Write a Personal Statement
What is the purpose of a Personal Statement?
- Prepares you for your next steps
- Helps a committee get to know you beyond your test scores and transcript and allows you to highlight your unique strengths and competencies
- Provides a holistic view of who you are
- May be the only “interview” opportunity with the school
- Showcases what makes you different from other candidates and why you are qualified and a good fit for the program
- Demonstrates your writing ability, self-awareness, and motivations
What will you be asked to write about?
General or Open-Ended Prompt
Some schools will simply ask for a “personal statement,” “letter of intent,” a “statement of purpose,” or simply state “Tell me about yourself.”
- Narrative style response
- Allows more freedom of what to include
- Relates back to why you are pursuing that
particular field or program
- Shows your voice
- Not just a summary of your resume
Specific Topics or Questions
Some schools may ask multiple specific questions, which may need to be answered in different essays.
- Answer question(s) fully and stay on topic
- Consider what they are hoping to learn by
asking that question
- Refer to relevant experiences or learning to
support your answer
Reflection Questions to ask yourself before writing:
- What is distinctive about me?
- How can I help the reader get to know me?
- How do I stand out?
- What will make me a great professional one day?
- Why do I want to attend this program? How does it fit into my short and long-term goals?
- What major influences or accomplishments in my life have helped shaped me and what insights have I gained from them?
- How did I become interested in this field and what have I learned about it (and myself) that has stimulated my interest?
- What are some themes in my life experiences as it relates to my interest in the program or the institution I wish to attend?
- What are my motivations, values, and goals? What unique strengths and competencies have I developed?
- How will my personal qualities contribute to the field and program?
Parts of the Personal Statement
- This section serves as a framework for the rest of the personal statement.
- Use a compelling first statement or a “hook” to grab the reader’s attention. This helps the reader
to want to keep reading and to feel connected to you.
- Introduce a main idea or theme to use throughout the personal statement.
- Answer these questions: why are you writing this and what do you want?
- Make sure to mention the name of the school and/or program in this section if you are not using
a centralized application.
- Use this section to highlight your competencies, abilities, and experiences that will make you a
successful student and professional. Try to stick to 2-3 key stories or experiences.
- Be personal and speak in the first person. Make sure the essay reflects your voice and uses
concise, direct language rather than relying on cliches or gimmicks.
- Connect how your story relates to your interest in the program and your values, outlook, and
- Can use this space to address gaps or discrepencies in your academic record and put them into
context, such as drops in GPA or school performance.
- Personalize your statement for each program you are applying for and address the program or
school’s unique features that attract you.
- Reiterate the theme or focus from your narrative, such as why you’ve chosen this career
- goal, what makes this particular program the best next step, and why you are a suitable
- student for this program.
- Make this a strong, forward-looking paragraph. Anticipate possible experiences you
hope to gain in that graduate program as well as in your career.
- Make sure to follow the length guidelines provided, otherwise 1 page (single spaced) to
2 pages (double spaced) is ideal.
Your Next Steps
- Proofread! Have at least 2-3 others review your personal statement, including someone who knows you well and a professor or other professional in your field
- Ask others what impressions your personal statement gives. Does it answer the question the prompt(s) ask? Does it relate to why you want to do this particular program?
- Reading your personal statement out loud, to yourself or others, may help clarify if there is cohesion or if anything is vague.
- It is normal to review a personal statement 2-3 times before deciding on a final draft.
- Visit the Career Connections Center and the UF Writing Studio for individual help and workshops on creating a personal statement.
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