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.

Pre-Health Personal Statement Guide

Navigating professional school applications can often be challenging, and crafting a compelling personal statement is a critical step in your application journey. Below, you will find a personal statement guide tailored to pre-health students. It includes best practices, some do’s …

By Kyle Schramm
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Career Resources

Navigating professional school applications can often be challenging, and crafting a compelling personal statement is a critical step in your …

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