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How to Write a Personal Statement
A personal statement can be a key part of your college application, and you can really make yours shine by following a few tips.
When you're applying to college—either to an undergraduate or graduate program—you may be asked to submit a personal statement. It's an essay that gives you the chance to share more about who you are and why you'd like to attend the university you're applying to.
The information you provide in your personal statement can help build on your other application materials, like your transcripts and letters of recommendation, and build a more cohesive picture to help the admissions committee understand your goals.
In this article, we'll go over more about personal statements, including why they're important, what to include in one, and tips for strengthening yours.
What is a personal statement?
A personal statement—sometimes known as a college essay —is a brief written essay you submit along with other materials when you're applying to college or university. Personal statements tend to be most common for undergraduate applications, and they're a great opportunity for an admissions committee to hear your voice directly.
Many colleges and universities in the US, especially those using Common App , provide prompts for you to use. For example, "Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea" or "Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time" [ 1 ]. If the school you're interested in attending doesn't require prompts, you will likely want to craft a response that touches on your story, your values, and your goals if possible.
In grad school, personal statements are sometimes known as letters of intent , and go into more detail about your academic and professional background, while expressing interest in attending the particular program you're applying to.
Why is a personal statement important?
Personal statements are important for a number of reasons. Whereas other materials you submit in an application can address your academic abilities (like your transcripts) or how you perform as a student (like your letters of recommendation), a personal statement is a chance to do exactly that: get more personal.
Personal statements typically:
Permit you to share things that don't fit on your resume, such as personal stories, motivations, and values
Offer schools a chance to see why you're interested in a particular field of study and what you hope to accomplish after you graduate
Provide an opportunity for you to talk about past employment, volunteer experiences, or skills you have that complement your studies
Allow colleges to evaluate your writing skills
Bring life to a college application package otherwise filled with facts and figures
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How to write a personal statement
As we mentioned earlier, you may have to respond to a prompt when drafting your personal statement—or a college or university may invite you to respond however you'd like. In either case, use the steps below to begin building your response.
Create a solid hook .
To capture the attention of an admissions committee member, start your personal statement with a hook that relates to the topic of your essay. A hook tends to be a colorful sentence or two at the very beginning that compels the reader to continue reading.
To create a captivating hook, try one of these methods:
Pose a rhetorical question.
Provide an interesting statistic.
Insert a quote from a well-known person.
Challenge the reader with a common misconception.
Use an anecdote, which is a short story that can be true or imaginary.
Credibility is crucial when writing a personal statement as part of your college application process. If you choose a statistic, quote, or misconception for your hook, make sure it comes from a reliable source.
Follow a narrative.
The best personal statements typically read like a story: they have a common theme, as well as a beginning, middle, and end. This type of format also helps keep your thoughts organized and improves the flow of your essay.
Common themes to consider for your personal statement include:
Special role models from your past
Life-altering events you've experienced
Unusual challenges you've faced
Accomplishments you're especially proud of
Service to others and why you enjoy it
What you've learned from traveling to a particular place
Unique ways you stand out from other candidates
Admissions committees read thousands of personal statements every year, which is why being specific on yours is important. Back up your statements with examples or anecdotes.
For instance, avoid vague assertions like, "I'm interested in your school counseling program because I care about children." Instead, point out experiences you've had with children that emphasize how much you care. For instance, you might mention your summer job as a day camp counselor or your volunteer experience mentoring younger children.
Don't forget to include detail and vibrancy to keep your statement interesting. The use of detail shows how your unique voice and experiences can add value to the college or university you're applying to.
Stay on topic.
It's natural to want to impress the members of the admissions committee that will read your personal statement. The best way to do this is to lead your readers through a cohesive, informative, and descriptive essay.
If you feel you might be going astray, check to make sure each paragraph in the body of your essay supports your introduction. Here are a few more strategies that can help keep you on track:
Know what you want to say and do research if needed.
Create an outline listing the key points you want to share.
Read your outline aloud to confirm it makes logical sense before proceeding.
Read your essay aloud while you're writing to confirm you're staying on topic.
Ask a trusted friend or family member to read your essay and make suggestions.
Be true to your own voice
Because of the importance of your personal statement, you could be tempted to be very formal with structure and language. However, it's better to use a more relaxed tone than you would for a classroom writing assignment.
Remember: admissions committees really want to hear from you . Writing in your own voice will help accomplish this. To ensure your tone isn't too relaxed, write your statement as if you were speaking to an older relative or trusted teacher. This way, you'll come across as respectful, confident, and honest.
Tips for drafting an effective personal statement
Now that you've learned a little about personal statements and how to craft them, here are a few more tips you can follow to strengthen your essay:
1. Customize your statement.
You don't have to completely rewrite your personal statement every time you apply to a new college, but you do want to make sure that you tailor it as much as possible. For instance, if you talk about wanting to take a certain class or study a certain subject, make sure you adjust any specifics for each application.
2. Avoid cliches.
Admissions committees are ultimately looking for students who will fit the school, and who the school can help guide toward their larger goals. In that case, cliches can get in the way of a reviewer understanding what it is you want from a college education. Watch out for cliches like "making a difference," "broadening my horizons," or "the best thing that ever happened to me."
3. Stay focused.
Try to avoid getting off-track or including tangents in your personal statement. Stay focused by writing a first draft and then re-reading what you've written. Does every paragraph flow from one point to the next? Are the ideas you're presenting cohesive?
4. Stick to topics that aren't controversial
It's best not to talk about political beliefs or inappropriate topics in your personal essay. These can be controversial, and ideally you want to share something goals-driven or values-driven with an admissions committee.
Polish your writing skills on Coursera
A stellar personal statement starts with stellar writing skills. Enhance your writing ability with a writing course from a top university, like Good with Words: Writing and Editing from the University of Michigan or Writing a Personal Essay from Wesleyan University. Get started for free to level up your writing.
1. Common App. " 2022-2023 Common App Essay Prompts , https://www.commonapp.org/blog/2022-2023-common-app-essay-prompts." Accessed June 9, 2023.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.
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Nail your uni application with our personal statement examples.
Discover personal statements by subject, from A to Z. Find inspiration for your own application with these successful personal statement examples from real students.
A-Z of Personal Statements
Learn from previous student personal statements here. We have collated over 700 personal statement examples to help you on your university journey and to help you with how to write a personal statement.
These personal statement examples will show you the kind of thing that universities are looking for from their applicants. See how to structure your personal statement, what kind of format your personal statement should be in, what to write in a personal statement and the key areas to touch on in your statement.
A personal statement is a chance to tell your university all about you - a good personal statement is one that showcases your passion for the subject, what inspired you to apply for the course you’re applying for and why you think you would be an asset to the university.
Our collection includes personal statement examples in Mathematics, Anthropology, Accounting, Computer Science, Zoology and more.
Writing a personal statement has never been easier with our vast collection of personal statement examples.
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Personal Statement Help
What is a personal statement.
A personal statement is an essay written by a student applying to either a college or university. A personal statement is written and then uploaded to UCAS and is then attached to any university applications that the student may then make.
If you need more information check out our personal statement advice articles .
How to write a personal statement
There isn't a clearly defined personal statement template for you to use as each person's statement is different.
When it comes to writing a personal statement for universities, your personal statement should touch on your passions, your interest in the course, why you're applying for the course and why you would be an asset to the university you're applying to.
Talk about the clubs and societies that you belong to, any work experience you may have and any awards you might have won.
If you're still looking for information check out our article on how to write a personal statement .
How to start a personal statement
When it comes to starting your personal statement, the best thing to do is to be succinct and to have enough tantalising information to keep the reader informed and eager for more.
Your introduction should touch on your personal qualities and why you are applying for the subject you're applying for. Keeping things short and sweet means that it also allows you to break your personal statement up, which makes it easier for the reader.
We have plenty of advice for students that are wondering about what to include in a personal statement .
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How to Write a Personal Essay for Your College Application
What does it take to land in the “accept” (instead of “reject”) pile?
How can you write an essay that helps advance you in the eyes of the admissions officers and makes a real impression? Here are some tips to get you started.
- Start early. Do not leave it until the last minute. Give yourself time when you don’t have other homework or extracurriculars hanging over your head to work on the essay.
- Keep the focus narrow. Your essay does not have to cover a massive, earth-shattering event. Some people in their teens haven’t experienced a major life event. Some people have. Either way, it’s okay.
- Be yourself. Whether writing about a painful experience or a more simple experience, use the narrative to be vulnerable and honest about who you are. Use words you would normally use. Trust your voice and the fact that your story is interesting enough in that no one else has lived it.
- Be creative. “Show, don’t tell,” and that applies here — to an extent. The best essays typically do both. You can help your reader see and feel what you are describing by using some figurative language throughout your piece.
- Make a point. As you finish your final body paragraphs ask yourself “So what?” This will help you hone in on how to end your essay in a way that elevates it into a story about an insight or discovery you made about yourself, rather than just being about an experience you had.
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We’ve all heard about the dreaded “college essay,” the bane of every high school senior’s existence. This daunting element of the college application is something that can create angst for even the most accomplished students.
- AA Amy Allen is a writer, educator, and lifelong learner. Her freelance writing business, All of the Write Words , focuses on providing high school students with one-on-one feedback to guide them through the college application process and with crafting a thoughtful personal essay. A dedicated poet, Amy’s work has also been published in several journals including Pine Row Press , Months to Years, and Atlanta Review .
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- 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.
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Writing Your Personal Statement: A Crash Course
A personal statement is the primary essay that prospective college students send to all colleges and universities to which they’re applying. There are two main ways to send a personal statement, through the Coalition Application or the Common Application . It’s approximately 650 words detailing who you are, how you’ve changed and/or who you want to become.
What do I write about?
Oftentimes, people feel like they either need some dramatic pity story or an insane accomplishment for their Common App essay. But this isn’t true!
Your essay is less about what you achieved and more about your personality and things that you can’t put on your resume. It’s about who you are as a person.
Sometimes, a life story or an accomplishment can illustrate your personality, but not always. And you certainly don’t need one of the two in order to show who you are. There are so many different ways you can go, so as long as you talk with passion and show intellectual vitality, you really can make any topic work.
In fact, in my experience, incredibly niche and personal topics make the most interesting essays.
Which prompt is the right prompt?
One big mistake that people make is that they care too much about which prompt they choose on the Common App. Realistically, it doesn’t matter at all which prompt you select. Colleges have zero preference for one prompt over another. The prompts are just points to bounce off of, but as you will note, one of the choices is to pick your own prompt.
When you spend too much time thinking about what prompt to pick, you spend too much time thinking about what colleges want to see. But this isn’t about what this unseen “other” wants to read about—it’s about who you are and what you can bring to the table.
I would actually recommend writing a Common App essay without picking a prompt. Usually at the end, you will find that your essay naturally falls into one of them. And if it doesn’t, then that’s totally fine! Just pick the option of creating your own prompt.
Do all schools need a personal statement?
Some schools require students to apply through a separate application portal, other than the Common App or Coalition App. These schools may have varied prompts with different word counts as well.
For example, MIT often asks four shorter questions, approximately 250 words each, but your personal statement can be modified to fit one of these shorter questions. The Georgetown University application and University of California application system for schools like UC Berkeley , UCLA and UCSB have modified questions as well.
How much time do I need to spend on a personal statement?
For a two-page essay, the drafting process for your personal statement may take many months of work and hundreds of pages of ideas.
For context, I had 20 versions (no joke) for my Common App essay saved when I was applying last year. Brainstorming began June after junior year and final edits wrapped up in early November of my senior year.
A recommended timeline is brainstorming in May or June after your junior year, pre-writing in July and August, drafting in September and October, and constant revising and editing until December.
Just keep in mind that early applications require a personal statement as well, which is often due in early November.
Who should help me edit or revise my essay?
Sometimes students will refuse to show their essays to anyone. Other times, students will want to incorporate everyone’s little suggestion into their essays. The key to finding others to edit your essays is balance. It’s important to have a secondary opinion to make sure your message is coming through. On the other hand, it’s impossible to tailor your essay to fit everyone’s nuanced suggestion because you may lose your own voice in the midst of all the editing.
I recommend having three main editors.
- The first editor answers all of your questions during the process of drafting. This person can be a parent, a teacher, a college consultant, a sibling or a recently graduated senior. They will be the ones you go to for advice on the minute details and decisions.
- The second editor is there for the final rounds of drafts. In addition to edits like grammar and syntax, ask your editor to come up with three words or phrases to describe the person being conveyed in the essay. The second editor should be someone who knows you personally and has the ability to compare the “you” presented in the essay with the “you” in real life. This second editor can be your best friend, a sibling, a relative or a parent.
- The third editor is there for the final round of drafts and should be a person you don’t know very well such as a new English teacher. Ask your third editor to come with three words to describe the person being conveyed as well. Hopefully, the phrases from the second and third editor should match. If they do, then your essay is successful in having a focused main idea and description of you as a person.
Any final tips?
- Use strong sensory language. As with any writing, good descriptions can transport the reader to any world—including your own. Create an immersive experience by taking full advantage of the writing skills that you have developed. Build an entire picture for the reader.
- Explore different topics. Your first topic doesn’t have to be the one that you stick with. Allow yourself to try different things and experiment. Oftentimes we think that because we spent so much time editing one essay, that essay has to be the one that we send out. But this isn’t true! I want to emphasize creativity. Don’t be afraid to take risks in your writing—colleges really like this! Experiment with structure and metaphors. It has the possibility of making your essay memorable and unique. The last thing you want is for an admissions officer to be unable to distinguish your essay from the other 100 essays that they have read.
- Be vulnerable. Tell a story that is deeply personal to you. Tell a story about a mistake or something that you might be embarrassed to talk about normally. Things like these humanize you, and the way you handle things like mistakes can say a lot about you as a person.
- Find more tips in Niche’s guide for acing the college essay.
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Lauren is a college student, double majoring in Economics and Psychology.
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How to Write a Personal Statement – 5 Personal Statement Examples
How to write a personal statement? – Introduction
The personal statement is one of the most important parts of the college application process. For this reason, it’s often also one of the most anxiety-inducing. If you’ve been searching for personal statement examples because writing your personal statement has you worried (or excited), then you’re in the right place.
In this article, we’ll present five personal statement examples and teach you how to write a personal statement that highlights who you are and demonstrates your full potential to colleges. We’re going to outline what a personal statement is, how colleges use them in the application process, and which topics tend to work best for college applicants. Then, we’ll offer some advice and tools to help you draft, edit, and finalize your own personal statement. Finally, we’ll walk you through five personal essay examples, breaking them down individually, so you can see just what makes them work.
Writing a personal statement may seem like a daunting task, especially if you aren’t clear on just exactly what a personal statement for college is. After you see your first personal statement example, things may seem clearer. But first, let’s demystify the term “personal statement.”
What is a personal statement?
Learning how to write a personal statement starts with understanding the term . I’m sure throughout the college application process you’ve heard your counselors, teachers, and classmates talking about the importance of a personal statement. While you may know that the personal statement for a university is extremely important, you still might not be clear on just what it is. You may have never even seen a personal statement example. So, before you attempt to start writing , let’s answer the questions: what is a personal statement for college? And just how do universities use them to evaluate students?
A personal statement for college is your chance to set yourself apart from other students and show admissions who you are. A strong personal statement for a university will describe your unique experiences and background in a first-person narrative. And when done well, it’s your opportunity to catch the right attention of an admission officer.
No pressure, right? Don’t stress quite yet. The process of writing a personal statement can be fun! It’s an opportunity to write about something you’re passionate about. You’ll be able to see a personal statement example later on (five, actually!), and you’ll notice that it’s not about the perfect topic , but rather, how you tell your story.
Personal statement basics
Now, let’s talk about personal essay specifics. Generally speaking, a personal statement will be between 400-700 words, depending on the specific university guidelines or application portal. The Common App essay must be 250-650 words. The Coalition App , by contrast, suggests that students write 500-650 words. Try to aim for the higher end of those ranges, as you’ll be hard pressed to write a compelling personal statement without enticing descriptions.
Apart from the word count, what’s the personal statement format? The personal statement for a university should be written in a first-person conventional prose format. You may be a wonderful poet or fiction writer but refrain from using those styles in your personal statement. While using those styles in a personal essay could occasionally be a hit with admissions, it’s best to showcase that style of writing elsewhere. If you choose to add your creative writing style to your application, you should do so by submitting a writing portfolio. Generally speaking, the strongest personal statement will be written in first-person prose language.
General or prompted
When it comes to a personal statement for college, it will generally fall into one of two categories : general, comprehensive personal statement, or a response to a very specific personal essay prompt. In the open-ended option, you’ll want to share a story about something important related to your life. This could be about family, experiences, academics, or extracurriculars . Just be careful not to repeat your entire resume. That’s certainly not the goal of a personal essay.
Remember, it’s a personal statement. So, share something that you haven’t elsewhere. If given a prompt, it will likely be open-ended so that you can flex your creativity and show off your writing style. You’ll be able to write a story that genuinely matters to you, ideally sharing something that has made you who you are.
You may also need a personal statement when applying to certain programs, such as business or STEM programs. The basic idea is the same, but you’ll want to connect your experiences to the specific program. Check out the details of writing a personal statement for a specific field .
That extra push
The college application process can seem rigid at times; the personal statement for college is your chance to show off in a way that has nothing to do with GPA or transcripts. The personal statement is an opportunity for colleges to meet students on their own terms. It’s essentially your written interview .
At top universities, many students will have similar grades and test scores. A strong personal statement gives students the chance to stand out and show that they’re more than just numbers on a transcript. What’s the extra push that an admissions officer may need to admit a qualified student? A well-written, compelling personal statement can help you gain admittance to competitive schools .
Having a support system throughout the college admissions process is important. Keep your parents in the loop with this personal statement webinar that offers details about the common app essay and the personal essay for college.
You are probably wondering the same things as other students about the college application essay or college essay tips. Read an admissions officer’s response to some FAQs and get some useful college essay tips.
The CommonApp Essay vs. The Personal Statement
So, we’ve discussed what a personal statement is and why it matters. Now, let’s discuss one common type of personal statement: the Common App essay. While each school may have their own personal statement topics, the Common App essay section has general prompts that will serve as your personal statement. The Common App essay will respond to one of seven prompts.
For the most up-to-date information on the Common App essay, you can check their website .
Common App Essay Questions for 2022-2023:
- 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?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
- 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.
The Common App essay personal statement prompts are intentionally open-ended. They are meant to give you the chance to tell your unique story . However, one requirement is that your Common App essay must be between 250-650 words.
You can choose to respond to any one of the seven prompts. Remember to choose the best prompt for you. It may seem obvious, but the personal statement for college is your opportunity to share your personal story. You’ll want to choose a topic you can write well about that will show how you’ve grown or changed. It’s also your opportunity to show off your writing style. So, pick a topic you enjoy writing about!
Check out some tips on how to tackle each prompt from the Common App essay blog. You may also want to read this Common App essay overview for juniors . We’ll get into more specific details later on how to write the Common App essay– and other personal statement topics in general– later in this article.
How important is a Personal Statement?
As we’ve mentioned, the personal statement is your chance to stand out in a pool of applicants. It’s an extremely important part of any college application. A personal statement for college will be a requirement of nearly every application you complete. Admissions will use your personal statement to get a sense of who you are beyond your grades and scores. So, if you want to show colleges what makes you unique, your personal statement is the place to do it. 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 personal statement example will give you an idea of what impresses admissions. It may even get you excited about writing your own personal statement for college!
While every school will likely require some sort of personal statement, it may actually be used differently in the admissions process. How your personal statement is judged during the admissions process will depend on a school’s size, ranking, acceptance rate , and various other factors. Larger state schools will likely put the most importance on an applicant’s grades and scores while spending little time reviewing a student’s personal statement.
Especially important at top tier schools
However, at Ivy League schools and other elite institutions, many students have the same impressive grades, scores, and extracurriculars. The personal statement allows these schools to distinguish between high-achieving students. If you’re looking at these types of institutions, then a lot of importance should be placed on writing a personal statement that is unforgettable and impresses admissions.
So, we know that learning how to write a personal statement is key to many successful applications, but you may be thinking: what’s the difference between a personal statement and supplemental essays? Every school you apply to via the Common App will receive an identical copy of your Common App essay. The Common App essay serves as your personal statement.
However, each school will have their own supplemental requirements, which may include additional supplemental essays . For schools with many supplemental college essay prompts, your personal essay may not have as much of an impact on your overall application. Admissions officers will see your writing style, and likely your personality, in all of the college essay prompts you submit.
Additional personal statements
Still, you should always treat your personal essay with the utmost care. It can make a huge difference in the admissions process. You may also need to write other personal statements when applying to scholarships or specific programs . It’s good to get used to the process and the personal statement format during college application season.
When should I start writing my Personal Statement?
When it comes to all things in the college application process, including any college application essay, it’s best to start early . Don’t leave your personal statement for a university until the last moment. Writing a personal statement will take time. The sooner you start your personal statement for college, the more likely you are to succeed.
