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Writing the Personal Statement

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This handout provides information about writing personal statements for academic and other positions.

The personal statement, your opportunity to sell yourself in the application process, generally falls into one of two categories:

1. The general, comprehensive personal statement:

This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms.

2. The response to very specific questions:

Often, business and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and your statement should respond specifically to the question being asked. Some business school applications favor multiple essays, typically asking for responses to three or more questions.

Questions to ask yourself before you write:

  • What's special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story?
  • What details of your life (personal or family problems, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants?
  • When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? What insights have you gained?
  • How have you learned about this field—through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field?
  • If you have worked a lot during your college years, what have you learned (leadership or managerial skills, for example), and how has that work contributed to your growth?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (great grades but mediocre LSAT or GRE scores, for example, or a distinct upward pattern to your GPA if it was only average in the beginning)?
  • Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life?
  • What personal characteristics (for example, integrity, compassion, and/or persistence) do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics?
  • What skills (for example, leadership, communicative, analytical) do you possess?
  • Why might you be a stronger candidate for graduate school—and more successful and effective in the profession or field than other applicants?
  • What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you?

General advice

Answer the questions that are asked

  • If you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar.
  • Don't be tempted to use the same statement for all applications. It is important to answer each question being asked, and if slightly different answers are needed, you should write separate statements. In every case, be sure your answer fits the question being asked.

Tell a story

  • Think in terms of showing or demonstrating through concrete experience. One of the worst things you can do is to bore the admissions committee. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.

Be specific

  • Don't, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, engineer, or whatever should be logical, the result of specific experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as the logical conclusion to your story.

Find an angle

  • If you're like most people, your life story lacks drama, so figuring out a way to make it interesting becomes the big challenge. Finding an angle or a "hook" is vital.

Concentrate on your opening paragraph

  • The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It is here that you grab the reader's attention or lose it. This paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement.

Tell what you know

  • The middle section of your essay might detail your interest and experience in your particular field, as well as some of your knowledge of the field. Too many people graduate with little or no knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the profession or field they hope to enter. Be as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field and use the language professionals use in conveying this information. Refer to experiences (work, research, etc.), classes, conversations with people in the field, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of specific information about the career you want and why you're suited to it. Since you will have to select what you include in your statement, the choices you make are often an indication of your judgment.

Don't include some subjects

  • There are certain things best left out of personal statements. For example, references to experiences or accomplishments in high school or earlier are generally not a good idea. Don't mention potentially controversial subjects (for example, controversial religious or political issues).

Do some research, if needed

  • If a school wants to know why you're applying to it rather than another school, do some research to find out what sets your choice apart from other universities or programs. If the school setting would provide an important geographical or cultural change for you, this might be a factor to mention.

Write well and correctly

  • Be meticulous. Type and proofread your essay very carefully. Many admissions officers say that good written skills and command of correct use of language are important to them as they read these statements. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word limits.

Avoid clichés

  • A medical school applicant who writes that he is good at science and wants to help other people is not exactly expressing an original thought. Stay away from often-repeated or tired statements.

For more information on writing a personal statement, see the personal statement vidcast .

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  • Knowledge Base
  • Applying to graduate school
  • How to Write Your Personal Statement | Strategies & Examples

How to Write Your Personal Statement | Strategies & Examples

Published on February 12, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 3, 2023.

A personal statement is a short essay of around 500–1,000 words, in which you tell a compelling story about who you are, what drives you, and why you’re applying.

To write a successful personal statement for a graduate school application , don’t just summarize your experience; instead, craft a focused narrative in your own voice. Aim to demonstrate three things:

  • Your personality: what are your interests, values, and motivations?
  • Your talents: what can you bring to the program?
  • Your goals: what do you hope the program will do for you?

This article guides you through some winning strategies to build a strong, well-structured personal statement for a master’s or PhD application. You can download the full examples below.

Urban Planning Psychology History

Table of contents

Getting started with your personal statement, the introduction: start with an attention-grabbing opening, the main body: craft your narrative, the conclusion: look ahead, revising, editing, and proofreading your personal statement, frequently asked questions, other interesting articles.

Before you start writing, the first step is to understand exactly what’s expected of you. If the application gives you a question or prompt for your personal statement, the most important thing is to respond to it directly.

For example, you might be asked to focus on the development of your personal identity; challenges you have faced in your life; or your career motivations. This will shape your focus and emphasis—but you still need to find your own unique approach to answering it.

There’s no universal template for a personal statement; it’s your chance to be creative and let your own voice shine through. But there are strategies you can use to build a compelling, well-structured story.

The first paragraph of your personal statement should set the tone and lead smoothly into the story you want to tell.

Strategy 1: Open with a concrete scene

An effective way to catch the reader’s attention is to set up a scene that illustrates something about your character and interests. If you’re stuck, try thinking about:

  • A personal experience that changed your perspective
  • A story from your family’s history
  • A memorable teacher or learning experience
  • An unusual or unexpected encounter

To write an effective scene, try to go beyond straightforward description; start with an intriguing sentence that pulls the reader in, and give concrete details to create a convincing atmosphere.

Strategy 2: Open with your motivations

To emphasize your enthusiasm and commitment, you can start by explaining your interest in the subject you want to study or the career path you want to follow.

Just stating that it interests you isn’t enough: first, you need to figure out why you’re interested in this field:

  • Is it a longstanding passion or a recent discovery?
  • Does it come naturally or have you had to work hard at it?
  • How does it fit into the rest of your life?
  • What do you think it contributes to society?

Tips for the introduction

  • Don’t start on a cliche: avoid phrases like “Ever since I was a child…” or “For as long as I can remember…”
  • Do save the introduction for last. If you’re struggling to come up with a strong opening, leave it aside, and note down any interesting ideas that occur to you as you write the rest of the personal statement.

Once you’ve set up the main themes of your personal statement, you’ll delve into more detail about your experiences and motivations.

To structure the body of your personal statement, there are various strategies you can use.

Strategy 1: Describe your development over time

One of the simplest strategies is to give a chronological overview of key experiences that have led you to apply for graduate school.

  • What first sparked your interest in the field?
  • Which classes, assignments, classmates, internships, or other activities helped you develop your knowledge and skills?
  • Where do you want to go next? How does this program fit into your future plans?

Don’t try to include absolutely everything you’ve done—pick out highlights that are relevant to your application. Aim to craft a compelling narrative that shows how you’ve changed and actively developed yourself.

My interest in psychology was first sparked early in my high school career. Though somewhat scientifically inclined, I found that what interested me most was not the equations we learned about in physics and chemistry, but the motivations and perceptions of my fellow students, and the subtle social dynamics that I observed inside and outside the classroom. I wanted to learn how our identities, beliefs, and behaviours are shaped through our interactions with others, so I decided to major in Social Psychology. My undergraduate studies deepened my understanding of, and fascination with, the interplay between an individual mind and its social context.During my studies, I acquired a solid foundation of knowledge about concepts like social influence and group dynamics, but I also took classes on various topics not strictly related to my major. I was particularly interested in how other fields intersect with psychology—the classes I took on media studies, biology, and literature all enhanced my understanding of psychological concepts by providing different lenses through which to look at the issues involved.

Strategy 2: Own your challenges and obstacles

If your path to graduate school hasn’t been easy or straightforward, you can turn this into a strength, and structure your personal statement as a story of overcoming obstacles.

  • Is your social, cultural or economic background underrepresented in the field? Show how your experiences will contribute a unique perspective.
  • Do you have gaps in your resume or lower-than-ideal grades? Explain the challenges you faced and how you dealt with them.

Don’t focus too heavily on negatives, but use them to highlight your positive qualities. Resilience, resourcefulness and perseverance make you a promising graduate school candidate.

Growing up working class, urban decay becomes depressingly familiar. The sight of a row of abandoned houses does not surprise me, but it continues to bother me. Since high school, I have been determined to pursue a career in urban planning. While people of my background experience the consequences of urban planning decisions first-hand, we are underrepresented in the field itself. Ironically, given my motivation, my economic background has made my studies challenging. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a scholarship for my undergraduate studies, but after graduation I took jobs in unrelated fields to help support my parents. In the three years since, I have not lost my ambition. Now I am keen to resume my studies, and I believe I can bring an invaluable perspective to the table: that of the people most impacted by the decisions of urban planners.

Strategy 3: Demonstrate your knowledge of the field

Especially if you’re applying for a PhD or another research-focused program, it’s a good idea to show your familiarity with the subject and the department. Your personal statement can focus on the area you want to specialize in and reflect on why it matters to you.

  • Reflect on the topics or themes that you’ve focused on in your studies. What draws you to them?
  • Discuss any academic achievements, influential teachers, or other highlights of your education.
  • Talk about the questions you’d like to explore in your research and why you think they’re important.

The personal statement isn’t a research proposal , so don’t go overboard on detail—but it’s a great opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the field and your capacity for original thinking.

In applying for this research program, my intention is to build on the multidisciplinary approach I have taken in my studies so far, combining knowledge from disparate fields of study to better understand psychological concepts and issues. The Media Psychology program stands out to me as the perfect environment for this kind of research, given its researchers’ openness to collaboration across diverse fields. I am impressed by the department’s innovative interdisciplinary projects that focus on the shifting landscape of media and technology, and I hope that my own work can follow a similarly trailblazing approach. More specifically, I want to develop my understanding of the intersection of psychology and media studies, and explore how media psychology theories and methods might be applied to neurodivergent minds. I am interested not only in media psychology but also in psychological disorders, and how the two interact. This is something I touched on during my undergraduate studies and that I’m excited to delve into further.

Strategy 4: Discuss your professional ambitions

Especially if you’re applying for a more professionally-oriented program (such as an MBA), it’s a good idea to focus on concrete goals and how the program will help you achieve them.

  • If your career is just getting started, show how your character is suited to the field, and explain how graduate school will help you develop your talents.
  • If you have already worked in the profession, show what you’ve achieved so far, and explain how the program will allow you to take the next step.
  • If you are planning a career change, explain what has driven this decision and how your existing experience will help you succeed.

Don’t just state the position you want to achieve. You should demonstrate that you’ve put plenty of thought into your career plans and show why you’re well-suited to this profession.

One thing that fascinated me about the field during my undergraduate studies was the sheer number of different elements whose interactions constitute a person’s experience of an urban environment. Any number of factors could transform the scene I described at the beginning: What if there were no bus route? Better community outreach in the neighborhood? Worse law enforcement? More or fewer jobs available in the area? Some of these factors are out of the hands of an urban planner, but without taking them all into consideration, the planner has an incomplete picture of their task. Through further study I hope to develop my understanding of how these disparate elements combine and interact to create the urban environment. I am interested in the social, psychological and political effects our surroundings have on our lives. My studies will allow me to work on projects directly affecting the kinds of working-class urban communities I know well. I believe I can bring my own experiences, as well as my education, to bear upon the problem of improving infrastructure and quality of life in these communities.

Tips for the main body

  • Don’t rehash your resume by trying to summarize everything you’ve done so far; the personal statement isn’t about listing your academic or professional experience, but about reflecting, evaluating, and relating it to broader themes.
  • Do make your statements into stories: Instead of saying you’re hard-working and self-motivated, write about your internship where you took the initiative to start a new project. Instead of saying you’ve always loved reading, reflect on a novel or poem that changed your perspective.

Your conclusion should bring the focus back to the program and what you hope to get out of it, whether that’s developing practical skills, exploring intellectual questions, or both.

Emphasize the fit with your specific interests, showing why this program would be the best way to achieve your aims.

Strategy 1: What do you want to know?

If you’re applying for a more academic or research-focused program, end on a note of curiosity: what do you hope to learn, and why do you think this is the best place to learn it?

If there are specific classes or faculty members that you’re excited to learn from, this is the place to express your enthusiasm.

Strategy 2: What do you want to do?

If you’re applying for a program that focuses more on professional training, your conclusion can look to your career aspirations: what role do you want to play in society, and why is this program the best choice to help you get there?

Tips for the conclusion

  • Don’t summarize what you’ve already said. You have limited space in a personal statement, so use it wisely!
  • Do think bigger than yourself: try to express how your individual aspirations relate to your local community, your academic field, or society more broadly. It’s not just about what you’ll get out of graduate school, but about what you’ll be able to give back.

You’ll be expected to do a lot of writing in graduate school, so make a good first impression: leave yourself plenty of time to revise and polish the text.

Your style doesn’t have to be as formal as other kinds of academic writing, but it should be clear, direct and coherent. Make sure that each paragraph flows smoothly from the last, using topic sentences and transitions to create clear connections between each part.

Don’t be afraid to rewrite and restructure as much as necessary. Since you have a lot of freedom in the structure of a personal statement, you can experiment and move information around to see what works best.

Finally, it’s essential to carefully proofread your personal statement and fix any language errors. Before you submit your application, consider investing in professional personal statement editing . For $150, you have the peace of mind that your personal statement is grammatically correct, strong in term of your arguments, and free of awkward mistakes.

A statement of purpose is usually more formal, focusing on your academic or professional goals. It shouldn’t include anything that isn’t directly relevant to the application.

A personal statement can often be more creative. It might tell a story that isn’t directly related to the application, but that shows something about your personality, values, and motivations.

However, both types of document have the same overall goal: to demonstrate your potential as a graduate student and s how why you’re a great match for the program.

The typical length of a personal statement for graduate school applications is between 500 and 1,000 words.

Different programs have different requirements, so always check if there’s a minimum or maximum length and stick to the guidelines. If there is no recommended word count, aim for no more than 1-2 pages.

If you’re applying to multiple graduate school programs, you should tailor your personal statement to each application.

Some applications provide a prompt or question. In this case, you might have to write a new personal statement from scratch: the most important task is to respond to what you have been asked.

If there’s no prompt or guidelines, you can re-use the same idea for your personal statement – but change the details wherever relevant, making sure to emphasize why you’re applying to this specific program.

If the application also includes other essays, such as a statement of purpose , you might have to revise your personal statement to avoid repeating the same information.

If you want to know more about college essays , academic writing , and AI tools , make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

College essays

  • College essay examples
  • College essay format
  • College essay style
  • College essay length
  • Diversity essays
  • Scholarship essays

Academic writing

  • Writing process
  • Avoiding repetition
  • Literature review
  • Conceptual framework
  • Dissertation outline
  • Thesis acknowledgements
  • Burned or burnt
  • Canceled or cancelled
  • Dreamt or dreamed
  • Gray or grey
  • Theater vs theatre

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how to write a 2 page personal statement

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How to Write a Strong Personal Statement

  • Ruth Gotian
  • Ushma S. Neill

how to write a 2 page personal statement

A few adjustments can get your application noticed.

Whether applying for a summer internship, a professional development opportunity, such as a Fulbright, an executive MBA program, or a senior leadership development course, a personal statement threads the ideas of your CV, and is longer and has a different tone and purpose than a traditional cover letter. A few adjustments to your personal statement can get your application noticed by the reviewer.

  • Make sure you’re writing what they want to hear. Most organizations that offer a fellowship or internship are using the experience as a pipeline: It’s smart to spend 10 weeks and $15,000 on someone before committing five years and $300,000. Rarely are the organizations being charitable or altruistic, so align your stated goals with theirs
  • Know when to bury the lead, and when to get to the point. It’s hard to paint a picture and explain your motivations in 200 words, but if you have two pages, give the reader a story arc or ease into your point by setting the scene.
  • Recognize that the reviewer will be reading your statement subjectively, meaning you’re being assessed on unknowable criteria. Most people on evaluation committees are reading for whether or not you’re interesting. Stated differently, do they want to go out to dinner with you to hear more? Write it so that the person reading it wants to hear more.
  • Address the elephant in the room (if there is one). Maybe your grades weren’t great in core courses, or perhaps you’ve never worked in the field you’re applying to. Make sure to address the deficiency rather than hoping the reader ignores it because they won’t. A few sentences suffice. Deficiencies do not need to be the cornerstone of the application.

