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How To Write An Effective Statement

An effective personal statement will focus on one or two specific themes, incidents or points. It should be brief and concise. Strive for depth, not breadth. Do not try to put too much into your statement. An unusual, compelling story that is colorful and imaginative will make for a memorable and impressive personal statement. Tell the reader what no other applicant will honestly be able to say.

The most common mistake in writing personal statements is to write an expository resume of your background and experiences. Other portions of the application are meant for this. Remember that the admissions committee is looking for some insight into your persona: a glimpse of the human being behind the data in your file. Your statement should evoke a mental image of your personality.

The opening sentences are particularly critical in capturing the reader's curiosity and attention. Your introduction should entice the reader to read on. Tell a brief story with a clear, coherent, and distinctive theme. For example:

  • Relate a particular experience and explain how it contributed to your sense of social commitment.
  • Talk about what you learned about yourself (e.g.: your strengths or limitations) from a particular experience that has made you a better person - more mature, more selfconfident, better suited for your chosen career path, etc.
  • Demonstrate your tenacity by discussing one or two situations in which you succeeded in the face of adversity.

Do your homework on the school and weave into your statement indications that you possess the attributes most desired by the admissions committee. The personal statement is your opportunity to sell yourself to the committee. In general, what are admissions committees looking for:

  1. how well you present your experiences and goals;
  2. how well your accomplishments support your long-term goals; and
  3. how your rationale for pursuing this program and degree fits into your career plan.