This doesn’t mean that you should start writing your personal statement for university the summer before your sophomore year. High school is a time for development, and colleges want to get to know you at your most mature. It’s just good practice to start thinking about how to write a personal statement early on.
Review personal statement examples
Think about personal statement format, personal statement topics, and personal statement ideas. Look at other students’ personal statement examples. You can start jotting down potential ideas for your personal essay for college at any time, which may be useful down the line. But, you don’t need to actually start writing your personal statement until the summer before your senior year .
Be open-minded to changing your personal statement topic as you grow and discover new things about yourself. Check out this personal statement webinar on how one student switched her personal essay for college at the last moment. Just like there is no set personal statement format, there are no rules against mixing up your topic as you see fit. But, at least try to allow yourself some time to revise and edit your personal essay for college to perfection.
What do I write in a personal statement?
There’s no one-size-fits-all outline when it comes to how to write a personal statement. Your personal statement for university will depend on your own background, interests, and character. Overall, it’s not the personal statement topics that will catch the eye of admissions officers– it’s how you write your story that will. You need to know how to write a personal statement that not only checks the boxes but is also powerful .
Important things to keep in mind when writing your personal statement:
Choose a topic you’re passionate about.
What would you be excited to write about? Chase the personal statement topics that seem fun to write, think about, and talk about. If you’re passionate about your personal statement, your audience will feel it and be engaged.
Really be you
Authenticity is key when it comes to writing a personal statement. After all, it’s your chance to tell your story and really show admissions who you are. Whatever you write about, make sure it is true, honest, and authentic to your experiences.
Give it some flair
Ok, we don’t mean do something too unconventional like a personal statement haiku. But, you should show off your writing style in your personal statement for college. Admissions officers want to get to know you and your writing.
Knowing how to start a personal statement or how to start a college essay, in general, is often the most difficult part of the process. You’ll want to brainstorm some personal statement topics to get your creative juices flowing. CollegeAdvisor.com offers a masterclass on brainstorming personal statement topics for the Common App essay in case you need some help with how to start a college essay or a personal statement.
Still have doubts? Read more on how to write a personal statement and get some college essay tips from CollegeAdvisor.com’s admissions experts. It will also be helpful to look at some successful personal essay examples and understand why they worked . Good personal statement examples can inspire you to tackle writing your own personal essay for college.
Exploring Personal Statement Topics
It seems logical that when exploring the process of how to write a personal statement, you should start thinking about personal statement ideas. What are the best topics to write about in a personal statement? If you look at various successful personal statement examples, you’ll likely realize the topic isn’t necessarily the most important part. You don’t need to write about something that no one else has ever written about. You just need your personal statement to have its own unique spin. Lean into brainstorming personal statement ideas that show who you are. It’s helpful to read some personal statement examples for inspiration.
While there is no exact formula for “how to write a personal statement”, there are some basic guidelines that students should follow. The personal statement should be written in first-person nonfiction prose form. Often, a personal statement introduction will include a story or an anecdote and then expand to reveal the impact of that experience on the writer.
You may be specifically wondering how to start a personal statement. Well, it could be with a moment, a place, or a conversation that spurred some sort of change or growth within you. While this isn’t necessarily a “personal statement format,” it’s a very general format that works.
Things to avoid
We now know that the personal statement format is fluid, but there are some things to avoid when thinking about how to write a personal statement:
- Profanity, explicit content, or crude language.
- Lying or misinterpreting events. Keep it authentic.
- Sharing overly personal descriptions of troubling life experiences. Remember that applying to college requires professional boundaries.
- Writing a narrative that revolves around others. The personal statement is all about you and your experiences.
If you want to know what a bad personal statement example would look like, imagine one that includes any of the formerly listed items. You don’t want to catch an admissions officer’s attention for the wrong reasons. Good personal statement examples will be engaging, but inoffensive. Check out some more do’s and don’ts when it comes to how to write a personal statement.
When pondering “how to write a personal statement,” it’s good to know that you don’t need to follow conventional essay guidelines. The best personal statement examples will exude passion and professionalism, while a bad personal statement example will lack soul. If you’re excited about a topic, then that’s a great place to start! Now, let’s get into the actual writing.
How do you write a good Personal Statement?
To review, in the first part of this series of three articles on how to write a personal statement we answered the question “What is a personal statement?” We also explained how schools use a student’s personal statement for college to evaluate them. We described the Common App essay as an example of a personal statement for a university. Next, let’s dig into how to write a personal statement, including how to start a personal statement, the best tips for writing a personal statement, and some good personal statement examples and personal essay examples to inspire you.
First, you have probably wondered how to write a personal statement that stands out from the rest. It all comes down to one thing: authenticity. The best personal statement examples and personal essay examples show schools what makes the writer unique, and they are written in an authentic voice. When giving advice about how to write a personal statement, admissions officers say that the best personal statement examples tell them who the student is beyond their coursework and grades. They are personal, and they tell a unique and interesting story.
Considering Personal Statement topics
So, as you think about how to write a personal statement, you may also wonder what the best personal statement topics are. When writing a personal statement, including the Common App essay, you don’t have to share an exciting story about the time you wrestled a wild bear or how you discovered a cure for cancer. For example, in their advice on how to write a personal statement, Wellesley College advises , “Tragedy is not a requirement, reflection and depth are.”
Some of the best personal statement topics focus on insights about common experiences. Begin your brainstorming process by reviewing the list of Common App essay prompts as you think about writing a personal statement, and choose a story that genuinely matters to you. Then, get excited about telling it! Think about writing a personal statement, including the Common App essay and every other personal essay for college, as an opportunity to lean into your quirkiness or to share your unique insights.
What’s more, a good personal statement for a university should be well-written. Consider the advice offered by Purdue Online Writing Lab : “Be specific, write well and correctly, and avoid cliches.” This will take time—writing a good personal statement for a university or a good Common App essay doesn’t happen overnight. The process of writing a personal statement will include multiple sessions between the first phase of brainstorming and the final phase of editing. Be prepared to write and rewrite, and never hesitate to ask for help from an advisor, counselor, parent, or trusted adult. However, remember that your work should always be your own.
Now, let’s discuss how to start a personal statement.
How do you start a personal statement?
So, now you have the basic information on how to write a personal statement, including your Common App essay. Next, you’re probably asking, “But how do you start one?” In this section, we’ll break down the process of exploring personal statement ideas and how to start a personal statement. This information also applies to thinking about how to start a college essay. Then, we’ll discuss how to write a personal statement opening.
Brainstorming is usually the first phase of any writing project to generate personal statement ideas. You may want to read a personal statement example like those here or here for inspiration to help get your personal statement ideas flowing. Next, ask yourself some idea-generating questions : Who have your intellectual influences been? Which careers are you considering and why? What personal goals do you have? As you think about the answers to these typical college essay prompts, jot down personal statement ideas that occur to you. If you’re still feeling stuck, ask a close friend or family member , “What do you think differentiates me?,” or “What are my quirks?”
Pick a topic that excites you
Then, once you have a few good topics for your personal statement, choose one that you feel most excited to write about. Write a draft of your personal statement introduction and see what other ideas occur to you for later parts of your essay. Choose another topic and do the same thing. Don’t feel like these initial drafts need to be perfect—words on the page are always a great start! The goal right now is to decide which personal statement topics you feel most inspired to write about. Which ideas reflect something interesting about you ?
Once you have selected which topic you will focus on for your personal statement, Common App essay, or personal essay for college, think about crafting a strong hook. The opening line (or lines) of the best personal statement examples include a “hook” for the reader, grabbing their attention and making them want to keep reading. For example, you could start with a question, an unusual or surprising statement, or an anecdote that will leave readers wondering what comes next. Whichever approach you select when considering how to start a college essay, make sure to use engaging language and vivid imagery.
Remember, start early and write several drafts .
The personal statement is an opportunity to write about a topic that is important to you and that also reflects your personality . Now, let’s discuss the personal statement format.
How do you format a personal statement?
Different applications may require different approaches to your personal statement format. In some cases, you may copy and paste your personal statement into an application and it will format itself automatically. In other situations, you will need to set up your personal statement format yourself. If this is the case, Times New Roman font, 12-point, with conventional margins and double spacing is a safe personal statement format.
When you are submitting your personal statement or Common App essay through the Common App, you may notice that the Common Application text box only allows formatting for bold, italics, and underlining. Therefore, it’s best to write your personal statement in Google Docs or Word and to write your paragraphs with block formatting (not indented). In addition, using Google Docs or Word will also allow you to easily check spelling and word counts before pasting your personal statement into the Common App.
Editing your Personal Statement
Many students wonder what the editing process for their personal statement for college, including the Common App essay and other personal essays for college, should look like. This varies by student and by essay. But, the best personal statements for a university go through at least several rounds of edits.
Firstly, once you have written the first draft of your personal statement for a university or personal essay for college, take a step back for a few hours or even for a day. Then, return with fresh eyes. Is your narrative well organized? Are there sections that seem unclear, ideas that don’t support your main point, or awkward sentences? You may want to reorder your paragraphs or sentences or delete and rework other elements. Revisit a personal statement example and consider how it is organized for comparison.
Making the cut
In short, don’t be afraid to cut sentences that don’t directly relate to the main focus of the essay or convey some important detail of the story. This will help clarify your narrative. Also, make sure that you have centered your writing around your own experiences—the story should reflect your perspective and insights.
Next, once you are confident that your personal statement is well organized and your main ideas are clear, do another round of detailed editing. Eliminate any typos or repetitive language; make sure you have proper grammar and spelling throughout.
Finally, ask a trusted adult to read your personal statement and provide feedback. Something that you thought was clear may not be to them. Also, ask them how engaging your personal statement is, and if there are sections that seem dry or unimportant. Ask whether your hook is effective, and review tips on how to start a personal statement if necessary. Sometimes feedback can be difficult to hear, but it helps to remember that even professional writers seek input from others. The goal is to create the best personal statement possible!
For more detailed advice on revising your personal statement, check out this CollegeAdvisor personal statement webinar, “ Revising the Personal Statement .”
How do I know when my personal statement is done?
There’s no definitive way to know when your personal statement for a university is done—you can keep editing most writing forever. However, as you revise and edit, you’ll notice that you have fewer things to fix with every new draft. Once you feel like there’s nothing major left to change, get feedback from someone you trust.
Your College Advisor expert can also provide valuable feedback and guidance at this point. If the notes and suggestions from others are also limited, you may be nearly ready to finalize your personal statement for college and press “submit.”
6 Tips for Writing a Great Personal Statement
1. be authentic.
Remember, admissions officers want to know about you —your personality, your interests, your goals. A great personal statement is personal . Your personal statement for a university needs to express your unique ideas and insights in your own voice. Nobody can tell your story better than you. So, choose a topic that interests you and let your energy and ideas shine through.
Being personal also means that you should share sensory details and your internal dialogue. What did you see or hear at a critical moment? What were you thinking or feeling during that pivotal conversation? The more personal details you share, the more interesting your personal statement will be.
2. Start early
This is one of the most important tips on how to write a personal statement. You can start brainstorming topics for your personal statement at any time during high school. Some students keep a notebook where they write down personal statement topics and ideas as they occur to them over time. They also begin reading other good personal statement examples and Common App essays for inspiration.
Regardless, a good plan is to solidify a draft of your personal statement for college the summer before your senior year. This will give you time to work on supplemental essays and other parts of your applications during the fall of your senior year.
3. Brainstorm before you write
Take some time to think and reflect deeply before you begin writing. Don’t feel like you need to jump into a full essay draft as soon as you complete your junior year. Do some writing exercises and brainstorming activities first, including reading other personal statement examples.
In each personal statement example you read, pay close attention to the personal statement introduction, the narrative arc, and the conclusion. Did the writer incorporate an effective technique for how to start a college essay? Why is the essay interesting? What does it tell you about the writer?
4. Tell a story
Keep in mind that well-told stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. They also engage the reader and arrive at a clear message or point by the end. In short, the best personal statement examples follow a narrative arc.
Start with an interesting hook and use it as an introduction to a story from your life that addresses the given college essay prompt. Then, use the latter half of your personal statement or Common App essay to show why this story matters and how it reveals a key part of your identity. And always remember: show, don’t tell.
5. Avoid common mistakes
Steer clear of cliches in your writing—they do not help you stand out or demonstrate strong writing skills. Also, do not use your personal statement or Common App essay as an opportunity to rehash your activities or achievements. Remember, these are included in other parts of your application.
The best personal statement examples show admission officers something about the writer that is not reflected in other parts of the application. They describe first-hand experiences and provide specific examples to illustrate ideas.
6. Edit carefully
Once you’ve written your personal statement for college, look for anything that doesn’t feel right. Eliminate awkward phrasing, delete or replace repeated words and phrases, and work to streamline your language. You might delete entire drafts, and that’s okay! It’s a process, and all the work you do gets you closer to your best work. Also, make sure to ask a few others whom you trust to read your essay and provide suggestions for edits.
Bonus tip: Ask for help
A second set of eyes can make a huge difference. Ask an advisor (like our team at CollegeAdvisor.com), counselor, or parent to look over your work. Don’t let anyone write your sentences for you—instead, use their input to help your voice shine through.
For more great college essay tips on how to write a personal statement and college essays, check out this advice from college admission experts.
Personal Statement- Frequently Asked Questions
Where can i find a good personal statement example.
There are a variety of websites that offer good personal essay examples as models you can use to inspire you. A good place to begin is here , and there are also examples of personal statements in the next article of this series. As you read these examples, take note of the personal statement introduction, as well as how the writer focuses the essay on a specific topic or idea that reflects their personality.
Is it ever too late to change my personal statement?
While it is much better to begin writing your personal statement early, sometimes students decide later in the writing process that they want to rethink the personal statement topic they have chosen. If you find yourself in this position, you will find some helpful advice in this CommonApplicant.com personal statement webinar .
My parents didn’t go to college. How do I explain personal statements and how to write a personal statement to them?
CollegeAdvisor.com has created a special personal statement webinar just for parents. In this webinar, we describe personal statements, the specifics of how to write a great college essay, and other college admissions terms.
I’m a high school junior. What should I be doing now to prepare to write my personal statement and college essays?
First, congratulations on thinking ahead! You can begin by reading “ Common App Essay Overview for Juniors .” Then, your CollegeAdvisor admissions expert can help you begin brainstorming and planning for your college application essays. They can provide you with examples of common college essay prompts, as well as helpful college essay tips. Also, they can provide suggestions on how to start a personal statement and share other resources on how to write a great college essay.
How will college admission officers evaluate my personal statement and college application essay?
Admission officers are looking for personal stories that are well told. How closely each of your college application essays is read will vary depending both on the school and the other components of your application. However, as more schools become test-optional, admission officers say that college essays are becoming even more important in the admissions process. So, as you plan your essays keep in mind that admission officers want to learn about you —your experiences, thoughts, and goals. They also want to see that you have solid writing skills, so make sure that you closely edit your essays before you submit them.
If you would like to hear directly from an admission officer and learn more about how to write a great college essay, including specific advice on how to start a college essay, check out this “ 39 Essay Tips ” article.
How is the personal statement for a university different from the Common App essay and personal essay for college?
The Common App essay asks students to write a personal statement in response to one of seven provided prompts. All types of personal essays for college provide students with an opportunity to introduce themselves to college admission officers on their own terms. For a more detailed description of each of these types of essays, check out the first article in this series, “How to Write a Personal Statement.”
For answers to more frequently asked questions about personal statements for college and college essays, click here .
In the first part of this series discussing how to write a personal statement, we answered the questions “What is a personal statement?” and “How important is the personal statement?” In this second article of the series, we have covered the specifics of how to write a personal statement, including descriptions of the writing phases of the personal statement and personal essay for the college writing process. In the next article, we will examine personal statement examples and highlight key elements of each personal statement example.
Introducing 5 Personal Statement Examples
By this point, you’ve gone from asking, “What is a personal statement?” to knowing how to write a personal statement. Now, let’s look at some personal statement examples. Reading personal statement examples is great preparation for writing your own personal statement for college.
However, keep in mind that reading about how to write a personal statement is one thing–writing a personal statement is entirely different. By reading these personal statement examples and why they worked, you’ll have a better grasp of how to write a personal statement.
Each of these personal statement examples shows something that isn’t clear in the rest of the application. Top schools accepted all the writers of these personal statement examples. Our guide will walk you through each of these personal essay examples and discuss what makes them work. We hope by reading these, you can learn more about how to write a personal statement.
Personal Statement Example #1: Choosing a Great Topic
The first of our personal statement examples was written by a student who was accepted to Yale, Princeton, and other top schools. Their personal statement discusses the legacy of antisemitic violence in their family. While political and religious topics can be difficult, this student writes a fantastic college application essay about their topic.
Personal Essay Example #1
Across the ocean, there is war. Children mistaking rockets for fireworks, parents too protective—too careful—to correct them. Back home, there are phone calls. To family, to friends. In English, in Hebrew. “Are you safe?” I pray they live far from Jerusalem. Right here, in my room, there is turmoil. Furiously swiping through Instagram, I wonder who will betray me next. I wonder which friend will decide that their loosely related, offensive commentary belongs on their profile. Once the deed is done, I am quick to unfollow. To cut off perpetrators of what Jewish journalists call “the Social Media Pogrom”: when targeting the Jewish people online turns to real antisemitic violence (and a powerful reason to unfollow my friends). So I flee from my friends’ Instagram accounts. But only because my family fled from much worse. My grandfather found himself wearing a yellow star, living in a ghetto, and losing everything to the Nazis. One day, he ripped off the star and ran. Even though it meant never seeing his family again. He did not flee for a better life; he fled for any life. His son came to marry another refugee: my mother. Her story is a familiar one, shared by many in my hometown: escaping yet another antisemitic regime whose existence threatened her own, my mother fled Revolutionary Iran in 1979. Fortunately, she was reunited years later with all eight of her siblings, who had escaped in various other creative, illegal ways—“on camelback” being a personal favorite. To this day, she bears a scar on her eyelid from antisemitic violence back home. My family tree’s roots are settled in the soil of persecution. Swastikas have sawed away at its structure, and Revolutionary Guards have bent its branches. I know too well which winds will threaten the leaves: words wishing my people death, implicitly or explicitly. Calling on my cousins to evacuate their homes, for they are on the Jewish side of the land dispute. Denying the reality that no one deserves to be displaced. When I hear these words, see them on a screen, I sense a chillingly familiar breeze. Sometimes, the breeze blows away a few leaves: a rabbi is stabbed, a synagogue vandalized. Suddenly my friends, teetering on the edge of antisemitism with waves of painful posts, are no longer my friends. They are my enemies. But then I hear a little voice: “David, what on Earth are you doing?” And I remember that they are not. They are not Nazis or Revolutionary Guards. I should not shun them or cease to show them love. I cannot wallow in my rage or simply “unfollow”—not on Instagram, not in life. I soon return those beloved friends to my circle. I “follow” them once again. Because dialogue is my lifestyle. I ought to be recruiting my friends to Model Congress or engaging them in class. Welcoming the people around me to a world of positive, exciting, and purposeful discourse is the best I can do. It’s also who I am. My family passed down a sensitive radar for harmful rhetoric, but also gifted me with a powerful belief—a Jewish belief—in informed discussion and coexistence. Holding no hate in their hearts, my ancestors wore lenses of love that did not belong to their oppressors. Today, I wear those same lenses with pride. Once infuriating Instagram posts no longer cloud my vision. I’ve instead fallen in love with the precious diversity of thought that surrounds me and find myself most at home when I am immersed in political dialogue. I will face many “enemy” opinions, but I will not shut my eyes and cover my ears, give up a dear human connection, and miss out on a meaningful experience. I will approach individuals with humanity rather than animosity, acceptance rather than judgement, and love rather than hate. I will live by the lessons of my ancestors.
What did this Common App essay do well? Firstly, it covers a great topic. This student writes about their family’s experience with antisemitic violence and its legacy in their life today. When writing a personal statement for college, such sensitive personal statement topics can be challenging. In this case, the writer successfully centers their experiences and thoughts rather than on controversial events.
Moreover, they cut through political tension with a core reality rooted in empathy: “No one deserves to be displaced.” This is a great strategy if you’re wondering how to write a personal statement on a sensitive topic. All personal statement topics have an angle that makes them universally relatable. If your personal essay for college is missing something, try an empathetic approach.
Ask for help revising
Don’t forget to ask other people to revise your personal statement for university. What makes sense to you may not read well to others. Especially with sensitive topics, share your work with someone you can trust to give you feedback. If possible, also include a non-family member like a teacher or guidance counselor who knows how to write a personal statement.
This student connects their family’s troubles with their own worldview. Good personal statement examples offer a look at the author as a person. A strong topic lets you reflect on how your experiences have impacted your engagement with the world and other people. And as shown above, the writer chose a great topic –not necessarily a great college essay prompt. College essay prompts are wide-ranging , and good personal statement ideas can come from any of them. Indeed, whatever your prompt is, personal essay examples are ultimately about you .