At multiple points in your life, you will need to take action to transition from where you are to where you want to be. This process is layered and time-consuming, and getting yourself to stand out among the masses is an arduous but not impossible task. Having a polished resume that explains what you’ve done is the common first step. But, when an application asks for it, a personal statement can add color and depth to your list of accomplishments. It moves you from a one-dimensional indistinguishable candidate to someone with drive, interest, and nuance.

how to write a 2 page personal statement

  • Ruth Gotian is the chief learning officer and assistant professor of education in anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City and the author of  The Success Factor . She was named the world’s #1 emerging management thinker by Thinkers50. You can access her free list of conversation starters . RuthGotian
  • Ushma S. Neill is the Vice President, Scientific Education & Training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. She runs several summer internships and is involved with the NYC Marshall Scholar Selection Committee. ushmaneill

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A guide to writing the best personal statement for your college application (with template and examples!)

Why is boasting about a best friend SO much easier than writing about yourself? Unfortunately, writing about yourself is exactly what a personal statement essay requires you to do–whether it’s for your college admissions application, or for a scholarship application to pay for college . Here’s our guide, to ensure you’re well-equipped to write a killer personal statement!

Student writing personal statement

First off, what’s the purpose of a personal statement?

What topics can i write about, how do i decide what to focus on, in my college essay, okay, i’ve got my personal statement topic. but now i have to actually write it. 😱what do i do .

  • Do you have personal statement examples? 

Now it’s your turn.

Your personal statement should share something about who you are, something that can’t be found in your resume or transcript.

For colleges:

  • It should paint a picture for colleges to understand who we are and what we bring to the table. This is why it’s often better to tell a story, or give examples, rather than just list accomplishments.
  • It should complement the other parts of your application. Consider your college application as a whole. Your personal statement, application short answers, and supporting documentation should together tell a story about who you are. This also means not being super repetitive with your personal statement and your short essays. (For instance, if you have to answer 3 questions AND submit a personal statement, maybe they shouldn’t ALL focus on music.)

For scholarship applications:

  • It should indicate why you’re deserving of the scholarship. This often means making sure your essay relates to the scholarship provider’s goals. (Get more help on writing a killer scholarship essay here , and then make sure you’re applying as efficiently as possible. )
  • It should showcase your strengths. This doesn’t mean it can’t acknowledge any weaknesses, but it surely shouldn’t only focus on negative aspects!

Student writing personal statement draft

It can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. First, figure out what your choices are. Some colleges may have very specific college essay prompts. That said, many students apply using the Common App, which this year offers these 7 topics to choose from : 

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? ( Psst – If you choose this topic, you can sign up for Going Merry and apply for a scholarship bundle : one essay, multiple scholarships! )
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

You’ll notice that #7 is a catch-all that allows you to submit any personal statement about anything at all . 

So maybe that doesn’t help you narrow it down. 

Here’s a 3-step solution:

STEP 1. Brainstorm about your life

Dedicate 5-10 minutes each to brainstorming about these 4 sets of questions.

You can do this by yourself (writing down your thoughts), or do this exercise out loud with a friend or family member, and then jot down notes as you’re talking. If you “think out loud” better than you do on paper, brainstorming with someone else may be the way to go! 

(A) What were defining moments in your life?

How did these moments in your life changed you, what did you learn from it, and how has it shaped your future plans? Some topics might include:

  • An accident or injury
  • A best friend you made (or lost)
  • A defining talk with a peer
  • Something new you tried for the first time
  • Revealing a sexual or gender identity, to friends or family
  • Discovering something about your family ( e.g., see Jesus’s story )
  • Moving to a new city
  • Traveling somewhere, or learning about a new culture ( e.g., see Gabby’s story )
  • Your first pet (new responsibilities as a fur mom or dad)

(B) What have you chosen to spend time on?

Remember to focus not just on the what , but also the why – What were your motivations? How did you feel? What have you learned? Some topics on this might include: 

  • The moment you joined band, color guard, or the soccer team. 
  • A time you struggled with that activity – e.g., Maybe you got passed over for captain of the soccer? Or maybe you got an injury and had to sit out on the sidelines? 
  • Maybe a moment you really fell in love with that activity – e.g. Maybe the first time you investigated a story for the school newspaper and realized journalism was your calling?

(C) Whom or what are you inspired by?

How did you find out about this person or thing? Why are you inspired? In what ways are you inspired? Is there anything that inspiration has made you do (e.g. join a club, do an activity or internship on the topic)? Some topics on this might include: 

  • Technology – Maybe a specific App made you inspired to learn to code? 
  • Person in your life – Maybe meeting someone (or knowing someone in your family) has affected you? 
  • A show, movie, book, or podcast that inspired you to look at life differently
  • A dance or song that has made you interested in performing arts

(D) What are you proud of?

Make a list of all the things you’re proud of. These can be milestones, hobbies, qualities, or quirks that are what make you, you. Topics to consider might be:

  • Times you saved the day – like that epic left-handed catch you made on the field
  • Personal qualities – Maybe you’re really funny, or amazingly calm under pressure. What are some examples of times when you showed those qualities?
  • Random life things you’re amazing at – Baking a mean chocolate brownie. Guessing how many gumballs are in a jar. Tell a story when that amazing talent was handy!

Don’t worry if some of your ideas repeat between sections. This is just a way to get ideas flowing! 

College student writing

STEP 2. Shortlist your ideas

Identify your strongest ideas out of the bunch. This should probably be very few (2-4).

STEP 3. Freewrite about your possible essay topics.

Once you’ve brainstormed some ideas and identified 2-4 winners, we agree with Find the Right College – just start freewriting! Start by writing a few sentences or paragraphs about any of your shortlisted topics, and let the words flow. Write for about 15 minutes, on each shortlisted topic. Don’t worry about structure or organization – this is just an exercise so you feel comfortable getting the thoughts out of your head and onto paper. 

It will also allow you to see which of the topics seems to have the most “legs” — often, you’ll notice that your best topic will:

  • Be the easiest to write about (those 15 minutes flew by!)
  • Lead you to tell at least one interesting story
  • Feel like it genuinely reveals something important about who you are
  • Not be captured easily by other parts of your application (you’ll need a full 500 words to really be able to tackle this meaty topic)

Student reviewing personal statement template

Well, let’s start here: What makes a personal statement good or even great ?

Here are some things to keep in mind: 

1. Get personal.

Remember the “personal” in personal statement. We all have a story to tell, and we all have a different journey that led us to where we are today. We might think “someone already wrote about this” or we might think our story isn’t unique, but IT IS.

2. Speak like you.

Write your personal statement in a genuine tone that reflects who you are . There’s no right or wrong tone – just make sure your tone represents YOU. This means, in particular, not using big words just to show off. Often, this just seems like you’re trying to hard. (Or, even worse, you accidentally use the word incorrectly!)

3. Think about your audience.

Who will you be writing your personal statement for? What message do you want to convey? If it’s for to the college admissions committee, how do you show you’ll align well with the culture of the school? If it’s for a scholarship provider, how do you show you support their mission?

4. Hit the big three: Story, Implication, Connection to college/major.

Most successful college essays do at least 3 things: 

  • Mention at least one anecdote or story. (“Show, don’t tell.”)
  • Explain why that anecdote or story is important to who you are.
  • End (or begin) by connecting this information, to why you are applying to this specific college. This may include information about the major (why you think their department/program is great), or more general information about what attracts you to the school (e.g., location, sports, extracurricular activities, Greek life). Get specific so the school knows you’re really interested in them! This is the one piece of your personal statement that probably shouldn’t be cut & paste.

Here’s an example of how to use that personal essay template:

  • Story: When I was 11, my family traveled to Italy and visited museums — one specific painting made me fall in love with art. ( 1-2 paragraphs )
  • Why important: After that trip, I did lots of art and studied lots of art. Mention specific extracurriculars. ( 3 paragraphs )
  • Why this college: I want to apply to X college because of its excellent art program, which I can also complement by joining Y and Z clubs. Since it’s in New York, it’ll also offer my the opportunity to visit the countless art museums like MOMA. ( 1 paragraph )

5. Hit the length.

Make sure you keep within the required length. Normally if you aim for 500 words, you’re golden. Some college or scholarship applications will allow you to write up to 600 or 650 words.

6. Edit your work.

Once you’ve written your personal statement, step away from it. There was a time when we used to rely on pencil and paper to write down all of our ideas and information (including first-draft college essays). Now, we mainly rely on screens, so our eyes grow tired, causing us to miss typos and grammar mistakes.

So save that document in an easy-to-find folder on your computer. Then stepping away from your computer and taking a break helps relax your mind and body and then refocus when you come back to edit the document.

( Psst – If you’re applying for scholarships with Going Merry, we’ve got built-in spellcheck, and we allow you to save essays in your documents folder, so no work will get lost! )

We can’t stress this one enough: Don’t submit your personal statement without checking your spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc.! All the grammar things! Your personal statement reflects who you are, from the topic you choose to the style you write it in, so impress colleges (or scholarship providers) with excellent structure and great grammar!

7. Then, ask someone else to edit it too.

We recommend asking a friend, counselor, or parent to read your personal statement before you submit the document. One more set of eyes will really help you get a second opinion on the tone, writing quality, and overall representation of who you are in your personal statement.

8. Be brave, and hit that “submit” button on your personal statement!

Finally, when everything is completed, click submit! Don’t hold back!

9. Remember, personal statements for your college app, can also be reused as scholarship essays.

Get double-use out of your personal statement. Going Merry is your home for all things scholarships–fill out a profile, get matched to eligible scholarships, and apply. You can even save essays so that you can easily upload the same one for multiple scholarship applications. (We were inspired by the Common App to make applying for scholarships easier.)

Register for an account here , get the full lowdown on how it works , or just sign up for the newsletter below (to get 20 scholarship opportunities delivered to our inbox each each week!).

High school student writing personal statement

Do you have personal statement examples ? 

Oh yes we do. First, here are some excerpts of personal statements from members of our very own Going Merry team!

Charlie Maynard, Going Merry CEO – wrote about what matters most to him and why, for his grad school application.

  • The open paragraph read: “Being open to new ideas and able to take advantage of opportunities is what is most important to me. The most extraordinary times in my life have come as a result of moments when I’ve seized opportunities. This has been evident in my educational life, my travels around the world and my professional career.”
  • This anchored the main topic of his essay. He then went on to explain examples.

Charlotte Lau, Going Merry Head of Growth – wrote for her college Common App personal statement:

“As a child, I was never close with my father, though we were always on good terms. He made me laugh and taught me all the things that made me into a young tomboy: what an RBI is, how to correctly hook a fish when I feel it biting, what to bring on a camping trip. But whenever I was upset, he wouldn’t know how to comfort me. He is a man of jokes and words, not of comforting motions.

But as I grew older and I too became infatuated with words—albeit in written form—our topics of conversation became more diverse and often more profound. We continued to watch sports games together, but during commercials, we’d have epistemological and ethical discussions more fitting for a philosophy class than a chat during a Knicks’ time-out. During these talks, my father would insert stories about his youth. They’d always be transitory or anecdotal, told as if they were beside the point. Still, I’d eagerly commit them to memory, and, over time, I began to get a sense of who my father was—and, in turn, who I am.”

Now, here are some excerpts from other sample personal statements:

These 3 are college essays about personal characteristics:

Essay 1: Humorous essay about getting a D and learning a lesson

“Getting a D probably isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s not something anyone wants to see, let alone put, on a college application. It came back to me, scrawled in red, on the first big history test of the year. The one the teacher had assured us was a third of our grade. I could already see my chances of a four-year college going up in smoke and my school year hadn’t even started yet.

What happened? I’m not a D student. I’ll get the occasional C as well as the occasional A. D’s are out of character for me, and enough of a stomach punch to really get my attention. The short version is, I didn’t study, and I don’t remember precisely why. There is always a reason not to study, isn’t there? I didn’t study and I went into a test woefully unprepared and got beaten up.

I had two options here. I could accept that I was in fact a D student despite what I had thought. Or I could study hard for the next test and try to bring my grade up by the force of the average.”

Essay 2: Why a talent (in this case, one at football) is also a responsibility

“Talent is not remarkable. It’s usually the first thing anyone compliments. “You’re so talented.” It doesn’t mean what they think it means. It doesn’t mean I worked hard. It means I was lucky, or blessed, or anything else you want to call it.

I have talent. I’ve known since I was old enough to hold a football. The game just makes intuitive sense to me. The pathways of the players, both my team and the others, where the ball has to go, and what I’m doing. In the silence before a snap, I’m already playing out what is going to happen, watching the holes in my lines, tracing the route of my receivers. […]

It is far too easy to view talent as an excuse. For me, it is a motivator. For my talent, I will accept nothing less than a dream that only a tiny percentage of people ever get to experience. To get there, I’m willing to work hard and wring every last accomplishment from myself.

Talent is a responsibility. Because you had nothing to do with acquiring it, you are compelled to achieve every last bit you can with it. While I had grown used to thinking varsity would be it, that was not the case. Now, I can focus on the goal while I accomplish the steps.”

Essay 3: On living with depression

“Before I was diagnosed, I had been told it was a normal part of growing up. I was told that teens are moody. I would grow out of it. I couldn’t imagine anyone growing out of what I was feeling. I couldn’t imagine anyone surviving.

Diagnosis and medication have saved my life, allowing me to see the world as people without my brain chemistry would. […] what I found was a place of tiny kindnesses.

It might sound bad—as though kindness can only exist in the smallest forms. This is not what I mean. There are extraordinary people out there who devote their lives to doing very large, very important things for others. I’m not talking about them, partially because they are extraordinary. They are not the norm.

What is normal are the tiny kindnesses. These do not cost a person much of anything. A slice of time, a moment of openness, and little else. They are a smile when you’re feeling down, a comforting hand on the shoulder, a moment to talk.”

And here are 3 college personal statements, about what drove their interest in their intended major: 

Essay 4: On why this applicant wants to study music

“My great-great-uncle Giacomo Ferrari was born in 1912 in Neverland, NY, the youngest of four sons. His parents had emigrated from Italy with his two eldest brothers in the early 1900s in search of a better life in America. Their struggles as immigrants are in themselves inspiring, but the challenges they faced are undoubtedly similar to those that many other immigrant families had to overcome; because of this, the actions that my relatives embarked upon are that much more extraordinary. Giacomo’s oldest brother Antonio, my great-grandfather, decided to take a correspondence course in violin, and to teach his youngest brother Giacomo how to play as well. Giacomo Ferrari eventually became an accomplished violinist and started a free “Lunchtime Strings” program for all the elementary schools in the Neverland area, giving free violin lessons and monthly concerts.

As a native English speaker who has had the privilege of studying viola and violin with trained, private teachers, I can only imagine the perseverance it took for my great-grandfather and great-great uncle to learn an instrument like the violin out of booklets and lessons that were not even written in their native language. Their passion and dedication to learning something new, something not part of their lives as blue-collar, immigrant workers, and their desire to share it with others, has inspired me as a musician and a person. It is this spirit that has motivated me to pursue an MA at Composition at the University of XXX.”

Essay 5: On why this applicant wants to be an allergy specialist

“Suddenly I started scratching my neck, feeling the hives that had started to form. I rushed to the restroom to throw up because my throat was itchy and I felt a weight on my chest. I was experiencing anaphylactic shock, which prevented me from taking anything but shallow breaths. I was fighting the one thing that is meant to protect me and keep me alive – my own body.

[…] After that incident, I began to fear. I became scared of death, eating, and even my own body. As I grew older, I became paranoid about checking food labels and I avoided eating if I didn’t know what was in the food. I knew what could happen if I ate one wrong thing, and I wasn’t willing to risk it for a snack. Ultimately, that fear turned into resentment; I resented my body for making me an outsider.

In the years that followed, this experience and my regular visits to my allergy specialist inspired me to become an allergy specialist. Even though I was probably only ten at the time, I wanted to find a way to help kids like me. I wanted to find a solution so that nobody would have to feel the way I did; nobody deserved to feel that pain, fear, and resentment. As I learned more about the medical world, I became more fascinated with the body’s immune responses, specifically, how a body reacts to allergens.”

Essay 6 : On why this applicant wants to study medicine  

“My passion for teaching others and sharing knowledge emanates from my curiosity and love for learning. My shadowing experiences in particular have stimulated my curiosity and desire to learn more about the world around me. How does platelet rich plasma stimulate tissue growth? How does diabetes affect the proximal convoluted tubule? My questions never stopped. I wanted to know everything and it felt very satisfying to apply my knowledge to clinical problems. distinct concepts together to form a coherent picture truly attracts me to medicine.

It is hard to separate science from medicine; in fact, medicine is science. However, medicine is also about people—their feelings, struggles and concerns. Humans are not pre-programmed robots that all face the same problems. Humans deserve sensitive and understanding physicians. Humans deserve doctors who are infinitely curious, constantly questioning new advents in medicine. They deserve someone who loves the challenge of problem solving and coming up with innovative individualized solutions. I want to be that physician. I want to be able to approach each case as a unique entity and incorporate my strengths into providing personalized care for my patients. Until that time, I may be found Friday mornings in the operating room, peering over shoulders, dreaming about the day I get to hold the drill.”

Students writing personal statements

You made it this far. Now, it’s time to write your personal statement!

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How To Write A Personal Statement (With Examples)

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Whether you want to apply to colleges, graduate programs, or competitive jobs, writing a persuasive personal statement will give you a leg up over the other applicants. A personal statement gives you a chance to express your qualifications, motivations, and long-term objectives in a way that gets hiring managers and admissions boards excited to meet you.

No matter why you’re writing a personal statement, we’re here to help you stand out from the crowd.

Key Takeaways:

To write a personal statement, first brainstorm, then narrow down your ideas, and start with an intro that leads into your qualifications.

Make sure to proofread your personal statement before submitting.

Personal statements describe your interests, skills, and goals, with a particular focus on your passion.

Personal statements are typically found in academia, however some professional organizations may also request one.

How To Write A Personal Statement (With Examples)

What Is a Personal Statement?

How to write a personal statement, tips for writing a strong personal statement, questions to ask yourself when writing a personal statement, when do i need a personal statement, academic personal statement examples, professional personal statement example, personal statement faq.

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A personal statement is a written work that describes your skills, areas of interest, accomplishments, and goals. It is typically included with a college or scholarship application, and sometimes used as part of job applications as well.

Personal statements are a chance for you to show an admissions board or a hiring committee what makes you special outside of your resume . Think of it as an in-depth cover letter where you get to detail not only your skills, but why you’re so passionate about the subject.

Short of an interview, it’s the best way to show your personality in a way that (hopefully) convinces someone to hire or admit you.

When you’re ready to write your statement, there are a few ways you can approach it. We’re going to go over a seven-step process so you can keep your thoughts organized and work through a process. Feel free to switch up the method, so it works for you.

Understand the prompt. Before you put pen to paper, make sure you understand the prompt and what is being asked of you. If there’s a specific set of questions you need to respond to, make sure you frame your thinking that way instead of just choosing a topic.

Brainstorm. Think of some ideas and an outline before you start writing. Consider how you can answer the prompt you’re given and what unique experiences you can bring to the table. The more options you have, the better off you’ll be.

Narrow it down. An excellent way to pick your final approach to draft a statement would be to jot down a few sentences for each idea you had. This helps you tell what topic is easiest to write about or what you feel most confident. No matter how you narrow down your ideas, you need to settle on the strongest one to convey your qualifications.

Start with an intro. Once you’re ready to write, you’ll want to write your opening paragraph first. This is a chance for you to introduce yourself and let people know who you are. Try to keep this paragraph short since it’s just an intro, and you’ll have more space to get into your qualifications in the next paragraph.

Write about your qualifications. When you write about your skills, make sure you align them with the job description or the program’s goals or university.

You can expand this section to a few paragraphs (if word count allows) and be sure to cover your achievements, qualifications, skills, talents, goals, and what you can bring to the program or organization.

One to three body paragraphs should suffice, with scholarship and graduate school personal statements being the longest of the bunch, and job personal statements being the shortest.

Sum up your argument. Your statement is a persuasive argument for why the committee should pick you. It should be a compelling summary of your qualifications, and it should show that you have a clear desire to work for the company.

Proofread. Look for any spelling or grammar errors and check to make sure your writing is clear and concise. Cut out anything that doesn’t fit or help paint a good picture of what kind of student or employee you are. You might want to show your draft to a few people to ensure everything sounds right.

No matter what approach you take to writing your statement, a few things hold. We’ll give you some tips to make your statement stand out from the rest.

Write to your audience. Chances are you have a good idea of who will be reading your application and personal statement, so try to gear your writing toward them. Think of what will persuade or impress them and incorporate that into your writing.

Stay truthful. It might be tempting to exaggerate the truth or smudge a little bit, but make sure you stay truthful. If you claim to have skills or experience that you don’t have and land the job, it might be pretty easy to tell that your writing doesn’t exactly align with your experience.

Tell a story. If you can, try to weave your narrative into a story. Not only will it be more engaging for your reader, but it will also show if you can use your skill to create a story. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, but tying everything together into a narrative will impress your readers.

Use your voice. To make your statement more personal and unique, you should write in your voice. Don’t try to copy examples of statements you find or let your editor drown out what makes you unique. Make sure you keep your personality and qualifications front and center since it’s a personal statement.

Get specific. Instead of generally talking about skills you have, find ways to show your reader when you used those skills. Being specific and giving examples will make your argument more compelling and show your reader that you’re a master.

Use simple language. Since personal statements are so short, it’s not the time for long and complex sentences. Keep it concise and easy to read. You don’t want to risk confusing your reader since committees usually have a few minutes to consider your candidacy, and you don’t want to lose their attention.

Sometimes, especially during the brainstorm process, it can help to ask yourself questions to get your mind focused. These questions can help realize what you want to write in your personal statement.

Some questions you can ask yourself include:

“Why am I interested in this application? What about it makes me want to apply?”

“What are my strengths and weaknesses?”

“What type of work gets me excited and deeply engaged?”

“What is my life story and how does it relate to this application?”

“Where do I want to go?”

“Who do I want to be?”

“What have I learned from my past?”

“How can I explain my past experiences?”

“How would my friends and family describe me to a stranger?”

“What obstacles have I overcome and how does it make me who I am today?”

Asking yourself questions like these will open up your mind to new ideas on how to write your personal statement.

You may need to write a personal statement for a university, scholarship, or job application.

University application. When you’re writing a personal statement for a school application, you’ll usually have a few paragraphs to get your point across. These prompts tend to be more open-ended and give you a chance to explain why you want to attend that school, how you align with their program, and why you are an excellent fit for the school’s culture.

A personal statement for a graduate program needs to be much sharper and more focused. At this point in your education, you’re expected to know precisely where you’d like to turn your academic focus and be able to communicate that efficiently.

Scholarship application. When you need to write a personal statement for a grant or scholarship application, you want to make sure you align your values and purpose with the providers. These can be tricky to write, but they’re like a careful balance between personal statements for school and work.

Job application. For work-related personal statements, you’ll want to focus on your skills and qualifications more than your personality. Employers are more concerned with how you can meet their skill requirements. Professional personal statements tend to be shorter, so there’s less space to talk about anything but your qualifications.

Here are two examples of shorts personal statement for graduate program applications:

From the moment I stepped into the lab, smelled the clean scent of fresh lab coats, and saw the beakers glistening under the light, I felt an excitement to learn that hasn’t left me since. Each time I enter the lab, I feel the same flutter of my heart and a sense of purpose. I want to continue to chase this feeling while contributing to a broader scientific knowledge catalog, which I know the Graduate Biology Program at City University will allow me to do. I want to continue the research I started in college on communicable diseases while gaining a critical education. City University’s program emphasizes in-class and hands-on learning, a perfect combination for my learning style.
As a graduate of State University with a B.S. in Biology, I have the foundation to build my knowledge and experience. While at State University, I worked in a lab researching the efficacy of a new flu vaccine. There, I managed other student researchers, worked as a liaison between the professor running the lab and students and managed the data reports. I am ready to bring my extensive experience to City University classrooms while learning from my peers. I am eager to begin the coursework at City University, and I believe I am uniquely prepared to contribute to the campus culture and research efforts. I look forward to stepping into City University’s lab in the fall and feeling the familiar excitement that drives me to pursue a graduate program and learn more about public health.

If you need to write a professional personal statement, here’s a sample you can model yours after:

As a recent graduate of State University with a B.A. in Communications, I am prepared to take what I have learned in the classroom and bring my work ethic and go-getter attitude to ABC Company. I believe that I have the skills and experience to excel as a Marketing Coordinator from my first day. My classes in Digital Communication, Social Media Marketing, and Business Management and my work as Outreach Chair of the university newspaper have prepared me to take on responsibilities as I learn more about the field. I also believe that my dedication to animal welfare aligns with the ABC Company’s goal of finding loving homes for all of their foster pets and makes me especially interested in this position.

What do I write in a personal statement?

A personal statement should include an introduction, your relevant skills/experiences, and your goals. You want to keep your personal statement relevant for the program or job in question. Make sure to show your passion and indicate what you’d like to do with the degree or opportunity.

How do you start off a personal statement?

Start your personal statement by introducing yourself. Give a brief snapshot of your background that also describes why you’re passionate about this field or area of study in particular. Another powerful way to start off a personal statement is with a significant accomplishment that immediately speaks to your relevant skill set and experience.

What exactly is a personal statement?

A personal statement is a brief statement that sums up your qualifications. A personal statement is a brief written document that university admissions boards, scholarship programs, and sometimes hiring managers require from applicants. A personal statement’s purpose is to show the reader that you are qualified, fully invested in the aims of the program, and have plans for what you would do if granted the opportunity.

How do you write a 500-word personal statement?

To write a 500-word personal statement, start by writing without worrying about the word count. If your personal statement is too long, look for sentences that include skills, experiences, or qualifications that aren’t strictly related to the requirements or aims of the program/job you’re applying for and remove them.

If your personal statement is too short, go back to the program, scholarship, or job description. Make note of the preferred experiences and required skills. For example, if you’ve included a skill in your personal statement without experience to back it up, consider adding a brief story that shows you putting that skill into action.

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Amanda is a writer with experience in various industries, including travel, real estate, and career advice. After taking on internships and entry-level jobs, she is familiar with the job search process and landing that crucial first job. Included in her experience is work at an employer/intern matching startup where she marketed an intern database to employers and supported college interns looking for work experience.

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How to Write a Personal Statement

Last Updated: February 24, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 137,866 times.

A personal statement lets an academic institution, organization, workplace, or potential client know more about you and your career or academic goals. Every personal statement will be a little different, but each one should highlight why you're the right fit for the program or position. You should also use your past experiences and accomplishments to support your statement.

Developing Your Statement

Step 1 Pick the purpose for your personal statement.

  • If you're writing a personal statement for undergraduate schools or scholarships focus on how your interests developed, your high school achievements, and your community involvement.
  • If you're writing for an undergraduate transfer, focus on your academic and community record with your current school and describe your reasons for wanting to switch universities.
  • If you're writing for graduate school, focus on the specific course you want your graduate project or studies to take, your reason for pursuing graduate school, and the undergraduate experiences that have prepared you.
  • If you're writing for a job, portfolio, or to gain a particular client, focus on your past work experiences, your relevant academic accomplishments within the past 5 years, and your positive character traits.
  • If you've been given a prompt for your personal statement, make sure you have a clear understanding of what it's asking for and what you should write.

Step 2 Research your target institutions.

  • Every institution and organization will look for content specific to their mission and goals in a personal statement. Don't send the same personal statement to different organizations, but instead personalize each statement you write.
  • For example, if you're applying to a university that emphasizes community service and involvement, you'll want to emphasize your service work in that statement. Another school may value academics first though. For that school, talk about your coursework and grades.

Step 3 Define your academic and career goals.

  • How will this university/academic program/scholarship/job position/client directly impact my future?
  • What project do I plan to undertake to complete this degree or job opportunity?
  • What is my ultimate career goal?
  • Where do I see myself in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?
  • What are the steps I need to take in order to reach my ultimate goal?
  • What are other goals I hope to accomplish along the way?

Step 4 Ask yourself why you should be chosen.

  • What personal qualities (leadership skills, organizational skills, self-control, etc.) do you possess which make you a valuable asset?
  • What experiences and beliefs have shaped your present character?
  • What accomplishments make you the proudest?
  • Have you had any turning points that redirected your life in a positive way?
  • Why would you choose yourself over other candidates? Why should anyone else?

Step 5 List your formal achievements.

  • Academic degrees and certificates
  • Scholarships, fellowships, and grants
  • Awards or honors from academic institutions (e.g. summa cum laude, manga cum laude, departmental honors, Dean's List, etc.)
  • Workplace promotions, reviews, and evaluations
  • Speaking at a conference, convention, or workshop
  • Published works in your field of expertise
  • Official recognition for community service or contributions

Step 6 Outline how you reached this place in your life.

  • When did you originally develop an interest in your field of choice?
  • What do you love most about your field of choice?
  • Why do you think your field of choice is important?
  • What experiences have you had that have provided you with experience in the field?
  • Have you given up any other dreams or expectations in order to chase after this one?

Step 7 Describe any challenges you have faced.

  • Financial difficulties
  • Social disenfranchisement
  • Learning disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
  • Family problems
  • Medical problems
  • Unexpected tragedies

Putting Your Personal Statement Together

Step 1 Read any specific questions mentioned.

  • Often, these questions will be listed directly on the application, or otherwise on the job posting or program web page.
  • If you're not sure if your application needs to address specific questions, reach out to the program coordinator or the contact person listed on the posting.

Step 2 Outline the basic structure of your statement.

  • Prioritize the purpose of your statement in your outline. For example, if you're applying to a graduate program, your graduate project should be your main focus.
  • Write about what interests you. You will be able to write more convincingly and more passionately if you write about events, goals, experiences, or ideas that you already feel passionate about.
  • Address issues specifically brought up by the institution or organization. If there are any topics that the reader demands to see, then make sure that those are included in your personal statement.

Step 3 Create a strong beginning.

  • Avoid starting with common or cliché phrases like, “The most important moment in my life was when...”
  • A better way to introduce that “important moment” would be to simply start describing it. Explain that, “When I first started working at XYZ Company, I didn't know the first thing about widget manufacturing.” Directly break into the narrative instead of alerting the reader that you intend to do so.
  • Provide as much detail in the first paragraph as possible. Introduce the main idea of your personal statement and describe how it connects to your narrative. Save any elaborate details or related notes and experiences for the body of your essay, though.

Step 4 Write a body to support your statement purpose.

  • For example, for a graduate program statement, your second paragraph could focus on your undergraduate career. Frame your undergrad research, your relevant coursework, and your achievement as tools that helped prepare you for your graduate project.
  • Do not be vague or general.
  • Do tell the reader about experiences, goals, and ideas unique to you.

Step 5 Maintain a positive tone.

  • Avoid uncertain or weak phrasing like, “I'm not sure but I think I would probably be a good fit for your program.”
  • Even when discussing challenges or difficulties you faced, focus on your triumphs over those problems.

Revising Your Statement

Step 1 Expand your statement if it's too short.

  • When expanding your personal statement, look for ways to elaborate on the information you already have. Include more specific detail to create a fuller picture. Alternatively, you could introduce another point that contributes to your overall statement purpose.
  • While it's not advisable to submit a statement that's too short, you also shouldn't add information just for the sake of having it. If your statement is a paragraph short of a full page but covers all your relevant information, you don't need to expand it.
  • Avoid telling the reader why something is important to you. Instead, explain what you've done to show and develop the skill.

Step 2 Trim down your statement if it's too long.

  • You may also consider reducing your number of main points if one point does not seem especially significant.
  • Unlike a short statement, a long statement can't be left long. Many application programs won't allow you to press the submit button until your statement is the correct length. That means that if your statement is too long, it needs to be cut down.

Step 3 Read your personal statement aloud.

  • While listening to your statement, ask yourself if it sounds like your natural voice. If you were describing these things in person, would the way you speak sound like what you wrote?

Step 4 Ask for constructive criticism.

  • Accept constructive criticism graciously and try not to take anything personally.
  • When asking for constructive criticism, first go to professional sources like a high school teacher, a university professor, an internship supervisor, an academic adviser, or a trustworthy colleague.
  • After your professional sources have been exhausted, ask friends and family for their thoughts. They may offer great insight regarding the “every-man” opinion, since not all your readers may be familiar with your program or industry.
  • It's common to receive conflicting feedback. Think about each of their perspectives to see what may have influenced what they told you. If their experiences don't match your goals, consider if their advice is worth taking.

