What is your specialty? What can you offer in the area of your pursuit?
- Why should they select you over the others? How can you show a high level of maturity, confidence, motivation, and initiative in your pursuit?
Section B: Techniques in Writing the Personal Statement
Before you start writing
- Give yourself enough time to plan, organize, and write your essays.
- Adequate time allows you to address several insightful questions and explanations.
- Allow enough time for revision.
- A longer time to write means better quality.
- Remember, the first draft is always unsatisfactory.
Identify your audience and purpose
- Gather materials: Transcripts, resumes, names and exact titles of former employers and supervisors, titles of jobs you have held, companies you have worked for, dates of appropriate work or volunteer experiences, the duties involved etc.
- Read the questions carefully: each school or organization will have different requirements. It is important to understand what is being requested of you. In other words, ANSWER THE QUESTION.
- Think about the question and how you will approach it. Keep in mind that you have many life experiences that you can selectively communicate to the readers.
- Brainstorm: make a list of your objective-oriented experiences.
Other good advice
- Is this personal statement for admissions to a graduate school, for a scholarship, medical school, etc.?
- Make sure to include your research experience, academic awards and relevant volunteer service when applying for graduate school.
- Make sure to highlight leadership skills, club and organization involvement, and financial challenges when applying for scholarship.
- LINK these experiences to why you are writing this statement.
- The personal statement reflects your personality and quality, so GIVE IT PLENTY OF TIME.
- Remember that there is not a single, best way to write a personal statement, keep your own style and MAKE A POSITIVE AND REALISTIC IMPRESSION.
- Do not hesitate to get feedback from people you trust, especially your academic adviser.
- Focus on the format that the institutions specifically ask you to follow.
- Be concise.
- USE UNIVERSITY WRITING CENTER SERVICES.