Writing a personal statement when applying to graduate school can be daunting. There are a lot of guides that dictate rules on structure, form and content that often do more harm than good. This post offers advice on how to write a personal statement rather than inflexible “rules” that may help you produce your best work by maintain your original voice. The universities are, after all, looking to hear from you.
- Just start writing. For many of us, writing a personal statement can be a torturous process to begin. Once we get in the swing of things, it become a lot easier, but that first sentence is a battle in and of itself. Try not to get too caught up on this first step. If you just start typing, you can always come back to the beginning to edit and refine your writing.
- Be honest, sincere and original. Universities receive thousands of applications every year and appreciate personal statements that reflect personality and sincerity. While it is always worthwhile to read personal statement guidelines, do not feel compelled to stick to a rigid form. If you think you have something interesting to add, or something that will help you stand out as a candidate for the program, add it!
- Be specific. Stay focused on your goals. A personal statement is supposed to illustrate your reasons for pursuing a certain program and it is important to build your narrative around that. Clearly show why you should be a part of this program and try not to get sidelined by tangential anecdotes.
- Monitor the logistics. Be concise and direct. Proofread! Avoid using long, run-on sentences and make sure you haven’t misspelled anything. Small mistakes leave big impressions and can be easily avoided with a little attention to detail.
- Project your enthusiasm. Above all, convey your enthusiasm for your intended field of study as much as possible. Whether this is through writing about your past experiences or by demonstrating a marked interest in a specific area of your field, an informed personal statement will make a strong impression.