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The best statements tend to be genuine and specific from the very start. You'll be on the right track if you show your enthusiasm for the subject or course, your understanding of it, and what you want to achieve.

Admissions tutors – the people who read and score your personal statement – say don’t get stressed about trying to think of a ‘killer opening’. Discover the advice below and take your time to think about how best to introduce yourself.

Liz Bryan: HE Coordinator and Careers Advisor, Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College

Preparing to write your personal statement.

Start by making some notes . The personal statement allows admissions tutors to form a picture of who you are. So, for the opener, think about writing down things, such as:

  • why you’re a good candidate
  • your motivations
  • what brings you to this course

If you’re applying for multiple courses , think about how your skills, academic interests, and the way you think are relevant to all the courses you've chosen.

how should you start off a personal statement

Top tips on how to write your statement opener

We spoke to admissions tutors at unis and colleges – read on for their tips.

1. Don't begin with the overkill opening

Try not to overthink the opening sentence. You need to engage the reader with your relevant thoughts and ideas, but not go overboard .

Tutors said: ‘The opening is your chance to introduce yourself, to explain your motivation for studying the course and to demonstrate your understanding of it. The best personal statements get to the point quickly. Go straight in. What excites you about the course and why do you want to learn about it more?’

Be succinct and draw the reader in, but not with a gimmick. This isn't the X Factor. Admissions tutor

2. Write about why you want to study that course

Think about why you want to study the course and how you can demonstrate this in your written statement :

’Your interest in the course is the biggest thing. Start with a short sentence that captures the reason why you’re interested in studying the area you’re applying for and that communicates your enthusiasm for it. Don't waffle or say you want to study something just because it's interesting. Explain what you find interesting about it.’

It's much better to engage us with something interesting, relevant, specific and current in your opening line… Start with what's inspiring you now, not what inspired you when you were six. Admissions tutor

3. Avoid cliches

Try to avoid cliches and the most obvious opening sentences so you stand out from the very first line . UCAS publishes a list of common opening lines each year. Here are just some overused phrases to avoid using in your personal statement:

  • From a young age…      
  • For as long as I can remember…
  • I am applying for this course because…
  • I have always been interested in…
  • Throughout my life I have always enjoyed…

And try not to use quotes . Quotations are top of the list of admissions tutors' pet hates.

4. Maybe don't begin at the start?

’Concentrate on the main content of your statement and write the introduction last. I think the opening line is the hardest one to write, so I often say leave it until the end and just try and get something down on paper.’

It may be easier to get on with writing the main content of your statement and coming back to the introduction afterwards –that way you will also know what you’re introducing.

I often advise applicants to start with paragraph two, where you get into why you want to study the course. That's what we're really interested in. Admissions tutor

how should you start off a personal statement

The personal statement tool image

Don’t be tempted to copy or share your statement.

UCAS scans all personal statements through a similarity detection system to compare them with previous statements.

Any similarity greater than 30% will be flagged and we'll inform the universities and colleges to which you have applied. 

Find out more

Joseph bolton: year 2 history& politics student, university of liverpool.

  • Do talk about you and your enthusiasm for the subject from the very start.
  • Do be specific. Explain what you want to study and why in the first two sentences.
  • Do come back to the opening sentences if you can’t think what to write straightaway.
  • Don’t waste time trying to think of a catchy opening.
  • Don't waffle – simply explain what you find interesting about the subject and show that you know what you are applying for.
  • Don't rely on someone else's words. It's your statement after all – they want to know what you think.

One final thought

Think about making a link between your opening sentence and closing paragraph – a technique sometimes called the 'necklace approach’.

You can reinforce what you said at the start or add an extra dimension. For example, if you started with an interesting line about what’s currently motivating you to study your chosen degree course, you could link back to it at the end, perhaps with something about why you’d love to study this further at uni.

Need more advice?

  • Struggling with the conclusion to your personal statement? Read our guide on how to finish your statement the right way .
  • Read more dos and don’ts when writing your personal statement . 
  • Discover what to include in your personal statement .
  • Start your opening sentences with our personal statement builder now.

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Home › University › How To Write A Personal Statement? 10 Tips + Student Questions Answered › How To Start A Personal Statement: Tips & Examples

How To Start A Personal Statement: Tips & Examples

  • Published January 20, 2023

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We’re regularly asked the question “ how to start a personal statement ”? It’s a challenging task for anybody but worry not as we’re here to help guide you through the process. 

The introduction is the first thing the admissions committee will read. That’s why the first sentence of a personal statement should be a catchy, attention-grabbing hook or story that grabs the reader’s attention and sets up the main point of your essay.

A lacklustre introduction may lose your readers’ interest, preventing them from reading the rest of your personal statement!

But don’t worry, this article will guide you on writing a personal statement introduction, a few examples of opening sentences and how to captivate the admissions tutors. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Top Tip: Leave Your Introduction For Last

You know what they say, the hardest thing to do is  start . So skip the introduction for now and focus on the main body of your personal statement. If you’re not sure what your main content should be, read out how to write a personal statement guide.

After nailing down the main points, you’ll have a concrete idea of how your introduction can captivate the reader and stay relevant to the bulk of the writing. Go ahead and work on the rest of your personal statement.

Come back when you’re finished! And if you’re worried about your conclusion then check out our advice on  personal statement conclusions .

2. Cut To The Chase

You only have  4,000 characters  to sell yourself as an ideal student candidate. Make each character and paragraph count! That means forget about flowery words and directionless statements. When you start your personal statement, explain your motivations for choosing your course in one or two sentences.

Although you will discuss this in-depth in the main body of content, capturing your reader’s attention with a quick overview of why you’re enthusiastic about your chosen course is crucial. That’s why capturing the reader’s attention by jumping straight to the point is key to starting a personal statement.

how to write a personal statement introductions

3. Be Specific

Never give vague details when expressing why you want to pursue your course. “I always wanted to be an engineer since I was a kid,” or “I want to become a doctor because I enjoy science” isn’t advised. 

On that note, if you’re applying to medicine refer to our guide on  how to write a medical personal statement . We suggest being more specific than that, and you can include your academic achievements too. Here are a few suggestions that may help you:

  • You witnessed an inspirational figure in your life solve a massive problem with a specific skill set (doctor, engineer, etc.)
  • While you were at a charity event, you encountered a problem that kept people in deprivation. By pursuing this course, you’re a part of the solution.
  • You’re good at, and you enjoy a specific skill set. The course you’re eyeing puts great emphasis on this particular skill.
  • There was a moment in your life when you succeeded in solving a problem. You felt significant by doing so, and you want to keep doing that for the rest of your life (teaching poor children how to read)
  • You watched a movie or read a book that ignited your passion for the course. After doing volunteer work or part-time employment related to your course, you’re determined to pursue it.

Craft a sentence or two that encapsulates the core of your “why.” Do this, and your reader will want to read more!

4. Demonstrate Knowledge In Your Chosen Course

An essential element of starting a personal statement is to express why you’re enthusiastic about taking your chosen course. You need to demonstrate that you’re aware of what you’re getting yourself into in the process. Answer any of these prompt questions for inspiration:

  • What do you find interesting about the course?
  • How do you believe the course will help you achieve your goals?
  • How will you use your chosen course to contribute to society?
  • What hurdles do you expect to encounter, and how will you handle them?

Decide which of these questions fits best into the main content of your  personal statement . Write your answer in a sentence or two, weave them into your application essay and think about the help you received from your tutors in the past.

5. Ditch The “Since I Was A Child” Line

We’re often asked  what not to put in a personal statement  and “Since I was a child” is a cliche statement that gets thrown around haphazardly. How many students have said this at least once in their personal statements?

Recalling your childhood passions is a weak “why” for pursuing your course. Why? Because the admissions committee is looking for a relevant and up-to-date reason.

When you were little, you had zero knowledge and little enthusiasm to become successful in your field. You had no idea what skillsets you needed or what other options were available to you.

But if you were to cite a recent event in your life that supports your determination to pursue your course, that screams “educated choice” right there. And  that  is what the admission committee is looking for after reading hundreds, if not thousands of introductions.

6. Brainstorm Several Versions Of Your Opening Lines

The desire to get it right the first time paralyses you from starting. So permit yourself to write freely. Write as many versions of your opening lines as possible.

Don’t worry about the grammar, spelling, or character count just yet. Type everything that goes off the top of your head. When you’re done, take a look at your list.

Cross out the ones you dislike, and encircle the ones you think have potential. Then start piecing the puzzle pieces together to check out if the intro lines fit with the rest of your personal statement. 

If you’ve found three potential opening statements, try reading them aloud together with the rest of your personal statement. Do they flow seamlessly into one another? Make the necessary adjustments. Play around with it until you feel you’ve hit the spot.

7. Make Your Opening Statement Error Free

Your opening statement is your hook line. Spelling or grammatical errors at the start discourage your reader from reading further. If you have errors at the beginning, you’ll most likely have them in your main content!

So make sure your English is simple, flawless, and straightforward. Run your personal statement through a tool like Grammarly to weed out most of the errors.

The Hemingway app is also a helpful tool for checking for passive voice and other writing problems. Take advantage of writing assistant tools, especially if you’re a non-native English writer.

8. Read Examples Of Personal Statements

Read as many personal statement examples as you can. Any that captivated you, keep them in your notes. Figure out  why  these statements stood out to you compared to the others. What elements can you place in  your  personal statement?

When reading personal statements that put you off, find out why. What characteristics do they have that elicit a negative reaction from you? List them down, and make sure you avoid them.

After this exercise, you should have a few more ideas about your personal statement introduction.

9. Ask For Feedback

Never underestimate what feedback can give you. Ask your family, friends, and acquaintances about your opening statement. Does your personality shine through? Is it straight to the point? Does it flow smoothly with the main content of your personal statement?

Listen to what they have to say. Jot down important points. You’ll need their feedback to get a second opinion on whether it works for you or not.

10. Give Yourself Time

Your chosen career depends on your college education. And a first crucial step is to convince the admission committee you’re worth accepting into your university. You have to give your personal statement your best shot. Give yourself enough time to brainstorm and think everything over.

You can’t finish a complete,  well-written personal statement  in a week. Much less overnight!

So make sure you set aside enough time to put your best foot forward. After finishing a complete draft of your personal statement, put it down. Forget about it for a few days. Then come back and reread it.

With a fresh set of eyes, you’ll notice details you may not have seen before! Revise as much as you need.

Do I Need To Write An Introduction For A Personal Statement?

Yes, we recommend writing an introduction for your personal statement as it provides context to the rest of your writing. The introduction is an opportunity to make a good first impression and capture the university admissions officer’s attention.

What is a good opening sentence for a personal statement?

Here are some examples of a good opening sentence for a captivating introduction. Note how it ties into the university degree almost straight away with first-hand experience:

  • “Growing up in a small town with limited resources sparked my curiosity and drive to pursue higher education and make a positive impact in my community.”
  • “From a young age, I have been fascinated by the intricacies of the human mind and the power of psychology to improve people’s lives.”
  • “As a first-generation college student, I am determined to break barriers and pave the way for future generations through a career in law.”
  • “My passion for sustainable design was ignited by a volunteer trip to a developing country, where I witnessed the devastating effects of environmental degradation firsthand.”
  • “A chance encounter with a blind person and their guide dog inspired me to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, with the goal of improving the lives of animals and their human companions.”

Please do NOT use these in your personal statements, use these to guide you on how you want to start your personal statement.

Can You Open Your Personal Statement With A Quote?

It is a risky move to open your personal statement with a quote and can come across as clichéd or insincere to the university admission officers. However, there are rare occasions when it can work, just make sure the quote relates to your degree and experience you’re writing about.

Get Ready To Write Your Personal Statement

How does one start a captivating personal statement? Take the time to think about what makes an effective introduction.

Read examples of personal statements from other students to glean ideas for how yours might stand out. Once you have read through some good ones, they should be more than just two or three!–look closely at what elements made them so successful. 

Then try applying those same principles on how to start a personal statement! Don’t forget to bookmark this post for future reference.

how should you start off a personal statement

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How to Write a Personal Statement (with Tips and Examples)

Hannah Yang headshot

Hannah Yang

How to write a personal statement

Table of Contents

What is a personal statement, 6 tips on how to write a personal statement, personal statement examples (for college and university), faqs about writing personal statements, conclusion on how to write a personal statement.

How do you tell someone who you are in just a few hundred words?

It’s certainly no easy task, but it’s one almost every college applicant must do. The personal statement is a crucial part of any college or university application.

So, how do you write a compelling personal statement?

In this article, we’ll give you all the tools, tips, and examples you need to write an effective personal statement.

A personal statement is a short essay that reveals something important about who you are. It can talk about your background, your interests, your values, your goals in life, or all of the above.

Personal statements are required by many college admission offices and scholarship selection committees. They’re a key part of your application, alongside your academic transcript, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities.

The reason application committees ask you to write a personal statement is so they can get to know who you are. 

Some personal statements have specific prompts, such as “Discuss a period of personal growth in your life” or “Tell us about a challenge or failure you’ve faced.” Others are more open-ended with prompts that essentially boil down to “Tell us about yourself.”

No matter what the prompt is, your goal is the same: to make yourself stand out to the selection committee as a strong candidate for their program.

Here are some things a personal statement can be:

It can be funny. If you have a great sense of humor, your personal statement is a great place to let that shine.  

It can be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to open up about hardships in your life or failures you’ve experienced. Showing vulnerability can make you sound more like a real person rather than just a collection of application materials.  

It can be creative. Candidates have got into top schools with personal statements that take the form of “a day in the life” descriptions, third-person short stories, and even cooking recipes.

Now we’ve talked about what a personal statement is, let’s quickly look at what a personal statement isn’t:

It isn’t a formal academic paper. You should write the personal statement in your natural voice, using first-person pronouns like “I” and “me,” not in the formal, objective language you would use to write an academic paper.

It isn’t a five-paragraph essay. You should use as many paragraphs as you need to tell your story instead of sticking to the essay structure you learned in school.

It isn’t a resumé. You should try to describe yourself by telling a clear and cohesive story rather than providing a jumbled list of all of your accomplishments and ambitions.

personal statement definition

Here are our top six tips for writing a strong personal statement.

Tip 1: Do Some Serious Self-Reflection

The hardest part of writing a personal statement isn’t the actual process of writing it.

Before you start typing, you have to figure out what to write about. And that means taking some time to reflect on who you are and what’s important in your life.

Here are some useful questions you can use to start your self-reflection. You can either answer these on your own by writing down your answers, or you can ask a trusted friend to listen as you talk about them together.

What were the key moments that shaped your life? (e.g. an important friendship, a travel experience, an illness or injury)

What are you proud of? (e.g. you’re a good listener, you always keep your promises, you’re a talented musician)

How do you choose to spend your time? (e.g. reading, practicing soccer, spending time with your friends)

What inspires you? (e.g. your grandmother, a celebrity, your favorite song)

Doing this self-reflection is crucial for figuring out the perfect topics and anecdotes you can use to describe who you are.

Tip 2: Try to Avoid Cliché Topics

College application committees read thousands of personal statements a year. That means there are some personal statement topics they see over and over again.

Here are a few examples of common personal statement topics that have become cliché:

Winning a tournament or sports game

Volunteering in a foreign country

Moving to a new home

Becoming an older sibling

Being an immigrant or having immigrant parents

If you want to make a strong impression in the application process, you need to make your personal statement stand out from the crowd.

But if your chosen personal statement topic falls into one of these categories, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t use it. Just make sure to put a unique spin on it so it still delivers something the committee hasn’t seen before.

how should you start off a personal statement

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Tip 3: Show, Don’t Tell

One common mistake you might make in your personal statement is to simply tell the reader what you want them to know about you, such as by stating “I have a fear of public speaking” or “I love to cook.”

Instead of simply stating these facts, you should show the committee what you’re talking about through a story or scene, which will make your essay much more immersive and memorable.

For example, let’s say you want the committee to know you overcame your fear of public speaking. Instead of writing “I overcame my fear of public speaking,” show them what it was like to be onstage in front of a microphone. Did your palms get clammy? Did you feel light-headed? Did you forget your words?

Or let’s say you want the committee to know you love to cook. Instead of writing “I love to cook,” show them why you love to cook. What’s your favorite dish to cook? What does the air smell like when you’re cooking it? What kitchen appliances do you use to make it?

