Winning Personal Statements

It can seem like the most daunting task in the application process.

To write a statement that will help you win a seat in the graduate program of your choice, you need to think like a member of the admissions committee. You are welcome to schedule an appointment to meet with a career coach to start the process, help with ideas or receive a critique of your draft.

Tell a story.

The best personal statements give the reader a window into who you are, often with the use of an example or story.


Ask yourself key questions.

  • Does the essay introduce me as a person and future practitioner in the field?

  • Does it have elements that will stick with the reader?

  • Do the action words accurately describe me?

  • Are there specific, personal examples to back up my statements and illustrate my qualities?

  • Are there guiding questions posed in the program application and have I answered them?

  • Would the reader want to meet me after reading my statement?


Organize your material.

Even the best content will be lost if the ideas are presented in a jumbled incoherent manner. Clear writing begins with an outline.


What is your message? Write that first.

  • How will your ideas logically progress to get to that conclusion?

  • Write your key sentences. These may be parts of your larger story but should lead to the message.

  • Provide a framework for your essay, with the first and last sentences referring to the same topic.

  • Do the key sentences flow in a logical order? Does the entire think make sense?

  • Can you “flesh out” each of the key sentences with interesting paragraphs that complete the sentence’s idea?

  • Does the final essay say what you wanted in a logical and compelling way?


Edit, then edit again.

Poor grammar, spelling and typographical errors can ruin your statement. Review your essay:

  • Check guidelines for appropriate length.

  • Used varied sentence structures.

  • Avoid starting sentences with “I.”

  • Use standard punctuation, capitalization and spelling.

  • Use no exclamation points, except in dialogue.

  • Use active, rather than passive voice when possible, (e.g., “I found the book.” vs. “The book was found by me.”).

  • Write sentences no longer than approximately 30 words in length. Some should be much shorter.

  • Shorten paragraphs so that the page doesn’t look like a gray wall of text.

  • Avoid contractions.

  • Maintain agreement between subjects and verbs.

  • Use at least 10-point font.

When you are finished writing, consider contacting us to make an appointment for a critique. We would be glad to help support you in achieving your goals.