Evocative language and imagery
With this in mind, look at how the writer’s attitude changes throughout their Common App essay. Good personal statement examples contain precise, evocative language and imagery. When you’re writing a personal statement, find the right words—not necessarily the longest ones—and sentence structures you need. This personal statement begins in a panic; the writer “furiously swiping” in the “turmoil” of their room, keenly attuned to betrayal from friends. These words and the short paragraphs bring each thought into sharp focus.
The writer’s passion for their subject shows through their language. Using structural repetition in “Wishing…. Calling…. Denying…” establishes a serious tone and keeps the personal statement fresh. In the latter half, words like “beloved,” “lenses of love,” and “precious diversity” signify a shift to a gentle, loving attitude. The best personal essay examples choose their words precisely. By choosing words carefully in combination with poetic and rhetorical devices, you can write a stellar personal statement for university.
Certainly, family histories can be great personal statement topics. Even so, suffering doesn’t automatically make a strong personal statement for university. If you know how to write a personal statement, even at first mundane personal statement ideas can become good personal statement examples.
Personal Statement Example #2: Finding a Great Hook
The second of our personal statement examples is by a student who was accepted to UC San Diego, Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, and more. In their personal statement for college, this student uses their interest in Rubik’s cubes to frame other parts of their life.
Personal Statement Example #2
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. I received one on my 9th birthday and over the following months, I became obsessed with it. I rotated the rows aimlessly, hoping that eventually the cube would solve itself. I was naive about the complexity of the cube which led me to apply some research. I began looking up tutorials on YouTube about solving the toy and was in awe over the amount of work that had to be done. I forced myself to go step by step until I could arrange a single face, and my progress pushed me forward until I could solve 4 of the 6 faces of the cube. Every night for an hour I would randomize the colors again and work my way back to ⅔ of the cube being complete. Until this point, I lacked the confidence in my everyday life and had never aimed for a difficult goal, especially one without external motivation. However, what I love about solving the cube is that you can follow the steps perfectly and still run into a stalemate based on the arrangement of the squares. This forces you to randomize the cube again and start from step 1. All the hard work and time put into this object can be useless, but it is unavoidable no matter what you do. Multiple times I faced this dilemma of running into a wall, but instead of giving up, my will pushed me forward. I shed many tears over my failures to solve a child’s toy. I needed to push through these failures until I could learn how to arrange the last faces of the cube. And just like that, it was complete! The Rubik’s Cube was arranged correctly. However, I wanted to get faster. I was inspired by the greatest, the individuals who could solve cubes within 5 seconds, and mix up the cube once more. I tried over and over until the point of obsession where I could get the cube arranged in under a minute. Sometimes it is necessary to disarrange a completed face of the cube in order to achieve the end goal of every face being complete. The colors of a cube can be compared to my academics, my athletics, my art, my leadership, my hobbies, and my family life. Though it is a struggle to juggle all these tasks, it is the desire to expand in all these subjects that pushes me forward. I want to learn more and master subjects within my academics, improve my form and get faster within my athletics, grow my skills of digital design within art, become a stronger role model as a leader, volunteer more within my hobbies, and get closer to supporting my family. This mindset will continue to push me to expand my present knowledge and learn new concepts in order to complete my goals. 43,252,003,274,489,856,000: That is how many combinations there are for a single 3×3 Rubik’s cube, and there are probably even more combinations ahead of me in my journey through college and beyond. I have to struggle to learn how to solve my cube and put in the hard work in order to succeed at this game of life. Once I finish school and solve my cube for the first time, the game is not over. The next steps are to refine my work and ethics until I can get the process of solving my own cube down to 20 moves or less. My life goal is to carve a name for myself among the best and the brightest in the surgical field, yet there is always more knowledge to obtain which will drive me to continue growing.
Take a look at that hook! The classic personal statement format begins with a hook to draw the reader into a story, and this is no different. This personal statement introduction, “My life is as simple as a Rubik’s cube”, is bold, even seemingly contradictory, until you read the rest of the sentence. Either way, it makes you want to keep reading this personal statement example.
The worst thing a personal statement for a university can be is boring. A good hook starts your reader off on the right foot. While many personal statement examples begin in the middle of a story, making a bold claim is also common. If you’re wondering how to start a personal statement, start thinking about what opening sentence would grab your attention.
Like the first essay’s writer, this student also uses descriptive language to bring their Common App essay to life. They didn’t simply try the Rubik’s cube, but they “rotated the rows aimlessly”. Rather than saying they kept working on the cube, the writer shows us how they scrambled and resolved it every night. When writing a personal statement, do your own experiences justice with the right descriptive language .
Thinking about tone
You may notice the tone of this personal essay example is very different from the first– intensity isn’t everything! In fact, it’s a reflection of the different subject matter of these personal essay examples. When writing your personal statement, your tone should match what you are trying to say. In the same way that one word can make a sentence, another can totally break it.
From a vivid description of their childhood, the writer expands the scope of their Common App essay to other areas of their life. Good personal statement examples explore subjects that other parts of your application don’t. In this case, this student uses the Rubik’s cube to represent their varied activities and their aspirations for each. They also reflect on life lessons and personal traits: perseverance, ambition, and curiosity.
In other words, the writer creates parallels between their interest in Rubik’s cubes and their personal journey. In the same way that they obsess over speed-solving, the writer works to excel in other subjects. Furthermore, the writer shows us this instead of directly telling — a maneuver fundamental to all good personal statement examples. The writer makes a compelling case as not only an applicant but also as a future member of the campus community.
Notice the chronological structure this student uses for their Common App essay. Specifically, see how it follows the writer’s life from their first Rubik’s cube to the present day. This is a simple way to craft a strong Common App essay. Personal essay examples like this make it easy to reflect on your growth, which is crucial for any personal statement for college. Lastly, by ending with the 20 moves needed to solve a cube, the writer neatly ties up this personal statement example.
Personal Statement Example #3: The Value of a Great Ending
The third of our personal statement examples is by a student who got into the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Southern California. The writer talks about how being on the swim team helped them cultivate confidence.
Personal Essay Example #3
When I joined the high school swim team, I never expected to go to school dressed as Shrek. Yet as Freshman Friday approached, I learned it was team tradition for upperclassmen swimmers to dress freshmen teammates in ridiculous costumes. Against my will, my teammates splotched green paint on my face, styled my hair into pigtails covered in green paper, and stuffed a pillow under my sweatshirt. Attending my classes was mortifying. With every stare, I buried my head further into my textbook and shifted my hand to cover my green and now bright red face; with every chuckle, I sank deeper into my seat, attempting to hide my massive pillow stomach. The frown on my face felt like a permanent fixture, and after dealing with the humiliation for a class period, I was done. I yanked the pillow out of my sweatshirt and ripped the paper from my hair. The only hint of swamp ogre that remained was the green face paint. When confronted about my lack of Shrek-ness at the end of the day, I claimed I was overheating and that the paper had fallen apart. I lied. I was just embarrassed. I always knew I was shy — the “too-timid-to-signal-the-waiter” type of shy — but until Freshman Friday, I hadn’t realized the extent to which it affected the social and academic aspects of my life. Ever since I was young, my jaw would clench at the thought of humiliating myself by deviating from the norm and bringing attention to myself. I often closed myself off from friends by diverting conversations to trivial topics like gym class when they probed me about deeper subjects like my mental health. I even avoided participating in class by scouring Google for hours for physics help to circumvent admitting to my classmates that I was confused by asking questions. By hiding in the shadows to avoid embarrassment, I hindered my ability to cherish the humor in being Shrek, and, more broadly, my comfort in freely expressing myself. However, I loved swimming and wanted to make my high school team’s environment as wonderful for me as my love for the sport. I slowly started creeping out of my shell, meeting the team, and participating in more voluntary dress-up days. Freshman year, I wore a dragon onesie on pajama day; sophomore year, I wore a Hawaiian shirt, a lei, and sunscreen for tacky tourist day. Junior year, I wore my swimsuit over leggings, goggles, medals, pigtails with award ribbons, and a towel cape, finally surpassing the ridiculousness of the Shrek costume. For the first time, I finally felt confident enough to prance around the school, laughing about my costume with my classmates. I felt like a true part of my team, joking with teammates, taking pictures, and letting the whole school know that I swam. With each year and its dress-up days, I gradually felt more of the sense of community, team spirit, and fun that I had craved. Dressing up unleashed my confidence. This, in turn, made me happier and more involved in my school community. Most surprisingly, though, was how dressing up eventually better prepared me to enter engineering. Hispanic women are severely underrepresented in engineering, so I used to fear that I would be incapable of establishing a strong enough presence and earning my peers’ respect for my ideas. However, with every group discussion I initiated, every question I asked, and every club meeting I hosted, I saw myself making a place for my input and noticed that my teachers and peers actually valued it. I realized that I had found my voice and even enjoyed sharing my opinions. I’m now ready to take on the challenge of expressing my thoughts in a male-dominated field. In the meantime, I’m just looking forward to my swim team’s next dress-up day.
Like our last essay, this personal statement has an awesome hook. In fact, the writer drops us right into the action. This technique, known as in media res , is great for a Common App essay. You can immediately set the scene for your reader, then build context from there. Not only does the writer bring us right in, but they also expertly use language for tone. “Ridiculous,” “against my will,” and “splotched” all illustrate the writer’s opposition to what’s about to happen. This is an effective technique in personal statement examples.
Following the anecdote, the writer reflects on their intense shyness. They show self-awareness by recounting specific instances where fear got the better of them. Yet again, we can see the importance of showing rather than telling in a personal statement. Each sentence provides an example of how the writer’s shyness had a negative impact on their social and academic success. Thus, we see the true conflict in this personal statement isn’t the costume, but the writer overcoming their lifelong shyness.
Personal growth and development
Ask anyone how to write a personal statement and they’ll tell you about growth. When writing a personal statement for university, demonstrating personal growth and an ability to reflect on it is key. Across college essay prompts, you should explore how your experiences have shaped or changed you. Being able to indicate specific causes and effects is part of all good personal statement examples.
From there, the writer clearly illustrates their journey from insecurity to confidence. They show us the ways that their shyness manifested before. Then, the writer shows us the increasingly ridiculous costumes they wore. Of course, the language changes, too—the writer goes from “creeping” to “prancing”! Yet another example of how small changes to wording can have a huge impact on your personal statement for college.
Finally, the writer provides a sound conclusion. They mention the numerous benefits of their newfound confidence and, more importantly, look forward. In the final paragraph, the writer takes the lessons they’ve learned and discusses how they will use them to accomplish their goals. Like both of the personal essay examples we’ve already seen, the writer closes by talking about the doors they want to open.
Circling back to your hook
We saw the effectiveness of linking the hook and closing paragraph in previous personal statement examples. Similarly, this personal statement example ends with the idea of dress-up day once again. This kind of personal statement format helps bring everything full circle. In learning about how to write a personal statement, the conclusion is one of the most important parts. Especially in chronologically structured personal statements, closing the loop in this way makes your personal statement feel complete .
The best personal statement examples have a well-written conclusion. Taking your personal statement ideas and addressing them neatly in the conclusion is important. Whether you explain particular future goals or simply affirm your personal values, you should have a future-facing closer. Colleges want to know not only how you’ve grown, but also how you will bring that growth to campus.
Personal Statement Example #4: Why This Essay Worked
Fourth on our list of personal statement examples is by a writer who applied to performing arts programs. This student wrote about their love for the performing arts and their heritage. They were accepted to schools like NYU Tisch, Point Park, and Roosevelt University. Look for the college essay tips we already mentioned in the personal statement below.
Common App Essay Example #4
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. Growing up, I had always loved performing for people. But my passion for performing in front of a packed house never compared to performing for my favorite audience: my great grandmother. From age seven to twelve, my dad would take our family on a three-hour road trip to visit my great grandmother’s nursing home every single weekend. I remember the clean, antiseptic smell, and the beeping of her oxygen concentrator as I perched myself next to her bed and sang all types of songs from romantic boleros to earwormy Disney tunes. Even as she began failing to recognize her loved ones due to her worsening Alzheimer’s, she would always remember me, her “palomita blanca,” or white dove. But as I got older, singing what once were innocent songs, like “Edelweiss” or “Almost There,” started to make me feel like an imposter. I knew I belonged on stage, but I never saw any Mexican representation in any of my favorite musicals and animated cartoons. By seventh grade, I was plucking away at my full eyebrows for community theatre the night before auditions because I was told it would give me a better chance at landing a lead role. When my great grandmother passed away, I had lost the person who constantly reminded me how powerful staying true to your identity is. Without her, I questioned whether I had a chance at pursuing the thing that lights my soul aflame. But I stuck through the late nights, sprained ankles, and endless sweating under stage lights, because I loved theatre more than anything else in the world. In my freshman year, I joined the Conservatory of the Arts program for dance and drama at my high school. After my first show, I remember feeling so comforted by the fact that I finally felt that I belonged in the theatre kid community. In sophomore year, I finally got my first lead role as Gertrude in my high school’s production of Seussical. At last! All of my hard work had paid off and I was going to be a lead after six years of ensembles. I was so excited to get the chance to show myself and the world that my identity was my power. I didn’t want to be any old Gertrude. I’d stay up until 2 a.m. on weekends coming up with ways to make her more memorable. Inspired by Juan Gabriel’s emotional ballads, I added vocal cry to Gertrude’s solos to better portray her insecurities. Instead of sticking to just belting in “All For You,” I sang runs similar to the high energy mariachi songs I grew up with to show off my character’s passion and newfound confidence. But in March 2020, the world stopped, and the show couldn’t go on. Distanced learning made the performing arts programs nowhere near as fun or educational as they used to be. Still though, as president of the drama program in 2021, I am determined to rebuild a community that was torn apart by a worldwide pandemic. I want to be the mentor I never had. My confidence in my identity has been an important tool in teaching others that practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes progress. I work hard encouraging others not to be afraid to show the world what they have. Musical theatre is an art that thrives with innovation, so I’d like to bring the creative spice which my culture has enriched me with to the world’s stage. Maybe someday I can be that actress on stage or TV that’ll get a little Latina girl enthralled by the arts.
In this personal essay example, the writer uses vivid storytelling to show how they became the person they are today. Firstly, the hook tells us how the writer values both performance and her family. This light, fun personal statement introduction quickly goes for the heartstrings by introducing the writer’s great-grandmother. Personal statement examples sometimes avoid talking about family, because it’s easy to lose focus on the writer. But this writer never loses sight of their own memories, emotions, and experiences.
Equally important, those experiences are well-illustrated with rich imagery that clearly conveys the writer’s passion for their topic. Details like the smell and sound of the nursing home bring us into the moment. The writer also provides some examples of what they endured in theatre: “late nights” and “sprained ankles.” Use concrete images to get your personal statement ideas across with impact .
Also, the writer makes a point to explore the intersections of their Hispanic heritage and their passion for theatre. Particularly, the writer discusses their difficulty in putting them together, as shown by plucking their eyebrows. By establishing this conflict in the middle of her personal statement, the writer indicates their awareness of the wider world and their place in it. Many good personal statement examples will create context like this, showing the author thinking beyond themselves.
Show commitment to your topic
Broadly, the writer discusses their twin passions with powerful language and imagery. Exhibiting genuine enthusiasm for your personal statement topics is key. This personal statement shows that the writer has always been moved by their family and by the arts. Their triumph in combining the two feels huge precisely because we understand how much each of these things mean to them. Even if your personal statement topics aren’t as deep-seeded as this writer’s, you should show commitment to what you’re writing about.
If you’re reading this, COVID probably disrupted your school life at some point, as it did for this student. However, be careful not to linger on it more than necessary. This writer doesn’t completely gloss over the pandemic, but they keep their own journey at the center of the personal statement. The writer’s experience with distanced learning propelled them forward. Ideally, your personal statement for the university should keep a tight focus on you. The narrative personal statement format should show not only your experiences but also what you’ve learned from them.
Personal Statement Example #5: Pulling It All Together
The fifth and last of our personal statement examples is by another student who got into several top schools. They write about their participation and leadership at a club event. Keep an eye out for all the tips we’ve mentioned, from a good hook to showing-not-telling.
Personal Statement #5
One hundred and fifty bagels, all completely frozen. I couldn’t believe it. My school’s Model UN Conference was to start in thirty minutes, and breakfast for the delegates was nowhere near ready. I looked with dismay at my friends’ concerned faces peering out from behind piles of frozen bagels. As Secretary-General, it was my job to ensure that this conference went smoothly. However, it seemed that was not going to be the case. I took a moment to weigh my options before instructing Hannah, our “logistics coordinator,” to heat up the frozen circles of doom in the home-ec room. I knew Hannah enjoyed baking, so I trusted her to find a way into the locked room and thaw the assortment of bagels. Cold bagels were not the only thing weighing heavily on my mind that morning. As I walked from classroom to classroom helping set up committees, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. Our conference wasn’t going to be like those of the private schools- there were no engraved pens or stylish water bottles. Instead, people got post-it notes and whatever pens we could steal from the supply closet. Forcing myself to stop worrying, I chose instead to think of why we made that choice. Since most of the food was donated, and all of the supplies had been “borrowed” from the supply closet, we could afford to charge only a nominal fee to everyone attending. Making Model UN accessible was one of my top priorities as Secretary-General; the same desire motivated me to begin including middle school students in the club. I hurried back down to the cafeteria, and was relieved to see that all the bagels looked warm and ready to eat. The bagels would not be the sole crisis that day. As debates were about to start, one of the Chairs sent me a panic stricken text: “We only have 5 people in our committee! We can’t reenact the creation of the Treaty of Versailles!” I hurried to where his debate was taking place, and sure enough, only five people were there. I quickly considered my options- cancel the committee? Convince some delegates to switch into this debate through bagel bribery? Or maybe, come up with a completely new topic? I settled on idea number three. But what topic could a committee of only five people spend a day discussing? I mulled it over until an idea began to form. I explained to the room, “Each one of you will represent one of the five major Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. The chair will guide you as you tweet, make campaign videos, and debate the most important political issues.” I spent a few minutes figuring out how to go about moderating such an unconventional committee, before heading off to check in on the other debates. As I walked from committee to committee, fixing problems and helping move debates along, I felt a sense of pride. I had spent months working on this conference, along with the other members of my team. At times, I worried I could never pull it off. A part of me had wished our faculty advisor would just organize the whole thing for us. After all, I’m just a high schooler, how could I put together such a big event? But as the day went by, I realized that with the help of my peers, I had done it. All the little crises that cropped up weren’t because I was doing a bad job; they were inevitable. The fact that I could find solutions to such a wide variety of problems was a testament to my leadership skills, and my level-headedness. I didn’t just feel like a leader—I felt like an adult. As I look towards my future in college and later the workforce, I know that I can succeed, even if my obstacles seem as insurmountable as a mountain of frozen bagels.
This writer has a great example of how to start a college essay. Their strong hook makes us curious – why are there so many? What’s going on, and can the writer fix it? The essay’s tone is clear from the outset, and we’re drawn in by the conflict. Moreover, the writer establishes themselves as a leader and problem-solver.
Like a short story character, this writer encounters various obstacles. Throughout this personal statement, the writer shows off their resourcefulness, leadership skills, and quick thinking. While other people are in this personal statement example, the focus never wavers from the writer’s thoughts and actions. Additionally, the writer details the thought process behind each of their solutions.
As we’ve mentioned, a good personal statement for a university shows information, rather than telling it. This writer walks through various aspects of the conference in the second paragraph, then explains their reasoning. Instead of just saying they wanted to make the conference accessible, the writer shows us how they made it possible by organizing food donations and only charging a small fee. This Common App essay shows us what the writer is like through actions as well as words.
A narrative of learning and growth
As with our other personal statement examples, the writer wraps up with a strong conclusion that recalls the hook. They recount their personal growth throughout this process. In addition, the writer elaborates on the lessons they have taken from this experience. As shown above, introspection on personal growth and values is part of any good personal essay for college. This Common App essay makes a solid case for its writer as a future student and community member.
In sum, this writer takes a seemingly insignificant anecdote and uses it to reveal something critical about their experiences. By highlighting particular, telling moments, the writer shows us their personality and capability. What’s more, by using engaging language and a clear structure, the writer makes a lasting impact on the reader. For these reasons, this is a superb example of a personal statement for college.
CollegeAdvisor Resources on Writing a Great Personal Statement
By now, you’ve seen several personal statement examples and confidently say you know how to write a personal statement. But maybe you feel you need a little more information. A good personal statement for college starts with early preparation. Getting a head start on writing your personal essay for college is a great idea.
We at CollegeAdvisor have no shortage of guides on how to write a personal statement. We’ve got quick college essay tips from our admissions experts . If you have some more time, here are some frequently asked questions answered by an Admissions Officer. If you’re more of a watcher than a reader, check out a personal statement webinar from CollegeAdvisor.
