How to Write Persuasive Grad School Personal Statement

Crafting a personal statement while completing a graduate school application can be intimidating. Many guides that dictate rules on structure, form and content can do more harm to you than good. This post focuses on advice to write a real personal statement rather than sticking to rigid “rules”. The goal is to  help you create your best work by upholding your original voice. All universities are looking to hear from the real you, not a robotic version of yourself.

  1.   Start writing something. For most applicants, writing a personal statement can be a daunting task to begin. Once you get the process started, it becomes a lot easier, but that first sentence is often the biggest struggle in and of itself. Don’t’ get hung up on the first step. If you just start typing, you can always come back to your start to review and edit your thoughts.
  1.   Be sincere, honest and 100% original. Universities review 1000s of applications each year and appreciate personal statements that show a personal touch and sincerity. While it still makes sense to read personal statement guidelines, don’t feel the need to stick to a specific framework. If you believe you have something interesting to write about, or anything that will make you stand out as an applicant for the school, add it!  Standing out from the average is a key to getting noticed.
  1. Be concise and stay focused on your goals for the statement. A personal statement should illustrate your motives for applying to a certain program.  It’s important you build your narrative around that concept. Leave no doubt you should be a part of their program, if you don’t believe it no one else will either.  While important to include, try not to get sidetracked by peripheral anecdotes.
  1.   Handle grammar basics. Be succinct and direct. Proofread your statement, or better yet have someone else proof it for you.  Don’t use long, run-on sentences and make sure you don’t have any misspellings in your document. Insignificant grammar errors will leave big impressions with the reviewer.   Take the time to show you cared about your statement, simple mistakes can be avoided with attention to detail.
  1.   Project your excitement. It’s paramount to convey your enthusiasm for your intended field of study as often as possible. You can accomplish this by writing about your past experiences or demonstrating a clear interest in your exact field of study.   A well-versed personal statement will make a solid impression on your reviewer.