Tip 4: Connect the Story to Why You’re Applying

Don’t forget that the purpose of your personal statement isn’t simply to tell the admissions committee who you are. That’s an important part of it, of course, but your ultimate goal is to convince them to choose you as a candidate.

That means it’s important to tie your personal story to your reasons for applying to this specific school or scholarship. Finish your essay with a strong thesis.

For example, if your story is about overcoming your fear of public speaking, you might connect that story to your ambition of becoming a politician. You can then tie that to your application by saying, “I want to apply to this school because of its fantastic politics program, which will give me a perfect opportunity to use my voice.”

Tip 5: Write in Your Own Voice

The personal statement isn’t supposed to be written in a formal tone. That’s why they’re called “personal” statements because you have to shape it to fit your own voice and style.

Don’t use complicated or overwrought language. You don’t need to fill your essay with semicolons and big words, unless that’s how you sound in real life.

One way to write in your own voice is by speaking your personal statement out loud. If it doesn’t feel natural, it may need changing. 

Tip 6: Edit, Edit, Edit!

It’s important to revise your personal statement multiple times in order to make sure it’s as close to perfect as possible.

A single typo won’t kill your application, but if your personal statement contains multiple spelling errors or egregious grammar mistakes, you won’t be putting your best foot forward.

ProWritingAid can help you make sure your personal statement is as clean as possible. In addition to catching your grammar errors, typos, and punctuation mistakes, it will also help you improve weaknesses in your writing, such as passive voice, unnecessary repetition, and more.

Let’s look at some of the best personal statements that have worked for successful candidates in the real world. 

Harvard Personal Statement Example

Love. For a word describing such a powerful emotion, it is always in the air. The word “love” has become so pervasive in everyday conversation that it hardly retains its roots in blazing passion and deep adoration. In fact, the word is thrown about so much that it becomes difficult to believe society isn’t just one huge, smitten party, with everyone holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.” In films, it’s the teenage boy’s grudging response to a doting mother. At school, it’s a habitual farewell between friends. But in my Chinese home, it’s never uttered. Watching my grandmother lie unconscious on the hospital bed, waiting for her body to shut down, was excruciatingly painful. Her final quavering breaths formed a discordant rhythm with the steady beep of hospital equipment and the unsympathetic tapping hands of the clock. That evening, I whispered—into unhearing ears—the first, and only, “I love you” I ever said to her, my rankling guilt haunting me relentlessly for weeks after her passing. My warm confession seemed anticlimactic, met with only the coldness of my surroundings—the blank room, impassive doctors, and empty silence. I struggled to understand why the “love” that so easily rolled off my tongue when bantering with friends dissipated from my vocabulary when I spoke to my family. Do Chinese people simply love less than Americans do?

This is an excerpt from a personal statement that got the applicant admitted to Harvard University. The applicant discusses her background as a Chinese-American by musing on the word “love” and what that means within her family.

The writer uses vulnerable details about her relationship with her grandmother to give the reader an understanding of where she comes from and how her family has shaped her.  

You can read the full personal statement on the Harvard Crimson website.

Tufts Personal Statement Example

My first dream job was to be a pickle truck driver. I saw it in my favorite book, Richard Scarry’s “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go,” and for some reason, I was absolutely obsessed with the idea of driving a giant pickle. Much to the discontent of my younger sister, I insisted that my parents read us that book as many nights as possible so we could find goldbug, a small little golden bug, on every page. I would imagine the wonderful life I would have: being a pig driving a giant pickle truck across the country, chasing and finding goldbug. I then moved on to wanting to be a Lego Master. Then an architect. Then a surgeon. Then I discovered a real goldbug: gold nanoparticles that can reprogram macrophages to assist in killing tumors, produce clear images of them without sacrificing the subject, and heat them to obliteration. Suddenly the destination of my pickle was clear. I quickly became enveloped by the world of nanomedicine; I scoured articles about liposomes, polymeric micelles, dendrimers, targeting ligands, and self-assembling nanoparticles, all conquering cancer in some exotic way. Completely absorbed, I set out to find a mentor to dive even deeper into these topics. After several rejections, I was immensely grateful to receive an invitation to work alongside Dr. Sangeeta Ray at Johns Hopkins.

This is the beginning of a personal statement by Renner Kwittken, who was admitted into Tufts University as a pre-medical student.

Renner uses a humorous anecdote about being a pickle truck driver to describe his love for nanomedicine and how he got involved in his field. You can feel his passion for medicine throughout his personal statement.

You can find Renner’s full essay on the Tufts Admissions page.

Law School Personal Statement Essay Example

For most people, the slap on the face that turns their life around is figurative. Mine was literal. Actually, it was a punch delivered by a drill sergeant at Fort Dix, New Jersey, while I was in basic training. That day’s activity, just a few weeks into the program, included instruction in “low-crawling,” a sensible method of moving from one place to another on a battlefield. I felt rather clever for having discovered that, by looking right rather than down, I eliminated my helmet’s unfortunate tendency to dig into the ground and slow my progress. I could thus advance more easily, but I also exposed my unprotected face to hostile fire. Drill sergeants are typically very good at detecting this type of laziness, and mine was an excellent drill sergeant. So, after his repeated suggestions that I correct my performance went unheeded, he drove home his point with a fist to my face. We were both stunned. This was, after all, the New Army, and striking a trainee was a career-ending move for a drill sergeant, as we were both aware. I could have reported him; arguably, I should have. I didn’t. It didn’t seem right for this good sergeant, who had not slept for almost four days, to lose his career for losing his temper with my laziness. Choosing not to report him was the first decision I remember making that made me proud.

These are the first three paragraphs of an anonymous personal statement by a Wheaton College graduate, who used this personal statement to get into a top-25 law school.

This statement describes a time the applicant faced a challenging decision while in the army. He ended up making a decision he was proud of, and as a result, the personal statement gives us a sense of his character.

You can find the full essay on the Wheaton Academics website.

Here are some common questions about how to write a personal statement.

How Long Should a Personal Statement Be?

The length of your personal statement depends on the specific program you’re applying to. The application guidelines usually specify a maximum word count or an ideal word count.  

Most personal statements are between 500–800 words. That’s a good general range to aim for if you don’t have more specific guidelines.  

Should Personal Statements Be Different for Scholarships?

Many scholarship applications will ask for personal statements with similar prompts to those of college applications.

However, the purpose of a personal statement you’d write for a scholarship application is different from the purpose of one you’d write for a college application.

For a scholarship application, your goal is to showcase why you deserve the scholarship. To do that, you need to understand the mission of the organization offering that scholarship.

For example, some scholarships are meant to help first-generation college students get their degree, while others are meant to help women break into STEM.

Consider the following questions:

Why is this organization offering scholarships?

What would their ideal scholarship candidate look like?

How do your experiences and goals overlap with those of their ideal scholarship candidate?

You can use the same personal anecdotes you’d use for any other personal statement, but you’ll have a better chance of winning the scholarship if you tailor your essay to match their specific mission.

How to Start a Personal Statement

You should start your personal statement with a “hook” that pulls the reader in. The sooner you catch the reader’s attention, the more likely they’ll want to read the entire essay.

Here are some examples of hooks you can use:

A story (e.g. When the spotlight hit my face, I tried to remind myself to breathe. )

A setting description (e.g. My bedroom floor is covered with dirty laundry, candy wrappers, and crumpled sheet music. )

A funny anecdote (e.g. When I was a little kid, my friends nicknamed me Mowgli because of my haircut. )

A surprising fact (e.g. I've lived in 37 countries .)

There you have it—our complete guide to writing a personal statement that will make you stand out to the application committee.

Here’s a quick recap: 

A personal statement is a short essay that shows an application committee who you are

Start with a strong hook that pulls the reader in

Tell a story to engage the reader 

Write in your own voice, not in a formal tone

Good luck, and happy writing!

Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.

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How to Write a Strong Personal Statement

  • Ruth Gotian
  • Ushma S. Neill

how should you start off a personal statement

A few adjustments can get your application noticed.

Whether applying for a summer internship, a professional development opportunity, such as a Fulbright, an executive MBA program, or a senior leadership development course, a personal statement threads the ideas of your CV, and is longer and has a different tone and purpose than a traditional cover letter. A few adjustments to your personal statement can get your application noticed by the reviewer.

  • Make sure you’re writing what they want to hear. Most organizations that offer a fellowship or internship are using the experience as a pipeline: It’s smart to spend 10 weeks and $15,000 on someone before committing five years and $300,000. Rarely are the organizations being charitable or altruistic, so align your stated goals with theirs
  • Know when to bury the lead, and when to get to the point. It’s hard to paint a picture and explain your motivations in 200 words, but if you have two pages, give the reader a story arc or ease into your point by setting the scene.
  • Recognize that the reviewer will be reading your statement subjectively, meaning you’re being assessed on unknowable criteria. Most people on evaluation committees are reading for whether or not you’re interesting. Stated differently, do they want to go out to dinner with you to hear more? Write it so that the person reading it wants to hear more.
  • Address the elephant in the room (if there is one). Maybe your grades weren’t great in core courses, or perhaps you’ve never worked in the field you’re applying to. Make sure to address the deficiency rather than hoping the reader ignores it because they won’t. A few sentences suffice. Deficiencies do not need to be the cornerstone of the application.

At multiple points in your life, you will need to take action to transition from where you are to where you want to be. This process is layered and time-consuming, and getting yourself to stand out among the masses is an arduous but not impossible task. Having a polished resume that explains what you’ve done is the common first step. But, when an application asks for it, a personal statement can add color and depth to your list of accomplishments. It moves you from a one-dimensional indistinguishable candidate to someone with drive, interest, and nuance.

how should you start off a personal statement

  • Ruth Gotian is the chief learning officer and associate professor of education in anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, and the author of The Success Factor and Financial Times Guide to Mentoring . She was named the #1 emerging management thinker by Thinkers50. You can access her free list of conversation starters and test your mentoring impact . RuthGotian
  • Ushma S. Neill is the Vice President, Scientific Education & Training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. She runs several summer internships and is involved with the NYC Marshall Scholar Selection Committee. ushmaneill

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How to Write an Amazing Personal Statement (Includes Examples!)

how should you start off a personal statement

Lisa Freedland is a Scholarships360 writer with personal experience in psychological research and content writing. She has written content for an online fact-checking organization and has conducted research at the University of Southern California as well as the University of California, Irvine. Lisa graduated from the University of Southern California in Fall 2021 with a degree in Psychology.

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Zach Skillings is the Scholarships360 Newsletter Editor. He specializes in college admissions and strives to answer important questions about higher education. When he’s not contributing to Scholarships360, Zach writes about travel, music, film, and culture. His work has been published in Our State Magazine, Ladygunn Magazine, The Nocturnal Times, and The Lexington Dispatch. Zach graduated from Elon University with a degree in Cinema and Television Arts.

how should you start off a personal statement

Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

how should you start off a personal statement

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

How to Write an Amazing Personal Statement (Includes Examples!)

The personal statement. It’s one of the most important parts of the entire college application process. This essay is the perfect opportunity to show admissions officers who you are and what makes you stand out from the crowd. But writing a good personal statement isn’t exactly easy. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide on how to nail your personal statement, complete with example essays . Each essay was reviewed and commented upon by admissions expert Bill Jack. Let’s dive in!

Related: How to write an essay about yourself  

What is a personal statement? 

A personal statement is a special type of essay that’s required when you’re applying to colleges and scholarship programs. In this essay, you’re expected to share something about who you are and what you bring to the table. Think of it as a chance to reveal a side of yourself not found in the rest of your application. Personal statements are typically around 400 – 600 words in length. 

What can I write about? 

Pretty much anything, as long as it’s about you . While this is liberating in the sense that your writing options are nearly unlimited, it’s also overwhelming for the same reason. The good news is that you’ll probably be responding to a specific prompt. Chances are you’re applying to a school that uses the Common App , which means you’ll have seven prompts to choose from . Reviewing these prompts can help generate some ideas, but so can asking yourself meaningful questions. 

Below you’ll find a list of questions to ask yourself during the brainstorming process. For each of the following questions, spend a few minutes jotting down whatever comes to mind. 

  • What experiences have shaped who you are? 
  • What’s special or unique about you or your life story? 
  • Who or what has inspired you the most? 
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of? 
  • What are your goals for the future? How have you arrived at those goals? 
  • If your life was a movie, what would be the most interesting scene? 
  • What have been some of the biggest challenges in your life? How did you respond and what did you learn? 

The purpose of these questions is to prompt you to think about your life at a deeper level. Hopefully by reflecting on them, you’ll find an essay topic that is impactful and meaningful. In the next section, we’ll offer some advice on actually writing your essay. 

Also see:  How to write a 500 word essay

How do I write my personal statement? 

Once you’ve found a topic, it’s time to start writing! Every personal statement is different, so there’s not really one formula that works for every student. That being said, the following tips should get you started in the right direction:  

1. Freewrite, then rewrite 

The blank page tends to get more intimidating the longer you stare at it, so it’s best to go ahead and jump right in! Don’t worry about making the first draft absolutely perfect. Instead, just get your ideas on the page and don’t spend too much time thinking about the finer details. Think of this initial writing session as a “brain dump”. Take 15-30 minutes to quickly empty all your thoughts onto the page without worrying about things like grammar, spelling, or sentence structure. You can even use bullet points if that helps. Once you have your ideas on the page, then you can go back and shape them exactly how you want. 

2. Establish your theme 

Now that you’ve got some basic ideas down on the page, it’s time to lock in on a theme. Your theme is a specific angle that reflects the central message of your essay. It can be summarized in a sentence or even a word. For example, let’s say you’re writing about how you had to establish a whole new group of friends when you moved to a new city. The theme for this type of essay would probably be something like “adaptation”. Having a theme will help you stay focused throughout your essay. Since you only have a limited number of words, you can’t afford to go off on tangents that don’t relate to your theme. 

3. Tell a story

A lot of great essays rely on a specific scene or story. Find the personal anecdote relevant to your theme and transfer it to the page. The best way to do this is by using descriptive language. Consult the five senses as you’re setting the scene. What did you see, hear, taste, touch, or smell? How were you feeling emotionally? Using descriptive language can really help your essay come to life. According to UPchieve , a nonprofit that supports low income students, focusing on a particular moment as a “ revised version of a memoir ” is one way to keep readers engaged. 

Related: College essay primer: show, don’t tell  

4. Focus on your opening paragraph

Your opening paragraph should grab your reader’s attention and set the tone for the rest of your essay. In most cases, this is the best place to include your anecdote (if you have one). By leading with your personal story, you can hook your audience from the get-go. After telling your story, you can explain why it’s important to who you are. 

Related:  How to start a scholarship essay (with examples)

5. Use an authentic voice 

Your personal statement reflects who you are, so you should use a tone that represents you. That means you shouldn’t try to sound like someone else, and you shouldn’t use fancy words just to show off. This isn’t an academic paper, so you don’t have to adopt a super formal tone. Instead, write in a way that allows room for your personality to breathe. 

6. Edit, edit, edit…

Once you’re done writing, give yourself some time away from the essay. Try to allow a few days to pass before looking at the essay again with fresh eyes. This way, you’re more likely to pick up on spelling and grammatical errors. You may even get some new ideas and rethink the way you wrote some things. Once you’re satisfied, let someone else edit your essay. We recommend asking a teacher, parent, or sibling for their thoughts before submitting. 

Examples of personal statements 

Sometimes viewing someone else’s work is the best way to generate inspiration and get the creative juices flowing. The following essays are written in response to four different Common App prompts: 

Prompt 1: “Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”

When I was eight years old, I wanted a GameCube very badly. For weeks I hounded my dad to buy me one and finally he agreed. But there was a catch. He’d only get me a GameCube if I promised to start reading. Every day I played video games, I would have to pick up a book and read for at least one hour. At that point in my life, reading was just something I had to suffer through for school assignments. To read for pleasure seemed ludicrous. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about this proposed agreement. But I figured anything was worth it to get my hands on that shiny new video game console, so I bit the bullet and shook my dad’s hand. Little did I know that I had just made a life-changing deal. 

At first, the required hour of reading was a chore — something I had to do so I could play Mario Kart. But it quickly turned into something more than that. To my complete and utter surprise, I discovered that I actually enjoyed reading. One hour turned into two, two turned into three, and after a while I was spending more time reading than I was playing video games. I found myself captivated by the written word, and I read everything I could get my hands on. Lord of the Rings , Percy Jackson , Goosebumps — you name it. I was falling in love with literature, while my GameCube was accumulating dust in the TV stand. 