Step 5 Proofread at least twice prior to submission.

  • Once you fix these problems, your personal statement is ready to submit.

Community Q&A

Drew Hawkins1

  • Give yourself plenty of time to write your statement. If possible, start the writing process at least 3 months from your proposal or application due date. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Vary your content for each personal statement to match each individual organization or institution. You may be able to use many of the same points in each statement, but you should still write individual statements for each organization. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Unless the program or job directly deals with them, avoid talking about controversial topics such as extreme religious or political opinions. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how to write a 2 page personal statement

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  • ↑ https://writingcenter.uconn.edu/personal-statements/
  • ↑ https://www.careereducation.columbia.edu/resources/creating-undergraduate-cv
  • ↑ https://grad.berkeley.edu/admissions/steps-to-apply/requirements/personal-statement/
  • ↑ https://www.careercenter.illinois.edu/instructable/write-your-personal-statement
  • ↑ https://www.cmu.edu/hpp/apply-to-schools/personal-statements/tips.html
  • ↑ https://www.e-education.psu.edu/writingpersonalstatementsonline/p3_p7.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.gmu.edu/guides/advice-for-writing-personal-statements

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

To write a personal statement, start with a strong beginning such as “When I first started working at XYZ Company, I didn’t know the first thing about widget manufacturing” to introduce your theme and grab the reader’s attention. Then, write 2-4 paragraphs to support your statement, highlighting things like your experiences, achievements, and goals. Make sure that you focus each paragraph on a single point, relate each point back to your theme, and keep the tone of your writing positive and confident. For more tips from our Education reviewer, like how to revise your personal statement, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to Write a Personal Statement (with Tips and Examples)

Hannah Yang headshot

Hannah Yang

How to write a personal statement

Table of Contents

What is a personal statement, 6 tips on how to write a personal statement, personal statement examples (for college and university), faqs about writing personal statements, conclusion on how to write a personal statement.

How do you tell someone who you are in just a few hundred words?

It’s certainly no easy task, but it’s one almost every college applicant must do. The personal statement is a crucial part of any college or university application.

So, how do you write a compelling personal statement?

In this article, we’ll give you all the tools, tips, and examples you need to write an effective personal statement.

A personal statement is a short essay that reveals something important about who you are. It can talk about your background, your interests, your values, your goals in life, or all of the above.

Personal statements are required by many college admission offices and scholarship selection committees. They’re a key part of your application, alongside your academic transcript, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities.

The reason application committees ask you to write a personal statement is so they can get to know who you are. 

Some personal statements have specific prompts, such as “Discuss a period of personal growth in your life” or “Tell us about a challenge or failure you’ve faced.” Others are more open-ended with prompts that essentially boil down to “Tell us about yourself.”

No matter what the prompt is, your goal is the same: to make yourself stand out to the selection committee as a strong candidate for their program.

Here are some things a personal statement can be:

It can be funny. If you have a great sense of humor, your personal statement is a great place to let that shine.  

It can be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to open up about hardships in your life or failures you’ve experienced. Showing vulnerability can make you sound more like a real person rather than just a collection of application materials.  

It can be creative. Candidates have got into top schools with personal statements that take the form of “a day in the life” descriptions, third-person short stories, and even cooking recipes.

Now we’ve talked about what a personal statement is, let’s quickly look at what a personal statement isn’t:

It isn’t a formal academic paper. You should write the personal statement in your natural voice, using first-person pronouns like “I” and “me,” not in the formal, objective language you would use to write an academic paper.

It isn’t a five-paragraph essay. You should use as many paragraphs as you need to tell your story instead of sticking to the essay structure you learned in school.

It isn’t a resumé. You should try to describe yourself by telling a clear and cohesive story rather than providing a jumbled list of all of your accomplishments and ambitions.

personal statement definition

Here are our top six tips for writing a strong personal statement.

Tip 1: Do Some Serious Self-Reflection

The hardest part of writing a personal statement isn’t the actual process of writing it.

Before you start typing, you have to figure out what to write about. And that means taking some time to reflect on who you are and what’s important in your life.

Here are some useful questions you can use to start your self-reflection. You can either answer these on your own by writing down your answers, or you can ask a trusted friend to listen as you talk about them together.

What were the key moments that shaped your life? (e.g. an important friendship, a travel experience, an illness or injury)

What are you proud of? (e.g. you’re a good listener, you always keep your promises, you’re a talented musician)

How do you choose to spend your time? (e.g. reading, practicing soccer, spending time with your friends)

What inspires you? (e.g. your grandmother, a celebrity, your favorite song)

Doing this self-reflection is crucial for figuring out the perfect topics and anecdotes you can use to describe who you are.

Tip 2: Try to Avoid Cliché Topics

College application committees read thousands of personal statements a year. That means there are some personal statement topics they see over and over again.

Here are a few examples of common personal statement topics that have become cliché:

Winning a tournament or sports game

Volunteering in a foreign country

Moving to a new home

Becoming an older sibling

Being an immigrant or having immigrant parents

If you want to make a strong impression in the application process, you need to make your personal statement stand out from the crowd.

But if your chosen personal statement topic falls into one of these categories, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t use it. Just make sure to put a unique spin on it so it still delivers something the committee hasn’t seen before.

how to write a 2 page personal statement

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Tip 3: Show, Don’t Tell

One common mistake you might make in your personal statement is to simply tell the reader what you want them to know about you, such as by stating “I have a fear of public speaking” or “I love to cook.”

Instead of simply stating these facts, you should show the committee what you’re talking about through a story or scene, which will make your essay much more immersive and memorable.

For example, let’s say you want the committee to know you overcame your fear of public speaking. Instead of writing “I overcame my fear of public speaking,” show them what it was like to be onstage in front of a microphone. Did your palms get clammy? Did you feel light-headed? Did you forget your words?

Or let’s say you want the committee to know you love to cook. Instead of writing “I love to cook,” show them why you love to cook. What’s your favorite dish to cook? What does the air smell like when you’re cooking it? What kitchen appliances do you use to make it?

Tip 4: Connect the Story to Why You’re Applying

Don’t forget that the purpose of your personal statement isn’t simply to tell the admissions committee who you are. That’s an important part of it, of course, but your ultimate goal is to convince them to choose you as a candidate.

That means it’s important to tie your personal story to your reasons for applying to this specific school or scholarship. Finish your essay with a strong thesis.

For example, if your story is about overcoming your fear of public speaking, you might connect that story to your ambition of becoming a politician. You can then tie that to your application by saying, “I want to apply to this school because of its fantastic politics program, which will give me a perfect opportunity to use my voice.”

Tip 5: Write in Your Own Voice

The personal statement isn’t supposed to be written in a formal tone. That’s why they’re called “personal” statements because you have to shape it to fit your own voice and style.

Don’t use complicated or overwrought language. You don’t need to fill your essay with semicolons and big words, unless that’s how you sound in real life.

One way to write in your own voice is by speaking your personal statement out loud. If it doesn’t feel natural, it may need changing. 

Tip 6: Edit, Edit, Edit!

It’s important to revise your personal statement multiple times in order to make sure it’s as close to perfect as possible.

A single typo won’t kill your application, but if your personal statement contains multiple spelling errors or egregious grammar mistakes, you won’t be putting your best foot forward.

ProWritingAid can help you make sure your personal statement is as clean as possible. In addition to catching your grammar errors, typos, and punctuation mistakes, it will also help you improve weaknesses in your writing, such as passive voice, unnecessary repetition, and more.

Let’s look at some of the best personal statements that have worked for successful candidates in the real world. 

Harvard Personal Statement Example

Love. For a word describing such a powerful emotion, it is always in the air. The word “love” has become so pervasive in everyday conversation that it hardly retains its roots in blazing passion and deep adoration. In fact, the word is thrown about so much that it becomes difficult to believe society isn’t just one huge, smitten party, with everyone holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.” In films, it’s the teenage boy’s grudging response to a doting mother. At school, it’s a habitual farewell between friends. But in my Chinese home, it’s never uttered. Watching my grandmother lie unconscious on the hospital bed, waiting for her body to shut down, was excruciatingly painful. Her final quavering breaths formed a discordant rhythm with the steady beep of hospital equipment and the unsympathetic tapping hands of the clock. That evening, I whispered—into unhearing ears—the first, and only, “I love you” I ever said to her, my rankling guilt haunting me relentlessly for weeks after her passing. My warm confession seemed anticlimactic, met with only the coldness of my surroundings—the blank room, impassive doctors, and empty silence. I struggled to understand why the “love” that so easily rolled off my tongue when bantering with friends dissipated from my vocabulary when I spoke to my family. Do Chinese people simply love less than Americans do?

This is an excerpt from a personal statement that got the applicant admitted to Harvard University. The applicant discusses her background as a Chinese-American by musing on the word “love” and what that means within her family.

The writer uses vulnerable details about her relationship with her grandmother to give the reader an understanding of where she comes from and how her family has shaped her.  

You can read the full personal statement on the Harvard Crimson website.

Tufts Personal Statement Example

My first dream job was to be a pickle truck driver. I saw it in my favorite book, Richard Scarry’s “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go,” and for some reason, I was absolutely obsessed with the idea of driving a giant pickle. Much to the discontent of my younger sister, I insisted that my parents read us that book as many nights as possible so we could find goldbug, a small little golden bug, on every page. I would imagine the wonderful life I would have: being a pig driving a giant pickle truck across the country, chasing and finding goldbug. I then moved on to wanting to be a Lego Master. Then an architect. Then a surgeon. Then I discovered a real goldbug: gold nanoparticles that can reprogram macrophages to assist in killing tumors, produce clear images of them without sacrificing the subject, and heat them to obliteration. Suddenly the destination of my pickle was clear. I quickly became enveloped by the world of nanomedicine; I scoured articles about liposomes, polymeric micelles, dendrimers, targeting ligands, and self-assembling nanoparticles, all conquering cancer in some exotic way. Completely absorbed, I set out to find a mentor to dive even deeper into these topics. After several rejections, I was immensely grateful to receive an invitation to work alongside Dr. Sangeeta Ray at Johns Hopkins.

This is the beginning of a personal statement by Renner Kwittken, who was admitted into Tufts University as a pre-medical student.

Renner uses a humorous anecdote about being a pickle truck driver to describe his love for nanomedicine and how he got involved in his field. You can feel his passion for medicine throughout his personal statement.

You can find Renner’s full essay on the Tufts Admissions page.

Law School Personal Statement Essay Example

For most people, the slap on the face that turns their life around is figurative. Mine was literal. Actually, it was a punch delivered by a drill sergeant at Fort Dix, New Jersey, while I was in basic training. That day’s activity, just a few weeks into the program, included instruction in “low-crawling,” a sensible method of moving from one place to another on a battlefield. I felt rather clever for having discovered that, by looking right rather than down, I eliminated my helmet’s unfortunate tendency to dig into the ground and slow my progress. I could thus advance more easily, but I also exposed my unprotected face to hostile fire. Drill sergeants are typically very good at detecting this type of laziness, and mine was an excellent drill sergeant. So, after his repeated suggestions that I correct my performance went unheeded, he drove home his point with a fist to my face. We were both stunned. This was, after all, the New Army, and striking a trainee was a career-ending move for a drill sergeant, as we were both aware. I could have reported him; arguably, I should have. I didn’t. It didn’t seem right for this good sergeant, who had not slept for almost four days, to lose his career for losing his temper with my laziness. Choosing not to report him was the first decision I remember making that made me proud.

These are the first three paragraphs of an anonymous personal statement by a Wheaton College graduate, who used this personal statement to get into a top-25 law school.

This statement describes a time the applicant faced a challenging decision while in the army. He ended up making a decision he was proud of, and as a result, the personal statement gives us a sense of his character.

You can find the full essay on the Wheaton Academics website.

Here are some common questions about how to write a personal statement.

How Long Should a Personal Statement Be?

The length of your personal statement depends on the specific program you’re applying to. The application guidelines usually specify a maximum word count or an ideal word count.  

Most personal statements are between 500–800 words. That’s a good general range to aim for if you don’t have more specific guidelines.  

Should Personal Statements Be Different for Scholarships?

Many scholarship applications will ask for personal statements with similar prompts to those of college applications.

However, the purpose of a personal statement you’d write for a scholarship application is different from the purpose of one you’d write for a college application.

For a scholarship application, your goal is to showcase why you deserve the scholarship. To do that, you need to understand the mission of the organization offering that scholarship.

For example, some scholarships are meant to help first-generation college students get their degree, while others are meant to help women break into STEM.

Consider the following questions:

Why is this organization offering scholarships?

What would their ideal scholarship candidate look like?

How do your experiences and goals overlap with those of their ideal scholarship candidate?

You can use the same personal anecdotes you’d use for any other personal statement, but you’ll have a better chance of winning the scholarship if you tailor your essay to match their specific mission.

How to Start a Personal Statement

You should start your personal statement with a “hook” that pulls the reader in. The sooner you catch the reader’s attention, the more likely they’ll want to read the entire essay.

Here are some examples of hooks you can use:

A story (e.g. When the spotlight hit my face, I tried to remind myself to breathe. )

A setting description (e.g. My bedroom floor is covered with dirty laundry, candy wrappers, and crumpled sheet music. )

A funny anecdote (e.g. When I was a little kid, my friends nicknamed me Mowgli because of my haircut. )

A surprising fact (e.g. I've lived in 37 countries .)

There you have it—our complete guide to writing a personal statement that will make you stand out to the application committee.

Here’s a quick recap: 

A personal statement is a short essay that shows an application committee who you are

Start with a strong hook that pulls the reader in

Tell a story to engage the reader 

Write in your own voice, not in a formal tone

Good luck, and happy writing!

Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.

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Personal Statement Format

Cathy A.

A Complete Guide to a Perfect Personal Statement Format

Published on: Mar 26, 2019

Last updated on: Nov 14, 2023

Personal Statement Format

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Do you struggle with formatting your personal statement? Many students face challenges when it comes to formatting their personal statements.

It's common for students to feel unsure about how to structure their personal statements. Questions like, "How do I organize it? What tone should I use? Am I including the right information?" can be really stressful and confusing, adding more pressure to an already stressful application process.

But don't worry! This blog is here to help. We'll make it easy for you to understand personal statement formatting, so you can create a strong and impressive personal statement. 

So, let’s begin!

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What is a Correct Personal Statement Format?

Like other academic papers, personal statements should also be formatted and structured according to a standard set of guidelines. In this way, you can make sure all the information in your personal statement is in an organized manner.

Usually the guidelines for formatting are provided by institutions where you are applying. Different institutions can have varying requirements so it's important to be mindful of their requirements.

However, here are the basic guidelines that you can follow if you don’t know how to format a personal statement.

  • Word Limit: Aim for around 500 words, staying within 495-505 words.
  • Spacing: Use single-spacing within paragraphs and add an extra line of space between each paragraph.
  • Font Style: Opt for a universally accepted font style, such as Times New Roman.
  • Font Size: Maintain a 12-point font size throughout your personal statement.
  • Header: Include your name and the page number in the header of each page for easy organization.

A standard formatting convention should be used to make your personal statement readable. Keep in mind that review committees go through hundreds of personal statements so it is important to make sure your personal statement stands out. 

Here is a sample personal statement format template you can use to write a personal statement:

How to Format A Personal Statement

The requirements for writing a personal statement vary, but generally, a personal statement includes certain information in the following format.

Step 1 - Determining Word Limit and Line-Spacing

Knowing the word limit is crucial. Ensure your personal statement aligns with the specified range, that is typically around 500 words. 

Implement double-spacing within paragraphs, adding an extra line of space between each paragraph. This technique creates a visually clear and structured layout for easy reading.

Step 2 - Font Style and Size

Consistency in font style is important for readability. Choose a widely accepted and easily readable font like Times New Roman or Arial. 

Maintain a font size of 12 points throughout your personal statement. This standard size aids in presenting a professional appearance and facilitates smooth reading.

Step 3 - Header Inclusion for Organization

To keep your document organized, consider including the title and page number in the header of each page. 

This simple addition aids in document management and ensures easy navigation, particularly if your personal statement extends across multiple pages.

