Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

Writing a Personal Statement?

Shan WoolardOPCD Expert Contributor – Shan Woolard, Assistant Director of Career Education and Counseling

Make it personal.  As part of the application process for most graduate or professional school programs, you will be asked to submit a personal statement. The personal statement is an opportunity for you to express your interests, goals, and personality. Some graduate programs will ask you to respond to specific essay prompts; others might simply ask you to “write a personal statement.”

If you are asked to write a general personal statement, here are a few tips:

  • Include your background and experiences that led you to develop an interest in the specific program or field of study, your specific long term goals, and how the program to which you are applying will help you to accomplish your goals. When discussing your goals be very specific. For example, if you are applying to a counseling program, rather than write that you “want to help people.” Name the specific group of people, setting, and location where you want to counsel people.
  • The personal statement is personal. It is a chance for the admissions committee to get to know who you are. Use a specific anecdote or several anecdotes to show rather than tell the reader about your personality, strengths, and character.
  • Avoid restating your resume in a paragraph form. Provide information about yourself that the interviewer is not able to attain from other parts of your application.
  • Go for depth rather than breadth. Focus on one, two, or three points about yourself.
  • Write about what makes you unique and sets you apart from other applicants.
  • Tailor the statement to each program to which you are applying.  If a program has specific features in which you are interested, mention these features and why you are interested in them as related to your experience or goals; however, don’t simply tell the admissions committee facts about their program that they already know.
  • Avoid delving too far in the past. In general, don’t write about high school or earlier.
  • Proofread your essay very carefully. Write clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word or page limits. If no word or page limits are given, limit your personal statement to two to three pages double-spaced.
  • Have several people read your personal statement, such as professors, The Writing Center staff members, and OPCD career counselors. Personal statements are subjective, so it is a good idea to get opinions and input on your statement from a variety of people. If you would like for one of the OPCD counselors to read your statement, call 336-758-5902 to schedule an appointment.

Category: Professional Development

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