Tothis end, here are some pointers on writing personalstatements.
Often when writing personal statements, students fall into the habit of telling and not showing in an effort to squeeze in all their accomplishments, resume-style. They resort to lists:
My desire to work with people is demonstrated by my many interactions as a volunteer. In 1997 I aided elderly and blind residents at the Homewood Retirement Community read their mail and write letters. The following summer, I served food at the local homeless shelter. As secretary of my high school chapter of SADD, I arranged for speakers at several community and school fundraisers. In addition to my volunteer activities, I've held a job since I was twelve. I worked on my uncles farm until I started ninth grade, at which time I was able to get a position as dish washer at a family restaurant. When I got my driver's license, I took a cashier's job at the gift store at Mercy Hospital in Altoona.
Use the personal statement as a form of introduction.
How are personal statements read, and by whom? It's most likely that your personal statement will be read by professors who serve on an admissions committee in the department to which you are applying. It is important in developing your personal statement to carefully consider this audience. What are the areas of specialty of this department, and what might it be looking for in a graduate student?
A personal statement should be a reflection of your personality. By reading your personal statement the admissions committee should be able to develop a better understanding of you. An effective essay lets the reader know you would be an interesting person to interview and potentially a valuable addition to the institution. They may also go to your personal statement when reviewing your application to get an overall sense of you as an applicant. Be sure it functions as the “glue” that brings all aspects of your application together into a cohesive application.
The process of applying for jobs, internships, and graduate/professional programs often requires a personal statement or application letter. This type of writing asks writers to outline their strengths confidently and concisely, which can be challenging. After you have collected and reviewed these materials, it is time to start writing. The following is a list of concerns that writers should keep in mind when writing a personal statement/application letter.Though the requirements differ from application to application, the purpose of this type of writing is to represent your goals, experiences and qualifications in the best possible light, and to demonstrate your writing ability. Your personal statement or application letter introduces you to your potential employer or program director, so it is essential that you allow yourself enough time to craft a polished piece of writing.Make Your Statement Distinctive: Many writers want to make their personal statements unique or distinctive in some way as a means of distinguishing their application from the many others received by the company or program. One way to do this is to include at least one detailed example or anecdote that is specific to your own experience—perhaps a description of an important family member or personal moment that influenced your decision to pursue a particular career or degree. This strategy makes your statement distinctive and memorable.Avoid Unnecessary Duplication: Sometimes a writer has a tendency to repeat information in his or her personal statement that is already included in other parts of the application packet (resume, transcript, application form, etc.). For example, it is not necessary to mention your exact GPA or specific grades and course titles in your personal statement or application letter. It is more efficient and more effective to simply mention academic progress briefly (“I was on the Dean’s List“ or “I have taken numerous courses in the field of nutrition”) and then move on to discuss appropriate work or volunteer experiences in more detail.As mentioned before, the requirements for personal statements differ, but generally a personal statement includes certain information and can follow this format (see following model).Keep It Brief: Usually, personal statements are limited to 250–500 words or one typed page, so write concisely while still being detailed. Making sure that each paragraph is tightly focused on a single idea (one paragraph on the strengths of the program, one on your research experience, one on your extracurricular activities, etc.) helps keep the essay from becoming too long. Also, spending a little time working on word choice by utilizing a dictionary and a thesaurus and by including adjectives should result in less repetition and more precise writing.Structure refers to how you choose to present the information in your personal statement. Good structure will make your piece flow, and enhance the reader's ability to understand what you are trying to get across.Many personal statements begin with a catchy opening, often the distinctive personal example mentioned earlier, as a way of gaining the reader’s attention. From there you can connect the example to the actual program/position for which you are applying. Mention the specific name of the program or company, as well as the title of the position or degree you are seeking, in the first paragraph.Some people can write well without thinking too much about structure. They naturally organize their information to be seamless, transitioning well between points and making their comments relevant to a theme. Most people, however, need to work at it a little more. Here are some very basic tips on how to make sure your personal statement has good structure.