Step 4 - Structuring the Content

Your personal statement's structure plays a pivotal role in its impact. Here's a breakdown of how to organize your narrative effectively:

  • Opening Paragraph - Begin with an introduction that clearly states the purpose of your personal statement. Engage the reader with an attention-grabbing opening statement and specify the program or position you're applying for.
  • Body Paragraphs - Detail your academic background, relevant experiences, and accomplishments. Showcase your skills and attributes as a strong candidate, write about any extra activities you took part in high school. Explain why the program or position you're applying for interests you and how it aligns with your ambitions.
  • Transition to Goals - Smoothly transition from your experiences to your goals, setting the stage for discussing your academic and career aspirations. Express gratitude for considering your application and end with a memorable statement or closing remark.

Step 5 - Finalizing Your Personal Statement

Ensure your personal statement is signed off with your full name. If submitting a printed copy, include your signature for authenticity. Proofread your document for clarity, coherence, and accuracy before submission.

Remember, each organization may have its own set of rules, so always double-check and follow their specific guidelines for the final touches on your personal statement.

Personal Statement Format Examples

If you are looking for helpful personal statement format examples, you are at the right place. Going through examples is one of the best practices to get an idea of how to write a perfect personal statement.

That’s why we have provided you with some good personal statement format examples to help you know what specific details should be included. 

Personal Statement Format For Grad School

Personal Statement Format For University

Personal Statement Format Law School

Personal Statement Format For College

Personal Statement Format For Masters

Personal Statement Format For Job

Personal Statement Format For Scholarship

Check out more flawlessly formatted personal statement examples to learn more!

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Our dedicated team excels at crafting standout personal statements. Our professional essay writing team is skilled at delivering perfectly formatted personal statements. Our team has helped thousands of students like you by providing winning personal statements.

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10 Best Personal Statement Examples (How to Write)

Personal-Statement

Personal statements refer to an account of your talents, achievements, goals, and interests included in a job or school application. Personal statements are also included in resumes. Whether it is being written for a job or university application, personal statements have the same content. The only difference between them is university personal statements are slightly longer and detailed than job personal statements. When you include them in resumes and job applications, personal statements are generally one paragraph. It is important to note that every company or learning institution has its requirements for personal statements. Therefore, when writing to yours, make sure that you follow these guidelines strictly.

Importance of Personal Statement for Applications and Interviews

Personal statements form an integral part of any job or university application. If you are seeking a scholarship or study program, you need to write an excellent personal statement. Personal statements can either make or break your chances of getting a job, receiving a scholarship, or getting an offer. A good personal statement should contain detailed information about your academic qualifications and achievements and related job experience. To make your personal statement more appealing, you can also talk about your career or academic aspirations. This will be a significant boost, especially if you are applying for a scholarship. Given the high number of applicants in the most job and scholarship opportunities, a personal statement can play a vital role in determining whether or not you receive an interview call. 

Types of Personal Statement

There are different types of personal statements. They are categorized according to the purpose they serve. For example, a personal statement might be included in your CV. Like a summary section or an in-person pitch, personal statements written in resumes highlight an individual’s abilities and objectives. Given the fact that resumes can be as long as several pages, you should take advantage and showcase must-see details that boost your candidature. In a CV, however, you shouldn’t write a lengthy personal statement but instead, keep it short and straightforward.

Some companies ask applicants to include their personal statements in the job application. By doing so, the companies will be able to sort out the candidates according to the position they are applying for. For example, if there are several job openings, it can be challenging to tell which application is for which position — this is where personal statements come in handy.

How to Write a Personal Statement

Start by sharing details about yourself: Answer the question “who are you?”. You can mention positive things about yourself like “highly experienced Digital Marketer” or “I recently graduated with a Masters in Foreign Diplomacy.” 

Mention your most relevant attributes and what the company can benefit from hiring you: Mention what you will do when hired. For example, “a highly experienced Digital Marketer with skills in data management and analysis,” or “in my 12 years as a Chief Editor, I have never let a detail slip: I won the best employee five-time for my efforts in the company. I meet my targets on time and work well with other employees.” 

Say something about your career goals: No employer wants to hire an individual without ambitions. It is, therefore, important to say something about your career goals. You can say, “I am looking for a digital marketing position” or “I am looking forward to working in a midsized company as a Chief Editor” to further develop my skills in Journalism. I would also like to put my production and management skills to the test.” 

Proofreading and Editing a Personal Statement

Once you have completed writing your personal statement, it is essential to proofread and edit it. The best technique in doing so is reading it out loud to hear how your writing sounds. This will help you find areas of improvement such as:

  • Relevance 
  • Spelling and grammar
  • Passive voice
  • Specificity
  • Simple and clear phrasing
  • Easy to understand the language

You should review the personal statement on your own to find these areas. If possible, get a friend or colleague to read it out for you. Ask them what they think about the statement and if there are areas, you should improve.

Tips for Writing a Strong Personal Statement

Below are tips for writing a convincing personal statement:.

  • Use a positive tone: Use language that shows your enthusiasm for the opportunity. You should also show gratitude for the reader’s consideration.
  • Always use the active voice: By active voice, I mean using powerful verbs that directly engage the reader and compel them to consider your qualifications. This will significantly boost the strength of your personal statement. 
  • Be unique: The personal statement should be unique to you. Therefore, you should discuss what makes you different from other candidates.

Personal Statement Templates

When creating a personal statement, it is important to take time and research on the do’s and don’ts. Creating a personal statement can be challenging. And that is why we have created easy-to-use personal statement templates. Simply download them and customize them!

Personal Statement Template 01

What is the most essential part of personal statement?

The content, good sentence structure, and ending of a personal statement are crucial. Ensure everything you write is relevant.

Should I talk about what I do after university?

Yes, but this should be only when you have an idea about what you want to do.

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How to Write a Personal Statement: Tell Your Story for Success

What is a personal statement, the purpose of having a personal statement, structure of a personal statement, how to write a personal statement, tips for having an effective personal statement, personal statement example, personal clarity cultivates long-term vision.

It’s not uncommon during the application process to come across a section asking you to write a personal statement. This can happen whenever you fill out an application, whether it’s for college admissions, a new job, or anything else. If you’ve ever stared at the question, wondering what exactly they mean by “personal statement,” that’s understandable. They’re essentially asking you to distill who you are, where you excel, and what you stand for in the space of only a few paragraphs. That’s a lot of pressure, especially if you haven’t exactly thought about those key questions before. It will likely be the first time you’ve ever needed to know how to write a personal statement.

You shouldn’t let the intimidation of the moment overwhelm you. Don’t look at writing a personal statement as a chore but rather as an opportunity . This is your chance to truly express yourself and explain what makes you tick. It’s also an opportunity to show how you stand out over everyone else.

In this article, learn what a personal statement is, the purpose behind it, how to write one, and some additional tips for crafting the strongest personal statement you can.

“A personal statement should summarize what the candidate has done in the past, what they want to do next, and the skills/knowledge/experience that bridges the two.” Zena Everett, director and career coach at Second Careers

A personal statement is a detailed look at who you are, including your skills, values, achievements, goals, hobbies, passions, and any other information relevant to the position you are applying for. The main focus of a personal statement will largely depend on if the application is for a job or if it’s intended for a college admissions committee.

For example, a personal statement to get into college will likely talk about high school achievements and awards as well as what the individual hopes to study. 

A personal statement written for a job, on the other hand, will usually refer to accomplishments in past jobs as well as what you want to achieve as you advance in your career. 

In general, a personal statement for a job will be shorter, but both types should focus on what unique aspects you bring to the table along with the purpose that drives you to succeed. While not exactly a mission statement , it should reference what you hope to accomplish in life.

You shouldn’t wait to write a personal statement until the moment you see the question on an application. Preparing one beforehand will get you ready to answer what is a pretty important question. If you haven’t made one yet, write it ahead of time so you can refer to it when applying for a job, college, or graduate school. 

Essentially, a personal statement represents your personality, goals, and achievements in a succinct way for those in decision-making roles. They should get a good sense of who you are and what kind of person you want to become. You may also choose to include what career coach Donna Shannon calls a “passion statement,” which is a quick summary of why you love your job.

The following are some of the insights a personal statement can reveal to someone about you:

  • Crucial events in your life that shaped you into the person you are today
  • The core values that inform the most important decisions you make
  • The ethical values that you strive to live by when no one is watching
  • Times when you’ve needed to learn and grow
  • A vision for your life that you hope to fulfill

Personal statements should include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. That much is pretty straightforward. However, the way in which you tackle the content of your personal statement usually follows one of two main structures: narrative or montage.

Narrative Structure

A narrative structure follows a story, only this time, you’re the main character who follows a hero’s journey. As part of the story, you can talk about the challenges you encountered in your life and how you overcame them . Then you can recount how you changed during that time, becoming the person that you are now. This structure is appropriate when you have faced big challenges and come out stronger on the other side.

Montage Structure

Not everyone faces a monumental challenge in their life. In such cases, a montage structure might be the best choice. This structure strings together a series of events and experiences you’ve had that all are tied into a similar theme . The experiences should represent different facets of your life that give helpful insight into your character and skills.

1. Create an Outline

While an outline won’t be seen by your intended audience, it is an indispensable step in creating the best personal statement you can. With an outline, you can organize your thoughts and properly plan out what your personal statement will include . This is the stage where you decide on your structure and what you’ll cover in the limited space you have. Creating an outline first will make writing your personal statement that much easier.

2. Begin With a Personality-Driven Introduction

Your introduction should serve more than just to ease the reader into your personal statement. Take the opportunity to show your personality from the very start . Indicate the type of person you are, and hook the reader with your unique qualities. Part of the introduction should discuss why the position or school interests you and why you would be the perfect fit there. The introduction should compel the reader to continue with the rest of the personal statement.

3. Detail Your Experiences, Skills, and Passions

Most of your personal statement should focus on the experiences, skills, and interests that make you different from everyone else. Use the body paragraphs to talk about what unique achievements you’ve accomplished. Go into detail about the skills you have that would be a huge benefit to the university or organization you want to join. Write about your goals and how much they mean to you.

You may find that all of these subjects lead to a personal statement that is far too long. While you want to be detailed, brevity is beneficial. One survey from the UK found that admissions officers spent on average only two minutes reading a personal statement. So pick and choose what you feel is the most relevant and unique information. Remember that you’re trying to sell them on the idea of having you join them. If it doesn’t contribute toward that end, there’s no need to include it. Harvard Business Review calls this “an elevator pitch to impress the recruiters.”

4. End With a Strong Conclusion

Your personal statement should conclude by summarizing many of the earlier points you made about why you want to be there and how you can help them. Make sure your conclusion is clear and strong. This is the final impression you’ll be able to give the reader, so you want it to be a positive one that makes them want to see more of you. Doing all this in a couple of sentences is an effective way to wrap up your personal statement.

5. Review and Refine

No personal statement will be perfect the first time you write it. Go back over what you wrote to proofread it. Check to make sure your spelling and grammar are correct. Review it to see that you’re getting your main points across. If possible, after writing your statement, let it sit for a day and come back later with some fresh eyes . In that way, you’ll be able to identify anything you might have missed.

Now that you know the basics of how to format a personal statement, review the following additional tips so that you produce the strongest, most dynamic statement possible.

  • Get feedback from friends, family, and colleagues.
  • Use active voice as much as possible.
  • Be clear and concise.
  • Avoid over-explaining.
  • Use a positive tone throughout.
  • Stay away from cliches.
  • Name your most recent achievements, not things from many years ago.
  • Choose specific examples instead of generalities.

An additional thing to note is to actually answer the questions given in the prompt. A general personal statement can still be effective, but the prompt usually tells you what exactly people will be looking for in your answer. Copying and pasting your personal statement for every application will lead to a statement that misses the mark, no matter how well-written it is. As recruiter and business manager Laura Ross writes , “If you don’t take the time to ensure your personal statement is relevant to each job application, it will appear that you’ve been a bit sloppy, or even lazy.”

Ultimately, you should never overlook the personal statement section of an application. “Take it seriously!” is the advice given by Darren Weeks, a senior recruitment partner at the Office for National Statistics. “A few lines isn’t good for a personal statement, and won’t provide the evidence needed to allow your application to be assessed fully.” Think about what you write, and give an honest, insightful response.

Note that the following is merely a personal statement example and not one you should follow word for word. This example also uses the montage structure mentioned above.

“From the moment I stepped through the doors of the first marketing agency I worked for, I’ve always believed in creating a deep connection with customers and clients. This has led to numerous successful projects over the course of my 10-year career in marketing, a pattern of success I know I can carry over to your organization.

One particular project that proved highly influential was a client-outreach program I spearheaded. Thanks to my bilingual background, I designed two different programs, thereby increasing the potential customer base and reaching more people than ever before. I was also part of a marketing team that doubled our company’s revenue while under a strict deadline with a limited budget. My planning skills were instrumental in getting that project off the ground. I also helped launch a new e-commerce branch, creating multiple opportunities to reach customers and solve their needs.

My track record as a successful marketer is one of solving problems for the companies I’ve worked for as well as the customers we have. As I continue to grow in my career, I will bring the same levels of success to your company while further refining my skills.”

Writing a personal statement helps you to gain perspective by facilitating greater long-term vision and self-understanding. In much the same way a vision statement can help an organization, having your own personal statement leads to better decision-making, clearer goals, and an overall stronger sense of self. All of these elements are necessary for success.

Establishing that vision can be a challenge, though. The following are some tips that will help you create a vision for your life.

  • Ask yourself deep questions, such as what your ideal future looks like or what problems in the world truly bother you.
  • Think about what purpose you hope to carry out in your life.
  • Focus on the details of your vision.
  • Communicate your vision to others.
  • Keep distractions away from you.
  • Gain an understanding that your vision can change and mature over time.

Creating a vision board can also help define your vision in life. For more on how to do that, read the following article:

How to Create a Vision Board That Works

Leaders Media has established sourcing guidelines and relies on relevant, and credible sources for the data, facts, and expert insights and analysis we reference. You can learn more about our mission, ethics, and how we cite sources in our editorial policy .

  • Adams, R. (2023, June 15). UK university staff only read students’ personal statements for two minutes. The Guardian . https://www.theguardian.com/education/2023/jun/15/uk-university-staff-only-read-students-personal-statements-for-two-minutes
  • Laker, B. (2022, July 26). Switching Careers? Here’s How to Write a Strong Resume. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2022/07/switching-careers-heres-how-to-write-a-strong-resume
  • Ross, Laura. “A Recruiter’s Guide To Writing A Powerful Personal Statement.” TMM Recruitment. https://www.tmmrecruitment.com/downloads/tmm_personal_statement_advice.pdf
  • Shannon, D. (n.d.). The Passion Statement: Keystone of your job search. www.linkedin.com . https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/passion-statement-keystone-your-job-search-donna-shannon/
  • Weeks, D. (n.d.). Personal Statements in recruitment – Why and How? www.linkedin.com . https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/personal-statements-recruitment-why-how-darren-weeks/
  • Whitmell, C. (2014, April 8). What makes a recruiter hate your CV? The Guardian . https://www.theguardian.com/careers/careers-blog/recruiter-hate-cv-new-job-application

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How to Start a Personal Statement

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One of the first hurdles students encounter when writing college essays is how to start a personal statement. As a core element of many applications, understanding how to write a personal statement is crucial. Learning how to write a personal statement that is an authentic representation of yourself can be challenging. However, mastering this skill will help you craft personal essays that make a lasting impact on admissions officers. 

Specific, actionable college essay tips can help you learn how to write a personal statement for college. If you spend time learning how to start a college essay, you’ll feel even more confident as you begin the process. So, let’s demystify just exactly how to start a personal statement. 

In this guide, How to Start a Personal Statement, we’ll cover everything you need to know about personal statements, including:

  • Personal statement meaning, goals, and expectations
  • Common personal statement formats
  • The importance of a hook and how to write one
  • Steps for how to start a personal statement
  • Tips for how to write a personal statement
  • How to approach the editing phase
  • Coming up with personal statement ideas
  • Examples of personal statements and how to use them

Remember, any writing process takes time. This applies whether you’re figuring out how to start a college essay or how to write a personal statement for college. No matter what approach you take, the key to how to write a great college essay is to start early! 

Now, let’s start with the basics: what is a personal statement?

