Writing Personal Statements

In News by Garette Hunter

Whether you are applying for graduate school, an internship or a scholarship, chances are you will be asked to write a personal statement. These personal essays can range from 250 words up to 1,000 words depending on the opportunity.

Regardless of length, here are a few tips to make your personal statement shine:

  • Plan—Take the time to brainstorm your response to the questions given. You want to answer them as thoughtfully and fully as possible using strong examples.
  • Be strategic—Write your essay in sections, being sure to spend time on each of the questions asked. If you are not given questions, try to organize you statement into parts:

Biography/Personal Background: Who are you? What events/experiences have defined you or impacted your outlook/decision-making?
Professional and personal goals: What are you looking to do in the future? What are your short-term (4-5 years) and long-term (10 or 20 years) goals? Be as specific as possible.


Connections: How will the program/internship/scholarship help you achieve your goals? What about the program/internship/scholarship stands out to you? Show that you’ve done your research and you know that you what outcomes or resources offered by the opportunity are going to benefit you most.


Pitch: Why would you be a good candidate for the role? What will make you an asset to the program or a good fit for the opportunity? Remember that there may be dozens, even hundreds, of people applying for the same position. How do you stand out from the crowd?

  • Get a second or third reader—You want to put your best work out there. Making sure your grammar, content and even spacing is professional is very important. Make an appointment with a Writing Center to get a tutor to look over your statement. It might also be a great idea to get a professor/mentor to check it over to see if the content you’ve mentioned will make a good impression on the selection committee.

Happy Writing!