How to Write a Personal Statement: Final Thoughts
You made it to the end! Now you know how to write a great college essay. Let’s briefly recap what we covered in this “How to Write a Personal Statement” guide.
Firstly, we answered the question, “What is a personal statement?” We outlined the expected length, personal statement format, and how important they are in the application process. Then, we explored some of the most common and effective personal statement topics.
Next, we looked at how to write a personal statement. We gave advice and tips on drafting, editing, and finalizing your personal essay for college. Specifically, we talked about the value of strong hooks, your unique voice, and editing.
Finally, we reviewed five personal statement examples and discussed what made them work. Each of our personal essay examples had effective language, structure, and other techniques that may inspire your writing.
Still a little stuck on how to write a personal statement for college? Aside from college essay tips and personal statement webinars, CollegeAdvisor also offers one-on-one support. We have hundreds of Admissions Experts and former Admissions Officers available to support you. Our Admissions Experts can work with you to help you craft a college application essay that highlights your potential.
This guide was written by Sarah Kaminski , Lori Dunlap , and Gina Goosby . No matter what stage you are at in your college search, CollegeAdvisor.com is here to help. We’ve created a wide range of guides, to help you navigate the college admissions process from building your school list all the way to packing for your freshman fall. For more specialized guidance on writing a personal statement, 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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Writing Application Essays and Personal Statements
Some applications ask that you write an essay that draws on more personal reflections. These essays, sometimes called Personal Statements, are an opportunity to show the selection committee who you are as a person: your story, your values, your interests, and why you—and not your peer with a similar resume—are a perfect fit for this opportunity. These narrative essays allow you to really illustrate the person behind the resume, showcasing not only what you think but how you think.
Before you start writing, it’s helpful to really consider the goals of your personal statement:
- To learn more about you as a person: What would you like the selection committee to know about you that can't be covered by other application materials (e.g. resume, transcript, letters of recommendation)? What have been the important moments/influences throughout your journey that have led to where (and who!) you are?
- To learn how you think about the unsolved problems in your field of study/interest: What experiences demonstrate how you've been taught to think and how you tackle challenges?
- To assess whether you fit with the personal qualities sought by the selection committee: How can you show that you are thoughtful and mature with a good sense of self; that you embody the character, qualities, and experience to be personally ready to thrive in this experience (graduate school and otherwise)? Whatever opportunity you are seeking—going to graduate school, spending the year abroad, conducting public service—is going to be challenging intellectually, emotionally, and financially. This is your opportunity to show that you have the energy and perseverance to succeed.
In general, your job through your personal statement is to show, don’t tell the committee about your journey. If you choose to retell specific anecdotes from your life, focus on one or two relavant, formative experiences—academic, professional, extracurricular—that are emblematic of your development. The essay is where you should showcase the depth of your maturity, not the breadth—that's the resume's job!
Determining the theme of an essay
The personal statement is usually framed with an overarching theme. But how do you come up with a theme that is unique to you? Here are some questions to get you started:
- Question your individuality: What distinguishes you from your peers? What challenges have you overcome? What was one instance in your life where your values were called into question?
- Question your field of study: What first interested you about your field of study? How has your interest in the field changed and developed? How has this discipline shaped you? What are you most passionate about relative to your field?
- Question your non-academic experiences: Why did you choose the internships, clubs, or activites you did? And what does that suggest about what you value?
Once you have done some reflection, you may notice a theme emerging (justice? innovation? creativity?)—great! Be careful to think beyond your first idea, too, though. Sometimes, the third or fourth theme to come to your mind is the one that will be most compelling to center your essay around.
Certainly, your personal statement can have moments of humor or irony that reflect your personality, but the goal is not to show off your creative writing skills or present you as a sparkling conversationalist (that can be part of your interview!). Here, the aim is to present yourself as an interesting person, with a unique background and perspective, and a great future colleague. You should still use good academic writing—although this is not a research paper nor a cover letter—but the tone can be a bit less formal.
Communicating your values
Our work is often linked to our own values, identities, and personal experiences, both positive and negative. However, there can be a vulnerability to sharing these things with strangers. Know that you don't have to write about your most intimate thoughts or experiences, if you don't want to. If you do feel that it’s important that a selection committee knows this about you, reflect on why you would like for them to know that, and then be sure that it has an organic place in your statement. Your passion will come through in how you speak about these topics and their importance in forming you as an individual and budding scholar.
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Statement of Purpose
The statement of purpose is very important to programs when deciding whether to admit a candidate. Your statement should be focused, informative, and convey your research interests and qualifications. You should describe your reasons and motivations for pursuing a graduate degree in your chosen degree program, noting the experiences that shaped your research ambitions, indicating briefly your career objectives, and concisely stating your past work in your intended field of study and in related fields. Your degree program of interest may have specific guidance or requirements for the statement of purpose, so be sure to review the degree program page for more information. Unless otherwise noted, your statement should not exceed 1,000 words.
A core part of the Harvard Griffin GSAS mission is to identify and attract the most promising students to form a dynamic and diverse community. We are committed to educating individuals who reflect the growing diversity of perspectives and life experiences represented in society today and who will contribute to our commitment to sustain a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive environment. Please share how your experiences or activities will advance our mission and commitment. Your statement should be no longer than 500 words.
Please visit Degree Programs and navigate to your degree program of interest to determine if a writing sample is required. When preparing your writing sample, be sure to follow program requirements, which may include format, topic, or length.
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Writing Your Personal Statements
Your personal statement must demonstrate to the admissions committee that you have considered graduate school and their specific program seriously. It’s your opportunity to summarize your academic and research experiences. You must also communicate how your experiences are relevant to preparing you for the graduate degree that you will be pursuing and explain why a given program is the right one for you.
The personal statement is where you highlight your strengths. Make your strengths absolutely clear to the reviewers, because they will often be reading many other statements. Your self-assessments and honest conversations with peers and advisors should have also revealed your strengths. But you must also address (not blame others for) weaknesses or unusual aspects of your application or academic background.
Your personal statement should focus on two main aspects: your competence and commitment.
1. Identify your strengths in terms of competence that indicate that you will succeed in the grad program and provide examples to support your claims. Start your statement by describing your strengths immediately. Because faculty will be reading many statements, it’s important to start off with your strengths and not “bury your lede.” Consider traits of successful graduate students from your informational interviews, and identify which of these traits you have. These traits could involve research skills and experiences, expertise in working with techniques or instruments, familiarity with professional networks and resources in your field, etc.
- Check your responses from the exercises in the self-assessment section. You may wish to consult notes from your informational interviews and your Seven Stories . Write concise summaries and stories that demonstrate your strengths, e.g. how your strengths helped you to achieve certain goals or overcome obstacles.
- Summarize your research experience(s). What were the main project goals and the “big picture” questions? What was your role in this project? What did you accomplish? What did you learn, and how did you grow as a result of the experience(s)?
My research examines the interplay between U.S. domestic politics and foreign policy during the Cold War. As a native New Yorker, I saw firsthand how dramatically my city changed after 9/11, which prompted my early interest in U.S. policy at home and abroad. As an undergraduate at the City College of New York, I planned to study international relations with a focus on U.S. foreign affairs. I also quickly became involved in student activist groups that focused on raising awareness about a wide range of human rights issues, from the Syrian refugee crisis to asylum seekers from Central America.
The more I learned about the crises in the present, the more I realized that I needed a deeper understanding of the past to fully grasp them. I decided to pursue a PhD in history in order to gain a clearer understanding of human rights issues in the present and to empower young student-activists like myself.
— Vannessa Velez, PhD candidate in History
Addressing weaknesses or unusual aspects
- Identify weaknesses or unusual aspects in your application—e.g., a significant drop in your GPA during a term; weak GRE scores; changes in your academic trajectory, etc. Don’t ignore them, because ignoring them might be interpreted as blind spots for you. If you’re unsure if a particular issue is significant enough to address, seek advice from faculty mentors.
- Explain how you’ll improve and strengthen those areas or work around your weakness. Determine how you will address them in a positive light, e.g., by discussing how you overcame obstacles through persistence, what you learned from challenges, and how you grew from failures. Focusing on a growth mindset or grit and this blog on weaknesses might also help.
- Deal with any significant unusual aspects later in the statement to allow a positive impression to develop first.
- Explain, rather than provide excuses—i.e., address the issue directly and don’t blame others (even if you believe someone else is responsible). Draft it and get feedback from others to see if the explanation is working as you want it to.
- Provide supporting empirical evidence if possible. For example, “Adjusting to college was a major step for me, coming from a small high school and as a first-generation college student. My freshman GPA was not up to par with my typical achievements, as demonstrated by my improved GPA of 3.8 during my second and third years in college."
- Be concise (don’t dwell on the issues), but also be complete (don’t lead to other potentially unanswered questions). For example, if a drop in grades during a term was due to a health issue, explain whether the health issue is recurring, managed now with medication, resolved, etc.
2. Explain your commitment to research and their graduate program, including your motivation for why you are applying to this graduate program at this university. Be as specific as possible. Identify several faculty members with whom you are interested in working, and explain why their research interests you.
- Descriptions of your commitment should explain why you’re passionate about this particular academic field and provide demonstrations of your commitment with stories (e.g., working long hours to solve a problem, overcoming challenges in research, resilience in pursuing problems). Don’t merely assert your commitment.
- Explain why you are applying to graduate school, as opposed to seeking a professional degree or a job. Discuss your interest and motivation for grad school, along with your future career aspirations.
I am definitely not your traditional graduate student. As a biracial (Native American and white), first-generation PhD student from a military family, I had very limited guidance on how best to pursue my education, especially when I decided that graduate school was a good idea. I ended up coming to this PhD in a very circuitous manner, stopping first to get a JD and, later, an MFA in Young Adult Literature. With each degree, I took time to work and apply what I’d learned, as a lawyer and as an educator. Each time, I realized that I was circling around questions that I couldn’t let go of—not just because I found them to be fascinating, but because I did (and still do!) feel that my research could help to bridge a gap that desperately needs bridging. Because my work is quite interdisciplinary, I strongly feel that I wouldn’t have been able to pursue this line of research without the degrees and life experience I gained before coming to this program.
— Jamie Fine, PhD candidate in Modern Thought and Literature
Statement of Purpose: subtle aspects
- Think in terms of engaging faculty in a conversation rather than pleading with them that you should be admitted. Ask reviewers to read drafts with this concern in mind.
- With later drafts, try developing an overall narrative theme. See if one emerges as you work.
- Write at least 10 drafts and expect your thinking and the essay to change quite a bit over time.
- Read drafts out loud to help you catch errors.
- Expect the "you' that emerges in your essay to be incomplete. . . that’s OK.
- You’re sharing a professional/scholarly slice of "you."
- Avoid humor (do you really know what senior academics find funny?) and flashy openings and closings. Think of pitching the essay to an educated person in the field, but not necessarily in your specialty. Avoid emotionally laden words (such as "love" or "passion"). Remember, your audience is a group of professors! Overly emotional appeals might make them uncomfortable. They are looking for scholarly colleagues.
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Getting Into College , Going Back to College
10 Best Personal Statement Tips for University Applications
Follow these personal statement tips to ensure you are giving the college admissions team exactly what they need to get to understand who you are and why you want to attend their institution.
During your college application process, you will likely be asked to provide a personal statement. These personal statement tips are designed to help you develop the most well-rounded, succinct and engaging personal statement to catch the attention of the admissions committee.
What is a Personal Statement?
A personal statement is an essay that gives the college admissions team insight into who you are why you are a good fit for their school. Sometimes, application requirements will refer to a personal statement as a “college essay,” but they are the same thing.
Why is a Personal Statement so Important?
Personal statements are necessary and useful for various reasons. For one, they give the admissions committee an idea of who you are. Other than your grades, test scores and resume/CV , a personal statement is your first real opportunity to showcase both your personality and your reasoning for why you want to attend their institution.
Furthermore, a personal statement helps to showcase your writing and communication skills. At times, there may be some extenuating circumstances in your life which have affected your grades or caused gaps in your educational experience, and a personal statement can offer you an opportunity to explain such events.
Top 10 personal statement tips.
Personal statements vary by subject matter and length depending on the application requirements. The truth is, some schools, like University of the People , may not even require a personal statement. But, for the applications that do, here are some helpful tips to follow so that you can ensure your personal statement is the best it can be.
1. Outline First
Before you begin to write, organize your thoughts on paper and then place them into an outline that follows a flow moving from introduction to conclusion. When you are able to write down what’s important to include, you can better stick to the character count as you can remove any pieces that don’t serve to support the story.
2. Talk to Others
A lot of people find it challenging to write about themselves. If this is the case, it may be useful to ask others who know you well to describe you. Share the prompt with friends and family and ask them for feedback on what you intend to write. Sometimes, they may have an idea that you didn’t even consider that could better answer the question.
3. Don’t Procrastinate
It’s easy to push off writing essays until the last minute, but when it comes to a personal statement for a college application, one thing is for sure and that’s that there is a deadline. Waiting until last minute will not only cause unnecessary stress, but it will also limit the amount of time you have to receive feedback and make revisions and edits. When it comes to writing, the editing process can at times be more challenging and time consuming than the initial draft, so you want to give yourself adequate time to perform the rewrites.
4. Ignore Character Count
A lot of personal statements will be given a character count limit. A character count not only takes into account words, but it also includes spaces and grammatical notations like periods and commas as a “character.” If you’ve written any kind of essay, you probably already know that it can be harder to write a short piece than a long piece because you have to remain laser focused and prioritize the most important information. During your first draft, remain mindful of the character count, but start writing by ignoring it. Get everything on the page first and then you can narrow down the pieces you don’t need by asking yourself, “If I remove this sentence or section, does the essay lose any of its meaning or impact?”
5. Lead Them In
College admissions teams will be reading a ton of statements at a time, so you want to reel them in from the first sentence. The first sentence is called a hook sentence because it’s meant to hook them in! Some tips for writing a great hook sentence is to remain relatable, insight curiosity, or even use dialogue to pull out a piece of the story which will make the reader want to know what happened next.
6. Focus on Strengths
The personal statement is the real introduction to your character. Outside of your achievements that can be read through your documentation, you want to be honest and entirely yourself. Throughout this process, focus on your strengths and explain why the school is a good fit for you.
7. Cover Any Gaps
In life, things come up which can of course affect your academic achievements. Whether you had to take a gap year for health reasons or to take care of family or overcome financial struggles or flee from war within your country , these are all understandable extenuating circumstances that should be explained and taken into consideration during the admissions process. Your personal statement may offer you the chance to explain your story.
8. Get Feedback
Published authors all have editors. Be sure to ask people you trust for feedback on your personal statement. Whether you ask teachers, parents or friends, be sure to take their feedback seriously, but not personally. The intention of editing is to make the personal statement more understandable.
9. Read it Out Loud
Our brain can fill in missing words to make sense of sentences even when they are not written properly. That’s why one of the best ways to proofread your own work is to read it out loud. When reading out loud, you are more likely to catch mistakes and typos.
10. Let It Go
Upon submitting your personal statement, you may feel the urge to go back and read it over and over. But, since it’s already been sent off, it’s best if you don’t read it anymore. You have done the heavy lifting, now move on and wait for your acceptance letter!
Personal statements are meant to be exactly that, personal. But, in order to collect your thoughts strategically and answer the prompt well, you’ll want to leverage resources and people close to you to make sure you’re telling your story in a cohesive flow. Make sure to give yourself adequate time for editing and be completely honest because the ultimate goal is for the college admissions team to get a sense of who you are!
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Examples of Successful Statements
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Media File: Examples of Successful Statements
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My interest in science dates back to my years in high school, where I excelled in physics, chemistry, and math. When I was a senior, I took a first-year calculus course at a local college (such an advanced-level class was not available in high school) and earned an A. It seemed only logical that I pursue a career in electrical engineering.
When I began my undergraduate career, I had the opportunity to be exposed to the full range of engineering courses, all of which tended to reinforce and solidify my intense interest in engineering. I've also had the opportunity to study a number of subjects in the humanities and they have been both enjoyable and enlightening, providing me with a new and different perspective on the world in which we live.
In the realm of engineering, I have developed a special interest in the field of laser technology and have even been taking a graduate course in quantum electronics. Among the 25 or so students in the course, I am the sole undergraduate. Another particular interest of mine is electromagnetics, and last summer, when I was a technical assistant at a world-famous local lab, I learned about its many practical applications, especially in relation to microstrip and antenna design. Management at this lab was sufficiently impressed with my work to ask that I return when I graduate. Of course, my plans following completion of my current studies are to move directly into graduate work toward my master's in science. After I earn my master's degree, I intend to start work on my Ph.D. in electrical engineering. Later I would like to work in the area of research and development for private industry. It is in R & D that I believe I can make the greatest contribution, utilizing my theoretical background and creativity as a scientist.
I am highly aware of the superb reputation of your school, and my conversations with several of your alumni have served to deepen my interest in attending. I know that, in addition to your excellent faculty, your computer facilities are among the best in the state. I hope you will give me the privilege of continuing my studies at your fine institution.
(Stelzer pp. 38-39)
Having majored in literary studies (world literature) as an undergraduate, I would now like to concentrate on English and American literature.
I am especially interested in nineteenth-century literature, women's literature, Anglo-Saxon poetry, and folklore and folk literature. My personal literary projects have involved some combination of these subjects. For the oral section of my comprehensive exams, I specialized in nineteenth century novels by and about women. The relationship between "high" and folk literature became the subject for my honors essay, which examined Toni Morrison's use of classical, biblical, African, and Afro-American folk tradition in her novel. I plan to work further on this essay, treating Morrison's other novels and perhaps preparing a paper suitable for publication.
In my studies toward a doctoral degree, I hope to examine more closely the relationship between high and folk literature. My junior year and private studies of Anglo-Saxon language and literature have caused me to consider the question of where the divisions between folklore, folk literature, and high literature lie. Should I attend your school, I would like to resume my studies of Anglo-Saxon poetry, with special attention to its folk elements.
Writing poetry also figures prominently in my academic and professional goals. I have just begun submitting to the smaller journals with some success and am gradually building a working manuscript for a collection. The dominant theme of this collection relies on poems that draw from classical, biblical, and folk traditions, as well as everyday experience, in order to celebrate the process of giving and taking life, whether literal or figurative. My poetry draws from and influences my academic studies. Much of what I read and study finds a place in my creative work as subject. At the same time, I study the art of literature by taking part in the creative process, experimenting with the tools used by other authors in the past.
In terms of a career, I see myself teaching literature, writing criticism, and going into editing or publishing poetry. Doctoral studies would be valuable to me in several ways. First, your teaching assistant ship program would provide me with the practical teaching experience I am eager to acquire. Further, earning a Ph.D. in English and American literature would advance my other two career goals by adding to my skills, both critical and creative, in working with language. Ultimately, however, I see the Ph.D. as an end in itself, as well as a professional stepping stone; I enjoy studying literature for its own sake and would like to continue my studies on the level demanded by the Ph.D. program.
(Stelzer pp. 40-41)
How to Write a Personal Statement for Any University Course
Every personal statement has the same goal: to persuade the university admissions office that you deserve a place..
Sometimes the personal statement is called an application essay or a statement of purpose. The name may change, but the goal remains the same: persuasion.
It may only be requested at the end of the application process, but you should never treat the personal statement as an afterthought. Your personal statement is critical to your application for three reasons:
1. It sets you apart from the competition
When applying to top-ranked universities - the Ivy Leagues and Oxbridges - it isn’t enough simply to meet the requirements for English, GPA, or exam results. Every year, thousands of students who meet all of these requirements are rejected. There just aren’t enough places for all the students who qualify. That’s where the personal statement really counts. It’s your chance to explain why you should be selected ahead of the rest, based on your past work, volunteering, or your sincere passion for the subject.
2. It explains your reason for applying
Universities care a lot about drop-out rates (hint: it affects their ranking) so they want to know your reason for applying. They want to see evidence of your interest in the subject and your commitment to completing the course. Justifying your decision to apply is also important if there’s something different about your application. Maybe you’re older. Maybe you’re transferring from another course. Maybe you don’t meet one of the requirements for entry. Use the personal statement to explain what led you to apply and how you will work extra hard or bring extra value to the course if selected.
3. It shows evidence of good writing and thinking skills
The people who read your personal statement and make the final decision on your application are the same people who’ll be teaching you on the course. Therefore, the personal statement is an indication of the kind of writing they can expect to receive from you over the next few years. Your personal statement will be viewed negatively if it’s lazily or poorly written, or it appears to be copied from another source. But it will be regarded positively if it shows an appreciation of how to write formally, but with enough originality to make it interesting for the reader.
Now that you understand the importance of the personal statement, read on for an explanation of the different statement types, common questions concerning personal statements, and advice on how to get expert feedback on your own personal statement.
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Personal Statement Types
First degree applicants do not typically have much experience, so they should compensate with evidence of good scholastic skills and a passion for the subject they intend to study. Scholastic skills can be demonstrated by awards and achievements, a logically structured and well written argument, and some background knowledge of the subject.