What is a personal statement?

how to write a 2 page personal statement

Simply put, a personal statement is a type of college application essay. But, if you’re looking for answers to, “What is a personal statement?” you probably already know that. At its core, the personal statement should be the essay that most clearly reflects your application narrative . By reading your personal statement, colleges should gain a better understanding of who you are. That means having a clear sense of your strengths, values, and interests.

However, this doesn’t mean that your personal statement needs to capture your entire life story. In fact, often, your personal statement will likely center around just one particular moment or experience. Specifically, one that has defined your identity, passions, or personal growth. 

If you search for a personal statement meaning by school, you may find slightly varying definitions. However, all personal essays have the same goal. Personal essays show colleges your authentic voice while highlighting a part of yourself that isn’t captured elsewhere in your application. You’ll notice this if you read any example of a personal statement for college. 

Engaging in self-reflection

To understand the personal statement meaning in the simplest terms, think of two words: self-reflection . Identifying pivotal life moments, values, and skills are all a part of how to write a great college essay. However, the process of how to write a personal statement for college takes more than just describing an experience. Instead, it forces you to find the balance between contextualizing what happened and expressing how it impacted you.

Successful personal essays will generally do two things. One, they’ll capture the meaning of your past experiences, specifically the ways you were changed and the lessons you learned. Two, they’ll connect your past experiences to your current and future goals. For many students, college applications are the first time they’ve been asked to write about themselves. So, the process of making these personal connections may seem daunting.

Preparing for the future

Knowing exactly what is a personal statement and how to write a personal statement can also help you in other facets of life. For example, consider the overlap between the college application process and the job application process. When applying to jobs, you need to highlight pertinent skills, values, and beliefs—just like in a college application essay. You can even use the skills and principles for writing a personal statement to write a cover letter (with certain nuances, of course).

For more information on the personal statement meaning, check out the application/essay page for schools on your college list. Their advice and resources can help students understand exactly what’s expected from them in these types of essays. And, many colleges will even provide their own tips for how to write a great college essay. They might also provide an example of a personal statement for college. 

We’ve answered the question, “What is a personal statement?” So, now, let’s get into the personal statement format.

Personal statement format

how to write a 2 page personal statement

When learning how to write a personal statement, you’ll encounter some different personal statement formats. While there is no singular or “best” personal statement format, most personal essays share a few key attributes. So, understanding these key features can greatly help students learning how to write a great college essay.

Many students’ personal statements tell stories. In fact, discovering these important stories forms a key component of how to start a college essay. Much of the work that goes into discovering how to write a personal statement starts before you even begin writing. (We’ll discuss brainstorming ideas in a later section of this guide.)

Before we dive into how to start a personal statement, we need to pinpoint the starting point for your personal statements: the prompts.

Common/Coalition Application Personal Statement

In many cases, the personal statement refers to the Common App essay or Coalition Application essay. While there are some differences between the two application portals, both follow the same personal statement format. Students will choose from a selection of college essay prompts and write an essay (650 words max). Then, they will submit that essay to every school they apply to via that particular portal. In these cases, the process of how to start a college essay begins with reading through the provided prompts.

Learning how to write a personal statement for college includes learning how to choose the best prompt for you. The personal statement topic you ultimately choose is extremely important; your topic is essentially the soul of your essay. You’d be hard-pressed to find a well-written example of a personal statement for college that wasn’t based on an impactful topic. 

The Common App essay

Let’s take a closer look at how to start a college essay for the Common App. In the Common App, students have seven college essay prompts to choose from. Each of these college essay prompts allows students to share important anecdotes from their lives. Most of these college essay prompts ask specific questions, however, the seventh prompt is slightly different. Prompt #7 actually allows students to choose any topic for their essay.

10 Exceptional Common App Essay Examples

The coalition app essay.

The Coalition Application offers a similar personal statement format. Prompt #6 also asks students to submit an essay on any topic. You might think that responding to such an open-ended prompt would change your approach for how to write a great college essay. However, you can still use the college essay tips provided in this guide, no matter what prompt you decide to respond to.

The Common App and the Coalition Application are the most common personal statement formats you’ll encounter. However, some schools have their own unique personal statement format and requirements.

Coalition Essay Prompts 2023-24

Other personal statements

The method you take when figuring out how to write a personal statement will largely depend on your personal statement prompt. However, a personal statement for college isn’t always based on specific college essay prompts. You might simply be asked to share more about yourself. However, even if your personal statement format doesn’t directly ask you for a particular narrative, your essay still needs a focus. So, you should still aim to have your personal statement tell a story about some critical aspect of your identity. 

That being said, always double-check the specific personal statement format and requirements for each program you apply to. For instance, if you apply to universities in the UK, the UCAS personal statement is far different from other personal essays. Namely, these personal statements focus almost entirely on academics. 

When considering how to start a personal statement, look to admissions websites or university blogs for advice. Often, they’ll have a page dedicated to helpful college essay tips with insight into what they look for from students’ personal essays. For example, check out this blog from UChicago that provides tips on how to approach their quirky prompts. Additionally, check out this personal statement webinar in which an admissions officer shares helpful college essay tips. 

Now, let’s define an important attribute of how to start a personal statement: the hook.

How to start a personal statement: Understanding the “hook”

how to start a personal statement

It’s impossible to learn how to start a personal statement or how to write a personal statement that “wows” without a hook. A hook is an opening statement that catches the reader’s attention. It draws them in and makes them want to keep reading to see how the story unfolds. In personal essays, the hook is key to getting your reader invested in your story. 

But, if the idea of coming up with a compelling hook intimidates you, don’t panic! The hook isn’t necessarily the step you need to start with when learning how to start a college essay. That being said, it forms a crucial component of the personal statement introduction. You’ll notice that almost every successful example of personal statement for college has an engaging hook.

Let’s check out some hooks that impressed to help give you a better idea of how to start a personal statement.

College Personal Statement Examples

Example of personal statement for college: hook #1.

My life is as simple as a Rubik’s Cube: a child’s toy that can be solved in 20 moves or less IF and only if enough knowledge is gained.

In this personal statement introduction, this student intrigues the reader by comparing their life to a toy. Simply by reading this hook, we can see this student’s self-reflection as well as their creativity. And, most importantly, we’re intrigued to see the connection of how and why this person is fascinated by a Rubik’s cube. In this example, the Rubik’s cube is both unique and genuinely important to the writer. Moreover, by the end of the essay, we gain some valuable insight into how this person navigates the world. And, it all started with this hook. 

Example of Personal Statement for College: Hook #2

When I joined the high school swim team, I never expected to go to school dressed as Shrek.

After reading this hook, you’re probably left with more questions than answers. “What does having to be on the swim team have to do with dressing up as Shrek?” We don’t know yet! And, that’s the point. This surprising hook has the reader curious about the connection the writer will make. However, when figuring out how to start a personal statement, don’t go overboard with the shock factor. Keep in mind that personal essays can’t come from wild statements alone. Rather, they need to connect to a meaningful moment in the writer’s life. 

Example of Personal Statement for College: Hook #3

At six years old, most kids I know get excited to help Blue find clues or recite Elmo’s songs on Sesame Street. So you can imagine my family’s surprise when they saw me ignoring the other kids to go belt alongside my grandfather’s mariachi trio in the backyard.

Your hook doesn’t have to be just one sentence. Rather, it might be a couple of sentences or even the first paragraph, like in this example. Keep in mind that there are no definitive rules to how to start a personal statement—other than sharing important information about yourself that will stand out to admissions officers.

Students who want to master how to write a personal statement need to learn how to craft an engaging hook. This particular hook shows how the writer is different from their peers. As the reader, we can learn a lot from just these few sentences. We already know that this writer isn’t afraid to be themselves and do what they love from a young age. This college application essay gets into much deeper themes as the narrative continues. However, the most important part of the personal statement introduction—the hook—has already done its job of pulling the reader in to learn more. 

Using these examples

These are just a few successful hooks that students have used in their approach to how to start a personal statement. Each of these comes from a strong example of a personal statement for college. As you can see from each example of a personal statement for college, the best personal statement topics are unique. However, even the most quirky hooks always lead the reader into an essay of substance.

Use each example of personal statement for college to help inspire your “how to write a personal statement” journey. When considering how to write a great college essay, analyzing examples of what works can help. 

Want to see how others figured out how to start a personal statement? Check out these personal statement examples as well as these Common App essay examples for inspiration.

When to write your hook

Having a hook is a crucial part of how to write a personal statement that impresses. However, coming up with your hook won’t necessarily form the first step in your process. Just as there’s no one right way of how to write a personal statement, there’s no one right way to write a hook. 

When considering how to start a personal statement, you don’t need to dive into the hook right away. You may even write a whole draft of your essay before figuring out the best hook for your personal statement introduction. 

So, if a hook doesn’t jump to your brain as you consider personal statement ideas, just start writing! Sometimes, it’s best to write a straightforward beginning (maybe even dry!) and then work your way backward. Remember, it doesn’t matter when you come up with it. Just be sure to add that sparkly hook to your personal statement before submitting your final draft.

Do all colleges require a personal statement?

how to start a personal statement

It’s more than likely that you will need to know how to write a personal statement during the college application process. However, not every college requires a personal statement—though most top schools do. 

So, before stressing about how to start a college essay, check the requirements of the schools on your college list . However, keep in mind that most of the nation’s top schools require applicants to submit a personal statement for college.

Additionally, you might want to adjust your personal statement for different programs. You’ll still submit the same personal statement for college for each school you apply to through the Common App. However, other specialized programs and applications might request a slightly different personal statement format. So, always check the admissions requirements and do your research on every school and each individual program. Your approach to how to start a college essay will depend on each program’s prompts and formats. You can also always look at an example of a personal statement for college for inspiration. 

33 Colleges Without Supplemental Essays

Do colleges care about the personal statement? 

A strong college application essay is extremely important in the admissions process. So, put simply, yes—colleges really do care about the personal statement. Understanding how to start a personal statement means understanding the weight that it carries. Of course, you shouldn’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the process. Rather, try to feel excited by the opportunity to truly show off your personality, skills, background, future goals, and more.

That being said, the extent to which your personal statement impacts your admissions decision will likely vary by school. For instance, some larger state schools may focus foremost on your grades or standardized test scores (due to the fact that they receive such a large volume of applicants and have more spaces available). While these schools will still care about your personal statement, other factors may have a more immediate impact on their admissions decisions. 

On the other hand, top universities with smaller enrollments often place a considerable amount of emphasis on the personal statement. These schools receive more qualified applicants than the places they have available. Your personal statement lets you highlight what makes you unique and how you’ll enrich their campus community. 

How to write a personal statement – Step-by-step guide

A successful personal statement for college will read as passionate and authentic. You’ll notice this in each example of personal statement for college that you read. But how exactly do you write a passionate and authentic essay?

To begin, you’ll likely brainstorm personal statement ideas and decide on your personal statement topic.  However, understanding how to write a personal statement will require more than simply knowing how to start a personal statement. And remember, you can always check out an example of a personal essay for college if you’re feeling stuck. 

How to write a personal statement isn’t a strict process—as seen in this personal statement webinar about rethinking your essay . However, you should follow certain key steps as you craft your essays. Following each step, and allotting yourself sufficient time to do so, will make the writing process all the better. (Tips about staying on track are just as important as the best college essay tips about writing!)

Next, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of how to write a personal statement. This includes brainstorming personal statement ideas, exploring personal statement topics, and reviewing and submitting your personal essays.

Ready to learn just how to write a personal statement? Let’s get started!

How to start a personal statement – First steps

how to start a personal statement

Now, let’s dive into how to start a personal statement. The first steps to how to start a personal statement can be broken down into two parts:

During these steps, you’ll generate personal statement ideas and select your personal statement topics. Without a strong topic, you’ll struggle to write a genuine essay. So, let’s talk about how to generate an essay topic that highlights your passion. 

Step 1: Brainstorm

How to start a personal statement begins with brainstorming a list of ideas. Each stellar example of a personal statement for college likely came from a brainstorming session. But, why is brainstorming so important? 

While some personal statement requirements won’t provide specific prompts for applicants, many will, including the Common App essay. So, you should make sure to choose a great topic that directly answers the prompt. 

Let’s check out some brainstorming exercises that can help you get the great ideas flowing. 

The best way to choose a great topic for a personal statement for college is through your passions. If you’re stuck when it comes to pinpointing your passions, try answering this question: If you were going to host a TED talk, what would it be and why? We all know that TED talks are addicting—that’s because they’re engaging. And they’re engaging because the hosts are talking about their passions. 

So, think about something you would be excited to spend 30-40 minutes discussing in front of an audience. What would you say about it? You might find using voice notes and recording yourself is easier than writing out your ideas. For some students, talking about something may feel easier than immediately putting pen to paper. 

If a TED talk doesn’t get your creative juices flowing, try a classic essay brainstorming method: mind maps. You’ve likely done mind maps in your high school English class. But for those who haven’t, let’s break down the process. 

First, take the prompt for your essay. For instance, maybe it asks about a challenge you’ve faced. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write the prompt on a sheet of paper. Then, next to the prompt, start writing every experience you’ve had that relates to the prompt. This is not the time to get into the details—just focus on potential topics. Even if you’re not sure if something is a perfect fit, include it! At this stage, all ideas are fair game. Later, you can narrow them down to find the topic that you have the most to write about. 

Defining values

Another useful brainstorming exercise for a college application essay, especially when it comes to how to start a personal statement, has to do with defining your values. Most successful personal essays center around a value that students have. Think about the values that are most important to you (loyalty, kindness, empathy, honesty, etc.). Then, create a list of 4-6 values. After that, for each of your values, come up with a list of experiences that reflect them. You can even set a timer for each value. 

Alternatively, you might work backward by coming up with a list of experiences that you find were the most impactful in your life. From these experiences, you can identify values that they instilled or that you embodied. Make sure to focus on an experience that highlights something critical about who you are as a person, student, or community member. You might also consider doing this same activity for qualities or skills depending on the essay prompt. 

Step 2: Free-write

how to start a personal statement

Once you have your topic, it’s time to flex your writing muscles. Don’t feel constrained by the word count at this stage. In fact, forget about a hook, a conclusion, and other literary details. Now is just the time to get your ideas on paper stress-free. 

Struggling with Step 2 in how to start a personal statement? You might benefit from doing a timed free write. Set a timer for 20 minutes and don’t stop writing about the topic until the time is up. Don’t stress about writing the perfect sentence or having the right flow–just keep writing on the topic at hand. You may want to do this step a couple of times if you’re still deciding on the best prompt to respond to. You won’t always find the perfect personal essay topic on the first try, and that’s okay.

However, keep in mind that some topics may read as inappropriate or cliché. If you end up choosing an overused essay topic, you may struggle to come up with a unique angle. (But that doesn’t mean these topics are entirely off-limits!) However, you should not talk about illegal or illicit behavior and never use explicit language. 

While you have free range to pick an essay topic, there are certain errors you can make. Make sure you don’t join the club of students who missed the mark with their personal essays. Learn from this personal statement webinar reviewing common mistakes that students make in their personal essays. Then, you’ll know what to avoid when deciding how to start a personal statement.

How to start a personal statement – Writing & editing

how to start a personal statement

You’ve gotten some answers to the question “what is a personal statement?” and learned how to start a personal statement. Now, it’s time to start a draft. 

For some students, figuring out how to start a college essay is the most stressful part of writing their personal essays. Indeed, you may have to write four to six drafts of your college application essay before you’ve written a personal statement for college that makes you feel proud. 

This is why our top piece of advice for how to write a great college essay is to start early. If you start early, you’ll have plenty of time to learn how to write a personal statement. You’ll also have the flexibility to write multiple drafts of your personal essays. Additionally, you’ll be able to read an example of a personal statement for college. 

Time also allows you the freedom to try out multiple personal statement topics. That way, you can find the personal statement format that makes for a powerful college application essay.

In this section, we’ll provide some college essay tips for outlining your personal statement, an important step for how to start a personal statement.

One idea for how to start a college essay is to draft an outline. An outline is simply a list of the ideas that will go into each part of your essay. You can format your outline in any way that makes sense for you. 

By outlining, you can remove some of the pressure around how to start a personal statement. Instead of putting pen to paper to write a whole essay , you just have to jot down what order you want your ideas to go in. Think of an outline as a sketch of a picture you want to draw. Once you have that sketch, drawing the rest of the picture is usually easier.

However, outlining is not for everyone. Some students find outlining stressful, limiting, or confusing. If you’d rather jump into writing your personal statement on a blank page, do so. At the end of the day, when figuring out how to start a personal statement, you should follow the writing process that works best for you.  

Drafting Your College Essay

Regardless of whether you choose to outline your ideas, here are some tips for how to start a college essay draft:

Find a beginning, middle, and end to your story.

As we’ve shared, a strong personal statement for college tells a story about who you are and demonstrates what you would bring to a college campus. 

To write a strong example of a personal statement for college, you must have a beginning, middle, and end. By this, we mean that your essay should introduce and build upon ideas until they lead to some kind of resolution usually related to your personal growth. Think about your favorite book or movie – how did the story develop and resolve itself? Make sure your personal essays do the same.

Develop your hook.

The key to how to start a personal statement is with a hook. As we shared above, a hook is an engaging personal statement introduction that catches the reader’s attention. In your outline, consider adding some ideas for potential hooks. 

A hook can include, but is not limited to, any of the following types of opening sentences:

  • A piece of dialogue (i.e. “Do you remember the summer we went to Turkey?” said my mother.)
  • A description of a scene (i.e., The Alaskan lake was warm that summer, the sun gleaming off its gentle ripples.)
  • A thought-provoking question (i.e., What makes a house feel like a home?)
  • A relevant and powerful quote (i.e., When Steve Jobs said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking back,” he gave words to a struggle I have long faced.) 
  • An unexpected thought (i.e., I am the fourth of eleven children in my family and the first one to dream of going to college.)

Each of the above personal statement introductions is unique and original. Additionally, all of these hooks make the reader wonder what else is coming in the essay. Indeed, each of these hooks is a great idea for how to start a college essay. 

When thinking about how to start a college essay, avoid using cliché or generic personal statement introductions. In general, don’t directly answer college essay prompts like “A challenge I have faced is…”. These types of personal statement introductions are so common that they tend to lose the reader’s attention quickly.

Jot down details.

After identifying a hook, begin telling your story. In your outline, include any details that make your story unique. While some students assume that personal statement topics must be very rare or ground-breaking, in most cases the details are what set essays apart. 

What do you remember that can help the reader experience your story vividly? How can you evoke their senses or emotions in a way that makes them feel and remember your story? Keeping these questions in mind will unlock many tools for how to write a great college essay.

Identify reflections.

Stories are powerful not only for how they make us feel but for what they teach us. When you jot down your outline, consider what reflections or lessons you have to share. Why does your story matter? What does it demonstrate about who you are? 

Your essay should be descriptive and show us what you were experiencing. However, you can also include a few lines that tell the reader what you want them to take away. Usually, these reflections come towards the end of the essay, but they can also be sprinkled throughout. 

How to Write a Personal Statement – Polish and Revise 

how to start a personal statement

Now that you’ve learned how to start a personal statement, let’s discuss what some consider to be the most critical part of writing an essay – revising. Polishing and revising an essay are the keys for how to write a great college essay. When you look at an example of a personal statement for college, remember that the student probably spent many hours revising that essay.

When revising your personal essays, avoid getting frustrated by how long the process takes. The key for how to write a personal statement without getting too overwhelmed is to be gentle and compassionate with yourself. Just like living your story takes time, energy, and resilience, so does writing your story in a college application essay. Rather than getting frustrated, celebrate how much you have learned about how to start a college essay.

In the next section, we’ll dive deeper into college essay tips for revising your personal essays. 

Step 4: Revise

how to write a 2 page personal statement

If you’re wondering how to write a personal statement for college, you’re probably also wondering how to revise one. Revision is the process during which you review what you have written for errors and to check whether the ideas make sense. You might also revise to find ways to shorten your essay if it is too long or expand on ideas that you didn’t fully flesh out. 

Here are some college essay tips for revision:

College Essay Revision Tips

1. take breaks.

After you write your first draft, step away from it for at least 24 hours. When we spend a long time working on a piece of writing, sometimes our brains find it hard to focus. Stepping away will give you time to let your brain rest and return to it with fresh eyes.

We also recommend taking breaks whenever you feel stuck, a condition sometimes called writer’s block. While you might feel that pushing through is the best option, stepping away for a glass of water or a stretch can rejuvenate your body and give new energy to your mind as well. Taking care of yourself is actually one of the keys for how to write a personal statement that represents your best work. 

2. Make a revision checklist

Create a list of items to look for as you revise. That way, you won’t miss anything. Here are some ideas for what how to start a personal statement revision checklist:

  • Structure/flow – Does the structure of my essay support its meaning? A structure can refer to the length of paragraphs, the order of ideas, or the format. Maybe your essay has a lot of dialogue, but now you have realized the dialogue is distracting. 
  • Repetitive language – Do you use the same words or phrases over and over again? While you may have fallen into repetition when figuring out how to start a personal statement, try varying vocabulary or rephrasing sentence structure to keep the reader interested.
  • Spelling/grammar/syntax – Run your essay through an app like Grammarly and always use spell check. Look for ways to remove unnecessary words or shorten sentences. Generally, the fewer words you use to express an idea, the easier it will be for the reader to understand.
  • Narrative voice – This refers to the voice you use to tell your story. Is it very informal? Do you sound like you are texting with friends? One of the keys for how to write a personal statement is to use your own voice while still remembering that you are speaking to a college admissions officer. As experts in how to write a great college essay know, avoid slang and spell out contractions for added formality.

3. Read your essay aloud

Reading your essay out loud can help you find mistakes. Even more importantly, it can also help you feel if the essay captures your voice. When you read it out loud, does your essay sound like you? Are there words in your essay that you would never use in real life? These questions can help you determine if you need to adjust the narrative voice of your essay. After all, admissions officers want to hear what you sound like, not a parent or friend.

4. Get help

Whether you’re stuck on how to write a personal statement or not, it’s always a good idea to get another set of eyes on your essay. Just be careful who you select. Make sure you are asking someone who knows how to write a personal statement and can give you the right kind of feedback. 

Also, consider asking both someone who knows you well and someone who does not know you well. The person who knows you well, like a teacher, parent, counselor, or college advisor (like our team of experts at CollegeAdvisor) can make sure your voice comes across. A person who does not know you well can provide input from an outsider’s perspective. Ultimately, when you submit your college essay, you will be sending it to someone who has never met you. As such, it should make sense to people who don’t know you as well.

5. Don’t be afraid to start over

Sometimes, during the revision process, you may realize that your topic doesn’t work for you. Perhaps you realize that you were so worried about how to start a personal statement that you chose a topic you thought others wanted to read instead of one that really resonates with you. Or, maybe you just thought of a new idea for how to start a personal statement that you like a lot better. It is totally normal to redraft entire paragraphs or simply throw out the essay and start over . Even though it may seem like you have wasted time, you were learning throughout the entire process about how to write a personal statement. 

Starting over might be the best approach for you and allow you to write an essay that feels more authentic . However, do not simply start over because you are being hyper-critical of yourself. Focus as much on what you like about your essay as the parts that you do not. Do not let perfectionism cause you to throw away a perfectly good essay.

On average, students learning how to write a great college essay need to write four to six drafts until they are ready to submit. However, if you have done your research on how to write a personal statement, it may take you less. After six drafts, ask yourself if you really need to keep working on the essay, or if you are letting perfectionism get the best of you. Remember, no essay is perfect. As long as your personal statement reflects your true voice and shares a compelling story about how you became who you are, you’re likely ready to submit it.

In the next section, we will dive deeper into the final steps for how to write a great college essay that you should take before hitting submit.

Step 5: Final Review & Submit

how to start a personal statement

Congratulations! You’re almost ready to submit your personal statement for college. You’ve learned how to write a personal statement, brainstormed and drafted one, and revised it. Before you hit submit, here is a final checklist of questions to ask yourself: 

1. Did I answer the prompt fully?

Just like you plug your answer back into a math equation to see if it works, plug your essay back into the prompt. Make sure each part of the question is being answered.

2. Did I meet the word or character count?

While it is okay to be a bit under the word count, as long as you answer the question fully, going over the word count will usually mean you cannot submit your essay. 

3. Does my essay paste neatly into the application?

Before pasting your essay into the online application, we recommend pasting your essay into a Word document or Google document. Make sure to remove any formatting like bolding, italics, or comments. Left-align your essay so that it is easy to read. And, double check that spacing between sentences and paragraphs is uniform. 

While these might seem like small details, they all add to the impression you make upon admissions officers about how prepared you might be to attend their school.  Take advantage of the option to download the PDF summary of your application, if it exists, to ensure everything looks neat before you submit it.

If you can answer all these questions with a yes, you’re probably ready to submit your essay. Now, you can teach others how to write a personal statement, too. 

How to start a personal statement

At this point, you have reviewed all the steps for how to write a personal statement for college. We’d like to remind you of some important parts of this process that will help ease any stress related to writing your college essays.

First, try brainstorming first. Writing a college essay is a lot different than most academic writing you’ll have done, and it’s natural to face some writer’s block. By taking advantage of brainstorming exercises, you can get used to the idea of writing about yourself in a low-pressure environment. Some students want to skip brainstorming because they find this step unnecessary or a waste of time. 

In fact, brainstorming can help you write your essay faster because your personal statement ideas will already be on paper. Brainstorming can also help you avoid writing an essay and then realizing you do not like your topic, leading to you having to write a whole new draft.

Another key point in how to start a personal statement is to write a good “hook.” However, this doesn’t need to be the first thing that you write as you begin the drafting process. Just like writing a title sometimes is easier after you have written a paper, it can be easier to find your hook after you have fleshed out other parts of your essay.

Starting early

Regardless of what approach you take, remember that the most important piece of advice for how to start a personal statement is to start early. If you begin the process early, you’ll have time to learn about personal statement format and personal statement meaning, brainstorm essay ideas, watch personal statement webinars, and review sample essays. All of these steps will help you learn how to write a personal statement that is strong and clear.

Below, we’ll help you learn more about how to start a personal statement by providing brainstorming exercises to come up with personal statement ideas.

Generating personal statement ideas

how to start a personal statement

The first question many students ask when learning how to start a personal statement is how to come up with personal statement ideas. As we have mentioned, brainstorming forms a key part of this process.

Importantly, there are many ways to brainstorm. So, even if you think you do not like to brainstorm, consider revising these brainstorming methods. One of them might open up ideas for how to start your personal statement that you had never considered.

One important note is that you do not have to use college essay prompts as the starting point for your brainstorming process. While they can certainly jog your thinking, sometimes they can also limit your creativity. Since most of the Common App and Coalition App prompts are open-ended, you can usually turn most ideas into a great response to college essay prompts.

Keep reading for activities that can help you brainstorm your personal statement for college. 

Here are some ideas for brainstorming personal statement topics:

Brainstorming Activities

1. make a timeline of important life events.

Students who ask “what is a personal statement?” are often concerned that they have to tell their entire life story in 650 words. While this is not true, your personal statement should highlight key life events. A life event can include a big change, an accomplishment, or a time of deep personal growth. 

For this activity, consider making a timeline of important life events. Do so without judgment or filtering. No event is too small to include. After you have completed your timeline, consider if any event is one that you want to share in your college application essay. One of these events might be a great hook for your personal statement introduction and give you ideas for how to start a personal statement.

2. Make lists

Lists are an excellent way to brainstorm personal statement topics. Try making lists of accomplishments, challenges you have faced, people who have taught you important life lessons, values, fears, hobbies, or mistakes you have made. Remember that it is perfectly fine to talk about times when you feel you failed or made mistakes if you can show how you learned and grew from the experience.

3. Ask trusted people for ideas

Brainstorming does not have to happen alone. Ask friends, family, mentors, teachers, classmates, or others who know you well to tell you what your most important character traits are. You’d be surprised what people will share. Perhaps one of your friends sees you as adventurous because you like to take new routes to school every day, and you had never considered that to be a noteworthy trait of yours. This feedback could be the inspiration you need for how to start a personal statement.

4. Free-write

Rather than trying to find an idea, allow yourself the freedom to free-write. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write without stopping. Write a response to any of the following questions :

  • What matters to you?
  • What do you want others to know about you?
  • What is the hardest thing you have ever gone through? How did you get through it?
  • What brings you joy?
  • How have you grown or changed in the past few years?

If you feel at a loss for words, write “I don’t know” over and over until a new idea pops into your head. The idea is to allow your brain to flow without restriction or pressure. Do not judge what you write, just allow it to be. When you have completed your free-write, look through what you wrote looking for meaningful stories or learnings you might want to share.

Undoubtedly, these are just a few ideas for how to start a personal statement and find a good personal statement introduction. If none of these work, do not despair. Instead, try a different route for coming up with personal statement topics. For instance, you may try reading an example of a personal statement for college or checking out this personal statement webinar. 

In the next section, we’ll discuss how to use sample essays when figuring out how to write a personal statement.

Using personal statement examples

how to start a personal statement

When looking for answers to questions like “What is a personal statement?” or “How to start a personal statement?” college application essay examples can be very helpful. In this section, we’ll look at how to write a personal statement for college and identify college essay tips with the help of sample essays .

Sample Personal Essays

In this article , we review ten essays that provide ideas for how to start a personal statement. Whether writing about books or gymnastics, each example of a personal statement for college highlights a unique important aspect of a student’s life. In addition, each student provides meaningful insights into how their thinking developed over time.

How to Write a Personal Statement: 5 Personal Statement Examples

Check out this resource to see five excellent responses to the Common App college essay prompts. Note how each essay has a unique hook that captures the reader’s attention.

College Essay Examples: 10 Best Examples of College Essays and Why They Worked

Wondering how a personal statement format impacts the essay’s meaning? This essay compilation answers that question and much more, providing college essay tips based on what worked in these personal essays.

How to Analyze an Example of a Personal Statement for College

If you’re looking for ideas on how to start a personal statement, then reading sample essays is an excellent idea. However, be careful not to copy others’ work. In this section, we’ll discuss how to use these samples when you develop your own personal statement meaning and personal statement format.

First, be authentic. While it is important to find inspiration in others’ work, copying topics or phrases is dangerous. At best, it will come across as disingenuous to admissions officers, who read thousands of essays. At worst, it can get you into serious trouble. 

Instead, use these samples to learn about how to write a personal statement. As you read them, ask yourself questions such as:

  • Why did the writer choose this topic?
  • How does the first sentence of the essay engage the reader?
  • What structure does the personal statement use?
  • How does this personal statement format add to the essay’s intrigue?
  • What does this essay teach us about the writer?
  • In what ways might this essay be an expression of the writer’s personal brand ?

Take notes as you read each example of a personal statement for college. In your notes, identify general thoughts regarding the questions “What is a personal statement?” and “How to start a college essay?” If you can answer these questions fully after reading sample essays, you’re on your way to acing your college essay.

How to Start a Personal Statement: Final Thoughts

With this article, we answered the question: “What is a personal statement?” By breaking the personal statement meaning, we found tips for approaching many kinds of college essay prompts. We also identified why personal statement meaning is important to colleges and how to write a great college essay that will help your application shine.

Even skilled writers struggle with how to write a personal statement. Personal essays are difficult not only because they require a certain level of vulnerability , but also because the personal statement format is not something we use often in our day-to-day lives. For that reason, it is difficult to know how to start a college essay.

Throughout this guide, we provided resources like personal statement webinars and sample essays. We also highlighted how to use an example of a personal statement for college in your own process. Within these samples, you’ll find lots of ideas for how to start a personal statement.

Whenever you feel overwhelmed by thinking about how to start a personal statement, remember that you are not alone. Our team can provide you with additional insights and individualized coaching about how to write a personal statement for college. With support, you will be able to express who you are and ace your personal statement. Good luck!

how to start a personal statement

This article was written by Sarah Kaminski and senior advisor, Courtney Ng . Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.

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How to Write a Top MBA Personal Statement (With Examples)

how to write an mba personal statement with examples

Working on your MBA application? You aren’t alone. In 2021, over 200,000 students graduated with an MBA degree making it the number one choice for graduate students for the 10th year in a row. And there’s good reason for this. According to the National Center for Education Statistics , post-MBA, grads can earn significantly more at work—experts estimate an additional $20,000 each year depending on the industry. 

