Do you know what role your personal statement plays in the application process, whether you are applying to graduate or undergraduate school, law school, medical school, or any of the graduate programs, special residencies and fellowships? Your personal statement should be very important to you, because it is considered an essential component of your application.
The role of personal statements is to make candidates stand out from the other applicants. Countless applications list many of the same qualifications and experiences as well as similar goals. Creating a personal statement which is notable for its content requires a great deal of preparation and planning. Personal statements need to be meticulously organized, well-written and focused on setting the applicant apart from the larger group. Whether the personal statement includes an effort to disclose or explain a misstep along the way or to communicate the applicant’s all-encompassing passion for the degree program or specialty, the content must be clear, the ideas must flow well, and it must be in the applicant’s own voice and words.
The role of the personal statement is to provide the admissions committee a reason to offer you a seat in the class or degree program. If you can convince the committee of your great passion for the field or your longtime desire for this degree so that you can achieve your dreams, the personal statement will accomplish its purpose. The personal statement should include a specific story or anecdote which “shows” the reader your commitment and abilities, rather than just “telling” them. A creative or moving story will be remembered by the reader, if it tells the story in a way that explains the applicant’s desire to pursue a degree in the field to which he is applying. The story could be personal, based on a family experience, or it could be an account of a significant encounter with a friend, acquaintance or stranger. The personal statement’s story should reveal the candidate’s inspiration to pursue the degree program.
The principal role of the personal statement is to provide the admissions committee with a personal representation of the candidate. The committee wants to learn about the applicant beyond the standard details of application materials. The personal statement provides insight into the applicant’s reasons for pursing a degree program, including long term goals, motivation, and commitment.