The same rules apply as for undergraduate statements, but you’ll need to include more evidence of experience gained through employment or internships. Postgrad applicants should also have a clearly defined career goal that justifies their application. Most PG degrees require a resume or CV in addition to the personal statement and reference letter.
MBA applications vary greatly. Sometimes they ask precise questions that you answer in the form of an essay. These essays reveal your analytical thinking skills in relation to your industry and your past positions. Sometimes no instructions are given, in which case you should still try to write at length from an analytical perspective.
PhD applications are a little different since they usually incorporate dialogue with a supervisor plus submission of a master’s dissertation and separate research proposal. However, the personal statement is still important as a way of tying these various components together into a convincing argument for accepting you onto the doctoral course.
What Makes a Personal Statement GOOD, BAD, or GREAT?
Personal statement faq, how long should the personal statement be.
Some schools tell you exactly how many words to write. Most don’t, however. As a general rule, 500 words is the average length of a university personal statement. You may need to write 1000 words or more if applying to an MBA or PhD, as these applications require you to give evidence of previous work or research.
What should the personal statement include?
The personal statement should include your reason(s) for applying, why you qualify for the programme, and how it will benefit you in future. As long as you write convincingly about these three points, you will have written a good personal statement. Undergraduate and postgraduate statements will have a slightly different focus. See my checklist at the bottom of the page.
How formal should the personal statement be?
Universities expect student writing to conform to academic standards, so the personal statement should be written in a formal style. You also don’t know who will read your statement, so it’s better to be too formal than risk rejection as a non-serious applicant. But be careful: it’s not an academic essay, so resist the temptation to stuff it with academic references and quotations. The personal statement is a statement about a person: that person is you.
How honest should the personal statement be?
There is no point exaggerating your ability, as you will soon be found out when the course begins. However, the personal statement is a sales presentation and you are its object, so you’ll want to be selective and highlight only your best achievements. If there’s a major problem that can’t be hidden - for example, you dropped out of your last course - use the personal statement to explain it.
What if I don’t have a clear goal for the future?
If you don’t have any idea what you will do after graduation, or you have several conflicting career goals, I recommend you choose (or invent) one clear goal and write about it in your personal statement. Remember that no-one is going to read your statement once you enrol, while a vague or confusing statement is all too easy for the admissions office to reject.
How should I submit my personal statement?
Some countries operate systems that allow one statement to be submitted and sent to multiple universities. UCAS in the UK is one example. However, the most common way is still to send separate applications to different schools. Some schools might require you to type or paste your statement into a web browser, but uploading an attachment is still the most common method. When uploading your statement, save it as a PDF rather than a Word document in order to preserve formatting.
Can someone help me write my personal statement?
It is really important that you write the personal statement yourself: the hint is in the name! However, many students ask a teacher or consultant to check and, where necessary, edit their statement in order to give themselves the best chance of acceptance. Just make sure you seek an expert opinion, as most people have no more knowledge than you of what makes a good personal statement.
Can IELTS Academic check my personal statement?
Yes, IELTS Academic offers an editing and advisory service for university personal statements. We cannot write your statement for you. This is your responsibility. However, we can help you make it as close to perfect as possible, giving you the best chance of a place at university. Read more»
Personal Statement Checklist
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Personal statements for university applications
Forming a key part of your university application, you should use the UCAS personal statement to showcase how your skills, experience and aspirations make you a good fit for the course
What is a university personal statement?
With two sides of A4 to work with, this is your opportunity to tell course tutors in your own words the reasons why you feel you'd be an asset to their university.
How long should a personal statement be?
There's no maximum word count, but you'll need to remain within the 4,000 character limit (including spaces and punctuation) allowed in your UCAS application, as well as keeping the statement to a total of 47 lines of text.
UCAS recommends that you write your personal statement in Microsoft Word before copying and pasting it into the online application form. This is because the application page times out after being inactive for 35 minutes. You'll still need to account for how individual characters are counted differently between Microsoft Word and the online form.
What do I write about?
When considering what to include in your personal statement, take time to think about the reasons you're applying to university and what makes you a suitable candidate.
To make this work for different courses and universities, you'll need to find some common ground by providing examples of why you'll be a success - demonstrating enthusiasm for the choices you've made and how they fit in with your career ambitions.
You'll need to talk about the relevant skills, experience and achievements you've gained through extra-curricular activities - whether these are sporting, musical or creative.
As well as going through your academic record to date, your personal statement also gives you the opportunity to mention any work experience or volunteering you've undertaken, detailing what you've learned from it. For instance, you may have been involved with the Young Enterprise programme at school and have a better idea of how to manage your money.
It's never too late to show you're actively preparing for higher education. Get involved with an extra-curricular club, secure a part-time job or do some volunteering. You could even complete a free online course in a relevant subject with an organisation such as FutureLearn or the Tech Nation Digital Business Academy .
If you're an international student, you could discuss why the UK is your preferred study destination ahead of universities in your own country. Don't forget to mention the English language tests, courses and qualifications you've taken.
Finally, if there are any personal or financial circumstances that have had a strong bearing on your performance at school or college, you can outline these in this statement.
How do I write a personal statement?
By breaking your personal statement down into sections, you can ensure you cover the most relevant points.
Course-relevant skills and credentials should be given prominence in the overall structure. You can use the course descriptions to help you.
However, as you only have the one personal statement for all your choices, if you've selected a variety of subjects that aren't that similar, you'll need to focus on the transferable skills and common qualities typically valued by universities - for example, creativity or problem-solving.
Adopt a simple, concise and natural style for writing your statement, while still showing enthusiasm. Allow your personality to shine through.
It can often take a number of redrafts until the statement is ready, so allow plenty of time to write it properly, and set yourself a schedule.
Get used to reading your statement aloud and asking for feedback from family, teachers and advisers before redrafting to make sure your writing flows well. You'll also need to check for the correct punctuation, spelling and grammar and not just rely on a spellchecker.
Keep an up-to-date copy of your statement saved so you can refer back to it during the interview process.
How do I start a personal statement?
At this point, think about why you're applying for the course, and how you became interested in it in the first place. Was it through work experience or studying the subject at A-level?
Once you've noted down your reasons for choosing the course, you can move on to your skills and what makes you stand out positively from other applicants, providing evidence of where each attribute has been utilised.
After you've written this down, condense it so it's less wordy. You can then attempt to write a punchy opening paragraph showcasing your excitement at the prospect of going to university, and an understanding of what you're getting yourself into.
Get off to the best start by using the UCAS personal statement builder .
What should I avoid?
- As you'll only have the one statement, it's important not to mention universities by name - unless you plan on applying to just a single institution.
- Remember that admissions staff may not share your sense of humour, so steer clear of anything that might get misinterpreted.
- Refrain from using clichés or making arrogant or exaggerated statements.
- Resist any temptation to use somebody else's work as your own. The UCAS Similarity Detection Service utilises the Copycatch system, which will compare your statement against those stored within a comprehensive library of statements - those sent to UCAS and elsewhere (including paper publications).
- Be careful not to ramble. Structuring your work so you know how much space you have for each section will make sticking to your main points much easier.
University personal statement examples
While you can find some examples online - from the likes of Reed.co.uk and King's College London - it's important to use your own words and not copy them directly.
Indeed, the UCAS personal statement worksheet can prove just as useful when it comes to helping you decide what to put in your own personal statement.
You can simply print out this personal statement template and jot down any ideas into the various sections as you think of them.
Find out more
- Read the full lowdown on how to apply for university .
- Get tips on preparing for a university interview .
- For further advice on writing a university personal statement, visit UCAS .
- Take a look at The Topic for the latest news, insights and opinions.
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Whether you’ve just finished your undergraduate degree or you want to pivot your career, grad school may be the next logical step in your educational and professional development.
But how do you apply to graduate school so you have the best chance at receiving that coveted acceptance letter? Read on to learn how to submit the perfect graduate school application to impress admissions officers. For information on due dates and a printable timeline, check out our grad school application checklist .
How Grad Schools Evaluate Your Application
The exact criteria for graduate school admissions vary depending on the school and program. Still, there are certain qualifications, including GPA and grades from specific undergraduate courses, that all admissions officers consider. Most graduate programs look for a minimum 3.0 GPA.
A Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score of at least 318 is considered strong and can help your application. A professional resume with work experience related to your program is often helpful or required. Programs typically ask for letters of recommendation and a graduate school admissions essay as well.
Are You a Good Fit for the Program?
Whichever program you apply for, you must first make sure it’s a good match. Consider the following questions before submitting your application:
- Do you love the field of study the program you’re applying to focuses on?
- Do you have an undergraduate degree or work experience in an area related to your graduate school program of choice?
- Will earning this degree help you advance your career or earning potential?
- Do you have the resources to pay for graduate school, either through your own funds or through loans, grants and scholarships? For more information about this, see our guide on how to pay for graduate school .
Taking time to reflect on these questions can help you decide whether graduate school is right for you. You can also reach out to professors, students and alumni to get a better feel for your prospective program. You might even schedule a tour of the campus before applying.
Do You Have Relevant Internship or Research Experience?
Internships and relevant work experience may not make or break your graduate school application, but they can help set your application apart from the rest. Once you’re in a graduate program, you may be required to complete an internship or research work to graduate.
What Does Your Statement of Purpose Demonstrate?
A statement of purpose or personal statement tells admissions committees more about you. This essay should touch on your interests, especially as they relate to the graduate school program. The statement of purpose should also describe what you can bring to the program and why you want to be a part of it.
What Do Your Letters of Recommendation Demonstrate?
Letters of recommendation are important for graduate school because they show that credible academics and professionals think highly of you and believe you would be a good asset to the program you’re applying to.
An effective letter of recommendation is written by someone who knows you well academically or professionally, such as a professor, mentor or work supervisor. It should include titles of relevant research articles you’ve written, academic awards and honors and relevant academic activities like projects, presentations or research studies.
What Do Your Undergraduate Transcripts Show?
Simply put, official undergraduate transcripts verify that you attended the school you said you did and maintained a GPA that’s consistent with the program’s requirements. Undergraduate transcripts also allow admissions officers to see whether you took courses relevant to your prospective course of study.
How Are Your GRE Scores?
Most graduate school programs require students to take the GRE as part of the application process. An overall score of 318 or higher is considered a good score, so you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to study and retake the test if needed before your grad school application is due.
Is Your Prior Academic Experience Relevant?
While you don’t always need an undergraduate degree in the same field as the graduate program you’re applying to, admissions officers typically consider relevant undergraduate coursework, research projects and work experience when reviewing applications.
Statement of Purpose Tips
Your statement of purpose gives you the chance to show some individuality and let your personality shine through. You should aim to leave a memorable impression and craft a well-written, concise statement of purpose to boost your application. See our tips below for writing a statement of purpose.
Follow the Prompt Carefully
Be sure to answer all of the questions in the prompt to give admissions officers all the information they need. Additionally, make sure to follow any guidelines for things like style, font and file format. While these factors may seem small, incorrect formatting can lead to your application being disqualified.
This is your chance to tell your story. Write a statement of purpose that only you could write. Does your passion for medicine date back to an injury or illness you had as a child? Did you grow up watching Law & Order and feel inspired? These details remind graduate admission committees that you are a well rounded person with much to offer.
Discuss Your Goals
Aside from how your own personal and career goals relate to the program, you should also touch on how you can contribute to your school or program of choice. Do you plan on collaborating with colleagues or contributing to your institution’s research goals? Make this known in your statement of purpose.
Know Your Audience
What is the culture of the school or program you’re applying to? What does the institution value? Spend some time on its website and social media accounts to find out. You can even reach out to current students and alumni to get a better idea so you can tailor your statement of purpose accordingly.
Proofread and Revise as Needed
Don’t just write your first draft and send it off. After writing it, take some time to sleep on it, then come back and read and revise with fresh eyes. You should also have someone like a professor or tutor read your statement of purpose and provide feedback.
The interview is a big part of the graduate school application process if your program requires one. Make sure to come ready and prepared.
Do Your Research
Read up on the university and program you’re applying to so you can sound knowledgeable and interested during the interview. Answer questions such as, how big is the program or school? What have its graduates gone on to do? What are the program requirements?
You can also read up on any academic articles or research professors in your program have created.
Prepare Questions for Your Interviewer
Remember, this isn’t just about the school interviewing you. You’re also interviewing the program to determine if it’s a good fit for you. What career and network opportunities are available to students and alumni? What about grants and scholarships? Will you be paired with a mentor or an advisor?
Practice With Mock Interviews
Practice makes perfect. Look into common graduate school interview questions, and practice with a professor, classmate or friend. You can even practice solo using these 20 Graduate School Interview Questions .
Bring a Professional Portfolio
Depending on the nature of your work, it may be helpful to bring in a professional portfolio, such as if your speciality is print graphic design. Other subject areas like writing or research lend themselves to online portfolios, which you can send to your interviewers ahead of the scheduled interview.
What Does a Grad School Application Look Like?
In addition to your transcripts, test scores, statement of purpose and portfolio, your graduate school application will require some basic background information about you.
- Full legal name
- Any previous legal names used
- Age and date of birth
- Social Security number
Ethnicity information about applicants and current students is used by the university to see if it is meeting diversity quotas and to share with stakeholders. You may select one particular ethnicity, or choose options like “other,” “multiracial” or “decline to state.”
Scholarships, grants and special services can be available to active-duty and reserve military service members and veterans.
- Current mailing address
- Current phone number
- Current email
- The program you’re applying to
- Any speciality or concentrations available as part of your program
- Specialities in your program that you want to focus on
- Research topics or projects you want to pursue
History of Education
- Undergraduate degree and major
- Academic achievements and awards
Standardized Test Information
- *GRE scores (Check with your program as some may no longer require or accept GRE scores )
- Scores from any other required tests
Deadlines for financial aid often coincide with deadlines for admissions. Make sure to submit the FAFSA to ensure you qualify for as many financial aid resources as possible. Visit the Federal Student Aid website for more information, and check out our guide on how the FAFSA differs for graduate school .
- Relevant work history related to your program
- Internship or research experience related to your program
Do you speak the primary language spoken in the area where your campus is located? Do you speak more than one language? These are things admissions officers will want to know.
- Certifications or special licenses or training
- Special Awards
- Contact information, like phone numbers and emails, for professors, mentors and work supervisors who are willing to provide a reference
When submitting your online application, make sure to upload all required documents so your application will not be disqualified.
- Graduate school application fees can range from around $60 to more than $100. You must pay this fee before you can submit your application.
Confirm and Submit Form
- Finally, make sure to confirm that all your information is correct and all necessary documents are uploaded before you submit your application.
This article was originally published on Forbes.com on Feb. 3. 2023. Author is Ryah Cooley Cole, and Editor is Brenna Swanston.
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I am keen to pursue MSc International Management at University of Brighton. By researching the course curriculum available at university website, I become to know that this course helps students to develop the global business knowledge which will help me to achieve my future career goal. Moreover, I believe getting a chance to pursue my study career in thisUniversity will progress me both professionally and intellectually. Besides the opportunity to apply ....
Personal Statement - MSc Healthcare Leadership
My name is Md R Islam and I am 25 years old. I am from Bangladesh. Right now, I am intending to pursue the MSc Healthcare Leadership programme at BPP University. By studying this programme I will be able to evaluate critically a range of leadership models, techniques, and appropriate application to everyday working practice. Moreover, I believe getting a chance to pursue this MSc course at this University will progress me both professionally and intellectu....
SOP - MSc Computer Science with Professional Experience
I amkeento pursueMSc ComputerSciencewith ProfessionalExperienceatYork StJohn University. This programme will balance bothadvancedpractical skills and theoreticalknowledge to providewith theabilityto entera range ofprofessionalIT disciplines andemployment.Moreover, this coursehelps student to furtherdevelop their knowledge andskills within the cutting-edgeareas of ComputerScience. Accordingto myresearch andfindingsIhavefound that an MScin ComputerScience....
SOP - MSc Accounting and Finance [Advance Diploma Route]
I have chosen to study MSc Accounting and Finance [Advance Diploma Route] at BPP University. This course modules is designed to develop critical thinking and analytical skills, the further study is essential for a successful global accounting career. The course is ideal for starting a successful career through invaluable insights and practical knowledge which will be playing a vital role to achieve my future career objectives. BPP University offers some....
Personal Statement - MSc Planning and Development
I am M Ali and from Bangladesh. I am writing this application with great joy to study the course MSc Planning and Development at the Queen’s University Belfast. This course is designed to provide a broad knowledge of planning and professional skills and to use statistical analysis. More importantly, this course will teach me how they solve problems, and create new solutions for the built environment and understand the complexity of environmental mana....
PS - MSc Accounting and Finance [Advanced Diploma Route]
I am willing to study the MSc Accounting and Finance [Advanced Diploma Route] programme at BPP University. The course is ideal for starting a successful career through invaluable insights and practical knowledge which will be playing a vital role to achieve my future career goal. After completing my HSC & SSC in Science group, I completed my Bachelor of Arts and Masters in Da’wah and Islamic Studies. During my school days, I had taken part in ....
Personal Statement of Purpose - MSc Management
I am intending to study the MSc Management at University of Brighton to enhance my academic knowledge and create better and further opportunities for my career. By doing a lot of research on the University website for the course, I can confidently say that this course will satisfy my curiosity and hope and it will lead me to a career that I aim to develop in a sustainable way. In this MSc Management program at Brighton University, I will be able to do c....
Statement of Purpose - MBA
I am Md S Uddin,keen to study the MBA with work placement at York St John University London Campus to enhance my current academic attainments, extend my skills in Business and with professional skills and create better opportunities to design my career in the field. Following my Secondary and Higher Secondary education were science background and I studied my Bachelor and Master Degree in Daw’ah and Islamic Studies under the International Islamic ....
Personal Statement - MSc International Business
I have been doing extensive research since my last graduation to narrow-down my prospective course of study. After much deliberation, I have decided to pursue MSc International Business at University of Bedfordshire. The program provides its students with the knowledge and professional skills that go beyond the scope of standard management and I believe that this program will give the premise to me to advance into a profession with extraordinary potential.....
Statement of Purpose-MSc International Business
Following my Successful completion of the MSc International Accounting and Finance at London South Bank University, I have made a strategic decision to extend my academic knowledge and skills further with an MSc in International Business so that I can gain mastery in varied functions of business and organisations. My aim is to gain control over my efficiency and leave no gap in my accomplishments so that I can be a human asset for my employer or my own pro....
Statement of Purpose - MSc International Business
Upon finishing my recent study of MSc International Finance, while waiting for the final result, a thorough inspection in my accomplishments till now, I find myself narrowed to a one dimensional direction of accounting and finance. A transition and shift to UK’s dynamic environment from my home country Pakistan, I have observed the broader aspects of career directions and demands of global business organisations. The needs for rounded knowledge and s....
Statement of Purpose - DBA Course
I am very keen to follow Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) course at University of the Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD). While doing my Master in Management with Finance from BPP University after my MBA from University of West London, I became more attached to the management area of business and industry and planned my career in this arena. The DBA course will enable me to gain new horizon of knowledge in those areas and boost my career prospects as....
Statement of Purpose MSc Clinical Dermatology course
A medical graduate from the College of Medicine, University of Sulaimani, Iraq with few years of experience as a Dermatology Professional, I am driven to gain advanced level knowledge and skills in the field from scholastic institution and specialise in Clinical Dermatology with a master degree. After exploring my options and researching different study opportunities, I am keen to follow the MSc Clinical Dermatology course offered by Kings College London. ....
MBA - sample statement of Purpose
To master my business management knowledge and skills that I have gained from my recently completed Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) course, I aim to follow the Master of Business Administration course (MBA) and progress towards my career goals. After extensive search and research of course, universities and study destinations, I have decided to undertake the MBA programme offered by the University of the West of Scotland (UWS). At UWS, this MB....
LLM Commercial and Corporate Law - Sample Personal Statement
My name is T Ahmed. My nationality is Bangladeshi and I am 25 years old. I am intending to pursue the LLM Comparative Commercial Law at BPP University to to achieve a deeper understanding of the field of Comparative Commercial Law. I look forward to having the opportunity to study it to a higher level. Following my SSC & HSC, I have completed my Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from ASA University of Bangladesh in 2019. Then I admitted myself at Jagannath Un....
MBA with pre-master's
A recent graduate of Political Science, I have been in search of scopes for job opportunities in my home country and found very limited options let alone extreme competition in Bangladesh Job Market where unemployment rate is too high. The analysis has prompted me to re-think and plan realistically for further study options that can facilitate more and better career prospects. An evaluation of the current trends of the job market in Bangladesh, I have esta....
MSc Business with International Management with Advanced Practice
Today’s changing nature of global business and organisations that are evolving at fast pace to emancipate traditional management with business leaders who are versatile and pragmatic. Given the recent development that my home country India has seen in the last decade, it has become integral to co-ordinate and sustain the growth with skilled and professional human capital. This importance goes further with demands for skilled and educated women to put....
MBA (Master of Business Administration)
I am keen to pursue the Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme offered by the celebrated Bristol Business School of University of the West of England (UWE). As the MBA is recognised as the benchmark professional qualification in management, this rigorous and career-oriented MBA programme, once qualified will give the message to my employer that I can think strategically and beyond my immediate role. These programmes will undoubtedly help me g....
Following my recently completed Master of Business Studies under the National University of Bangladesh, I take great interest to study an MBA programme under the Northampton University, the ‘Gold’ ranked university by the Teaching Excellence Framework. I have made the decision after considering all aspects of my academic and career developments. In my Master of Business Studies, I have gathered one-dimensional knowledge mainly focused to man....
MSc Clinical Dermatology
Note: the example personal statement (statement of purpose) below is for guidelines only and to help you understand how to write one - do not copy any part of it. When applying to universities, write your own personal statement (statement of purpose) according to your profile for the course you are applying. Please check HERE for detailed guidelines on how to write a personal statement (statement of purpose). I am keen to follow the MSc Clinical Dermato....
DBA - Doctor of Business Administration
I am highly motivated to study the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programme to enhance my academic accomplishments and gain further personal and professional developments. The qualification would facilitate me to realise my career plan as a business management consultant and develop it to further height. I have recently completed MSc Management with Finance course - the study has provided me insights into various areas of management and busines....
Personal Statement for MBA course application
A recent graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Degree, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) course as my postgraduate study pathway is the reflection of my academic pursuance for greater depth of knowledge in the area. While reviewing my options for a master’s study between MSc and MBA, I have concluded that being a premier business and management qualification, an MBA could provide rounded knowledge while complementing my ....
Doctor of Business Administration - DBA
I am keen to follow the DBA programme offered by the University of the West of Scotland to gain further academic progression and enhance my academic heights to next level. This accomplishments along with my current qualifications would provide me the strength to realise my career plan as a consultant for business and organisations. From my research, I have found out that as the number of MBA holders continues to grow, the DBA qualification enables gradu....
MSc International Human Resource Management
I want to pursue my higher education at University of Bedfordshire for the MSc International Human Resource Management in November 2021 intake. I want to study this course to enhance my current academic credentials and prepare myself as a career ready graduate with required skills and knowledge for my future managerial role (HR & Admin ) at BEXIMCO Textile Limited , Bangladesh. I strongly believe that this course will meet the requirement with relevant....
MSc Finance and Business Management
My Enthusiasm knows no bound to apply for the MSc Finance and Business Management course at the University of Bedfordshire. While researching on my further study options in the UK, the course and its contents have caught my attention – the 3 in 1 combination of finance, business and management incorporated in one master degree is truly a perfect opportunity to specialise in 3 vital functional areas of business organisations. The course has been ....
MSc Computing Networking Programme
I am interested to follow the MSc Computing Networking programme at the University of Bedfordshire because this course will enhance my knowledge of computer networking technologies - through the use of real-world applications, I will gain an in-depth understanding of advanced and academic computing skills. I have studied BCS Certificate and Diploma level in computing followed by year 3 top up BSc in Computing under the University of Greenwich. In thes....
The MBA Global Business is a premier masters qualification offered at Coventry University London – the qualification is a powerful demonstration of some of the most sought-after attributes in any executive: intelligence; innovation; and determination. It blends established expertise with the latest thinking of contemporary business and management to provide a real catalyst to develop career. In a fiercely competitive employment market, the MBA giv....
LLM Commercial Law
With the procession of globalisation internationally based and active industries continue to grow each year and marching together. In this climate of globalisation, commerce and trade exert some of the most powerful influences on human activity and commercial relationships reflect a constantly evolving world. The above aspects have brought good practice along with malpractice in business and organisations. The ingenuity of traders and the complexity of ....
Developing countries like Bangladesh, my home country, we need Accountancy and Finance professionals equipped with Western and European qualifications accompanied by practically experienced social, cultural and economic activities practised there. There was a time, it had been almost impossible to gain access to these special qualifications by students in general. ACCA (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) – the largest accountancy b....
BSc (Hons) Professional Accounting Course
Note: the example personal statement (statement of purpose) below is for guidelines only and to help you understand how to write one - do not copy any part of it. When applying to universities, write your own personal statement (statement of purpose) according to your profile for the course you are applying. Please check HERE for detailed guidelines on how to write a personal statement (statement of purpose). My aim is to become a ....
I am motivated to study the ACCA course which predominantly focuses in accounting and finance with other key functional areas of business and organisation. The syllabus of the programme is modernised to address global issues virtually in all aspects of business. Being qualified with ACCA would equip me with complete knowledge and competences in professional capacity for accounting, finance, tax, audit, management, consultancy, marketing, human resource, co....
The ACCA Programme
I am an MA in the subject of English – English is a major international language and the language of corporate world. The language dominates the communications among business communities across the globe. The study of English itself does not have much merit in itself except for academic learning. The knowledge does not have much use apart from communication in the present global climate of business revolution. I have realised this after coming to ....
The ACCA Course
Though I have very strong academic achievements and qualifications, I have realised my attainments have enabled me extensive theoretical knowledge which requires transformation with professional skills and competences. Moreover, the theoretical parts of learning can be further explored with critical analysis techniques and tools. This findings in my skills shortage have prompted me to decide to study ACCA programme that offer professional edge with advance....
ACCA - Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Study
I am keen to pursue the ACCA programme because the programme is a comprehensive and intensive investigation into key areas in accounting and finance - it is both academically rigorous and closely in line with professional practice. Accounting has been defined as the measurement and disclosure of financial information that is used by managers, investors and others to make decisions about the allocation of resources within organisations. It is much more t....
MSc International Marketing Course
In today’s era of globalization, business functions are more independent and require specialist knowledge to sustain growth and remain competitive. General management with bit of knowledge in every function is no more effective and hence traditional management has shifted focuses on specialist knowledge and skills in individual units or single functions. Modern business organsiations now demand specialists in every department. I have learned this ....
Today’s world of success is dominated by business and Accounting is often described as the 'language of business', it involves analysing and using financial information to understand and evaluate the financial position of an organisation. Accounting is really the language business speaks. Business communicates in dollars and pounds and accountants are an integral part of that communication. A professional accounting qualification is not ju....
MSc International Marketing programme
From my recent study MBA, I have learned that marketing marks the heart and soul of most business because the success of a business is directly impacted by marketers – from the analyses of markets and consumers, to the advertising and selling of products. Successful businesses like Virgin, McDonalds, KFC, Apple, Coca-Cola, they all have one thing in common – a successful, dynamic marketing team. In a world where social media and relationship....
MSc Computer Networking
I write to express my enthusiasm and interests in the MSc Computer Networking study opportunity and particularly why University of Bedfordshire is my first preference as an institute for my higher study. As because I completed BEng (Hons) Telecommunication and Computer Networks Engineering from London South Bank University and as because Computer Networking one of my favorite subjects in undergraduate, I am very passionate and wish to promote my career in ....
Note: the example personal statement (statement of purpose) below is for guidelines only and to help you understand how to write one - do not copy any part of it. When applying to universities, write your own personal statement (statement of purpose) according to your profile for the course you are applying. Please check HERE for detailed guidelines on how to write a personal statement (statement of purpose). The world is changing, a....
LLB - the Bachelor of Laws (Hons) Course
My upbringing has honed my perception of society and people leading me to be acutely aware of social injustice, inequality, exploitation, discrimination, and religious fundamentalism, especially in a society such as the one I am a citizen of – Sri Lanka. As I grew up I nurtured a desire to work through my life in establishing a society that would be free from these. As such, I have chosen to study law (LLB) and take training as a Lawyer/Ba....
BSc (Hons) Business Management Course
A devoted student of business discipline since my secondary school, I have recently completed a BTEC Level 3 Certificate in Business successfully. The qualification has perfectly set a platform for me to start my bachelor degree study in the area of business in the UK universities. I have taken considerations for options available for me at different institutions, and finally decided to study the BSc (Hons) Business and Management at the BPP University, th....
BSc (Hons) Business and Management
Ba (hons) business management programme (final year).
I have chosen to pursue the BA (Hons) Business Management degree course under the University of Sunderland London because this course has been developed not only to reflect the increasing international dimension of business and management, but also to provide a range of opportunities and experiences that will help develop my the intercultural skills necessary to operate effectively across national and cultural boundaries. The study would give me a true ins....
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) programme
The globally recognised ACCA qualification is a badge of quality and professionalism – it provides knowledge and skills at the highest professional standard. It is a broad-based qualification, focusing on the essential skills of accounting, business, finance and management - ACCA incorporates subjects, in fact, areas of accountancy, management, audit, tax, corporate law, finance and other related functions of business and organisation. I am intere....
PGD Strategic Leadership and Executive Management Programme
I intend to follow the Post Graduate Diploma in Strategic Leadership and Executive Management programme at the Westminster Kingsway College (WKC) which is in the forefront in providing this life-skill course. The programme has been designed on a combination of executive coaching and work based learning – this allow learners to define a set of objectives designed to have a real impact on their workplace and develop these into a work-based learning ....
MSc Project Management
The principle reason that motivated me to pursue the MSc Project Management course is the appeal and challenge Project Managers experience in delivering assignments they undertake in their career. The qualification, indeed, lead to very smart and modern careers for graduates who love challenges, creativity, leadership and success. As a graduate of Mathematics, I have cultivated these features in my student life. Now, for my master level of study, I would l....
MSc Medical Ultrasound Programme
I am keen to study the MSc Medical Ultrasound programme to develop my skills and work towards advanced and consultant-level practice. As a healthcare professional, the area has drawn my interest and I believe the study will enhance my competences to further level with newer domain of knowledge and skills. From the study, I aim to develop my understanding of the relevant ultrasound principles including current applications of ultrasound and imaging modal....
MSc Marketing and Business Management
As they say: without marketing there is no business; and both marketing and business must be management efficiently and effectively, I have decided to study a post-graduation qualification that combines both and carry on from my current qualification. I have found the MSc Marketing and Business Management fulfils my academic goals and would help achieving my career aspirations. In fact, today’s business world is constantly changing; technological ....
MSc Management programme
Note: the example personal statement (statement of purpose) below is for guidelines only and to help you understand how to write one - do not copy any part of it. When applying to universities, write your own personal statement (statement of purpose) according to your profile for the course you are applying. Please check HERE for detailed guidelines on how to write a personal statement (statement of purpose). I have chosen to study t....
MSc Management with Project Management
As a student, I have been always in search for the knowledge and skills that would put me the right direction with concurrent trends of global business and position me in strong career role that I enjoy with thorough and complete knowledge, skills and efficiency and thus be in demands with employers as a key player. With my BSc in Computer Science and MSc in Mathematics from India, I sought for business management knowledge from Europe to earn transfera....
MSc Management with Finance
A bachelor degree holder in the business administration from south Asia, I have recently accomplished a BSc (Hons) in Business Studies from the University of Ulster, United Kingdom. While these two qualifications from two different continents are at same academic level, the different learning set up and environment, education system have transformed my knowledge with newer perspectives and better insights. The study has, in fact, driven my academic pursuan....
MSc International Tourism and Hospitality Management
I have noticed that tourism and hospitality are closely-related areas of an economic and social phenomenon that have developed a critical role in the world economy. The industry has become one of the major players in international commerce, and represents at the same time one of the main income sources for many developing countries with economic and employment benefits. The profession is not only profit oriented but also interesting and full of colourful f....
MSc International Marketing
I take great inspiration from my recently attained higher study programme, MBA International under Anglia Ruskin University to further expand my knowledge in the branches of business management and gain all-round efficiency. One of the major areas that has been highlights of global business success in most recent time is International Marketing and this was not served in the menu of my MBA syllabus. To fulfil my academic aspiration with complete satisfacti....
MSc International Business Programme
I am keen to follow the MSc International Business Programme at University of Ulster London to fulfil my academic vision of gaining the ultimate contemporary knowledge and skills in the area and to achieve my career goal and its subsequent development in international arena. Earlier I had studied an MBA via BTEC Advanced Professional Diploma in Management Studies (APDMS). I was awarded 60 APL credits for the APDMS by New Bucks University towards t....
MSc International Business
In the era of “Information & Technology”, the world has truly provided a wonderful platform for every person to chase their own dream and turn them into reality. As for me, my dream is to study MSc International Business at University of Bedfordshire. I set my heart on developing my current academic achievement under University of Bedfordshire, because I will be constantly exposed to skills and ideas that will enable me to develop into a managemen....
MSc International Business Management
Business success requires a breadth of knowledge and abilities of efficient management to survive in fierce global competition. The economic backbone of contemporary world is backed by business and creative management that can administer and conducts operations with strategic action in different functions. Since my academic interests and career visions evolve in the area, I have made decision to study the MSc International Business Management programme wit....
I have chosen to study MSc Finance and Business Management programme because I believe from the study I will develop an in-depth understanding of finance and its management in the success of business. I will learn to apply latest thinking on finance and management to the analysis of the key business problems being experienced by the world's major businesses and to develop the research skills necessary to tackle financial and business management problem....
MSc Finance and Accounting
It is my most recent study of BA Honours in International Management that has given me a good chance to assess my learning needs with specific needs and I have identified what areas to focus more and specialise on in today’s global environment of economic challenge. After careful thought and research, I have finally synchronised my career targets with my academic aims and made my decision to follow the MSc Accounting and Finance programme. The two....
MSc Applied Finance
Note: the example personal statement (statement of purpose) below is for guidelines only and to help you understand how to write one - do not copy any part of it. When applying to universities, write your own personal statement (statement of purpose) according to your profile for the course you are applying. Please check HERE for detailed guidelines on how to write a personal statement (statement of purpose). I have chosen to study MSc Applied Finance p....
MSc Applied Finance Programme
I have chosen to study MSc Applied Finance programme because I believe from the study I will develop an in-depth understanding of finance to apply latest thinking on finance and management to the analysis of the key problems being experienced by the world's major businesses and to develop the research skills necessary to tackle financial and business management problems and issues. Unlike my current qualification MBA, I will have the opportunity to ....
MSc Accounting and Finance
Note: the example personal statement (statement of purpose) below is for guidelines only and to help you understand how to write one - do not copy any part of it. When applying to universities, write your own personal statement (statement of purpose) according to your profile for the course you are applying. Please check HERE for detailed guidelines on how to write a personal statement (statement of purpose). I have chosen to study MSc Ac....
Today's business environment is continuously changing and the management is facing diverse challenges ranging from the financial constraints of the current global economy, to the demand for raw materials and the need to focus on sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Future managers must be prepared with knowledge and skills that addresses international business issues in contemporary time and reflects on the actions and needs for capabili....
MBA in IT Management
I have chosen to study the MBA (Information Technology Management) programme under the University of Bedfordshire because this programme is designed to help students meet the challenges that managers are facing in the global business environment in the IT industry- this would be an ideal opportunity to enhance my academic knowledge, develop professional experience and prepare for career progressions. From extensive research on the course, syllabus, cont....
MA International Human Resource Management
My choice of MA International Human Resource Management course as my higher study programme is not a selection at spur of the moment; it is a reflection of my long preparation since I completed my Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree under Eastern University, Bangladesh. In fact, in my BBA study, my major was Human Resource Management and I thoroughly enjoyed strategic human resource management, industrial relations, organisation change and ....
MA in International Development
I am M Hasan from Bangladesh. I am writing this statement with great joy to study the course MA International Development at the University of East Anglia (UEA). This course is designed to provide a broad knowledge of moral, practical, and political challenges that are faced by the world today. More importantly, this course will teach me how the world politics, morals, gender equality, climate change and access to education shapes the economy. If I get the....
LLM International Human Rights Law
I have made my mind to study LLM International Human Rights Law at University of Bedfordshire (UoB). LLM Human Rights Law is a unique programme designed to enable students to progress to become human rights practitioners and specialists in this dynamic area of law. This course would allow me to gain academic progress sion since it is&n....
Bachelor of Laws (Hons)
Lawyers play different roles in eradicating corruption, uplifting human rights and establishing the rule of law. Hence, I believe that training as a Lawyer would certainly give me the best opportunity to stand up against all the wrongs in the society and that would be the best way to serve the people of my country. For this, the first step I like to take is to study the LLB (Honours) programme. The LLB is the quickest and most common route to becoming a....
HND Business Management
I am keen to study the HND Business Management at the highly esteemed Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College as part of my higher education plan and reach to my career goals. This course under the well-known awarding body Edexcel has been designed to prepare students with contemporary business management knowledge to match the ever changing global business and organisations and their effective management. The course structure is planned to dev....
Extended Masters in Management
I am keen to follow the Extended Masters offered by the BPP University, UK’s only university exclusively dedicated for business and the professions. As this 2 year programme is designed with a Pre-Masters Diploma in Business Management in the 1st year and then an MSc in the 2nd year – the programme aims to prepare students with pre knowledge for the chosen field of MSc at the university including MSc Management, MSc Management with Finance, ....
Degree Foundation Programme
Note: the example personal statement (statement of purpose) below is for guidelines only and to help you understand how to write one - do not copy any part of it. When applying to universities, write your own personal statement (statement of purpose) according to your profile for the course you are applying. Please check HERE for detailed guidelines on how to write a personal statement (statement of purpose). I am eager to follow the Degr....
BSc (Hons) Nursing
I want to study nursing because I believe it will be the start of a long and successful career in working in the medical field. My goal is to work in operating theatres. I want to develop a set of skills which will stay with me for the rest of my life and kick start a career doing something I love. In fact, I would like to study nursing because I feel it will lead me directly to one of the most emotionally fulfilling careers available, as well as giving....
BSc (Hons) International Business Management
I am pleased to apply for the BSc (Hons) International Business Management since I have found the programme crossing my academic progression route. I have found the programme offered by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) very interesting in fulfilling my academic and career goal. The course offered by ARU covers all the major functional areas of business and organisation from finance and marketing to human resource management and information management; it ....
BSc (Hons) Business Management
The time I realised the employment market and the economic backbone of the world is dominated by business degree holders, I had already completed my BA (Pass) course in general discipline. In particular, my work role at Inspire System Limited as Account Executive has inspired my ambition to gain qualification in business related area significantly. Driven by my dream, I applied to the UK Government College, Westminster Kingsway College to study BTEC Lev....
BSc (Hons) in Business and Tourism
Tourism is now one of the largest industries in the world, with increasingly less and less of the world untouched by its influence. As such, it operates in highly dynamic and diverse sets of environments. Tourism Business, Tourism Management have brought business and tourism in single platform. The modern tourism industry requires managers with relevant knowledge and skills. A BSc programme in Business and Tourism can mingle business and tourism for the....
PGD Strategic Leadership and Executive Management
It gives me great pleasure to apply for the PGD Strategic Leadership and Executive Management programme at the Westminster Kingsway College, a publicly funded highly trusted college in Central London. I have made the decision, after careful thought and extensive research, to study this programme as my higher education in the UK with the vision to gain skills that would enhance my knowledge and competency at higher level academically and professionally. ....
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
Following my MSc in Financial Management qualification in 2012, I have been in constant search for a real career for couple of years with my Tier 1 Post Study Work Visa. Today after 2 years, I have the chance to re-assess my position and discover the reasons for not being able to match what I really want as career, and this goes without saying that I must acquire professional competency, skills and knowledge that contemporary employers look for, not ....
BA (Hons) Business and Marketing
Modern business is a dynamic environment in which customer wants and needs constantly change at an ever-faster pace. New products and services are launched into already crowded markets on a regular basis. Such an environment can be challenging. A Bachelor Degree in Business and Marketing qualification can prepare me for the rigours of modern business life, enabling me to exploit the exciting opportunities available. I have found the BA (Hons) Business and ....
BA (Hons) Business Management (Final Year)
Business success requires a breadth of knowledge and abilities of efficient management to survive in....
How to Write a Compelling Grad School Personal Statement
Your graduate school personal statement is your opportunity to make a lasting impression on admissions committees. It is your chance to demonstrate why you are the perfect candidate for your desired program. But often, the task of writing a personal statement can be overwhelming.
To help guide you through this process, here are some valuable tips compiled by UK Online recruitment specialists.
Tips Before You Start Writing
Be authentic and reflect.
Before you put pen to paper, take some time to reflect on your life experiences, academic journey, and career aspirations. Be authentic and true to yourself in your writing. Highlight the unique aspects of your life that have led you to this point. The admissions committee is interested in who you are as an individual.
Showcase your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree. Explain what drives you, why you are passionate about your chosen field, and how this program fits into your long-term goals. Admissions committees want to see that you have a clear sense of purpose and a genuine interest in the subject.
Your personal statement is the perfect place to highlight your academic and extracurricular experiences that have prepared you for this program. Discuss any research, internships, or projects that have influenced your decision to pursue graduate studies. Connect these experiences to your future academic and career goals.
Convey Writing Skills
Effective communication is a crucial skill for graduate students. Your personal statement should showcase your writing abilities. Ensure your statement is well-structured, free of grammatical errors, and flows logically. Seek feedback from peers or writing centers to enhance its quality.
Make an Impression
Your opening paragraph is your chance to make a memorable first impression. Craft an engaging introduction that captivates the reader's attention. Use a powerful anecdote, a thought-provoking question, or a striking statement to draw them in. Admissions committees review numerous applications, so standing out from the beginning is vital.
Things You Should Include in Your Personal Statement
Your introduction should provide a glimpse of your personality and what motivates you. It sets the tone for the entire personal statement, so make it compelling.
Share your academic history and personal background. Discuss your achievements, academic journey, and relevant experiences. Explain how your background has led you to the point of applying for this specific program.
Motivation and Goals
Clearly articulate your reasons for pursuing this graduate program. What are your short-term and long-term goals? Explain how the program aligns with your aspirations. This section should convey your enthusiasm and commitment.
Relevance of Experience
Highlight the experiences, internships, or research projects that have contributed to your readiness for this program. Connect these experiences to the skills and knowledge you will bring to the graduate program. Show that you are well-prepared.
Discuss what makes you unique. Mention your unique qualities, skills, or attributes that set you apart from other applicants. This is your chance to stand out and show why you're a valuable addition to the program.
In your conclusion, summarize your key points and reiterate your passion for the program. Express your enthusiasm for the opportunity to join the institution. End on a positive note and leave the reader with a memorable impression.
Remember to be authentic, showcase your motivation, highlight your experiences, convey your writing skills, and make a lasting impression. Craft a personal statement that reflects your unique journey and demonstrates your readiness for graduate studies. Best of luck with your application!
- Apply Grad School
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If you have completed your undergraduate degree (bachelor's or equivalent) or will have completed it prior to your intended matriculation date at Yale, you may apply to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).
A master's degree is not required to apply for a PhD at Yale, although some programs give preference to applicants with post-baccalaureate training. Consult your program of interest directly for information on how it evaluates applications.
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- $105 application fee or fee waiver.
- Standardized tests . GRE requirements vary by program. TOEFL or IELTS are necessary for most non-native English speakers.
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- Some programs have additional requirements, such as a writing sample . You can find information about any specific requirements on the program's website.
Where Do I Begin?
Decide if you will apply for a PhD or a terminal Master’s (MA, MS) in one of the programs available at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences . (Note that you will earn one or more Master's degrees en route to a PhD) Learn about the program: its faculty, course offerings, and resources. Read the faculty's research publications. If you can identify and articulate why the program is a good fit for you and show how your preparation and interests align well with it, you will have a strong application.
A note to students applying to one of Yale’s professional schools or programs:
- If you are applying for a PhD in Architecture, Environment, Investigative Medicine, Law, Management, Music, Nursing, or Public Health, or for an MS in Public Health, or an MA in Music, be sure to use the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences PhD/Master's application.
- If you are applying for any other degree at one of the University’s professional schools (Art, Architecture, Divinity, Drama, Environment, Global Affairs, Law, Management, Medicine, Music, Nursing, and Public Health), visit that school’s website for further instructions. Those programs have separate admissions policies and processes that are administered by the professional schools, not GSAS.
Application deadlines vary by program, so please see Dates and Deadlines for information about your program of interest.
All new students enroll in the fall, and the admissions process begins nearly a year in advance of matriculation.
Some PhD and Master’s degree programs require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Check your program's standardized testing requirement before you apply.
In addition, applicants whose native language is not English may need to take an English Language test (TOEFL or IELTS).
The application for Fall 2024 entry is now available.
Be sure to complete and submit the application before your program's application deadline.
Your application fee or an approved fee waiver, is due upon submission of your application.
Your letters of recommendation do not need to be received before you will be able to submit your application. However, since programs begin reviewing applications shortly after the respective application deadline, please be sure that your letters of recommendation are submitted promptly.
What Happens After I Submit My Application?
The faculty admissions committee in each department and program begins reviewing applications shortly after their application deadline. Led by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Director of Graduate Admissions (DGA), the committee will recommend students for admission to the Graduate School. Once confirmed by the deans of the Graduate School, the admissions office will release final decisions to applicants.
Unlike undergraduate admissions, the admissions office and staff of the Graduate School maintain the application, the application process, and other administrative transactions, but the admissions staff does not review applications or make admissions decisions. That responsibility is handled by the faculty of each department or program.
Most admissions decisions are provided between February and early March. You will receive an email notification when your admissions decision is available.
If you are accepted for admission, you will need to decide if you wish to accept our offer by April 15. We abide by Council of Graduate School's April 15 Resolution , regarding graduate financial support.
Ready to apply? Begin your application today.
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How to write a personal statement
If you want to give current article to your teenage child you might be right. But adults can be interested in it too. Personal statement is a piece of individual writing a person usually encloses to his or her university application. It's never too late to study, universities accept not only young and enthusiastic people but representatives of all ages. Anyway, we think it's vital to know how to write a personal statement. Who knows maybe next year you'll express desire to go back to school! Internet as usual can offer you a huge amount of personal statement examples for any case. We prefer to stick to theory that it should be unique and reflect best traits of your character and has a full story of your achievements. Personal statement format is not strict but of course there is a plan to follow. First is introduction. It should be catchy and captivate reader's attention from first sentence. In several blocks tell briefly but vividly about your education, experience and skills. Don't ask anyone for help, use your own words and phrases, let the committee know what a person you are. Search for tips on how to write a personal statement but do writing part yourself, without appropriating anyone's thoughts. In personal financial statement explain need of scholarship or financial aid. In personal mission statement define your primary goals you plan to achieve in life with help of high school.
Personal statement examples for different aims
Not to get lost under flood of information about personal statements, everyone should know that for each type of high school there should be a unique piece of paper.
Personal statement for graduate school won't contain any information about your desperate need of financial assistance in studying. This is what a personal financial statement for.
Planning to become a famous doctor and getting a medical certificate? Write a medical school personal statement, describe your preference. There is surely a noble reason for choosing career of doctor. After finishing studies and applying for a place in hospital as an intern there is a necessity to write residency personal statement. And again you say what made you think this very hospital would provide the best experience for you.
Dreaming of a career in jurisprudence? Be sure to make best law school personal statement ever. The competition between applicants is quite hard, as there are plenty of them. With moderate or low grades knowledge of how to write a personal statement is not just important, it's vital. When looking through samples ignore those that don't belong to necessary sphere. Medical school personal statement examples are not proper when applying for law school.
Importance of a good statement
Use of correct personal statement format is significant. Grades matter too but a brilliant piece of writing may win you a place in high school. Devote as much time as possible to compose it. Even when making a personal statement for college do your best. Examine your work several times, make notes, change part you don't like, give it to you teacher or senior to evaluate. Personal mission statement examples will help to make a right decision and sometimes completely change your mind.
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Ready to Apply?
To apply, please complete the online application process via the CMU College of Engineering website. After creating your account, you will receive a PIN via email. This PIN, combined with your password, enables you to save your application progress and continue at a later time. Through your account, you can track the status of your application and access your admission decision.
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Your application will include:.
If you have publications that you would like the admissions committee to review, please link to them in your online resume.
What Not to Include:
Please DO NOT mail any paper documents to the CEE Graduate Admissions Office, such as a resume/CV, test scores, publications, official transcripts, financial documents, or certificates as they will not be included in your file for review by the admissions committee.
Any additional hard copy material mailed to the CEE Graduate Admissions Office will be discarded.
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Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate their English proficiency by taking either the TOEFL, Duolingo, or IELTS exam. Please arrange for the official test scores to be sent directly to us from the respective testing agency.
If you have previously earned a degree from a U.S. institution, you may submit an older version of your TOEFL, Duolingo, or IELTS scores for consideration. Contact our graduate admissions office for questions about qualifications.
Students with a degree outside of engineering.
While many of our incoming students have a degree in Civil Engineering, we have admitted individuals with backgrounds in various engineering, science, and information technology branches.
Students must hold a Bachelor’s degree to be admitted to the graduate program in CEE and must have completed a set of basic mathematics and science courses.
You will be asked to upload a completed Course Audit Form with your online application.
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50 Best Personal Growth Quotes for Your Next Chapter
Looking for some inspiration to kick off your next chapter a positive way? Regardless of your goals, these words – from some of the most notable authors, scientists, philosophers, politicians, business professionals and athletes – are sure to resonate.
Bookmark these 50 best personal growth quotes to draw upon in the months ahead:
1. “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” - Jane Goodall
2. “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” - Albert Einstein
3. “Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” - Carrie Fisher
4. “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” - Abraham Maslow
5. “The swiftest way to triple your success is to double your investment in personal development.” - Robin Sharma
6. “Don’t go through life, grow through life.” - Eric Butterworth
7. “We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” - Oprah Winfrey
8. “Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” - Bernice Johnson Reagon
9. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” - Amelia Earhart
10. “People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” - Rob Siltanen
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11. “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” - Frederick Douglass
12. “I would like to think that all of my successes in life are really just the fruit of my failures.” - Yvie Oddly
13. “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” - Maya Angelou
14. “I’ve got a theory that if you give 100% all the time, somehow things will work out in the end.” - Larry Bird
15. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain
16. “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” - Edith Wharton
17. “By doing the work to love ourselves more, I believe we will love each other better.” - Laverne Cox
18. “We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.” - Henry Ward Beecher
19. “Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong.” - Ella Fitzgerald
20. “Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.” - Hillary Clinton
21. “You can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.” - Shonda Rhimes
22. “Sometimes in life we take a leap of faith. Remember, the leap is not about getting from one side to the other. It’s simply about taking the leap…and trusting the air, the universal breath, will support your wings so that you may soar.” - Kristi Bowman
23. “Recognizing that you are not where you want to be is a starting point to begin changing your life.” - Deborah Day
24. “Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” - Steve Maraboli
25. “Be patient with yourself. You are growing stronger every day. The weight of the world will become lighter…and you will begin to shine brighter. Don’t give up.” - Robert Tew
26. “Permit yourself to change your mind when something is no longer working for you.” - Nedra Glover Tawwab
27. “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you…never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” - Harriet Beecher Stowe
28. “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” - Babe Ruth
29. “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” - Thomas Jefferson
30. “Pain, pleasure and death are no more than a process for existence. The revolutionary struggle in this process is a doorway open to intelligence.” - Frida Kahlo
31. “Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” - Chinese Proverb
32. “You are the one that possesses the keys to your being. You carry the passport to your own happiness.” - Diane von Furstenberg
33. “What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
34. “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” - Carl Bard
35. “It is never too late to be who you might have been.” - George Eliot
36. “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” - Malala Yousafzai
37. “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experiences that reveals the human spirit.” - e.e. cummings
38. “'First things first' might be a cliche, but it's a useful one that means prioritizing what matters most to you and believing there is no wrong answer.” - Stacey Abrams
39. “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential…these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” - Confucius
40. “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” - Rick Warren
41. “If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with a life you don’t want.” - Kevin Ngo
42. “The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.” - Benjamin Mays
43. “When we’re growing up there are all sorts of people telling us what to do when really what we need is space to work out who to be.” - Elliot Page
44. “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.” - Stephen Covey
45. “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” - Ernest Hemingway
46. “The power of imagination makes us infinite.” - John Muir
47. “When someone tells me ‘no,’ it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.” - Karen E. Quinones Miller
48. “Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.” - Les Brown
49. “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” - Warren Buffett
50. “With self-discipline most anything is possible.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Roosevelt’s words may well be the key to your success in your journey ahead. Whether you’re pursuing a new dream , working hard toward ongoing goals or making a plan to transform your life in some way, self-discipline will be a major component in seeing it through.
If you find any of these quotes particularly inspirational for your personal growth consider printing them out and posting them in the places you view often throughout the day. Sometimes a simple quote can impact your day in the most positive of ways.
Know someone who needs a bit of motivation? Share these quotes and help them on their personal growth journey.
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Rebecca LeBoeuf ’18 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn .
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The Undue Burden the Medical School Application Process Places on Low-Income Latinos
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The demographic of physicians in the United States has failed to include a proportionate population of Latinos in the United States. In what follows, I shall argue that the medical school admission process places an undue burden on low-income Latino applicants. Hence, the underrepresentation of Latinos in medical schools is an injustice. This injustice relates to the poor community health of the Latino community. Health disparities such as diabetes, HIV infection, and cancer mortality are higher amongst the Latino community. The current representation of Latino medical students is not representative of those in the United States.
The demographic of physicians in the United States has failed to include a proportionate number of Latinos, meaning people of Latin American origin. Medical schools serve as the gatekeepers to the medical field, and they can alter the profession based on whom they admit. With over 60 million Latinos in the United States, people of Latin American origin comprise the largest minority group in the nation.  In 2020-2021, only 6.7 percent of total US medical school enrollees and only 4 percent of medical school leadership identified as Latino.  Latino physicians can connect to a historically marginalized community that faces barriers including language, customs, income, socioeconomic status, and health literacy. I argue that the medical school admissions process places an undue burden on low-income Latino applicants. This paper explores the underrepresentation of Latinos in medical schools as an injustice. A further injustice occurs as the barriers to medical education result in fewer Latino doctors to effectively deliver health care and preventive health advice to their communities in a culturally competent way.
I. Latino Community Health Data
The terms Latino and Hispanic have largely been considered interchangeable. US government departments, such as the US Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), define Hispanic people as those with originating familial ties to native Spanish-speaking countries, most of whom are from Latin America. The term Latino is more inclusive because it refers to all of those with strong originating ties to countries in Latin America, including those coming from countries such as Brazil and Belize who are not native Spanish speakers. Throughout this work, I refer to the term Latino because it is more inclusive, although the data retrieved from US government departments may refer to the population as Hispanic. “Low-income” refers to the qualifying economic criteria for the AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program Poverty Guidelines.  The AAMC Fee Assistance Program is designed to help individuals who do not have the financial means to pay the total costs of applying to medical school. For this paper, low-income refers to those who qualify for this program.
The US government gathers data about Latino community health and its health risks. The Latino community has a higher poverty rate than the non-Hispanic white community.  Latino community health has long trailed that of white people collectively. For example, the Latino community experiences higher levels of preventable diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, and hepatitis, than the non-Hispanic white community does. 
The CDC collects data about Latino community health and provides statistics to the public. Latinos in the United States trail only non-Hispanic blacks in prevalence of obesity. The Latino adult obesity rates are 45.7 percent for males and 43.7 percent for females.  Of the 1.2 million people infected with HIV in the United States, 294,200 are Latino.  The infection rate of chlamydia is 392.6 per 100,000 ― 1.9 times the rate in the non-Hispanic white population.  The tuberculosis incidence rate is eight times higher than that of non-Hispanic white people at 4.4 per 100,000.  Furthermore, Latinos have the third highest death rate for hepatitis C among all races and ethnic groups.  The prevalence of total diabetes, diagnosed and undiagnosed, among adults aged 18 and older also remains higher than that of non-Hispanic whites at 14.7 percent compared to 11.9 percent. 
The high disease rate evidences the poor health of the community. Furthermore, 19 percent of Latinos in the United States remain uninsured.  Almost a quarter of the Latino population in the United States lives in poverty.  The high incidence of disease, lack of insurance, and high poverty rate create a frail health status for the Latino community in the United States. The medical conditions seen are largely preventable, and the incident rates can be lowered with greater investments in Latino community health. Considering the health disparities between Latino and non-Hispanic White people, there is an ethical imperative to provide better medical care and guidance to the Latino community.
II. Ethical and Practical Importance of Increasing the Number of Latino Physicians
Minorities respond more positively to patient-physician interactions and are more willing to undergo preventative healthcare when matched with a physician of their racial or ethnic background.  Latino medical doctors may lead to an improvement in overall community health through improved communication and trusting relationships. Patient-physician racial concordance leads to greater patient satisfaction with their physicians.  Identifying with the ethnicity of a physician may lead to greater confidence in the physician-patient relationship, resulting in more engagement on the patient’s behalf. A randomized study regarding African American men and the race of their attending physician found an increase in requests for preventative care when assigned to a black doctor.  Although the subjects were African American men, the study has implications applicable to other minority racial and ethnic groups.
The application process is unjust for low-income Latinos. The low matriculation of Latinos in medical schools represents a missed opportunity to alleviate the poor community health of the Latino population in the United States. Medical school also would create an opportunity to address health issues that plague the Latino community. Becoming a physician allows low-income Latinos to climb the social ladder and enter the spaces in health care that have traditionally been closed off to them.
Nonwhite physicians significantly serve underserved communities.  Increasing the number of Latino doctors can boost their presence, potentially improving care for underserved individuals. Teaching physicians cultural competence is not enough to address the health disparities the Latino community faces. Latino physicians are best equipped to understand the healthcare needs of low-income Latinos. I contend that reforming the application process represents the most straightforward method to augment the number of Latino physicians who wish to work in predominantly Latino or diverse communities, thereby improving healthcare for the Latino community.
III. Cultural Tenets Affecting Healthcare Interactions
“Poor cultural competence can lead to decreased patient satisfaction, which may cause the patient not to attend future appointments or seek further care.”  Latino community health is negatively affected when medical professionals misinterpret cultural beliefs. Cultural tenets like a reservation towards medication, a deep sense of respect for the physician, and an obligation to support the family financially and through advocacy affect how Latinos seek and use the healthcare system. 
First, the Latino population's negative cultural beliefs about medication add a barrier to patient compliance. It is highlighted that fear of dependence upon medicine leads to trouble with medication regimens.  The fear stems from the negative perception of addiction in the Latino community. Taking as little medication as possible avoids the chance of addiction occurring, which is why many take the prescribed medicine only until they feel healthier, regardless of the prescribing regimen. Some would rather not take any medication because of the deep-rooted fear. Physicians must address this concern by communicating the importance of patient compliance to remedy the health issue. Explaining that proper use of the medication as prescribed will ensure the best route to alleviate the condition and minimize the occurrence of dependence. Extra time spent addressing concerns and checking for comprehension may combat the negative perception of medication.
Second, the theme of respeto, or respect, seems completely harmless to most people. After all, how can being respectful lead to bad health? This occurs when respect is understood as paternalism. Some patients may relinquish their decision-making to the physician. The physician might not act with beneficence, in this instance, because of the cultural dissonance in the physician-patient relationship that may lead to medical misinterpretation. A well-meaning physician might not realize that the patient is unlikely to speak up about their goals of care and will follow the physician’s recommendations without challenging them. That proves costly because a key aspect of the medical usefulness of a patient’s family history is obtaining it through dialogue. The Latino patient may refrain from relaying health concerns because of the misconceived belief that it’s the doctor’s job to know what to ask. Asking the physician questions may be considered a sign of disrespect, even if it applies to signs, symptoms, feelings, or medical procedures the patient may not understand.  Respeto is dangerous because it restricts the patients from playing an active role in their health. Physicians cannot derive what medical information may be relevant to the patient without their cooperation. And physicians without adequate cultural competency may not know they need to ask more specific questions. Cultural competency may help, but a like-minded physician raised similarly would be a more natural fit.
“A key component of physician-patient communication is the ability of patients to articulate concerns, reservations, and lack of understanding through questions.”  As a patient, engaging with a physician of one’s cultural background fortifies a strong physician-patient relationship. Latino physicians are in the position to explain to the patients that respeto is not lost during a physician-patient dialogue. In turn, the physician can express that out of their value of respeto, and the profession compels them to place the patient’s best interest above all. This entails physicians advocating on behalf of the patients to ask questions and check for comprehension, as is required to obtain informed consent. Latino physicians may not have a cultural barrier and may already organically understand this aspect of their patient’s traditional relationship with physicians. The common ground of respeto can be used to improve the health of the Latino community just as it can serve as a barrier for someone from a different background.
Third, in some Latino cultures, there is an expectation to contribute to the family financially or in other ways and, above all, advocate on the family’s behalf. Familial obligations entail more than simply translating or accompanying family members to their appointments. They include actively advocating for just treatment in terms of services. Navigating institutions, such as hospitals, in a foreign landscape proves difficult for underrepresented minorities like Latinos who are new to the United States. These difficulties can sometimes lead to them being taken advantage of, as they might not fully understand their rights, the available resources, or the standard procedures within these institutions. The language barrier and unfamiliar institutional policies may misinterpret patients’ needs or requests. Furthermore, acting outside of said institution’s policy norms may be erroneously interpreted as actions of an uncooperative patient leading to negative interactions between the medical staff and the Latino patient.
The expectation of familial contribution is later revisited as it serves as a constraint to the low-income Latino medical school applicant. Time is factored out to meet these expectations, and a moral dilemma to financially contribute to the family dynamic rather than delay the contribution to pursue medical school discourages Latinos from applying.
IV. How the Medical School Admission Process is Creating an Undue Burden for Low-Income Latino Applicants
Applying a bioethics framework to the application process highlights its flaws. Justice is a central bioethical tenet relevant to the analysis of the MD admissions process. The year-long medical school application process begins with the primary application. The student enters information about the courses taken, completes short answer questions and essays, and uploads information about recommenders. Secondary applications are awarded to some medical students depending on the institutions’ policies. Some schools ask all applicants for secondary applications, while others select which applicants to send secondary requests. Finally, interviews are conducted after a review of both primary and secondary applications. This is the last step before receiving an admissions decision.
The medical school application process creates undue restrictions against underserved communities. It is understood that matriculating into medical school and becoming a doctor should be difficult. The responsibilities of a physician are immense, and the consequences of actions or inactions may put the patients’ lives in jeopardy. Medical schools should hold high standards because of the responsibility and expertise required to provide optimal healthcare. However, I argue that the application process places an undue burden on low-income Latino applicants that is not beneficial to optimal health care. The burden placed on low-income Latino applicants through the application process is excessive and not necessary to forge qualified medical students.
The financial aspect of the medical school application has made the profession virtually inaccessible to the working class. The medical school application proves costly because of the various expenses, including primary applications, secondary applications, and interview logistics. There is financial aid for applications, but navigating some aid to undertake test prep, the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and the travel for interviews proves more difficult. Although not mandatory, prep courses give people a competitive edge.  The MCAT is one of the key elements of an application, and many medical schools will not consider applications that do not reach their score threshold. This practically makes the preparatory courses mandatory for a competitive score. The preparatory courses themselves cost in the thousands of dollars. There has been talk about adjusting the standardized test score requirements for applicants from medically underserved backgrounds. I believe the practice of holding strict cutoffs for MCAT scores is detrimental to low-income Latino applicants, especially considering the average MCAT scores for Latinos trail that of white people. The American Association of Medical Colleges’ recent data for the matriculating class of 2021 illustrates the wide gap in MCAT scores: Latino applicants average 500.2, and Latino matriculants average 506.6, compared to white applicants, who average 507.5 and white matriculants, who average 512.7.  This discrepancy suggests that considerations beyond scores do play some role in medical school matriculation. However, the MCAT scores remain a predominant factor, and there is room to value other factors more and limit the weight given to scores. The practice of screening out applicants based solely on MCAT scores impedes low-income Latino applicants from matriculating into medical school. Valuing the MCAT above all other admissions criteria limits the opportunities for those from underserved communities, who tend to score lower on the exam. One indicator of a potentially great physician may be overcoming obstacles or engaging in scientific or clinical experiences. There are aspects of the application where the applicant can expand on their experiences, and the personal statement allows them to showcase their passion for medicine. These should hold as much weight as the MCAT. The final indicator of a good candidate should not solely rest on standardized tests.
There is a cost per medical school that is sent to the primary application. The average medical school matriculant applies to about 16 universities, which drives up the cost of sending the applications.  According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, the application fee for the first school is $170, and each additional school is an additional $42. Sending secondary applications after the initial application is an additional cost that ranges by university. The American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS), the primary application portal for Medical Doctorate schools in the United States and Canada, offers the Fee Assistance Program (FAP) to aid low-income medical school applicants. The program reduces the cost of the MCAT from $325 to $130, includes a complimentary Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) subscription, and fee waivers for one AMCAS application covering up to 20 schools.  The program is an important aid for low-income Latino students who would otherwise not be able to afford to send multiple applications. Although the aid is a great resource, there are other expenses of the application process that the program cannot cover.
For a low-income applicant, the burden of the application cost is felt intensely. A study analyzing the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) data for applicants and matriculants from 2014 to 2019 revealed an association between income and acceptance into medical school. They state, “Combining all years, the likelihood of acceptance into an MD program increased stepwise by income. The adjusted rate of acceptance was 24.32 percent for applicants with income less than $50 000, 27.57 percent for $50 000 - $74 999, 29.90 percent for $75 000 - $124 999, 33.27 percent for $125 000 - $199 999, and 36.91 percent for $200,000 or greater.”  It becomes a discouraging factor when it is difficult to obtain the necessary funds.
The interview process for medical schools may prove costly because of travel, lodging, and time. In-person interviews may require applicants to travel from their residence to other cities or states. The applicant must find their own transportation and housing during the interview process, ranging from a single day to multiple days. Being granted multiple interviews becomes bittersweet for low-income applicants because they are morally distraught, knowing the universities are interested yet understanding the high financial cost of the interviews. The expense of multiple interviews can impede an applicant from progressing in the application process. Medical schools do not typically cover travel expenses for the interview process.
Only 4 percent of medical school faculty identify as Latino.  The medical school admission board members reviewing the application lack Latino representation.  Because of this, it is extremely difficult for a low-income Latino applicant to portray hardships that the board members would understand. Furthermore, the section to discuss any hardships only allows for 200 words. This limited space makes it extremely difficult to explain the nuances of navigating higher education as a low-income Latino. Explaining those difficulties is then restricted to the interview process. However, that comes late in the application process when most applicants have been filtered out of consideration. The lack of diversity among the board members, combined with the minimal space to explain hardships or burdens, impedes a connection to be formed between the Latino applicants and the board members. It is not equitable that this population cannot relate to their admissions reviewers because of cultural barriers.
Gatekeeping clinical experience inadvertently favors higher socioeconomic status applicants. Most medical schools require physician shadowing or clinical work, which can be difficult to obtain with no personal connections to the field. Using clinical experience on the application is another way that Latinos are disadvantaged compared to people who have more professional connections or doctors in the family and social circles. The already competitive market for clinical care opportunities is reduced by nepotism, which does not work in favor of Latino applicants. Yet some programs are designed to help low-income students find opportunities, such as Johns Hopkins’ Careers in Science and Medicine Summer Internship Program, which provides clinical experience and health professions mentoring.  Without social and professional ties to health care professionals, they are forced to enter a competitive job and volunteer market in clinical care and apply to these tailored programs not offered at all academic institutions.
While it is not unique to Latinos, the time commitment of the application process is especially harsh on low-income students because they have financial burdens that can determine their survival. Some students help their families pay for food, rent, and utilities, making devoting time to the application process more problematic.
As noted earlier, Latino applicants may also have to set aside time to advocate for their families. Because the applicants tend to be more in tune with the dominant American culture, they are often assigned the family advocate role. They must actively advocate for their family members' well-being. The role of a family advocate, with both its financial and other supportive roles ascribed to low-income Latino applicants, is an added strain that complicates the medical school application. As a member of a historically marginalized community, one must be proactive to ensure that ethical treatment is received. Ordinary tasks such as attending a doctor's appointment or meeting with a bank account manager may require diligent oversight. Applicants must ensure the standard of service is applied uniformly to their family as it is to the rest of the population. This applies to business services and healthcare.
It can be discouraging to approach a field that does not have many people from your background. The lack of representation emphasizes the applicant's isolation going through the process. There is not a large group of Latinos in medicine to look to for guidance.  The group cohesiveness that many communities experience through a rigorous process is not established among low-income Latino applicants. They may feel like outsiders to the profession. Encountering medical professionals of similar backgrounds gives people the confidence to pursue the medical profession.
V. Medical School Admission Data
This section will rely on the most recent MD medical school students, the 2020-2021 class. The data includes demographic information such as income and ethnicity. The statistics used in this section were retrieved from scholarly peer-reviewed articles and the Medical School Admission Requirement (MSAR) database. Both sources of data are discussed in more detail throughout the section. The data reveals that only 6.7 percent of medical students for the 2020-2021 school year identify as Latino. 
The number of Latino students in medical school is not proportional to the Latino community in the United States. While Latinos comprise almost 20 percent of the US population (62.1 million), they comprise only 6.7 percent of the medical student population.  Below are three case studies of medical schools in cities with a high Latino population.
VI. Medical School Application Process Case Studies
a) New York University Grossman School of Medicine is situated in Manhattan, where a diverse population of Latinos reside. The population of the borough of Manhattan is approximately 1,629,153, with 26 percent of the population identifying as Latino.  As many medical schools do, Grossman School of Medicine advertises an MD Student Diversity Recruitment program. The program, entitled Prospective MD Student Liaison Program, is aimed such that “students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in medicine are welcomed and supported throughout their academic careers.”  The program intervenes with underrepresented students during the interview process of the medical school application. All students invited to interviews can participate in the Prospective MD Student Liaison Program. They just need to ask to be part of it. That entails being matched with a current medical student in either the Black and Latinx Student Association (BALSA) or LGBTQMed who will share their experiences navigating medical school.
Apart from the liaison program, NYU participates in the Science Technology Entry Program (STEP), which provides academic guidance to middle and high school students who are underrepresented minorities.  With the set programs in place, one would expect to find a significantly larger proportion of Latino medical students in the university.
The Medical School Admission Requirement (MSAR) database compiled extensive data about participants in the medical school; the data range from tuition to student body demographics. Of the admitted medical students in 2021, only 16 out of 108 identified as Latino, despite the much larger Latino population of New York.  Furthermore, only 4 percent of the admitted students classify themselves as being from a disadvantaged status.  The current efforts to increase medical school diversity are not producing adequate results at NYU. Although the Latino representation in this medical school may be higher than that in others, it does not reflect the number of Latinos in Manhattan.
The Prospective MD Student Liaison Program intervenes at a late stage of the medical school application process. It would be more beneficial for a program to cover the entire application process. The lack of Latino medical students makes it difficult for prospective students to seek advice from Latino students. Introducing low-income Latino applicants to enrolled Latino medical students would serve as a guiding tool throughout the application process. An early introduction could encourage the applicants to apply and provide a resourceful ally in the application process when, in many circumstances, there would be none. Latino medical students can share their experiences of overcoming cultural and social barriers to enter medical school.
b) The Latino population in Philadelphia is over 250,000, constituting about 15 percent of the 1.6 million inhabitants.  According to MSAR, the cohort of students starting at Drexel University College of Medicine, located in Philadelphia, in 2021 was only 7.6 percent Latino.  18 percent of matriculated students identify as having disadvantaged status, while 21 percent identify as coming from a medically underserved community. 
Drexel University College of Medicine claims that “Students who attend racially and ethnically diverse medical schools are better prepared to care for patients in a diverse society.”  They promote diversity with various student organizations within the college, including the following: Student National Medical Association (SNMA), Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA), Drexel Black Doctors Network, LGBT Medical Student Group, and Drexel Mentoring and Pipeline Program (DMAPP).
The Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion of the College of Medicine offers support groups for underrepresented medical students. The support offered at Drexel occurs at the point of matriculation, not for prospective students. The one program that does seem to be a guide for prospective students is the Drexel Pathway to Medical School program. Drexel Pathway to Medical School is a one-year master’s program with early assurance into the College of Medicine and may serve as a gateway for prospective Latino Students.  The graduate program is tailored for students who are considered medically underserved or socioeconomically disadvantaged and have done well in the traditional pre-medical school coursework. It is a competitive program that receives between 500 and 700 applicants for the 65 available seats.
The assurance of entry into medical school makes the Drexel Pathway to Medical School a beneficial program in aiding Latino representation in medicine. Drexel sets forth minimum requirements for the program that show the school is willing to consider students without the elite scores and grades required of many schools. MCAT scores must be in the 25th percentile or higher, and the overall or science GPA must be at least 2.9.  The appealing factor of this program is its mission to attract medically underserved students. This is a tool to increase diversity in medical school. Prospective low-income Latino students can view this as a graduate program tailored to communities like theirs. However, this one-year program is not tuition-free.
It may be tempting to assume that patients prefer doctors with exceptional academic records. There's an argument against admitting individuals with lower test scores into medical schools, rooted in the belief that this approach does not necessarily serve the best interests of health care. The argument asserts that the immense responsibility of practicing medicine should be entrusted to the most qualified candidates. Programs like the Drexel Pathway to Medical School are designed to address the lower academic achievements often seen in underrepresented communities. Their purpose is not to admit underqualified individuals into medical school but to bridge the educational gap, helping these individuals take the necessary steps to become qualified physicians.
c) The University of California San Francisco School of Medicine reports that 23 percent of its first-year class identifies as Latino, while 34 percent consider themselves disadvantaged.  The Office of Diversity and Outreach is concerned with increasing the number of matriculants from underserved communities.
UCSF has instilled moral commitments and conducts pipeline and outreach programs to increase the diversity of its medical school student body. The Differences Matter Initiative that the university has undertaken is a complex years-long restructuring of the medical school aimed at making the medical system equitable, diverse, and inclusive.  The five-phase commitment includes restructuring the leadership of the medical school, establishing anti-oppression and anti-racism competencies, and critically analyzing the role race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation play in medicine. UCSF offers a post-baccalaureate program specifically tailored to disadvantaged and underserved students. The program’s curriculum includes MCAT preparation, skills workshops, science courses, and medical school application workshops.  The MCAT preparation and medical school application workshops serve as a great tool for prospective Latino applicants.
UCSF seems to do better than most medical schools regarding Latino medical students. San Francisco has a population of 873,965, of which 15.2 percent are Latino.  The large population of Latino medical students indicates that the school’s efforts to increase diversity are working. The 23 percent Latino matriculating class of 2021 better represents the number of Latinos in the United States, which makes up about a fifth of the population. With this current data, it is important to closely dissect the efforts UCSF has taken to increase diversity in its medical school. Their Differences Matter initiative instills a commitment to diversifying their medical school. As mentioned, the school's leadership has been restructuring to include a diverse administrative body. This allows low-income Latino applicants to relate to the admissions committee reviewing their application. With a hopeful outlook, the high percentage of Latino applicants may reflect comprehension of the application process and the anticipated medical school atmosphere and rigor among Latino applicants and demonstrate that the admissions committee understands the applicants. However, there are still uncertainties about the demographics of the Latino student population in the medical school. Although it is a relatively high percentage, it is necessary to decipher which proportion of those students are low-income Latino Americans. UCSF School of Medicine can serve as a model to uplift the Latino community in a historically unattainable profession.
VII. Proposed Reform for Current Medical School Application
One reform would be toward the reviewing admissions committee, which has the power to change the class composition. By increasing the diversity of the admissions committee itself, schools can give minority applicants a greater opportunity to connect to someone with a similar background through their application. It would address low-income Latino applicants feeling they cannot “get personal” in their application.
These actions are necessary because it is not just to have a representative administration for only a portion of the public. Of the three medical schools examined, the University of California San Francisco has the highest percentage of Latino applicants in their entering class. They express an initiative to increase diversity within their medical school leadership via the Differences Matter initiative. This active role in increasing diversity within the medical school leadership may play a role in UCSF’s high percentage of Latino matriculants. That serves as an important step in creating an equitable application process for Latino applicants.
An important consideration is whether the medical school administration at UCSF mirrors the Latino population in the United States. The importance of whether the medical school administration at UCSF mirrors the Latino population in the United States lies in its potential to foster diversity, inclusivity, and cultural competence in medical education, as well as to positively impact the healthcare outcomes and experiences of the Latino community. A diverse administration can serve as role models for students and aspiring professionals from underrepresented backgrounds. It can inspire individuals who might otherwise feel excluded or underrepresented in their career pursuits, including aspiring Latino medical students. Furthermore, a diverse leadership can help develop curricula, policies, and practices that are culturally sensitive and relevant, which is essential for addressing health disparities and providing equitable healthcare.
It is also important to have transparency so the public knows the number of low-income Latino individuals in medical school. The Latino statistics from the medical school generally include international students. That speaks to diversity but misses the important aspect of uplifting the low-income Latino population of the United States. Passing off wealthy international students from Latin America to claim a culturally diverse class is misleading as it does not reflect income diversity. Doing so gives the incorrect perception that the medical school is accurately representing the Latino population of the United States.
There must be a change in how the application process introduces interviews. It needs to be introduced earlier so the admissions committee can form early, well-rounded inferences about an applicant. The interview allows for personal connections with committee members that otherwise would not be established through the primary application. The current framework has the interviews as one of the last aspects of the application process before admissions decisions are reached. At this point in the application process, many low-income Latinos may have been screened out.
I understand this is not an easy feat to accomplish. This will lead to an increase in interviews to be managed by the admissions committee. The burden can be strategically minimized by first conducting video interviews with applicants the admission committee is interested in moving forward and those that they are unsure about because of a weakness in a certain area of the application. The video interview provides a more formal connection between the applicants and admission committee reviewers. It allows the applicant to provide a narrative through spoken words and can come off as a more intimate window into their characteristics. It would also allow for an opportunity to explain hardships and what is unique. From this larger pool of video-interviewed applicants, the admission committee can narrow down to traditional in-person interviews. A form of these video interviews may be already in place in some medical school application process. I believe making this practice widespread throughout medical schools will provide an opportunity to increase the diversity of medical school students.
There must be an increase in the number of programs dedicated to serving as a gateway to clinical experience for low-income Latino applicants. These programs provide the necessary networking environment needed to get clinical experience. It is important to consider that networking with clinical professionals is an admissions factor that detrimentally affects the low-income Latino population.
One of the organizations that aids underserved communities, not limited to Latinos, in clinical exposure is the Summer Clinical Oncology Research Experience (SCORE) program.  The SCORE program, conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, provides its participants with mentorship opportunities in medicine and science. In doing so, strong connections are made in clinical environments. Low-income Latinos seek these opportunities as they have limited exposure to such an environment. I argue that it is in the medical school’s best interest to develop programs of this nature to construct a more diverse applicant pool.
These programs are in the best interest of medical schools because they are culturing a well-prepared applicant pool. It should not be left to the goodwill of a handful of organizations to cultivate clinically experienced individuals from minority communities. Medical schools have an ethical obligation to produce well-suited physicians from all backgrounds. Justice is not upheld when low-income Latinos are disproportionally represented in medical schools. Programs tailored for low-income Latinos supplement the networking this population lacks, which is fundamental to obtaining clinical experience. These programs help alleviate the burden of an applicant’s low socioeconomic status in attaining clinical exposure.
VIII. Additional Considerations Affecting the Medical School Application Process and Latino Community Health
A commitment to practicing medicine in low-income Latino communities can be established to improve Latino community health.  Programs, such as the National Health Service Corps, encourage clinicians to practice in underserved areas by forgiving academic loans for years of work.  Increasing the number of clinicians in underserved communities can lead to a positive correlation with better health. It would be ideal to have programs for low-income Latino medical students that incentivize practicing in areas with a high population of underserved Latinos. This would provide the Latino community with physicians of a similar cultural background to attend to them, creating a deeper physician-patient relationship that has been missing in this community.
Outreach for prospective Latino applicants by Latino medical students and physicians could encourage an increased applicant turnout. This effort can guide low-income Latinos who do not see much representation in the medical field. It would serve as a motivating factor and an opportunity to network within the medical field. Since there are few Latino physicians and medical students, a large effort must be made to make their presence known.
IX. Further Investigation Required
It is important to investigate the causes of medical school rejections of low-income Latinos. Understanding this piece of information would provide insight into the specific difficulties this population has with the medical school application. From there, the requirements can be subjected to bioethical analysis to determine whether those unfulfilled requirements serve as undue restrictions.
The aspect of legacy students, children of former alumni, proves to be a difficult subject to find data on and merits further research. Legacy students are often given preferred admission into universities.  It is necessary to understand how this affects the medical school admissions process and whether it comes at a cost to students that are not legacy. It does not seem like these preferences are something universities are willing to disclose. The aspect of legacy preferences in admissions decisions could be detrimental to low-income Latino applicants if their parents are not college-educated in the United States, which often is the case.
It would be beneficial to note how many Latinos in medical school are low-income. The MSAR report denotes the number of Latino-identified students per medical school class at an institution and the number of students who identify as coming from low resources. They do not specify which of the Latino students come from low-income families. This information would be useful to decipher how many people from the low-income Latino community are matriculating into medical schools.
It is an injustice that low-income Latinos are grossly underrepresented in medical school. It would remain an injustice even if the health of the Latino community in the United States were good. The current operation of medical school admission is based on a guild-like mentality, which perpetuates through barriers to admissions. It remains an exclusive club with processes that favor the wealthy over those who cannot devote money and time to the prerequisites such as test preparation courses and clinical internships. This has come at the expense of the Latino community in the United States in the form of both fewer Latino doctors and fewer current medical students. It is reasonable to hope that addressing the injustice of the underrepresentation of low-income Latinos in the medical field would improve Latino community health. With such a large demographic, the lack of representation in the medical field is astonishing.
The Latino population faces cultural barriers when seeking healthcare, and the best way to combat that is with a familiar face. An increase in Latino medical students would lead to more physicians that not only can culturally relate to the Latino community, but that are a part of it. This opens the door for a comprehensive understanding between the patient and physician. As described in my thesis, Latino physicians can bridge cultural gaps that have proven detrimental to that patient population. That may help patients make informed decisions, exercising their full autonomy.
The lack of representation of low-income Latinos in medicine is a long-known issue. Here, I have connected how the physician-patient relationship can be positively improved with an increase in low-income Latino physicians through various reforms in the admissions process. My hope is to have analyzed the problem of under-representation in a way that points toward further research and thoughtful reforms that can truly contribute to the process of remedying this issue.
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Jason Sanchez Alonso
MS Bioethics Columbia University, IRB Specialist Columbia Research
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License .
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