When applying to college or to a graduate program, you may be asked to write a personal statement. Before you begin, the very first thing you need to realize is that the personal statement is the most important part of your admissions package.
The personal statement essay is your chance to state your achievements and qualifications in a manner that will be compelling to admissions committees. Most of the other components of your application are numbers (test scores, GPA, etc.) or out of your control (letters of recommendation). Your admissions essay is your one chance to set yourself apart from all the other applicants with the same grades and the same test scores. You need to think very carefully about what it is about you that will make an academic program take notice and say, "I want this person at our school!"
You'll usually be asked to write on a particular theme. You can click on the links below to see more information about common personal statement themes. Remember, however, the focus is on you. You'll need to use personal events from your life and what you've learned to craft a compelling story. What do you feel strongly about? What provides you with your inner drive?
You want to show that you know how to think. A big part of what will attract admissions officials to your character will be the quality of your insightfulness. How do you think about the world? What events from your past have influenced your mindset?
Where are you headed? Nobody expects you to have all the answers, to have the next fifty years of your life charted out, but it's worth your while to think hard about where you want to be in five or ten years, and to articulate how the program you're applying to can help you get there.
Above all, be sincere. Too many applicants write what they think an admissions committee wants to hear. Admissions officers have read it all - they know the difference between a sincere, honestly expressed personal statement essay and one that is made-up fluff.
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There are four common types of personal statement themes: