How to Write the Best Personal Statement

How to Write the Best Personal Statement When applying for scholarships, college, grad school, or employment, it’s your personal statement that transforms your application from just a piece of paper to a representation of a worthwhile candidate. Given that this statement is what will set you apart from other hopefuls and bring your written experience to life, it’s extremely important that the statement is given a great amount of attention. Read on to find some great tips and resources on writing the best personal statement possible!

Getting Started

Before you start writing, think about who you are writing for and how to appeal to your audience. Your purpose is to convince your reader that you deserve the opportunity you are applying for. Imagine what your reader may be looking for in a candidate and express how you embody those qualities. This statement will help an admissions officer or potential employer understand who you are and the circumstances behind the details included on your application.

According to Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL), before you write, you may want to think about the following questions for inspiration. Find additional questions like these on the OWL website here.

  • What’s special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story?
  • What details of your life (personal or family problems, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants?
  • When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? What insights have you gained?

General Tips

  • Always read any provided instructions first. Follow them precisely, adhering to length constraints and other requirements.
  • Tell a unique and interesting story that displays your experience and sets you apart. Support each point with clear examples.
  • Avoid clichés, controversial subjects, and writing about high school accomplishments.
  • Don’t be too negative or attempt humor that might be lost on a reader.
  • Check your work thoroughly. Proofread, read aloud, and have someone else proofread your work to ensure sure you are writing clearly, concisely, correctly, and compellingly.

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Types of Statements

There are two basic types of required personal statements, the broad personal statement and the personal statement based upon a prompt.

Broad Personal Statements

Broad personal statements are those that do not involve a specific question. In these statements, you’ll want to give an overview of your most important qualities by telling a personal story that shares a unique experience and tells the reader who you are. Though these statements are technically “general” you should tailor them to the specific job or program you are looking to gain admission to. Write original personal statements for each application; never recycle a statement.

Personal Statements Based Upon Prompts

The second type of personal statement requires an answer to a question that relates to the job or program you are applying for. Prompts for personal statements may ask a general personal question, for example, “Name a challenge you’ve faced. How has it shaped you?” Even in this case, be sure to relate your answer to the position you are applying for. Prompts may also explicitly ask you about the position you’re applying for, for example, “Why are you the perfect candidate for this program/position?” When writing a personal statement based upon a prompt, ensure that you’ve answered the entire question.

Want some additional tips? put together a list of the top 100 tools for writing the best admissions or scholarship essays. Browse the list here. Check out examples of well-written personal statements here. Once you’re done sending in your applications, let us know how your personal statement writing experience went in the comment section below!