During the application process, you’ll want to stand out. A well-crafted personal statement will help distinguish you from other applicants. It serves as a powerful tool to showcase your unique experiences, skills, and aspirations to admissions committees. To make a lasting impression, tailor your personal statement to each MBA program you’re applying to, highlighting how your background aligns with their values and goals. For additional support, keep reading for some MBA personal statement examples and guidance. 

Understanding the Foundations – Word Count, Templates, and Pricing

When you start your personal statement, keep the word count in mind. Make sure to write your statement succinctly. Templates can give crucial structure to a first draft and make sure you hit necessary points. Finally: is it worth it to hire a professional proofreader? We break down the pros and cons. 

Word Count Considerations

A well-written personal statement is often the deciding factor in the business school admissions process. Conveying your thoughts concisely is a crucial skill in the business world, and future peers will be grateful for your brevity.

One strategy is to start with a longer draft and edit it down when revising. Remove unnecessary details and tighten wordy language. Focus on improving the quality of your content over meeting the maximum word count. 

Templates as a Starting Point

Templates can help to organize your thoughts. Use them to provide structure and give your writing direction. By planning ahead, you can decide how much space you want to dedicate to each element—this can also help you meet the word count.

Remember: popular templates are popular for a reason, and following them too strictly can make your statement feel rigid and unoriginal. To avoid that pitfall, personalization is key. Your individual experiences, goals, and perspectives are all unique. What would a Master’s in Business Administration mean to you? Don’t be afraid to customize any template to fit your voice. 

Professional Proofreading

Graduate schools know what a well-written personal statement looks like—and so do professional proofreaders. Experts can help catch small grammatical errors and improve clarity in your writing. It can be challenging to review personal writing from an objective standpoint. A good proofreader will streamline your writing and ensure overall coherence, improving your odds with your preferred school of business. 

Unfortunately, this can be expensive. Pricing for these services can easily cost hundreds of dollars. If hiring one isn’t in the budget, here are some alternatives: 

  • Find writing groups online or in person. Not only will you receive feedback, you’ll get a better idea of what other personal statements look like. Be prepared to help edit other statements.
  • Reach out to peers and mentors. Turn to people who know your voice and can tell when your writing is authentic. Make sure they aren’t afraid to give negative feedback.
  • Utilize free online resources. Writing tools like Grammarly or Hemingway help check grammar and sentence structure. They won’t help with essay format and aren’t infallible; double-check any changes they might suggest.
  • Read your statement out loud. This can help make sure your statement has a good rhythm and flows naturally.
  • Take breaks. Be your own set of fresh eyes. When you’re in the thick of writing, you might glaze over easy-to-spot details while you’re thinking of the big picture. Allow yourself to recharge and clear your head before you get back to it. 

proofreading mba personal statement

Tailoring Your Personal Statement to Top MBA Programs

Make sure to personalize your essays to specific MBA programs . Include details about specific classes and faculty, unique opportunities, and the strengths that make this program stand out. 

Then, tie yourself into the narrative. What role would you fill as a graduate student or an alumnus? Consider your own strengths and where they align with this specific program. What career goals could this opportunity help you achieve? 

Remember to mention your soft skills and other details that may not show up elsewhere on your application. Finally, shine a spotlight on your unique contributions in past roles. 

Write a Captivating Introduction

A beautiful personal statement will be overlooked unless the introduction captivates the audience. You can begin with compelling anecdotes, personal stories, or influential quotes. Tie this introduction into your reason for pursuing an MBA. Make the reader care before launching into your achievements. Then, clearly state why you’re pursuing an MBA. Example: “From the dynamic intersections of global markets to the intricate strategies driving corporate success, the realm of business has always beckoned to me as a realm of boundless opportunity and perpetual evolution..” 

Discuss Academic and Professional Background

Now it’s time to discuss what you’re bringing to the table. It’s okay to brag! Think about any key achievements or acquired skills that are transferable to an MBA program. What motivated you to apply? Example : “As a project manager at XYZ Corp, I navigated intricate challenges, demonstrating resilience and strategic thinking – skills I am eager to refine in a top-tier MBA program.” 

Answer the Questions: Why an MBA? Why Now? 

What does an MBA mean for your career goals ? Break down your short and long-term goals to answer this essay question. How do the skills you gain from earning an MBA connect to your plan? Research the program you’re applying for and use examples from the curriculum. Example : “My immediate goal is to transition from project management to strategic consulting, and Crummer’s MBA program’s focus on experiential learning and global business strategy perfectly complements my aspirations.” 

Emphasize Soft Skills

Think about moments you demonstrated personal growth or teamwork. Are there any moments you stepped up to lead a project or team? Your past experiences will influence your habits in a graduate school setting. Example :  “Leading a cross-functional team on a high-stakes project not only honed my leadership skills but also taught me the importance of collaborative problem-solving, a cornerstone of Crummer’s MBA program. “

Spotlight Unique Contributions

What sets you apart from other applicants? Moreover, what impact will your unique perspective bring to the MBA cohort? Explain how your background will enrich the learning environment. Detail personal qualities and experiences that showcase your value. 

how to make an mba personal statement engaging

Key Elements for a Powerful Personal Statement

Take a holistic approach to strike the right chord in your personal statement. Give admissions committees a more concrete impression of you. Weave in your qualifications, experiences, and aspirations. Don’t just mention your professional achievements—detail all of your positive qualities. 

Showcase Work Experience 

Be strategic when discussing your real-world work experience. If you can, including measurable results is a great way to show your professional impact. Earnings numbers, statistics, and other metrics will show off your professional experiences. 

Articulate Career Goals and Aspirations

When discussing career goals for an MBA application, detail your short and long-term objectives clearly. Ambiguity can weaken your statement’s impact. Whether you’re joining a family business, starting your own business, or looking to go abroad for international business you should discuss how you see yourself navigating the business world. Connect these career aspirations to the MBA program. 

Incorporate Extracurricular and Real-World Experiences

Touch on any extracurricular experiences like internships or entrepreneurship. Explain how these real-world experiences impacted your analytical skills, business acumen, and decision-making. If you’re an entrepreneur, touch on your journey or discuss the vision for your next startup. 

You can also talk about moments where you demonstrated leadership and communication skills. Teamwork is critical to business leaders. Reflect on your leadership experience—the successes you’ve won and the lessons you learned. 

writing an mba personal statement internships

Maintain Authenticity

Write authentically. Admissions officers want genuine stories. Give readers a reason to empathize with you. Overly formal and generic language can depersonalize your statement and keep readers at arm’s length. 

Also, use conversational language. If something sounds clunky or unnatural, it probably also reads that way. Plus, the way you speak naturally showcases your personality. While you should always use proper grammar, don’t suck the life out of your statement in the name of sounding more “academic.” Use this opportunity to demonstrate your communication skills. 

Navigating Common Challenges

Crafting your personal statements can be challenging! Let’s answer some FAQs. 

How Do I Balance the Personal and Professional Aspects?

Be intentional about what you choose to mention from your personal life. Use elements that either contrast or emphasize your professional experience. How does your background influence your business philosophy? Make sure to keep a professional tone and align your statement with the admissions committee’s expectations and be prepared for any questions the interviewer could ask.

How Do I Handle Sensitive Topics?

If you’re writing about a sensitive topic, do so thoughtfully. You don’t know what type of people will be reading your statement, so be considerate and intentional about any details you choose to share. 

However, your application essay should be a reflection of you. Sensitive subjects often play a major role in personal growth and development. Discuss what you learned from this challenging experience and how it influenced you. 

How Do I Make My Writing Stand Out? 

We’ve touched on all of the story elements you need—now trim the fat. Avoid common clichés and generic statements. Common phrases will dilute the unique perspectives in your personal statement. Make sure the language aligns with you. Avoid language that could apply to everyone when possible. 

Other MBA Application Process Essentials – GMAT Score, GPA, and Statement of Purpose

The MBA application process is multifaceted and holistic. Alongside your statement, admissions committees also consider your GMAT scores and GPA. GMAT scores are used to gauge applicants’ aptitude for business studies, while GPA showcases your readiness for MBA rigor. If you have a lower score in either category, address these challenges by highlighting your other strengths, relevant experience, and resiliency. Remember: committees consider the entire application, not just scores. 

The other factor in the application process is your Statement of Purpose or SOP. This will complement your personal statement. Make sure your SOP articulates your academic and career goals without echoing your other application essay. Avoid redundancy. Focus on the future: link the MBA program to your long-term plan. Take a forward-looking perspective and demonstrate how the MBA will work as a natural progression in your life. 

Your personal statement should be as unique as you are. Start with a compelling narrative and a plan. Proofread your essay, and don’t be afraid to seek help from peers or professionals. Explain how your personal and professional life gives you the necessary skills to thrive at your desired program and be specific about what you want to do there. This is your chance to differentiate yourself from other applicants—take advantage!

Crummer is the #1 ranked MBA program in Florida. You can learn more about what we offer and when you’re ready, start working on your application . 

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how to write a 2 page personal statement

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  1. What NOT to Include in Your Personal Statement

  2. How To Draft A Personal Statement In 10 Minutes: Easy Beginners Guide

  3. About the Personal Statement

COMMENTS

  1. Writing the Personal Statement

    1. The general, comprehensive personal statement: This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms. 2. The response to very specific questions:

  2. How to Write a Personal Statement (Tips + Essay Examples)

    A written personal statement is typically used by college admission offices, but it's also often used by scholarship selection committees or specific academic departments to help assess potential candidates. To understand what the personal statement is, it's helpful to imagine your entire college application as a human body.

  3. 16 Winning Personal Statement Examples (And Why They Work)

    Jennifer Herrity Updated July 31, 2023 A personal statement, also sometimes known as a professional statement or resume summary, is one of the most important documents you will write when applying to schools or jobs. An exceptional personal statement can increase your chances of admission or getting a job offer.

  4. How To Write a Good Personal Statement (With Examples)

    Show Transcript Video: How To Write a Standout Personal Statement Jenn, a certified career coach, shares her key steps for crafting a personal statement that is authentic, impressive and helps you stand out from the crowd. College admissions and scholarship committees may require you to submit personal statements with your applications.

  5. How to Write a Personal Statement

    Degrees How to Write a Personal Statement How to Write a Personal Statement Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on Jan 9, 2024 A personal statement can be a key part of your college application, and you can really make yours shine by following a few tips.

  6. How to Write Your Personal Statement

    Strategy 1: Open with a concrete scene An effective way to catch the reader's attention is to set up a scene that illustrates something about your character and interests. If you're stuck, try thinking about: A personal experience that changed your perspective A story from your family's history A memorable teacher or learning experience

  7. PDF PERSONAL STATEMENT GUIDE

    A general rule of thumb you might follow is to submit a 2-3 page statement, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins, ... The perfect style and approach to writing a personal statement is the one that best fits who you are as an individual. Beyond that, the style should be clear, well-organized, and specific with special attention given to ...

  8. How to Write a Powerful Personal Statement

    There are no set rules for how to write a personal statement—a lot of your writing choices depend on the assignment and reader—but they typically fall between 400 and 1,000 words, rarely exceeding a single page. Personal statements can be either open or prompted. Open personal statements are when you, the writer, get to choose the main topic.

  9. PDF How to Write a Personal Statement

    Also required with some scholarship applications. There are 2 kinds of personal statements: 1. Comprehensive- you write about yourself and have the most freedom in what you write. 2. Responses- you answer specific questions asked on an application. Goals of a Personal Statement: 1. Set yourself apart from other candidates.

  10. How to Write a Personal Statement

    Good luck! 1. Start early. In my experience, it will take an average of 5-7 drafts to complete a two-page personal statement (and, FYI, they say the proposal for a Fulbright takes 15-20 drafts!). Don't leave your statement until the last minute. You'll also need time for as many different readers as you can find to give you feedback, (see ...

  11. Personal Statement Examples

    Figuring out how to write a personal statement is key to a successful application. Seeing what works when it comes to your personal statement for university can be a helpful first step. U.S. News breaks down the process of writing a personal statement and gives some successful personal essay examples. Reading another student's successful ...

  12. How to Write a Powerful Personal Statement

    1. Write a personal introduction Write an introduction that reflects you and your personality. It should say why you are interested in the job or degree and, if appropriate, your recent experience with the job type or course topics. Starting a personal statement with sentences that show who you are can help encourage the recipient to read further.

  13. How to Write a Strong Personal Statement

    Address the elephant in the room (if there is one). Maybe your grades weren't great in core courses, or perhaps you've never worked in the field you're applying to. Make sure to address the ...

  14. Personal Statement Format + Examples

    Standard one inch margins. Basically, show them you're ready to write in college by using the formatting you'll normally use in college. Learn more format tips here. How Long Should a Personal Statement Be? Fortunately, colleges and application systems usually give you specific personal statement word counts.

  15. How to write the best personal statement, with examples

    Here's a 3-step solution: STEP 1. Brainstorm about your life. Dedicate 5-10 minutes each to brainstorming about these 4 sets of questions. You can do this by yourself (writing down your thoughts), or do this exercise out loud with a friend or family member, and then jot down notes as you're talking.

  16. How To Write A Personal Statement (With Examples)

    Key Takeaways: To write a personal statement, first brainstorm, then narrow down your ideas, and start with an intro that leads into your qualifications. Make sure to proofread your personal statement before submitting. Personal statements describe your interests, skills, and goals, with a particular focus on your passion.

  17. How to Write a Personal Statement (with Pictures)

    To write a personal statement, start with a strong beginning such as "When I first started working at XYZ Company, I didn't know the first thing about widget manufacturing" to introduce your theme and grab the reader's attention. Then, write 2-4 paragraphs to support your statement, highlighting things like your experiences ...

  18. How to Write a Personal Statement (with Tips and Examples)

    You should write the personal statement in your natural voice, using first-person pronouns like "I" and "me," not in the formal, objective language you would use to write an academic paper. It isn't a five-paragraph essay.

  19. How to write an excellent personal statement in 10 steps

    You only write one personal statement which is then read by each university you apply to, so if you are applying for more than one subject (or it's a combined course) it's crucial that you include common themes or reference the overall skills needed for all subjects.

  20. How to start a personal statement: The attention grabber

    How to start a personal statement: The attention grabber The personal statement is your opportunity to talk about you, and why you want to enrol on a particular course. But how do you start it strongly? Read our advice below on what to include, what not to do, and how to approach it.

  21. Personal Statement Format

    1. What is a Correct Personal Statement Format? 2. How to Format A Personal Statement 3. Personal Statement Format Examples What is a Correct Personal Statement Format? Like other academic papers, personal statements should also be formatted and structured according to a standard set of guidelines.

  22. 10 Best Personal Statement Examples (How to Write)

    Advertisements Publishing Templates Personal statements refer to an account of your talents, achievements, goals, and interests included in a job or school application. Personal statements are also included in resumes. Whether it is being written for a job or university application, personal statements have the same content.

  23. How to Write a Personal Statement: Tell Your Story for Success

    2. Begin With a Personality-Driven Introduction. Your introduction should serve more than just to ease the reader into your personal statement. Take the opportunity to show your personality from the very start. Indicate the type of person you are, and hook the reader with your unique qualities.

  24. PDF How to Write a Compelling Personal Statement

    The Four Steps of the Writing Process. The writing process centers on these four basic steps: researching, pre-writing, drafting, and editing. In the researching phase, you gather information about the school you are applying to. During pre-writing, you get your ideas onto paper in rough form. When you draft, you take those rough ideas and turn ...

  25. How to Start a Personal Statement

    One of the keys for how to write a personal statement is to use your own voice while still remembering that you are speaking to a college admissions officer. As experts in how to write a great college essay know, avoid slang and spell out contractions for added formality. 3.

  26. How to Write a Standout Personal Statement

    How can you write a personal statement that stands out? Powered by AI and the LinkedIn community. 1. Know your audience Be the first to add your personal experience. 2. Tell a story ...

  27. How to Write a Top MBA Personal Statement (With Examples)

    It can be challenging to review personal writing from an objective standpoint. A good proofreader will streamline your writing and ensure overall coherence, improving your odds with your preferred school of business. ... Tailoring Your Personal Statement to Top MBA Programs. Make sure to personalize your essays to specific MBA programs. Include ...