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How to Write an Impressive Personal Statement

Yes, most every university and graduate school is going to ask for a personal statement. And every student applying will submit them. What you need to visualize, then, is a busy head of a big department, with a huge stack of applicants’ folders, trying to find the time, in addition to all of their teaching, grading, and administrative duties, to sift through every application, and read the personal statement and the writing sample. Because sample papers can be very long, admission administrators and committees take a really close look at the much shorter personal statement to give them a sense of the student’s personality, their drive, their ambition, and their attitudes toward education and their future. So, what often helps students is to picture an admission director who has to read 1,000 personal statements. How will you make yours stand out?

You’ve GOT to Read the Directions

Have you ever seen those exercises teachers do where they’ll give you a set of directions with maybe 10 points on them and the 10th point will say something like, “If you’ve read all these directions properly - disregard numbers one through nine and put “I read them all” at the top of a piece of paper? You may get a unique test of your ability to follow directions in your personal statement directions as well. Do you know why? All admissions committees are looking for an easy way to whittle down the number of files they have to read by at least 2/3rds and this to chuck a bunch of applicants’ folders into the out pile. Don’t end up in the out pile yourself. Read all the personal statement options and directions and follow them strictly.

Try Searching Online for Some Winning Personal Statements

You might also look for highly original personal statements – or successful personal statements. Also, ask any students you know who got into the school of their dreams what they did on their personal statements to make it unique and ask if you might view it. Ask as many of these kinds of students you can – hopefully ones who just got into top-tier universities. This way, you’ll get a sense of what your favorite picks are looking for in this brief piece. It never hurts to be nice to prospective department’s secretaries. These ladies and gents, in a sense, are the keepers of the keys – and they’ll remember you if you make a stellar impression upon them. Throughout life, one thing you’ll come to appreciate is secretaries. One mention by them of a student who seems like a real go-getter, and someone who wants so badly to go to that particular school that they want to do everything just right - and the head of that departments might put you in the “let’s give this student another look” pile.

You’ve Got to Knock Their Socks Off

Nothing gets a committee’s attention more than a zinger of a title. “Float Like a Butterfly” –for example - and you could do a Muhammad Ali theme or something about how you’re a student who packs one heck of a punch when it comes to academics. “Not Your Average Math Geek” might make them want to read the essay to see how you’re not the average math applicant and to find out what makes you unusual. Again, search for original personal statements with great titles for examples. Instead of stealing their ideas—use their ideas to help you generate your own inventive ideas so that you can generate your own unique spin on the personal statement. One that reflects you is always best because you’re unique and you want to show them how you are distinct from everyone else.

In General, The Major Ingredients You Need to Write a Great Personal Statement are:

  • A great attention-getting title that gets their attention;
  • A fantastic opening paragraph that holds their attention;
  • Fantastic writing and grammar;
  • Writing and subject matter that holds your reader’s attention throughout ;
  • A second set of eyes to go over your statement;
  • An excellent closing—say something new, don’t summarize;
  • Make sure you fulfill all the dictates of the personal statement requirements.

If you do all this and allow yourself at least one month to perfect and re-perfect this statement, you are sure to get into the best schools.