Soon enough, reading led to writing. I was beginning to come up with my own stories, so I put pen to paper and let my imagination run wild. It started out small. My first effort was a rudimentary picture book about a friendly raccoon who went to the moon. But things progressed. My stories became more intricate, my characters more complex. I wrote a series of science fiction novellas. I tried my hand at poetry. I was amazed at the worlds I could create with the tip of my pen. I had dreams of becoming an author. 

Then somewhere along the way my family got a subscription to Netflix, and that completely changed the way I thought about storytelling. My nose had been buried in books up until then, so I hadn’t really seen a lot of movies. That quickly changed. It seemed like every other day a pair of new DVDs would arrive in the mail (this was the early days of Netflix). Dark Knight, The Truman Show, Inception, Memento — all these great films were coming in and out of the house. And I couldn’t get enough of them. Movies brought stories to life in a way that books could not. I was head over heels for visual storytelling. 

Suddenly I wasn’t writing novels and short stories anymore. I was writing scripts for movies. Now I wanted to transfer my ideas to the big screen, rather than the pages of a book. But I was still doing the same thing I had always done. I was writing, just in a different format. To help with this process, I read the screenplays of my favorite films and paid attention to the way they were crafted. I kept watching more and more movies. And I hadn’t forgotten about my first love, either. I still cherished books and looked to them for inspiration. By the end of my junior year of high school, I had completed two scripts for short films. 

So why am I telling you all this? Because I want to turn my love of storytelling into a career. I’m not totally sure how to do that yet, but I know I have options. Whether it’s film production, creative writing, or even journalism, I want to find a major that suits my ambitions. Writing has taken me a long way, and I know it can take me even further. As I step into this next chapter of my life, I couldn’t be more excited to see how my craft develops. In the meantime, I should probably get rid of that dusty old GameCube. 

Feedback from admissions professional Bill Jack

Essays don’t always have to reveal details about the student’s intended career path, but one thing I like about this essay is that it gives the reader a sense of the why. Why do they want to pursue storytelling. It also shows the reader that they are open to how they pursue their interest. Being open to exploration is such a vital part of college, so it’s also showing the reader that they likely will be open to new things in college. And, it’s always fun to learn a little bit more about the student’s family, especially if the reader can learn about how the students interacts with their family. 

Prompt 2: “The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?”

I remember my first impression of Irvine: weird. It was foggy, stock-full of greenery and eucalyptus trees, and reminded me of my 5th grade trip to a “science camp” which was located in the San Bernardino mountains. Besides Irvine, that was one of the few places in Southern California where you’d find so many non-palm trees. 

Of course, perhaps my initial impression of Irvine was biased, motivated by a desire to stay in my hometown and a fear of the unknown. While that was true to an extent, Irvine was certainly still a little peculiar. The city itself was based on a “master plan” of sorts, with the location of each of its schools, parks, shops, and arguably its trees having been logically “picked” before the foundation was poured. Even the homes all looked roughly the same, with their beige, stucco walls almost serving as a hallmark of the city itself.

Thus, this perfectly structured, perfectly safe city seemed like a paradise of sorts to many outsiders, my parents included. I was a little more hesitant to welcome this. As I saw it, this was a phony city – believing that its uniformity stood for a lack of personality. My hometown, although not as flawlessly safe nor clean as Irvine, was where most of my dearest memories had occurred. From the many sleepovers at Cindie’s house, to trying to avoid my school’s own version of the “infamous” cheese touch, to the many laughs shared with friends and family, I shed a tear at the prospect of leaving my home.

Moving into the foreign city, remnants of the hostility I held towards Irvine remained. Still dwelling in my memories of the past, I was initially unable to see Irvine as a “home.” So, as I walked into my first-ever Irvine class, being greeted by many kind, yet unfamiliar faces around me, I was unable to recognize that some of those new faces would later become some of my dearest friends. Such negative feelings about the city were further reinforced by newer, harder classes, and more complicated homework. Sitting in the discomfort of this unfamiliar environment, it started to seem that “change” was something not only inevitable, but insurmountable.

As the years went on, however, this idea seemed to fade. I got used to my classes and bike racing through Irvine neighborhoods with my friends, watching the trees that once seemed just a “weird” green blob soon transform into one of my favorite parts of the city. While I kept my old, beloved memories stored, I made space for new ones. From carefully making our way over the narrow creek path next to our school, to the laughs we shared during chemistry class, my new memories made with friends seemed to transform a city I once disliked into one I would miss. 

Through this transformation, I have come to recognize that change, although sometimes intimidating at first, can open the door to great times and meaningful connections. Although Irvine may have once seemed like a strange, “phony” place that I couldn’t wait to be rid of, the memories and laughs I had grown to share there were very real. As I move onto this next part of my life, I hope I can use this knowledge that I have gained from my time in Irvine to make the most of what’s to come. Even if the change may be frightening at first, I have learned to embrace what’s on the other side, whether green or not.

One huge plus to writing an essay that focuses on a place is that you might have it read by someone who has been there. Yet, what’s really helpful about this essay is that even if someone hasn’t been there, a picture is painted about what the place is like.  Admission officers have the hard task of really understanding what the student sees, so the use of adjectives and imagery can really help.  It’s also really clever to see that the green that’s mentioned at the beginning is mentioned at the end.  It’s a nice way to bookend the essay and tie it all together.

Prompt 6: “Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?”

I like getting lost. Not literally, of course, but figuratively. Whether it be in the story of a love song by Taylor Swift, or in the memories brought back by listening to my favorite childhood video game’s background music, I’ve always appreciated music’s ability to transport me to another place, another time, another feeling. 

Alas, I cannot sing, nor have I practiced an instrument since my middle school piano class days. So, perhaps Kurt Vonnegut was right. As he puts it, “Virtually every writer I know would rather be a musician.” While I cannot speak for others, I have certainly not debunked his theory. Writing allows many, including myself, to attempt to mimic the transformative power of music – even if our singing voices aren’t exactly “pleasant.” Just as you can get lost in music, you can do so in a story. Whether it is in George Orwell’s totalitarian Oceania, or Little Women’s Orchard House, the stories outlined in novels can provide an amazing look into the lives and worlds of others, and an escape from the worries and problems of those in your own.

While I am certainly not claiming to have the storytelling abilities of the Orwells or Alcotts before me, I’ve had fun trying to recreate such transformative feelings for others. When I was nine, I attempted to write a story about a little girl who had gotten lost in the woods, only managing to get a couple pages through. As I got older, whenever I was assigned a creative writing assignment in school, I wrote about the same pig, Phil. He was always angry: in my 8th grade science class, Phil was mad at some humans who had harbored his friend captive, and in my 9th grade English class, at a couple who robbed him. 

Thus, when I heard about a writing club being opened at my school in 11th grade, I knew I had to join. I wanted to discern whether writing was just a hobby I picked up now and then, or a true passion. If it was a passion, I wanted to learn as much as possible about how I could improve. Although my high school’s writing club certainly wasn’t going to transform me into Shakespeare, I knew I could learn a lot from it – and I did. The club challenged me to do many things, from writing on the spot, to writing poetry, to even writing about myself, something that’s hopefully coming in handy right now. 

From then on, I started to expand into different types of writing, storing short ideas, skits, and more in appropriately-labeled Google Drive folders. At around the same time, I became interested in classic literature, which largely stemmed from a project in English class. We had been required to choose and read a classic on our own, then present it to the class in an interesting way. While my book was certainly interesting and unique in its own right, nearly everyone else’s novels seemed more captivating to me. So, I took it upon myself to read as many classics as I could the following summer.

One of the books I read during the summer, funnily enough, was Animal Farm, which starred angry pigs, reminiscent of Phil. I had also started going over different ideas in my head, thinking about how I could translate them into words using the new skills I learned. While the writing club helped reaffirm my interest in writing and allowed me to develop new skills, my newfound affinity for classics gave me inspiration to write. Now, I am actually considering writing as part of my future. In this endeavor, I hope that Phil, and the music I inevitably listen to as I write, will accompany me every step of the way.

Admission officers might read 70 (or more!) essays in one day. It’s not uncommon for them to start to blend together and sound similar. This essay might not make you laugh out loud. But, it might make the reader chuckle while reading it thanks to the subtle humor and levity. Being able to incorporate a little humor into your essay (if it is natural for you to do… do not force it), can really be a great way to shed additional light into who you are. Remember, the essay isn’t merely about proving that you can write, but it should also reveal a little bit about your personality.

Prompt 5: “Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.”

I learned a lot of things during the summer I worked at Tropical Smoothie. I discovered the value of hard work. I figured out how to save money. I even mastered the art of the Mango Magic smoothie (the secret is lots of sugar). But most importantly, I learned the power of perspective. And I have Deja to thank for that. 

Deja was my shift supervisor, and one of Tropical Smoothie’s best employees. She was punctual, friendly, and always willing to lend a helping hand. She knew the store from top to bottom, and could handle pretty much any situation thrown her way. She made everyone around her better. On top of all that, she was four months pregnant! I was always impressed by Deja’s work ethic, but I gained an entirely new level of respect for her one day.

It was a Friday night, and Deja and I were working the closing shift together. It was very busy, and Deja and I were the only ones on shift. We managed to get by, but we were exhausted by the end of the evening. After wiping down the counters and mopping the floors, we closed up shop and went our separate ways. I was eager to get home. 

I walked a couple blocks to where I had parked my car. Well, it wasn’t my car actually. It was my dad’s ‘98 Chevy pickup truck, and it was in rough shape. It had no heat or A/C, the leather seats were cracked beyond repair, and the driver’s side door was jammed shut. I sighed as I got in through the passenger side and scooted over to the driver’s seat. The whole reason I was working at Tropical Smoothie was to save up enough money to buy my own car. I was hoping to have something more respectable to drive during my senior year of high school. 

I cranked the old thing up and started on my way home. But soon enough, I spotted Deja walking on the side of the road. There was no sidewalk here, the light was low, and she was dangerously close to the passing cars. I pulled over and offered her a ride. She got in and explained that she was on her way home. Apparently she didn’t have a car and had been walking to work every day. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was complaining about my set of wheels, while Deja didn’t have any to begin with.

We got to talking, and she confessed that she had been having a tough time. You would never know from the way she was so cheerful at work, but Deja had a lot on her plate. She was taking care of her mother, her boyfriend had just lost his job, and she was worried about making ends meet. And of course, she was expecting a baby in five months. On top of all that, she had been walking nearly a mile to and from work every day. The whole thing was a real eye opener, and made me reconsider some things in my own life. 

For one, I didn’t mind driving my dad’s truck anymore. It was banged up, sure, but it was a lot better than nothing. My mindset had changed. I appreciated the truck now. I began to think about other things differently, too. I started making mental notes of all the things in my life I was thankful for — my family, my friends, my health. I became grateful for what I had, instead of obsessing over the things I didn’t. 

I also gained more awareness of the world outside my own little bubble. My encounter with Deja had shown me first-hand that everyone is dealing with their own problems, some worse than others. So I started paying more attention to my friends, family members, and coworkers. I started listening more and asking how I could help. I also gave Deja a ride home for the rest of the summer. 

These are all small things, of course, but I think they make a difference. I realized I’m at my best when I’m not fixated on my own life, but when I’m considerate of the lives around me. I want to keep this in mind as I continue to grow and develop as a person. I want to continue to search for ways to support the people around me. And most importantly, I want to keep things in perspective.

Too often we can be focused on our own problems that we fail to realize that everyone has their own things going on in their lives, too.  This essay showcases how it’s important to put things in perspective, a skill that certainly will prove invaluable in college… and not just in the classroom.  Another reason I like this essay is because it provides deeper insight into the student’s life.  Sure, you might have mentioned in your activities list that you have a job.  But as this essay does, you can show why you have the job in the first place, what your responsibilities are, and more.

A few last tips

We hope these essay examples gave you a bit of inspiration of what to include in your own. However, before you go, we’d like to send you off with a few (personal statement) writing tips to help you make your essays as lovely as the memories and anecdotes they’re based off of. Without further ado, here are some of our best tips for writing your personal statements:

1. Open strong

College admissions officers read many, many essays (think 50+) a day, which can sometimes cause them to start blending together and sounding alike. One way to avoid your essay from simply fading into the background is to start strong. This means opening your essay with something memorable, whether an interesting personal anecdote, a descriptive setting, or anything else that you think would catch a reader’s attention (so long as it’s not inappropriate). Not only might this help college admissions officers better remember your essay, but it will also make them curious about what the rest of your essay will entail.

2. Be authentic

Perhaps most important when it comes to writing personal statement essays is to maintain your authenticity. Ultimately, your essays should reflect your unique stories and quirks that make you who you are, and should help college admissions officers determine whether you’d truly be a good fit for their school or not. So, don’t stress trying to figure out what colleges are looking for. Be yourself, and let the colleges come to you!

3. Strong writing

This one may seem a little obvious, but strong writing will certainly appeal to colleges. Not only will it make your essay more compelling, but it may show colleges that you’re ready for college-level essay writing (that you’ll likely have to do a lot of). Just remember that good writing is not limited to grammar. Using captivating detail and descriptions are a huge part of making your essay seem more like a story than a lecture.

4. Proofread

Last but not least, remember to proofread! Make sure your essay contains no errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. When you’re done proofreading your essay yourself, we would also recommend that you ask a teacher, parent, or other grammatically savvy person to proofread your essay as well.

Final thoughts 

With those in hand, we hope you now have a better sense of how to write your personal statement. While your grades and test scores are important when it comes to college admissions, it’s really your essays that can “make” or “break” your application. 

Although this may make it seem like a daunting task, writing an amazing personal statement essay is all about effort. Thus, so long as you start early, follow the advice listed above, and dedicate your time and effort to it, it’s entirely possible to write an essay that perfectly encapsulates you. Good luck, and happy writing!

Also see:  Scholarships360’s free scholarships search tool

Key Takeaways

  • It may take some people longer than others to know what they want to write about, but remember that everyone, including you, has something unique to write about!
  • Personal statements should be personal, which means you should avoid being too general and really strive to show off what makes you “you”
  • Time and effort are two of the most important things you can put into your personal statement to ensure that it is the best representation of yourself
  • Don’t forget to ask people who know you to read your work before you submit; they should be able to tell you better than anyone if you are truly shining through!

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  • Applying to graduate school
  • How to Write Your Personal Statement | Strategies & Examples

How to Write Your Personal Statement | Strategies & Examples

Published on February 12, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 3, 2023.

A personal statement is a short essay of around 500–1,000 words, in which you tell a compelling story about who you are, what drives you, and why you’re applying.

To write a successful personal statement for a graduate school application , don’t just summarize your experience; instead, craft a focused narrative in your own voice. Aim to demonstrate three things:

  • Your personality: what are your interests, values, and motivations?
  • Your talents: what can you bring to the program?
  • Your goals: what do you hope the program will do for you?

This article guides you through some winning strategies to build a strong, well-structured personal statement for a master’s or PhD application. You can download the full examples below.

Urban Planning Psychology History

Table of contents

Getting started with your personal statement, the introduction: start with an attention-grabbing opening, the main body: craft your narrative, the conclusion: look ahead, revising, editing, and proofreading your personal statement, frequently asked questions, other interesting articles.

Before you start writing, the first step is to understand exactly what’s expected of you. If the application gives you a question or prompt for your personal statement, the most important thing is to respond to it directly.

For example, you might be asked to focus on the development of your personal identity; challenges you have faced in your life; or your career motivations. This will shape your focus and emphasis—but you still need to find your own unique approach to answering it.

There’s no universal template for a personal statement; it’s your chance to be creative and let your own voice shine through. But there are strategies you can use to build a compelling, well-structured story.

The first paragraph of your personal statement should set the tone and lead smoothly into the story you want to tell.

Strategy 1: Open with a concrete scene

An effective way to catch the reader’s attention is to set up a scene that illustrates something about your character and interests. If you’re stuck, try thinking about:

  • A personal experience that changed your perspective
  • A story from your family’s history
  • A memorable teacher or learning experience
  • An unusual or unexpected encounter

To write an effective scene, try to go beyond straightforward description; start with an intriguing sentence that pulls the reader in, and give concrete details to create a convincing atmosphere.

Strategy 2: Open with your motivations

To emphasize your enthusiasm and commitment, you can start by explaining your interest in the subject you want to study or the career path you want to follow.

Just stating that it interests you isn’t enough: first, you need to figure out why you’re interested in this field:

  • Is it a longstanding passion or a recent discovery?
  • Does it come naturally or have you had to work hard at it?
  • How does it fit into the rest of your life?
  • What do you think it contributes to society?

Tips for the introduction

  • Don’t start on a cliche: avoid phrases like “Ever since I was a child…” or “For as long as I can remember…”
  • Do save the introduction for last. If you’re struggling to come up with a strong opening, leave it aside, and note down any interesting ideas that occur to you as you write the rest of the personal statement.

Once you’ve set up the main themes of your personal statement, you’ll delve into more detail about your experiences and motivations.

To structure the body of your personal statement, there are various strategies you can use.

Strategy 1: Describe your development over time

One of the simplest strategies is to give a chronological overview of key experiences that have led you to apply for graduate school.

  • What first sparked your interest in the field?
  • Which classes, assignments, classmates, internships, or other activities helped you develop your knowledge and skills?
  • Where do you want to go next? How does this program fit into your future plans?

Don’t try to include absolutely everything you’ve done—pick out highlights that are relevant to your application. Aim to craft a compelling narrative that shows how you’ve changed and actively developed yourself.

My interest in psychology was first sparked early in my high school career. Though somewhat scientifically inclined, I found that what interested me most was not the equations we learned about in physics and chemistry, but the motivations and perceptions of my fellow students, and the subtle social dynamics that I observed inside and outside the classroom. I wanted to learn how our identities, beliefs, and behaviours are shaped through our interactions with others, so I decided to major in Social Psychology. My undergraduate studies deepened my understanding of, and fascination with, the interplay between an individual mind and its social context.During my studies, I acquired a solid foundation of knowledge about concepts like social influence and group dynamics, but I also took classes on various topics not strictly related to my major. I was particularly interested in how other fields intersect with psychology—the classes I took on media studies, biology, and literature all enhanced my understanding of psychological concepts by providing different lenses through which to look at the issues involved.

Strategy 2: Own your challenges and obstacles

If your path to graduate school hasn’t been easy or straightforward, you can turn this into a strength, and structure your personal statement as a story of overcoming obstacles.

  • Is your social, cultural or economic background underrepresented in the field? Show how your experiences will contribute a unique perspective.
  • Do you have gaps in your resume or lower-than-ideal grades? Explain the challenges you faced and how you dealt with them.

Don’t focus too heavily on negatives, but use them to highlight your positive qualities. Resilience, resourcefulness and perseverance make you a promising graduate school candidate.

Growing up working class, urban decay becomes depressingly familiar. The sight of a row of abandoned houses does not surprise me, but it continues to bother me. Since high school, I have been determined to pursue a career in urban planning. While people of my background experience the consequences of urban planning decisions first-hand, we are underrepresented in the field itself. Ironically, given my motivation, my economic background has made my studies challenging. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a scholarship for my undergraduate studies, but after graduation I took jobs in unrelated fields to help support my parents. In the three years since, I have not lost my ambition. Now I am keen to resume my studies, and I believe I can bring an invaluable perspective to the table: that of the people most impacted by the decisions of urban planners.

Strategy 3: Demonstrate your knowledge of the field

Especially if you’re applying for a PhD or another research-focused program, it’s a good idea to show your familiarity with the subject and the department. Your personal statement can focus on the area you want to specialize in and reflect on why it matters to you.

  • Reflect on the topics or themes that you’ve focused on in your studies. What draws you to them?
  • Discuss any academic achievements, influential teachers, or other highlights of your education.
  • Talk about the questions you’d like to explore in your research and why you think they’re important.

The personal statement isn’t a research proposal , so don’t go overboard on detail—but it’s a great opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the field and your capacity for original thinking.

In applying for this research program, my intention is to build on the multidisciplinary approach I have taken in my studies so far, combining knowledge from disparate fields of study to better understand psychological concepts and issues. The Media Psychology program stands out to me as the perfect environment for this kind of research, given its researchers’ openness to collaboration across diverse fields. I am impressed by the department’s innovative interdisciplinary projects that focus on the shifting landscape of media and technology, and I hope that my own work can follow a similarly trailblazing approach. More specifically, I want to develop my understanding of the intersection of psychology and media studies, and explore how media psychology theories and methods might be applied to neurodivergent minds. I am interested not only in media psychology but also in psychological disorders, and how the two interact. This is something I touched on during my undergraduate studies and that I’m excited to delve into further.

Strategy 4: Discuss your professional ambitions

Especially if you’re applying for a more professionally-oriented program (such as an MBA), it’s a good idea to focus on concrete goals and how the program will help you achieve them.

  • If your career is just getting started, show how your character is suited to the field, and explain how graduate school will help you develop your talents.
  • If you have already worked in the profession, show what you’ve achieved so far, and explain how the program will allow you to take the next step.
  • If you are planning a career change, explain what has driven this decision and how your existing experience will help you succeed.

Don’t just state the position you want to achieve. You should demonstrate that you’ve put plenty of thought into your career plans and show why you’re well-suited to this profession.

One thing that fascinated me about the field during my undergraduate studies was the sheer number of different elements whose interactions constitute a person’s experience of an urban environment. Any number of factors could transform the scene I described at the beginning: What if there were no bus route? Better community outreach in the neighborhood? Worse law enforcement? More or fewer jobs available in the area? Some of these factors are out of the hands of an urban planner, but without taking them all into consideration, the planner has an incomplete picture of their task. Through further study I hope to develop my understanding of how these disparate elements combine and interact to create the urban environment. I am interested in the social, psychological and political effects our surroundings have on our lives. My studies will allow me to work on projects directly affecting the kinds of working-class urban communities I know well. I believe I can bring my own experiences, as well as my education, to bear upon the problem of improving infrastructure and quality of life in these communities.

Tips for the main body

  • Don’t rehash your resume by trying to summarize everything you’ve done so far; the personal statement isn’t about listing your academic or professional experience, but about reflecting, evaluating, and relating it to broader themes.
  • Do make your statements into stories: Instead of saying you’re hard-working and self-motivated, write about your internship where you took the initiative to start a new project. Instead of saying you’ve always loved reading, reflect on a novel or poem that changed your perspective.

Your conclusion should bring the focus back to the program and what you hope to get out of it, whether that’s developing practical skills, exploring intellectual questions, or both.

Emphasize the fit with your specific interests, showing why this program would be the best way to achieve your aims.

Strategy 1: What do you want to know?

If you’re applying for a more academic or research-focused program, end on a note of curiosity: what do you hope to learn, and why do you think this is the best place to learn it?

If there are specific classes or faculty members that you’re excited to learn from, this is the place to express your enthusiasm.

Strategy 2: What do you want to do?

If you’re applying for a program that focuses more on professional training, your conclusion can look to your career aspirations: what role do you want to play in society, and why is this program the best choice to help you get there?

Tips for the conclusion

  • Don’t summarize what you’ve already said. You have limited space in a personal statement, so use it wisely!
  • Do think bigger than yourself: try to express how your individual aspirations relate to your local community, your academic field, or society more broadly. It’s not just about what you’ll get out of graduate school, but about what you’ll be able to give back.

You’ll be expected to do a lot of writing in graduate school, so make a good first impression: leave yourself plenty of time to revise and polish the text.

Your style doesn’t have to be as formal as other kinds of academic writing, but it should be clear, direct and coherent. Make sure that each paragraph flows smoothly from the last, using topic sentences and transitions to create clear connections between each part.

Don’t be afraid to rewrite and restructure as much as necessary. Since you have a lot of freedom in the structure of a personal statement, you can experiment and move information around to see what works best.

Finally, it’s essential to carefully proofread your personal statement and fix any language errors. Before you submit your application, consider investing in professional personal statement editing . For $150, you have the peace of mind that your personal statement is grammatically correct, strong in term of your arguments, and free of awkward mistakes.

A statement of purpose is usually more formal, focusing on your academic or professional goals. It shouldn’t include anything that isn’t directly relevant to the application.

A personal statement can often be more creative. It might tell a story that isn’t directly related to the application, but that shows something about your personality, values, and motivations.

However, both types of document have the same overall goal: to demonstrate your potential as a graduate student and s how why you’re a great match for the program.

The typical length of a personal statement for graduate school applications is between 500 and 1,000 words.

Different programs have different requirements, so always check if there’s a minimum or maximum length and stick to the guidelines. If there is no recommended word count, aim for no more than 1-2 pages.

If you’re applying to multiple graduate school programs, you should tailor your personal statement to each application.

Some applications provide a prompt or question. In this case, you might have to write a new personal statement from scratch: the most important task is to respond to what you have been asked.

If there’s no prompt or guidelines, you can re-use the same idea for your personal statement – but change the details wherever relevant, making sure to emphasize why you’re applying to this specific program.

If the application also includes other essays, such as a statement of purpose , you might have to revise your personal statement to avoid repeating the same information.

If you want to know more about college essays , academic writing , and AI tools , make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

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How to start a personal statement

The process of writing your personal statement can be simple if you know how to start. this is our guide on where to begin..

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Make a plan

Prepare how you’re going to write your personal statement before you begin any of the actual writing. Note down how you want to structure it and what you want to say in each paragraph. By summarising what you’re going to write in a plan, you can assess whether your personal statement will flow and if you have all the things you need to include.

  • What to include in a personal statement

Have a structure

Part of planning your personal statement is deciding how to lay it out. Keep in mind that you’re telling admissions tutors the story of you. All stories have a structure – there’s a beginning, a middle and an end. You can use a similar method to convey your motivation for choosing the subject you’re applying for.

There’s more than one way to structure a personal statement, but you should at least have a:

  • Clear introduction
  • Strong body of five–six paragraphs that link your experience and achievements to why you've chosen the subject
  • Conclusion to summarise it all

A structured statement also shows admissions tutors that you can communicate effectively.

Begin with you

Tackling the introduction first? This is your chance to talk about you, your background, and your excitement for the course. It should then flow naturally into the middle paragraphs, where you can expand on why you’re interested in the subject you’ve chosen.

Tina, Lead Admissions Tutor for Adult Nursing at the University of Brighton , shared with us what she looks for in the first few paragraphs of a student's personal statement:

They should start their application with the reason why they are applying and if they have any personal insight into a role such as being cared for when they were younger, attending hospital to visit a relative or any other experience as part of a course, volunteering, or work. Tina, Lead Admissions Tutor for Adult Nursing at University of Brighton

Be to the point from the beginning

Your introduction shouldn’t be long-winded, so two or three sentences are usually enough. You only have 4,000 characters and about 47 lines to play with for the entire statement.

Don’t be afraid to go straight into talking about what excites you most about your subject and the motivation behind choosing to apply. Use language that’s punchy, concise, and relevant too. This will help you to show your ambition and enthusiasm to admissions tutors.

Avoid cliché opening sentences

Clichés are clichés because they’re overused. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions tutor – they’ll be reading lots of personal statements, so the ones that stand out will be those that aren’t like the others.

Make a note of any clichéd sentences you can think of or have seen online, and check you don’t include them when writing your personal statement. Some examples to avoid include:

  • ‘I have always wanted to study...’
  • ‘I feel I’ve always had a passion for...’
  • ‘From a young age...’
  • ‘Since I can remember...’

Don’t feel pressured to write the intro first

The introduction seems like the obvious place to start. But you may find it easier to leave the introduction until the end. Start at whichever point suits you best, provided you have a plan and structure in place.

Fortunately, the intro is only a few sentences, and given that the most important content will come in the body paragraphs, it may make sense to start with these paragraphs.

Just start writing! Don’t feel that you necessarily need to write your personal statement in the order in which it will be read. This is only for the author to know. Dr Ceri Davies, Economics Director of Admissions and Recruitment at University of Birmingham
  • Tips for writing your personal statement

Just get words down

The most important part of writing is to get words on paper. If you’re struggling to plan, try writing down the first words that come to your head about why you want to study the subject. If you do have a plan and structure, but don’t know where to begin, try taking the same approach. You can remove or edit any bits that you don’t like later.

Once you start writing you should hopefully enter a state of flow. You’ll piece sentences together and gradually craft an impressive personal statement.

Start by writing down all the reasons why you want to study the subject you are applying for and then, when all your enthusiasm is flowing, you can decide the order you want to put it in. Katherine Pagett, Student Recruitment Manager at University of Birmingham
  • How to make your personal statement stand out

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By Nik Taylor (Editor, The Uni Guide) | 18 August 2023 | 22 min read

How to write an excellent personal statement in 10 steps

Stand out from the crowd: here's how to write a good personal statement that will get you noticed

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how should you start off a personal statement

Your personal statement forms a core part of your university application, and the sooner you get going, the better you can make it. You may think that your personal statement won’t matter as much to unis as your grades and experience but a great personal statement could make all the difference between you and a candidate with the same grades. Sure, your application might not reach that deal breaker stage. But is it something you want to leave to chance?  Here we’ll take you through the process of planning, writing and checking a good personal statement, so you end up with something you can submit with confidence. And to make sure the advice we're giving you is sound, we’ve spoken to admissions staff at loads of UK universities to get their view. Look out for video interviews and advice on applying for specific subjects throughout this piece or watch our personal statement playlist on YouTube .

  • Are you looking for personal statement examples? Check our library of hundreds of real personal statements, on The Student Room

Personal statement deadlines

You'll need to make sure you've got your personal statement written well in advance of your application deadline. Below are the main university application deadline dates for 2024 entry.

2024 entry deadlines

16 October 2023: Deadline for applications to Oxford and Cambridge universities, along with most medicine, dentistry, and veterinary courses.   31 January 2024: Deadline for applications to the majority of undergraduate courses. After this date, universities will start allocating places on these courses –   but you can still apply after the 31 January deadline , as this article explains . 30 June 2024:  Students who apply after this date will be entered into Clearing .

  • Read more: Ucas deadlines and key application dates

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is a central part of your Ucas application, where you explain why you’ve chosen a particular course and why you’ll be good at it. It's your chance to stand out against other candidates and hopefully get that all-important offer. You only write one personal statement which is then read by each university you apply to, so if you are applying for more than one subject (or it's a combined course) it's crucial that you include common themes or reference the overall skills needed for all subjects. Personal statements are especially important if you’re trying to get on a very competitive course, where you need to do anything you can to stand out to admissions tutors. Courteney Sheppard, senior customer experience manager at Ucas, advises that your personal statement is "the only part of the application that you have direct control over. Do lots of research to demonstrate your passion, curiosity and drive to pursue your chosen subject." There’s a limit on how much you can write: your personal statement can be up to 4,000 characters (including spaces) or 47 lines of 95 characters (including spaces); whichever is shorter. This may appear generous (read: long) but once you've got going you may find yourself having to edit heavily.

  • Read more: teacher secrets for writing a great personal statement

1. Plan what you want to cover

The first thing you need to do is make a plan. Writing a personal statement off the top of your head is difficult. Start by making some notes, answering the following questions:

  • What do you want to study?
  • Why do you want to study it?
  • What is there about you that shows you’re suited to studying this subject at university? Think about your personality, as well as your experiences.
  • What are your other interests and skills?

These few points are going to form the spine of your personal statement, so write them in a way that makes sense to you. You might want to make a simple bulleted list or you might want to get all arty and use a mindmap. Whatever you choose, your aim is the same. You want to get it clear in your own head why a university should offer you a place on its course. Getting those details down isn't always easy, and some people find it helpful to make notes over time. You might try carrying a notebook with you or set up a memo on your phone. Whenever you think of something useful for your personal statement, jot it down. Inspiration sometimes comes more easily when you’re thinking about something else entirely. It might help to take a look at The Student Room for some sample personal statements by university and sample personal statements by subjects , to give you an idea of the kind of thing you want to include. 

  • Read more: personal statement FAQs

2. Show off your experience

Some things are worth adding to your personal statement, some things are not. Firmly in the second camp are your qualifications. You don’t need to mention these as there’s a whole other section of your personal statement where you get to detail them very precisely. Don’t waste a single character going on about how great your GCSE grades are – it’s not what the admissions tutor wants to read. What they do want to see is: what have you done? OK, so you’ve got some good grades, but so do a lot of other applicants. What have you done that’s different, that shows you off as someone who really loves the subject you’re applying for? Spend some time thinking about all the experience you have in that subject. If you’re lucky, this might be direct work experience. That’s going to be particularly appropriate if you’re applying for one of the more vocational subjects such as medicine or journalism . But uni staff realise getting plum work experience placements is easier for some people than others, so cast your net wider when you’re thinking about what you’ve done. How about after-school clubs? Debating societies? Are you running a blog or vlog? What key skills and experience have you picked up elsewhere (eg from hobbies) that could be tied in with your course choice? Remember, you’re looking for experience that shows why you want to study your chosen subject. You’re not just writing an essay about what you're doing in your A-level syllabus. Use this checklist as a guide for what to include:

  • Your interest in the course. Why do you want to spend three years studying this subject at university?
  • What have you done outside school or college that demonstrates this interest? Think about things like fairs/exhibitions, public lectures or voluntary work that is relevant to your subject.
  • Relevant work experience (essential for the likes of medicine, not required for non-vocational courses such as English )
  • Skills and qualities required for that career if appropriate (medicine, nursing and law as obvious examples)
  • Interest in your current studies – what particular topics have made an impression on you?
  • Any other interests/hobbies/experiences you wish to mention that are relevant either to the subject or 'going to uni'. Don't just list your hobbies, you need to be very selective and state clearly what difference doing these things has made to you.
  • Plans for a gap year if you’re deferring entry.

Read more: 6 steps you need to take to apply to university

3. Be bold about your achievements

Don't be bashful about your achievements; that’s not going to help you get into uni. It's time to unleash your inner Muhammed Ali and get all “I am the greatest” with your writing. Do keep it focused and accurate. Do keep your language professional. But don’t hide your qualities beneath a layer of false modesty. Your personal statement is a sell – you are selling yourself as a brilliant student and you need to show the reader why that is true. This doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and if you’re finding it difficult to write about how great you are it’s time to enlist some help. Round up a friend or two, a family member, a teacher, whoever and get them to write down your qualities. Getting someone else’s view here can help you get some perspective. Don’t be shy. You are selling your skills, your experience and your enthusiasm – make sure they all leap off the screen with the way you have described them.

  • Read more: the ten biggest mistakes when writing your personal statement  

4. How to start your personal statement

Type your personal statement in a cloud-based word processing program, such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word and don’t copy and paste it into Ucas Hub until it’s finished.  One of the benefits of doing it this way is that you can run spell check easily. (Please note, though, that Word adds "curly" quotation marks and other characters (like é or ü) that won't show up on your Ucas form, so do proofread it on Ucas Hub before submitting it to ensure it is how you typed it.)  Another big benefit is that you'll always have a backup of what you've written. If you're being super careful, you could always save your statement in another place as well. Bear in mind that extra spaces (eg adding spaces to the beginnings of paragraphs as indentation) are removed on Ucas. In your first sentence, cut to the chase. Why do you want to do the course? Don’t waste any time rambling on about the daydreams you had when you were five. Just be clear and concise – describe in one line why this course is so important to you. Then, in the rest of your intro, go into more detail in demonstrating your enthusiasm for the course and explaining how you decided this is what you want to do for the next three or more years. However you choose to start your statement, just avoid the following hoary old chestnuts. These have been some of the most used lines in personal statements over the years – they are beyond cliche, so don’t even think about it.

  • From a young age I have (always) been [interested in/fascinated by]…
  • For as long as I can remember, I have…
  • I am applying for this course because… 
  • I have always been interested in… 
  • Throughout my life I have always enjoyed… 
  • Reflecting on my educational experiences… 
  • [Subject] is a very challenging and demanding [career/profession/course]… 
  • Academically, I have always been… 
  • I have always wanted to pursue a career in… 
  • I have always been passionate about…   

5. Focus your writing on why you've chosen that subject

So you’ve got your intro done – time to nail the rest of it. Bear in mind that you’ve got to be a little bit careful when following a personal statement template. It’s easy to fall into the trap of copying someone else’s style, and in the process lose all of your own voice and personality from your writing. But there is a rough order that you can follow, which should help keep you in your flow. After your opening paragraph or two, get into any work experience (if you’ve got it). Talk about extracurriculars: anything you've done which is relevant to the subject can go here – hobbies, interests, volunteering. Touch on your career aspirations – where do you want this course to take you? Next, show your enthusiasm for your current studies. Cite some specific examples of current work that you enjoyed. Show off your relevant skills and qualities by explaining how you’ve used these in the past. Make sure you’re giving real-world examples here, not just vague assertions like “I’m really organised and motivated”. Try to use examples that are relevant.   Follow this up with something about you as a person. Talk about non-academic stuff that you like to do, but link it in some way with the course, or with how it shows your maturity for dealing with uni life. Round it all off by bringing your main points together, including a final emphasis of your commitment to studying this particular course.

  • Read more: how to write your personal statement in an evening  

6. How long should a personal statement be?

You've got to work to a very specific limit when writing your personal statement. In theory you could use up to 4,000 characters – but you’re probably more likely to be limited by the line count. That's because it's a good idea to put line breaks in between your paragraphs (to make it more readable) and you only get a maximum of 47 lines. With this in mind, 3,500 characters is a more realistic limit. But when you’re getting started you should ignore these limits completely. At first, you just want to get down everything that you feel is important. You'll probably end up with something that is far too long, but that's fine. This is where you get to do some polishing and pruning. Keep the focus of your piece on the course you’re applying for, why you want to do it and why you’re perfectly suited to it. Look through what you’ve written so far – have you got the balance right? Chop out anything that goes on a bit, as you want each point to be snappy and succinct.

  • Read more: universities reveal all about personal statements  

7. Keep it simple

8. Smart ways to end your personal statement

Writing a closing line that you’re happy with can feel as tricky as coming up with your opener. What you’re looking for here is a sign-off that is bold and memorable. The final couple of sentences in your statement give you the opportunity to emphasise all the good stuff you’ve already covered. Use this space to leave the reader in no doubt as to what an excellent addition you would be to their university. Pull together all your key points and – most importantly – address the central question that your personal statement should answer: why should you get a place on the course?

  • Read more: universities explain how to end your personal statement with a bang  

9. Make sure your personal statement has no mistakes

Now you’ve got a personal statement you’re happy with, you need to make sure there are no mistakes. Check it, check it a second time, then check it again. Once you’ve done that, get someone else to check it, too. You will be doing yourself a massive disservice if you send through a personal statement with spelling and/or grammatical errors. You’ve got months to put this together so there really is no excuse for sending through something that looks like a rush job. Ask your teachers to look at it, and be prepared to accept their feedback without getting defensive. They will have seen many personal statements before; use what they tell you to make yours even better. You’ve also got another chance here to look through the content of your personal statement, so you can make sure the balance is right. Make sure your focus is very clearly on the subject you are applying for and why you want to study it. Don’t post your personal statement on the internet or social media where anyone can see it. You will get picked up by the Ucas plagiarism checker. Similarly, don't copy any that you find online. Instead, now is a good time to make your parents feel useful. Read your personal statement out to them and get them to give you feedback. Or try printing it out and mixing it up with a few others (you can find sample personal statements on The Student Room). Get them to read them all and then try to pick yours out. If they can't, perhaps there's not enough of your personality in there.  

10. Don't think about your personal statement for a whole week

If you followed the advice at the very start of this guide, you’ve started your personal statement early. Good job! There are months before you need to submit it. Use one of these weeks to forget about your personal statement completely. Get on with other things – anything you like. Just don’t go near your statement. Give it a whole week and then open up the document again and read through it with fresh eyes. You’ll gain a whole new perspective on what you’ve written and will be well placed to make more changes, if needed.

  • Read more: how to write your personal statement when you have nothing interesting to say  

10 steps to your ideal personal statement

In summary, here are the ten steps you should follow to create the perfect personal statement.  

Personal statement dos and don'ts

  • Remember that your personal statement is your personal statement, not an article written about your intended field of study. It should tell the reader about you, not about the subject.
  • Only put in things that you’re prepared to talk about at the interviews.
  • Give convincing reasons for why you want to study the course – more than just "enjoying the subject" (this should be a given).
  • For very competitive courses, find out as much as you can about the nature of the course and try to make your personal statement relevant to this.
  • Be reflective. If you make a point like 'I like reading', 'I travelled abroad', say what you got from it.
  • Go through the whole thing checking your grammar and your spelling. Do this at least twice. It doesn’t matter if you’re not applying to an essay-based course – a personal statement riddled with spelling mistakes is just going to irritate the reader, which is the last thing you want to do. If this is something you find difficult then have someone look over it for you.
  • Leave blank lines between your paragraphs. It’s easier for the reader to get through your personal statement when it’s broken into easily digestible chunks. Remember that they’re going to be reading a lot of these! Make yours easy to get through.
  • Get someone else's opinion on your statement. Read it out to family or friends. Share it with your teacher. Look for feedback wherever you can find it, then act upon it.
  • Don’t write it like a letter. Kicking off with a greeting such as "Dear Sir/Madam" not only looks weird, it also wastes precious space.
  • Don’t make jokes. This is simply not the time – save them for your first night in the union.
  • Don’t criticise your current school or college or try to blame teachers for any disappointing grades you might have got.
  • Be afraid of details – if you want your PS to be personal to you that means explaining exactly which bits of work or topics or activities you've taken part in/enjoyed. It's much more compelling to read about one or two detailed examples than a paragraph that brushes over five or six.
  • Just list what you're doing now. You should pull out the experiences that are relevant to the courses which you're applying to.
  • Mention skills and activities without giving examples of when they have been demonstrated by you or what you learnt from them. Anyone can write "I have great leadership skills" in a PS, actually using a sentence to explain when you demonstrated good leadership skills is much rarer and more valuable.
  • Refer to experiences that took place before your GCSEs (or equivalent).
  • Give explanations about medical or mental health problems. These should be explained in your reference, not your PS.
  • Apply for too many different courses, making it difficult to write a convincing personal statement which supports the application.
  • Write a statement specific to just one institution, unless you're only applying to that one choice.
  • Copy and paste the statement from somewhere else! This means do not plagiarise. All statements are automatically checked for plagiarism by Ucas. Those that are highlighted by the computer system are checked manually by Ucas staff. If you’re found to have plagiarised parts of your statement, the universities you apply to will be informed and it could jeopardise your applications.
  • Use ChatGPT or another AI program to write your personal statement for you. Or, if you do, make sure you thoroughly edit and personalise the text so it's truly yours. Otherwise you're very much at risk of the plagiarism point above.

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How to Start a Personal Statement

One of the first hurdles students encounter when writing college essays is how to start a personal statement. As a core element of many applications, understanding how to write a personal statement is crucial. Learning how to write a personal statement that is an authentic representation of yourself can be challenging. However, mastering this skill will help you craft personal essays that make a lasting impact on admissions officers. 

Specific, actionable college essay tips can help you learn how to write a personal statement for college. If you spend time learning how to start a college essay, you’ll feel even more confident as you begin the process. So, let’s demystify just exactly how to start a personal statement. 

In this guide, How to Start a Personal Statement, we’ll cover everything you need to know about personal statements, including:

  • Personal statement meaning, goals, and expectations
  • Common personal statement formats
  • The importance of a hook and how to write one
  • Steps for how to start a personal statement
  • Tips for how to write a personal statement
  • How to approach the editing phase
  • Coming up with personal statement ideas
  • Examples of personal statements and how to use them

Remember, any writing process takes time. This applies whether you’re figuring out how to start a college essay or how to write a personal statement for college. No matter what approach you take, the key to how to write a great college essay is to start early! 

Now, let’s start with the basics: what is a personal statement?

What is a personal statement?

Simply put, a personal statement is a type of college application essay. But, if you’re looking for answers to, “What is a personal statement?” you probably already know that. At its core, the personal statement should be the essay that most clearly reflects your application narrative . By reading your personal statement, colleges should gain a better understanding of who you are. That means having a clear sense of your strengths, values, and interests.

However, this doesn’t mean that your personal statement needs to capture your entire life story. In fact, often, your personal statement will likely center around just one particular moment or experience. Specifically, one that has defined your identity, passions, or personal growth. 

If you search for a personal statement meaning by school, you may find slightly varying definitions. However, all personal essays have the same goal. Personal essays show colleges your authentic voice while highlighting a part of yourself that isn’t captured elsewhere in your application. You’ll notice this if you read any example of a personal statement for college. 

Engaging in self-reflection

To understand the personal statement meaning in the simplest terms, think of two words: self-reflection . Identifying pivotal life moments, values, and skills are all a part of how to write a great college essay. However, the process of how to write a personal statement for college takes more than just describing an experience. Instead, it forces you to find the balance between contextualizing what happened and expressing how it impacted you.

Successful personal essays will generally do two things. One, they’ll capture the meaning of your past experiences, specifically the ways you were changed and the lessons you learned. Two, they’ll connect your past experiences to your current and future goals. For many students, college applications are the first time they’ve been asked to write about themselves. So, the process of making these personal connections may seem daunting.

Preparing for the future

Knowing exactly what is a personal statement and how to write a personal statement can also help you in other facets of life. For example, consider the overlap between the college application process and the job application process. When applying to jobs, you need to highlight pertinent skills, values, and beliefs—just like in a college application essay. You can even use the skills and principles for writing a personal statement to write a cover letter (with certain nuances, of course).

For more information on the personal statement meaning, check out the application/essay page for schools on your college list. Their advice and resources can help students understand exactly what’s expected from them in these types of essays. And, many colleges will even provide their own tips for how to write a great college essay. They might also provide an example of a personal statement for college. 

We’ve answered the question, “What is a personal statement?” So, now, let’s get into the personal statement format.

Personal statement format

When learning how to write a personal statement, you’ll encounter some different personal statement formats. While there is no singular or “best” personal statement format, most personal essays share a few key attributes. So, understanding these key features can greatly help students learning how to write a great college essay.

Many students’ personal statements tell stories. In fact, discovering these important stories forms a key component of how to start a college essay. Much of the work that goes into discovering how to write a personal statement starts before you even begin writing. (We’ll discuss brainstorming ideas in a later section of this guide.)

Before we dive into how to start a personal statement, we need to pinpoint the starting point for your personal statements: the prompts.

Common/Coalition Application Personal Statement

In many cases, the personal statement refers to the Common App essay or Coalition Application essay. While there are some differences between the two application portals, both follow the same personal statement format. Students will choose from a selection of college essay prompts and write an essay (650 words max). Then, they will submit that essay to every school they apply to via that particular portal. In these cases, the process of how to start a college essay begins with reading through the provided prompts.

Learning how to write a personal statement for college includes learning how to choose the best prompt for you. The personal statement topic you ultimately choose is extremely important; your topic is essentially the soul of your essay. You’d be hard-pressed to find a well-written example of a personal statement for college that wasn’t based on an impactful topic. 

The Common App essay

Let’s take a closer look at how to start a college essay for the Common App. In the Common App, students have seven college essay prompts to choose from. Each of these college essay prompts allows students to share important anecdotes from their lives. Most of these college essay prompts ask specific questions, however, the seventh prompt is slightly different. Prompt #7 actually allows students to choose any topic for their essay.

10 Exceptional Common App Essay Examples

The coalition app essay.

The Coalition Application offers a similar personal statement format. Prompt #6 also asks students to submit an essay on any topic. You might think that responding to such an open-ended prompt would change your approach for how to write a great college essay. However, you can still use the college essay tips provided in this guide, no matter what prompt you decide to respond to.

The Common App and the Coalition Application are the most common personal statement formats you’ll encounter. However, some schools have their own unique personal statement format and requirements.

Coalition Essay Prompts 2023-24

Other personal statements

The method you take when figuring out how to write a personal statement will largely depend on your personal statement prompt. However, a personal statement for college isn’t always based on specific college essay prompts. You might simply be asked to share more about yourself. However, even if your personal statement format doesn’t directly ask you for a particular narrative, your essay still needs a focus. So, you should still aim to have your personal statement tell a story about some critical aspect of your identity. 

That being said, always double-check the specific personal statement format and requirements for each program you apply to. For instance, if you apply to universities in the UK, the UCAS personal statement is far different from other personal essays. Namely, these personal statements focus almost entirely on academics. 

When considering how to start a personal statement, look to admissions websites or university blogs for advice. Often, they’ll have a page dedicated to helpful college essay tips with insight into what they look for from students’ personal essays. For example, check out this blog from UChicago that provides tips on how to approach their quirky prompts. Additionally, check out this personal statement webinar in which an admissions officer shares helpful college essay tips. 

Now, let’s define an important attribute of how to start a personal statement: the hook.

How to start a personal statement: Understanding the “hook”

It’s impossible to learn how to start a personal statement or how to write a personal statement that “wows” without a hook. A hook is an opening statement that catches the reader’s attention. It draws them in and makes them want to keep reading to see how the story unfolds. In personal essays, the hook is key to getting your reader invested in your story. 

But, if the idea of coming up with a compelling hook intimidates you, don’t panic! The hook isn’t necessarily the step you need to start with when learning how to start a college essay. That being said, it forms a crucial component of the personal statement introduction. You’ll notice that almost every successful example of personal statement for college has an engaging hook.

Let’s check out some hooks that impressed to help give you a better idea of how to start a personal statement.

College Personal Statement Examples

Example of personal statement for college: hook #1.

My life is as simple as a Rubik’s Cube: a child’s toy that can be solved in 20 moves or less IF and only if enough knowledge is gained.

In this personal statement introduction, this student intrigues the reader by comparing their life to a toy. Simply by reading this hook, we can see this student’s self-reflection as well as their creativity. And, most importantly, we’re intrigued to see the connection of how and why this person is fascinated by a Rubik’s cube. In this example, the Rubik’s cube is both unique and genuinely important to the writer. Moreover, by the end of the essay, we gain some valuable insight into how this person navigates the world. And, it all started with this hook. 

Example of Personal Statement for College: Hook #2

When I joined the high school swim team, I never expected to go to school dressed as Shrek.

After reading this hook, you’re probably left with more questions than answers. “What does having to be on the swim team have to do with dressing up as Shrek?” We don’t know yet! And, that’s the point. This surprising hook has the reader curious about the connection the writer will make. However, when figuring out how to start a personal statement, don’t go overboard with the shock factor. Keep in mind that personal essays can’t come from wild statements alone. Rather, they need to connect to a meaningful moment in the writer’s life. 

Example of Personal Statement for College: Hook #3

At six years old, most kids I know get excited to help Blue find clues or recite Elmo’s songs on Sesame Street. So you can imagine my family’s surprise when they saw me ignoring the other kids to go belt alongside my grandfather’s mariachi trio in the backyard.

Your hook doesn’t have to be just one sentence. Rather, it might be a couple of sentences or even the first paragraph, like in this example. Keep in mind that there are no definitive rules to how to start a personal statement—other than sharing important information about yourself that will stand out to admissions officers.

Students who want to master how to write a personal statement need to learn how to craft an engaging hook. This particular hook shows how the writer is different from their peers. As the reader, we can learn a lot from just these few sentences. We already know that this writer isn’t afraid to be themselves and do what they love from a young age. This college application essay gets into much deeper themes as the narrative continues. However, the most important part of the personal statement introduction—the hook—has already done its job of pulling the reader in to learn more. 

Using these examples

These are just a few successful hooks that students have used in their approach to how to start a personal statement. Each of these comes from a strong example of a personal statement for college. As you can see from each example of a personal statement for college, the best personal statement topics are unique. However, even the most quirky hooks always lead the reader into an essay of substance.

Use each example of personal statement for college to help inspire your “how to write a personal statement” journey. When considering how to write a great college essay, analyzing examples of what works can help. 

Want to see how others figured out how to start a personal statement? Check out these personal statement examples as well as these Common App essay examples for inspiration.

When to write your hook

Having a hook is a crucial part of how to write a personal statement that impresses. However, coming up with your hook won’t necessarily form the first step in your process. Just as there’s no one right way of how to write a personal statement, there’s no one right way to write a hook. 

When considering how to start a personal statement, you don’t need to dive into the hook right away. You may even write a whole draft of your essay before figuring out the best hook for your personal statement introduction. 

So, if a hook doesn’t jump to your brain as you consider personal statement ideas, just start writing! Sometimes, it’s best to write a straightforward beginning (maybe even dry!) and then work your way backward. Remember, it doesn’t matter when you come up with it. Just be sure to add that sparkly hook to your personal statement before submitting your final draft.

Do all colleges require a personal statement?

It’s more than likely that you will need to know how to write a personal statement during the college application process. However, not every college requires a personal statement—though most top schools do. 

So, before stressing about how to start a college essay, check the requirements of the schools on your college list . However, keep in mind that most of the nation’s top schools require applicants to submit a personal statement for college.

Additionally, you might want to adjust your personal statement for different programs. You’ll still submit the same personal statement for college for each school you apply to through the Common App. However, other specialized programs and applications might request a slightly different personal statement format. So, always check the admissions requirements and do your research on every school and each individual program. Your approach to how to start a college essay will depend on each program’s prompts and formats. You can also always look at an example of a personal statement for college for inspiration. 

33 Colleges Without Supplemental Essays

Do colleges care about the personal statement? 

A strong college application essay is extremely important in the admissions process. So, put simply, yes—colleges really do care about the personal statement. Understanding how to start a personal statement means understanding the weight that it carries. Of course, you shouldn’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the process. Rather, try to feel excited by the opportunity to truly show off your personality, skills, background, future goals, and more.

That being said, the extent to which your personal statement impacts your admissions decision will likely vary by school. For instance, some larger state schools may focus foremost on your grades or standardized test scores (due to the fact that they receive such a large volume of applicants and have more spaces available). While these schools will still care about your personal statement, other factors may have a more immediate impact on their admissions decisions. 

On the other hand, top universities with smaller enrollments often place a considerable amount of emphasis on the personal statement. These schools receive more qualified applicants than the places they have available. Your personal statement lets you highlight what makes you unique and how you’ll enrich their campus community. 

How to write a personal statement – Step-by-step guide

A successful personal statement for college will read as passionate and authentic. You’ll notice this in each example of personal statement for college that you read. But how exactly do you write a passionate and authentic essay?

To begin, you’ll likely brainstorm personal statement ideas and decide on your personal statement topic.  However, understanding how to write a personal statement will require more than simply knowing how to start a personal statement. And remember, you can always check out an example of a personal essay for college if you’re feeling stuck. 

How to write a personal statement isn’t a strict process—as seen in this personal statement webinar about rethinking your essay . However, you should follow certain key steps as you craft your essays. Following each step, and allotting yourself sufficient time to do so, will make the writing process all the better. (Tips about staying on track are just as important as the best college essay tips about writing!)

Next, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of how to write a personal statement. This includes brainstorming personal statement ideas, exploring personal statement topics, and reviewing and submitting your personal essays.

Ready to learn just how to write a personal statement? Let’s get started!

How to start a personal statement – First steps

Now, let’s dive into how to start a personal statement. The first steps to how to start a personal statement can be broken down into two parts:

During these steps, you’ll generate personal statement ideas and select your personal statement topics. Without a strong topic, you’ll struggle to write a genuine essay. So, let’s talk about how to generate an essay topic that highlights your passion. 

Step 1: Brainstorm

How to start a personal statement begins with brainstorming a list of ideas. Each stellar example of a personal statement for college likely came from a brainstorming session. But, why is brainstorming so important? 

While some personal statement requirements won’t provide specific prompts for applicants, many will, including the Common App essay. So, you should make sure to choose a great topic that directly answers the prompt. 

Let’s check out some brainstorming exercises that can help you get the great ideas flowing. 

The best way to choose a great topic for a personal statement for college is through your passions. If you’re stuck when it comes to pinpointing your passions, try answering this question: If you were going to host a TED talk, what would it be and why? We all know that TED talks are addicting—that’s because they’re engaging. And they’re engaging because the hosts are talking about their passions. 

So, think about something you would be excited to spend 30-40 minutes discussing in front of an audience. What would you say about it? You might find using voice notes and recording yourself is easier than writing out your ideas. For some students, talking about something may feel easier than immediately putting pen to paper. 

If a TED talk doesn’t get your creative juices flowing, try a classic essay brainstorming method: mind maps. You’ve likely done mind maps in your high school English class. But for those who haven’t, let’s break down the process. 

First, take the prompt for your essay. For instance, maybe it asks about a challenge you’ve faced. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write the prompt on a sheet of paper. Then, next to the prompt, start writing every experience you’ve had that relates to the prompt. This is not the time to get into the details—just focus on potential topics. Even if you’re not sure if something is a perfect fit, include it! At this stage, all ideas are fair game. Later, you can narrow them down to find the topic that you have the most to write about. 

Defining values

Another useful brainstorming exercise for a college application essay, especially when it comes to how to start a personal statement, has to do with defining your values. Most successful personal essays center around a value that students have. Think about the values that are most important to you (loyalty, kindness, empathy, honesty, etc.). Then, create a list of 4-6 values. After that, for each of your values, come up with a list of experiences that reflect them. You can even set a timer for each value. 

Alternatively, you might work backward by coming up with a list of experiences that you find were the most impactful in your life. From these experiences, you can identify values that they instilled or that you embodied. Make sure to focus on an experience that highlights something critical about who you are as a person, student, or community member. You might also consider doing this same activity for qualities or skills depending on the essay prompt. 

Step 2: Free-write

Once you have your topic, it’s time to flex your writing muscles. Don’t feel constrained by the word count at this stage. In fact, forget about a hook, a conclusion, and other literary details. Now is just the time to get your ideas on paper stress-free. 

Struggling with Step 2 in how to start a personal statement? You might benefit from doing a timed free write. Set a timer for 20 minutes and don’t stop writing about the topic until the time is up. Don’t stress about writing the perfect sentence or having the right flow–just keep writing on the topic at hand. You may want to do this step a couple of times if you’re still deciding on the best prompt to respond to. You won’t always find the perfect personal essay topic on the first try, and that’s okay.

However, keep in mind that some topics may read as inappropriate or cliché. If you end up choosing an overused essay topic, you may struggle to come up with a unique angle. (But that doesn’t mean these topics are entirely off-limits!) However, you should not talk about illegal or illicit behavior and never use explicit language. 

While you have free range to pick an essay topic, there are certain errors you can make. Make sure you don’t join the club of students who missed the mark with their personal essays. Learn from this personal statement webinar reviewing common mistakes that students make in their personal essays. Then, you’ll know what to avoid when deciding how to start a personal statement.

How to start a personal statement – Writing & editing

You’ve gotten some answers to the question “what is a personal statement?” and learned how to start a personal statement. Now, it’s time to start a draft. 

For some students, figuring out how to start a college essay is the most stressful part of writing their personal essays. Indeed, you may have to write four to six drafts of your college application essay before you’ve written a personal statement for college that makes you feel proud. 

This is why our top piece of advice for how to write a great college essay is to start early. If you start early, you’ll have plenty of time to learn how to write a personal statement. You’ll also have the flexibility to write multiple drafts of your personal essays. Additionally, you’ll be able to read an example of a personal statement for college. 

Time also allows you the freedom to try out multiple personal statement topics. That way, you can find the personal statement format that makes for a powerful college application essay.

In this section, we’ll provide some college essay tips for outlining your personal statement, an important step for how to start a personal statement.

One idea for how to start a college essay is to draft an outline. An outline is simply a list of the ideas that will go into each part of your essay. You can format your outline in any way that makes sense for you. 

By outlining, you can remove some of the pressure around how to start a personal statement. Instead of putting pen to paper to write a whole essay , you just have to jot down what order you want your ideas to go in. Think of an outline as a sketch of a picture you want to draw. Once you have that sketch, drawing the rest of the picture is usually easier.

However, outlining is not for everyone. Some students find outlining stressful, limiting, or confusing. If you’d rather jump into writing your personal statement on a blank page, do so. At the end of the day, when figuring out how to start a personal statement, you should follow the writing process that works best for you.  

Drafting Your College Essay

Regardless of whether you choose to outline your ideas, here are some tips for how to start a college essay draft:

Find a beginning, middle, and end to your story.

As we’ve shared, a strong personal statement for college tells a story about who you are and demonstrates what you would bring to a college campus. 

To write a strong example of a personal statement for college, you must have a beginning, middle, and end. By this, we mean that your essay should introduce and build upon ideas until they lead to some kind of resolution usually related to your personal growth. Think about your favorite book or movie – how did the story develop and resolve itself? Make sure your personal essays do the same.

Develop your hook.

The key to how to start a personal statement is with a hook. As we shared above, a hook is an engaging personal statement introduction that catches the reader’s attention. In your outline, consider adding some ideas for potential hooks. 

A hook can include, but is not limited to, any of the following types of opening sentences:

  • A piece of dialogue (i.e. “Do you remember the summer we went to Turkey?” said my mother.)
  • A description of a scene (i.e., The Alaskan lake was warm that summer, the sun gleaming off its gentle ripples.)
  • A thought-provoking question (i.e., What makes a house feel like a home?)
  • A relevant and powerful quote (i.e., When Steve Jobs said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking back,” he gave words to a struggle I have long faced.) 
  • An unexpected thought (i.e., I am the fourth of eleven children in my family and the first one to dream of going to college.)

Each of the above personal statement introductions is unique and original. Additionally, all of these hooks make the reader wonder what else is coming in the essay. Indeed, each of these hooks is a great idea for how to start a college essay. 

When thinking about how to start a college essay, avoid using cliché or generic personal statement introductions. In general, don’t directly answer college essay prompts like “A challenge I have faced is…”. These types of personal statement introductions are so common that they tend to lose the reader’s attention quickly.

Jot down details.

After identifying a hook, begin telling your story. In your outline, include any details that make your story unique. While some students assume that personal statement topics must be very rare or ground-breaking, in most cases the details are what set essays apart. 

What do you remember that can help the reader experience your story vividly? How can you evoke their senses or emotions in a way that makes them feel and remember your story? Keeping these questions in mind will unlock many tools for how to write a great college essay.

Identify reflections.

Stories are powerful not only for how they make us feel but for what they teach us. When you jot down your outline, consider what reflections or lessons you have to share. Why does your story matter? What does it demonstrate about who you are? 

Your essay should be descriptive and show us what you were experiencing. However, you can also include a few lines that tell the reader what you want them to take away. Usually, these reflections come towards the end of the essay, but they can also be sprinkled throughout. 

How to Write a Personal Statement – Polish and Revise 

Now that you’ve learned how to start a personal statement, let’s discuss what some consider to be the most critical part of writing an essay – revising. Polishing and revising an essay are the keys for how to write a great college essay. When you look at an example of a personal statement for college, remember that the student probably spent many hours revising that essay.

When revising your personal essays, avoid getting frustrated by how long the process takes. The key for how to write a personal statement without getting too overwhelmed is to be gentle and compassionate with yourself. Just like living your story takes time, energy, and resilience, so does writing your story in a college application essay. Rather than getting frustrated, celebrate how much you have learned about how to start a college essay.

In the next section, we’ll dive deeper into college essay tips for revising your personal essays. 

Step 4: Revise

If you’re wondering how to write a personal statement for college, you’re probably also wondering how to revise one. Revision is the process during which you review what you have written for errors and to check whether the ideas make sense. You might also revise to find ways to shorten your essay if it is too long or expand on ideas that you didn’t fully flesh out. 

Here are some college essay tips for revision:

College Essay Revision Tips

1. take breaks.

After you write your first draft, step away from it for at least 24 hours. When we spend a long time working on a piece of writing, sometimes our brains find it hard to focus. Stepping away will give you time to let your brain rest and return to it with fresh eyes.

We also recommend taking breaks whenever you feel stuck, a condition sometimes called writer’s block. While you might feel that pushing through is the best option, stepping away for a glass of water or a stretch can rejuvenate your body and give new energy to your mind as well. Taking care of yourself is actually one of the keys for how to write a personal statement that represents your best work. 

2. Make a revision checklist

Create a list of items to look for as you revise. That way, you won’t miss anything. Here are some ideas for what how to start a personal statement revision checklist:

  • Structure/flow – Does the structure of my essay support its meaning? A structure can refer to the length of paragraphs, the order of ideas, or the format. Maybe your essay has a lot of dialogue, but now you have realized the dialogue is distracting. 
  • Repetitive language – Do you use the same words or phrases over and over again? While you may have fallen into repetition when figuring out how to start a personal statement, try varying vocabulary or rephrasing sentence structure to keep the reader interested.
  • Spelling/grammar/syntax – Run your essay through an app like Grammarly and always use spell check. Look for ways to remove unnecessary words or shorten sentences. Generally, the fewer words you use to express an idea, the easier it will be for the reader to understand.
  • Narrative voice – This refers to the voice you use to tell your story. Is it very informal? Do you sound like you are texting with friends? One of the keys for how to write a personal statement is to use your own voice while still remembering that you are speaking to a college admissions officer. As experts in how to write a great college essay know, avoid slang and spell out contractions for added formality.

3. Read your essay aloud

Reading your essay out loud can help you find mistakes. Even more importantly, it can also help you feel if the essay captures your voice. When you read it out loud, does your essay sound like you? Are there words in your essay that you would never use in real life? These questions can help you determine if you need to adjust the narrative voice of your essay. After all, admissions officers want to hear what you sound like, not a parent or friend.

4. Get help

Whether you’re stuck on how to write a personal statement or not, it’s always a good idea to get another set of eyes on your essay. Just be careful who you select. Make sure you are asking someone who knows how to write a personal statement and can give you the right kind of feedback. 

Also, consider asking both someone who knows you well and someone who does not know you well. The person who knows you well, like a teacher, parent, counselor, or college advisor (like our team of experts at CollegeAdvisor) can make sure your voice comes across. A person who does not know you well can provide input from an outsider’s perspective. Ultimately, when you submit your college essay, you will be sending it to someone who has never met you. As such, it should make sense to people who don’t know you as well.

5. Don’t be afraid to start over

Sometimes, during the revision process, you may realize that your topic doesn’t work for you. Perhaps you realize that you were so worried about how to start a personal statement that you chose a topic you thought others wanted to read instead of one that really resonates with you. Or, maybe you just thought of a new idea for how to start a personal statement that you like a lot better. It is totally normal to redraft entire paragraphs or simply throw out the essay and start over . Even though it may seem like you have wasted time, you were learning throughout the entire process about how to write a personal statement. 

Starting over might be the best approach for you and allow you to write an essay that feels more authentic . However, do not simply start over because you are being hyper-critical of yourself. Focus as much on what you like about your essay as the parts that you do not. Do not let perfectionism cause you to throw away a perfectly good essay.

On average, students learning how to write a great college essay need to write four to six drafts until they are ready to submit. However, if you have done your research on how to write a personal statement, it may take you less. After six drafts, ask yourself if you really need to keep working on the essay, or if you are letting perfectionism get the best of you. Remember, no essay is perfect. As long as your personal statement reflects your true voice and shares a compelling story about how you became who you are, you’re likely ready to submit it.

In the next section, we will dive deeper into the final steps for how to write a great college essay that you should take before hitting submit.

Step 5: Final Review & Submit

Congratulations! You’re almost ready to submit your personal statement for college. You’ve learned how to write a personal statement, brainstormed and drafted one, and revised it. Before you hit submit, here is a final checklist of questions to ask yourself: 

1. Did I answer the prompt fully?

Just like you plug your answer back into a math equation to see if it works, plug your essay back into the prompt. Make sure each part of the question is being answered.

2. Did I meet the word or character count?

While it is okay to be a bit under the word count, as long as you answer the question fully, going over the word count will usually mean you cannot submit your essay. 

3. Does my essay paste neatly into the application?

Before pasting your essay into the online application, we recommend pasting your essay into a Word document or Google document. Make sure to remove any formatting like bolding, italics, or comments. Left-align your essay so that it is easy to read. And, double check that spacing between sentences and paragraphs is uniform. 

While these might seem like small details, they all add to the impression you make upon admissions officers about how prepared you might be to attend their school.  Take advantage of the option to download the PDF summary of your application, if it exists, to ensure everything looks neat before you submit it.

If you can answer all these questions with a yes, you’re probably ready to submit your essay. Now, you can teach others how to write a personal statement, too. 

How to start a personal statement

At this point, you have reviewed all the steps for how to write a personal statement for college. We’d like to remind you of some important parts of this process that will help ease any stress related to writing your college essays.

First, try brainstorming first. Writing a college essay is a lot different than most academic writing you’ll have done, and it’s natural to face some writer’s block. By taking advantage of brainstorming exercises, you can get used to the idea of writing about yourself in a low-pressure environment. Some students want to skip brainstorming because they find this step unnecessary or a waste of time. 

In fact, brainstorming can help you write your essay faster because your personal statement ideas will already be on paper. Brainstorming can also help you avoid writing an essay and then realizing you do not like your topic, leading to you having to write a whole new draft.

Another key point in how to start a personal statement is to write a good “hook.” However, this doesn’t need to be the first thing that you write as you begin the drafting process. Just like writing a title sometimes is easier after you have written a paper, it can be easier to find your hook after you have fleshed out other parts of your essay.

Starting early

Regardless of what approach you take, remember that the most important piece of advice for how to start a personal statement is to start early. If you begin the process early, you’ll have time to learn about personal statement format and personal statement meaning, brainstorm essay ideas, watch personal statement webinars, and review sample essays. All of these steps will help you learn how to write a personal statement that is strong and clear.

Below, we’ll help you learn more about how to start a personal statement by providing brainstorming exercises to come up with personal statement ideas.

Generating personal statement ideas

The first question many students ask when learning how to start a personal statement is how to come up with personal statement ideas. As we have mentioned, brainstorming forms a key part of this process.

Importantly, there are many ways to brainstorm. So, even if you think you do not like to brainstorm, consider revising these brainstorming methods. One of them might open up ideas for how to start your personal statement that you had never considered.

One important note is that you do not have to use college essay prompts as the starting point for your brainstorming process. While they can certainly jog your thinking, sometimes they can also limit your creativity. Since most of the Common App and Coalition App prompts are open-ended, you can usually turn most ideas into a great response to college essay prompts.

Keep reading for activities that can help you brainstorm your personal statement for college. 

Here are some ideas for brainstorming personal statement topics:

Brainstorming Activities

1. make a timeline of important life events.

Students who ask “what is a personal statement?” are often concerned that they have to tell their entire life story in 650 words. While this is not true, your personal statement should highlight key life events. A life event can include a big change, an accomplishment, or a time of deep personal growth. 

For this activity, consider making a timeline of important life events. Do so without judgment or filtering. No event is too small to include. After you have completed your timeline, consider if any event is one that you want to share in your college application essay. One of these events might be a great hook for your personal statement introduction and give you ideas for how to start a personal statement.

2. Make lists

Lists are an excellent way to brainstorm personal statement topics. Try making lists of accomplishments, challenges you have faced, people who have taught you important life lessons, values, fears, hobbies, or mistakes you have made. Remember that it is perfectly fine to talk about times when you feel you failed or made mistakes if you can show how you learned and grew from the experience.

3. Ask trusted people for ideas

Brainstorming does not have to happen alone. Ask friends, family, mentors, teachers, classmates, or others who know you well to tell you what your most important character traits are. You’d be surprised what people will share. Perhaps one of your friends sees you as adventurous because you like to take new routes to school every day, and you had never considered that to be a noteworthy trait of yours. This feedback could be the inspiration you need for how to start a personal statement.

4. Free-write

Rather than trying to find an idea, allow yourself the freedom to free-write. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write without stopping. Write a response to any of the following questions :

  • What matters to you?
  • What do you want others to know about you?
  • What is the hardest thing you have ever gone through? How did you get through it?
  • What brings you joy?
  • How have you grown or changed in the past few years?

If you feel at a loss for words, write “I don’t know” over and over until a new idea pops into your head. The idea is to allow your brain to flow without restriction or pressure. Do not judge what you write, just allow it to be. When you have completed your free-write, look through what you wrote looking for meaningful stories or learnings you might want to share.

Undoubtedly, these are just a few ideas for how to start a personal statement and find a good personal statement introduction. If none of these work, do not despair. Instead, try a different route for coming up with personal statement topics. For instance, you may try reading an example of a personal statement for college or checking out this personal statement webinar. 

In the next section, we’ll discuss how to use sample essays when figuring out how to write a personal statement.

Using personal statement examples

When looking for answers to questions like “What is a personal statement?” or “How to start a personal statement?” college application essay examples can be very helpful. In this section, we’ll look at how to write a personal statement for college and identify college essay tips with the help of sample essays .

Sample Personal Essays

In this article , we review ten essays that provide ideas for how to start a personal statement. Whether writing about books or gymnastics, each example of a personal statement for college highlights a unique important aspect of a student’s life. In addition, each student provides meaningful insights into how their thinking developed over time.

How to Write a Personal Statement: 5 Personal Statement Examples

Check out this resource to see five excellent responses to the Common App college essay prompts. Note how each essay has a unique hook that captures the reader’s attention.

College Essay Examples: 10 Best Examples of College Essays and Why They Worked

Wondering how a personal statement format impacts the essay’s meaning? This essay compilation answers that question and much more, providing college essay tips based on what worked in these personal essays.

How to Analyze an Example of a Personal Statement for College

If you’re looking for ideas on how to start a personal statement, then reading sample essays is an excellent idea. However, be careful not to copy others’ work. In this section, we’ll discuss how to use these samples when you develop your own personal statement meaning and personal statement format.

First, be authentic. While it is important to find inspiration in others’ work, copying topics or phrases is dangerous. At best, it will come across as disingenuous to admissions officers, who read thousands of essays. At worst, it can get you into serious trouble. 

Instead, use these samples to learn about how to write a personal statement. As you read them, ask yourself questions such as:

  • Why did the writer choose this topic?
  • How does the first sentence of the essay engage the reader?
  • What structure does the personal statement use?
  • How does this personal statement format add to the essay’s intrigue?
  • What does this essay teach us about the writer?
  • In what ways might this essay be an expression of the writer’s personal brand ?

Take notes as you read each example of a personal statement for college. In your notes, identify general thoughts regarding the questions “What is a personal statement?” and “How to start a college essay?” If you can answer these questions fully after reading sample essays, you’re on your way to acing your college essay.

How to Start a Personal Statement: Final Thoughts

With this article, we answered the question: “What is a personal statement?” By breaking the personal statement meaning, we found tips for approaching many kinds of college essay prompts. We also identified why personal statement meaning is important to colleges and how to write a great college essay that will help your application shine.

Even skilled writers struggle with how to write a personal statement. Personal essays are difficult not only because they require a certain level of vulnerability , but also because the personal statement format is not something we use often in our day-to-day lives. For that reason, it is difficult to know how to start a college essay.

Throughout this guide, we provided resources like personal statement webinars and sample essays. We also highlighted how to use an example of a personal statement for college in your own process. Within these samples, you’ll find lots of ideas for how to start a personal statement.

Whenever you feel overwhelmed by thinking about how to start a personal statement, remember that you are not alone. Our team can provide you with additional insights and individualized coaching about how to write a personal statement for college. With support, you will be able to express who you are and ace your personal statement. Good luck!

This article was written by Sarah Kaminski and senior advisor, Courtney Ng . Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.

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How to Start Your Personal Statement: Grabbing Their Attention

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Written by David Lombardino   |  Updated February 29, 2024

Hook Them, and Keep Them Hooked

You can use fancy words in the body of your personal statement. You can end your personal statement with a bang . But if how you start your personal statement doesn’t hook your reader? Program directors and admission committees may stop reading, and turn to the next application.

This is specially true when test scores, GPAs and relevant experience make it difficult to distinguish applicants. Nothing can give your application the competitive edge like how you start your personal statement.

Great introductions establish your core values, your core passions, the key themes of your personal statement. They set the foundation for showcasing your attributes, addressing any red flags, and selling program directors and admission committees on what makes you an ideal fit for their programs.

Here, I present how to write a great start to your personal statement.

Where Does This Advice Come From?

It comes from my 8 years as an editor at UNESCO prior to founding DLA back in 2008 . It comes from interviews I've had with program directors and those who serve on admission committees. And it comes from 15+ years of helping applicants like you write outstanding personal statements .

First, 3 Key Don’t’s for Starting a Personal Statement

Writing a great introduction to your personal statement starts with avoiding these three Don’t’s:

  • Don’t start with a quote;
  • Don’t use flowery or overly dramatic language; and
  • For medical residency, don’t automatically believe it doesn’t matter what drove you to a career in medicine.

Don’t #1: Don’t Start With a Quote

When wondering how to start your introduction, it can be tempting to want to do so with a quote. The quote could be from a famous person, a not-so-famous person or someone close to you like your mother or another family member.

While there are exceptions where it is appropriate to use a quote in a personal statement , generally, you’ll want to avoid using one.

Why is this? Program directors and admission committees want to know you . This is above all what they hope to gain from reading your personal statement. And they want to see this in your words.

Most often, using quotes makes your personal statement less engaging. It can indicate a lack of effort in writing your personal statement, and it can indicate doubt in yourself and the value of your application.

Don’t #2: Don’t Use Flowery or Overly Dramatic Language

This approach often uses a quote, though in the form of dialog rather than from a famous person or book. And it always uses flowery and overly dramatic language.

I call it the “Dark and Stormy Night” example, because, in one form or another, that is how it starts:

Applicants will take this approach out of an overly anxious and insecure desire to hook their reader. Or perhaps a desperate one. They are trying to do so by immersing the reader into a story. The problem, though, is they are trying too hard.

More precisely, the problems with this approach are:

  • It takes too many words to get to the point.
  • The program director or admissions officer could see it as a gimmick. They could see it as a lack of confidence in writing your personal statement more directly.
  • While details can often enhance the introduction to a personal statement, too many details can be a distraction. They can impede the reader, and make them want to stop reading.

Don’t #3: For Medical Residency, Don’t Automatically Believe It Doesn’t Matter What Drove You to a Career in Medicine

For applicants for medical residency, some believe you should not discuss your reason for pursuing a career in medicine. There are program directors and attendings that proffer this advice. But not all of them do.

Take a moment to consider that above all, program directors want to read a clear, well-organized, decisive personal statement. But not all applicants do this.

They can get lost in a vague, uninformative explanation of “why medicine” without getting to the points program directors want to see.

As I discuss in my article, “The Myth of the One-Page Personal Statement,” the first goal in writing a personal statement is to write one that a program director will actually read. Such a personal statement needs to be interesting, cohesive and efficient. And it needs to be so from the opening paragraph.

It is not that “why medicine” is inherently irrelevant—discussing this could show the key factors that drive you toward the specialty and their program—but that applicants often don’t know how to get to the point when doing so.


Now for the 3 Key Do’s for Starting a Personal Statement

Central to how you start your personal statement are these three Do’s:

  • Do be decisive;
  • Do choose the right starting point; and
  • Do establish relevant, focused themes.

Do #1: Do Be Decisive

Great introductions are written with focus and drive. They establish a clear starting point and path you wish the admissions officer to follow.

The key is to pick a decisive statement, in your own words, and develop your introduction from there.

And sometimes it can take looking through early drafts of your personal statement to find that key decisive statement, perhaps in the second paragraph, or even later in your personal statement.

I recommend looking at writing your personal statement as a process and realize that the best personal statements are ones that go through several drafts before achieving the final version.

Therefore, stay open-minded as you write and rewrite the initial versions. Look for opportunities to relocate ideas, shift sentences, move phrases around. See what may spark finding that great opening sentence.

Do #2: Do Choose the Right Starting Point

There is nothing more critical to the success of your personal statement than your opening sentence. It is what establishes the tone, voice, style, and foundation for the themes of your personal statement. See these tips for how to choose a great opening sentence.

Tip #1: The Work-Backward Approach: What Do You Want and Why?

This is perhaps the most straightforward approach for determining the best place to start for your personal statement. And it is specially helpful for those without a clear start to their story.

The Work-Backward Approach starts with asking yourself, from where you see it today, what you want and why.

Start first with whatever it is sure that you want. This could be a career focused on a particular patient population. It could be one devoted to a particular setting (academic, community clinic, administration, hospital, private practice, etc.). It could be one in pursuit of a particular research interest.

Think about what you want in the medium to long term, say 5 to 10 years from now. Where would you ideally like to see yourself?

Next, once you have established what you want, work backward to understand how you arrived at wanting this. If you wish to focus on a particular patient population, why that particular population? What makes that population so meaningful to you?

If a particular setting, why that particular setting? If a particular research interest, why that particular interest?

Trace your answer back to where the source of your desire came from.

For many, this will be an experience they had in youth. It may be from the community they grew up in. It may be from the influence of a family member, close friend or teacher in school. It may be from an injustice you witnessed or experienced.

When you have found the source, this is where you start your personal statement.

Tip #2: The Values-Based Approach: What Values Mean the Most to You and Why?

Similar to the Work-Backward Approach, the Values-Based Approach aims to understand who you are and what drives you at your core.

The easiest way to take the Values-Based Approach is to ask yourself what are the top two or three values you learned from each of your parents. These could be values they instilled in you by either their words or their actions. They could be values they told you or embodied.

Another way to achieve this is to ask yourself what are the top three values that matter the most in who you are today. These are values that transcend personal and professional boundaries. They are values that matter the most to you, no matter the setting.

Whether the values you prize the most are ones you have gained from your parents or another source, think about how they have shaped you. Think about how they have influenced each step you have taken on your path to applying for residency.

Where these values come from can make for a great start to your personal statement.

Tip #3: The Eureka Moment Approach: What Singular Event Sparked Your Interest?

Some applicants for medical residency know exactly the event that sparked their interest in the specialty they are applying for. This is true of both U.S. medical graduates and international medical graduates.

It could have been a family member who suffered a heart attack or one who suffered from cancer. It could have been a childhood friend who suffered from an embarrassing deformity or skin condition. It could have been a feeling of helplessness you had, or of empathy or that it sparked a strong desire to help others in a similar position.

I call this your Eureka Moment, and if you have one, this is also a great way to start your personal statement. This is true, even if it means discussing “why medicine.” And it is true even if other applicants have had a similar family influence.

Do #3: Do Establish Relevant, Focused Themes

When writing your first sentence, and the experience you describe in your introduction, focus on the details that are the most meaningful to you.

  • If you have taken the Work-Backward Approach, look at each step you have taken in that approach. What trends do you see? Do you see persistence? Adaptability? Empathy? Self-sacrifice?
  • If you have taken the Values-Based Approach, what have you identified as your three most important values? Hard work? Caring for others? Stepping in to help wherever needed?
  • If you have taken the Eureka Moment Approach, what three key aspects of who you are today have come from your eureka experience? A passion for heart disease? A passion for accompanying others during life’s most difficult moments? A passion for defending others against an injustice?

No matter your approach, pick the top three details that matter most to you. That best represent who you are. That best represent what has driven each step you have taken. That best represent what drives you.

These are your key themes for your personal statement, and laying the foundation for them is the focus of the introduction.

how should you start off a personal statement

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how should you start off a personal statement

How to Write a Stand-Out Personal Statement for Your Graduate School Application

How to write a personal statement for grad school

While deciding to embark on the path to graduate school is an exciting first step toward advancing your career, the application process can sometimes feel daunting and confusing.

One major part of the application that most schools require is a personal statement. Writing a personal statement can be an arduous task: After all, most people don’t necessarily enjoy writing about themselves, let alone at length.

A compelling personal statement, however, can help bring your application to the top of the admissions pile. Below, we’ve outlined what you need to know about crafting a personal statement to make your application shine.

What Is a Personal Statement?

The point of a personal statement is for the admissions board to gain a deeper understanding of who you are apart from your education and work experience. It explains why you’re the right fit for the program and a worthwhile applicant. It’s also an opportunity to highlight important factors that may not be readily available in the rest of your application.

A personal statement is different from a statement of purpose (if you’re asked for that as well). A statement of purpose will touch on your academic and career goals, as well as your past credentials. While those should also be discussed in your personal statement, it’s more about your life experiences and how they’ve shaped you and your journey to graduate school.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Writing a Personal Statement

Before you start crafting your essay, there are a few prompts you can ask yourself to help clarify what you want to accomplish.

  • What are the key points you want to communicate about yourself?
  • What personal characteristics or skills do you have that make you a strong candidate for this field?
  • What exactly are your career goals, and how does graduate school play into them?
  • What have you learned about this field already? When did you first choose to follow this path, and what do you enjoy about it?
  • What do you think is important for the admissions board to know specifically about you?
  • Are there any discrepancies or causes for concern in your application you need to address? For example, is there a career and schooling gap, or a low GPA at one point? This is the time to discuss whether a personal hardship may have affected your academics or career.
  • Have you dealt with any unusual obstacles or difficulties in your life? How have they affected and shaped you?
  • What sets you apart and makes you unique from other graduate school applicants?
  • What factors in your life have brought you to where you are today?

Top Tips for Writing a Graduate School Personal Statement

Pick a few points to emphasize about yourself . Introduce yourself to the admissions board. Select key factors about your background that you want the university to know — elements that reveal what kind of person you are and demonstrate why you’re a strong candidate for the school and field of study.

Be very specific . Again, a personal statement is all about communicating what distinguishes you from other applicants. To accomplish that, you need to share specific anecdotes that underscore your statements. If you say you’re a strong leader, present an example of a time you’ve proven that skill through work, school or your personal life. These specific, personal stories provide a deeper understanding of who you are and prove your intentions.

Do your research . Demonstrate what attracted you to the program. If there is a specific faculty member or class that caught your attention, or another aspect of the program that greatly interests you, convey it. This shows you’ve truly researched the school and have a passion for the program.

“Whatever the topic may be, I would recommend writing in a manner that reflects or parallels the institution’s and/or department’s missions, goals and values,” said Moises Cortés, a graduate/international credentials analyst for the Office of Graduate Admission at USC .

Address any gaps or discrepancies . Explain any factors that may have impacted your academic career. If you had an illness or any other personal hardships that affected your grades or work, discuss them. If there is a discrepancy between your grades and your test scores, you can also take the time to go over any extenuating circumstances.

Strike the right tone . While it’s important to give readers a glimpse of your personality, avoid oversharing or revealing intimate details of your life experiences. You should also avoid making jokes or using humorous cliches. Maintain a professional tone throughout your writing.

Start strong and finish strong . As with any piece of writing, you want to draw in your readers immediately. Make sure to start off with an interesting and captivating introduction. Similarly, your conclusion should be a well-written, engaging finish to the essay that highlights any important points.

“ For a personal statement, I think the first and last paragraphs are most important and should always relate the program they are applying to their own experiences and ideas,” Hoon H. Kang, a graduate/international credential analyst with the Office of Graduate Admission, told USC Online.

Proofread, proofread and proofread again . We can’t emphasize enough the importance of rereading your work. Your personal statement is also an analysis of your writing skills, so ensure you have proper grammar and spelling throughout. In addition, we recommend having multiple people look over your statement before submission. They can help with the proofreading (a second person always catches a mistake the writer may miss), give advice about the statement’s structure and content, and confirm it’s the proper recommended length.

Once you’ve considered all of the above and reviewed and edited your personal statement to perfection, it’s time to submit and check off any remaining application requirements, including your resume and letters of recommendation .

Personal statements are arguably one of the most challenging aspects of applying to graduate school, so make sure to revel in this accomplishment and acknowledge your successes.

For more information, visit the  Office of Graduate Admission at USC  and explore  USC Online ’s master’s degrees, doctoral programs and graduate certificates.

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Personal Statements: Examples, Do's and Don'ts

Personal Statements: Examples, Do's and Don'ts

As the name suggests, a personal statement is unique to everyone, but that does not mean there are not specific personal statement rules and guidelines to follow. Being able to quickly showcase your skills, personality and job fit can be challenging, so we are here to shed some light on structuring a personal statement that’ll make you stand out from the crowd. 

In this guide, we will be looking at how to write a personal statement and the do’s and don’ts. By the end, you should have a better idea of how to structure a personal statement and impress your potential new employers.

💡 Note: We will be covering professional personal statements and not personal statements for University admissions in this article.

What is a personal statement?

Often confused with a cover letter or supporting statement, a personal statement is a small section on various forms of CVs. A personal statement is often no more than a few sentences where you can quickly summarise your skills, experience and job fit into a bitesize paragraph. 

A personal statement gives you the opportunity to briefly sell yourself to your potential employer and showcase why you are the best candidate for the role. It is important to note that not all employers will require a personal statement, but if done correctly they can help set you apart from other applicants. 

What makes a good personal statement? 

As a personal statement is essentially a summary of the rest of your CV and you as a person, you want to ensure you list all the most important things from your CV that are the most relevant to the job you are applying for. You should never use the same personal statement, when applying for multiple jobs you can use a similar statement for each, but it should be tailored to each individual role if possible. 

How to start a personal statement 

Start your personal statement by introducing yourself and set the tone for the rest of your personal statement.

You want to capture the employer’s interest and summarise exactly why you are a perfect fit for the role. Most personal statement examples start with saying the role you are currently in, how much industry experience you have and key achievements or relevant skills and statistics. 

How to finish a personal statement 

A good way to finish your personal statement is to summarise your overall goal or aim when moving forwards towards this job and your career.  This means you have spoken about the past, present and future, in just a few lines and gives the employer a good idea of you and your potential. 

How to finish a personal statement can vary from role to role, but this is a good rule of thumb and will stand you in good stead, as with any application, tailor it to the job, some may call for this, some may not.

Personal statement do’s

  • Tailor your personal statement - utilise the job description to help you highlight exactly what the employer is looking for, highlight the skills and experience it calls for. The job description is the blueprint to your personal statement for that role, so try and signpost your abilities from the exact things the employer is looking for.
  • Be concise - ensure that you keep your personal statement short and relevant, aim for the maximum of a few lines or around 200 words at most. Find the most important and relevant things that you can say within that word count.
  • Highlight you - candidates have a habit of being too generic and not showcasing themselves, it is called a personal statement, so keep it personal to you. Personal does not mean talking about your dog though, but how you personally can succeed at this job.
  • Include tangibles - always try to give additional details that add value to your application, for instance, quantifying something always makes it sound better. ‘Increased sales by 35%’ sounds better than just saying ‘increased sales’.
  • Hit key points - a good personal statement will be able to give the employer a quick summary of you and entice them to read more or move you forward to the interview stage.
  • Get a second opinion - having someone else read over your personal statement can be a real help, they may spot something you haven’t or not understand something the way you had intended. This will help improve your finished personal statement.  

Personal statement don’ts

  • Use the same wording - you can actually hurt your own chances if you use an overly generic personal statement. You want to show that you have put effort into your application and impress the employer.
  • Make it too long - candidates will often confuse their personal statement with a cover letter, this is a short rundown of you, focus on skills, successes, and statistics, things that can be quickly digested. Grab their attention with your personal statement, but do not bore them with an essay.
  • Go too personal - this may sound strange, but remember you are writing a professional application, and not setting up a dating profile. Focus on what you can bring to the company, and how your skills would be perfect for the role.
  • Send off your first draft - always read over your personal statement a few times to make sure it flows right and rolls off the tongue. Having a spelling or grammar mistake can ruin your chances of getting the job.
  • Be too broad - showing that you understood the job description and are a good candidate for the role can be evident if you have a good personal statement, but being too broad will make you look like you copy and pasted the same response to 20 applications.

What next? 

Now you have a better understanding on how to structure your personal statement to increase your chances of getting your new role, you want to start your job search . Currently at Michael Page, we have over 10,000 live jobs on the site so submit your CV today to become discoverable for new roles added in your industry. 

For more CV and cover letter advice , read through our collective library of articles that’ll help you create a winning CV. 

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How To Write A Personal Statement (With Examples)

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Whether you want to apply to colleges, graduate programs, or competitive jobs, writing a persuasive personal statement will give you a leg up over the other applicants. A personal statement gives you a chance to express your qualifications, motivations, and long-term objectives in a way that gets hiring managers and admissions boards excited to meet you.

No matter why you’re writing a personal statement, we’re here to help you stand out from the crowd.

Key Takeaways:

To write a personal statement, first brainstorm, then narrow down your ideas, and start with an intro that leads into your qualifications.

Make sure to proofread your personal statement before submitting.

Personal statements describe your interests, skills, and goals, with a particular focus on your passion.

Personal statements are typically found in academia, however some professional organizations may also request one.

How To Write A Personal Statement (With Examples)

What Is a Personal Statement?

How to write a personal statement, tips for writing a strong personal statement, questions to ask yourself when writing a personal statement, when do i need a personal statement, academic personal statement examples, professional personal statement example, personal statement faq.

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A personal statement is a written work that describes your skills, areas of interest, accomplishments, and goals. It is typically included with a college or scholarship application, and sometimes used as part of job applications as well.

Personal statements are a chance for you to show an admissions board or a hiring committee what makes you special outside of your resume . Think of it as an in-depth cover letter where you get to detail not only your skills, but why you’re so passionate about the subject.

Short of an interview, it’s the best way to show your personality in a way that (hopefully) convinces someone to hire or admit you.

When you’re ready to write your statement, there are a few ways you can approach it. We’re going to go over a seven-step process so you can keep your thoughts organized and work through a process. Feel free to switch up the method, so it works for you.

Understand the prompt. Before you put pen to paper, make sure you understand the prompt and what is being asked of you. If there’s a specific set of questions you need to respond to, make sure you frame your thinking that way instead of just choosing a topic.

Brainstorm. Think of some ideas and an outline before you start writing. Consider how you can answer the prompt you’re given and what unique experiences you can bring to the table. The more options you have, the better off you’ll be.

Narrow it down. An excellent way to pick your final approach to draft a statement would be to jot down a few sentences for each idea you had. This helps you tell what topic is easiest to write about or what you feel most confident. No matter how you narrow down your ideas, you need to settle on the strongest one to convey your qualifications.

Start with an intro. Once you’re ready to write, you’ll want to write your opening paragraph first. This is a chance for you to introduce yourself and let people know who you are. Try to keep this paragraph short since it’s just an intro, and you’ll have more space to get into your qualifications in the next paragraph.

Write about your qualifications. When you write about your skills, make sure you align them with the job description or the program’s goals or university.

You can expand this section to a few paragraphs (if word count allows) and be sure to cover your achievements, qualifications, skills, talents, goals, and what you can bring to the program or organization.

One to three body paragraphs should suffice, with scholarship and graduate school personal statements being the longest of the bunch, and job personal statements being the shortest.

Sum up your argument. Your statement is a persuasive argument for why the committee should pick you. It should be a compelling summary of your qualifications, and it should show that you have a clear desire to work for the company.

Proofread. Look for any spelling or grammar errors and check to make sure your writing is clear and concise. Cut out anything that doesn’t fit or help paint a good picture of what kind of student or employee you are. You might want to show your draft to a few people to ensure everything sounds right.

No matter what approach you take to writing your statement, a few things hold. We’ll give you some tips to make your statement stand out from the rest.

Write to your audience. Chances are you have a good idea of who will be reading your application and personal statement, so try to gear your writing toward them. Think of what will persuade or impress them and incorporate that into your writing.

Stay truthful. It might be tempting to exaggerate the truth or smudge a little bit, but make sure you stay truthful. If you claim to have skills or experience that you don’t have and land the job, it might be pretty easy to tell that your writing doesn’t exactly align with your experience.

Tell a story. If you can, try to weave your narrative into a story. Not only will it be more engaging for your reader, but it will also show if you can use your skill to create a story. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, but tying everything together into a narrative will impress your readers.

Use your voice. To make your statement more personal and unique, you should write in your voice. Don’t try to copy examples of statements you find or let your editor drown out what makes you unique. Make sure you keep your personality and qualifications front and center since it’s a personal statement.

Get specific. Instead of generally talking about skills you have, find ways to show your reader when you used those skills. Being specific and giving examples will make your argument more compelling and show your reader that you’re a master.

Use simple language. Since personal statements are so short, it’s not the time for long and complex sentences. Keep it concise and easy to read. You don’t want to risk confusing your reader since committees usually have a few minutes to consider your candidacy, and you don’t want to lose their attention.

Sometimes, especially during the brainstorm process, it can help to ask yourself questions to get your mind focused. These questions can help realize what you want to write in your personal statement.

Some questions you can ask yourself include:

“Why am I interested in this application? What about it makes me want to apply?”

“What are my strengths and weaknesses?”

“What type of work gets me excited and deeply engaged?”

“What is my life story and how does it relate to this application?”

“Where do I want to go?”

“Who do I want to be?”

“What have I learned from my past?”

“How can I explain my past experiences?”

“How would my friends and family describe me to a stranger?”

“What obstacles have I overcome and how does it make me who I am today?”

Asking yourself questions like these will open up your mind to new ideas on how to write your personal statement.

You may need to write a personal statement for a university, scholarship, or job application.

University application. When you’re writing a personal statement for a school application, you’ll usually have a few paragraphs to get your point across. These prompts tend to be more open-ended and give you a chance to explain why you want to attend that school, how you align with their program, and why you are an excellent fit for the school’s culture.

A personal statement for a graduate program needs to be much sharper and more focused. At this point in your education, you’re expected to know precisely where you’d like to turn your academic focus and be able to communicate that efficiently.

Scholarship application. When you need to write a personal statement for a grant or scholarship application, you want to make sure you align your values and purpose with the providers. These can be tricky to write, but they’re like a careful balance between personal statements for school and work.

Job application. For work-related personal statements, you’ll want to focus on your skills and qualifications more than your personality. Employers are more concerned with how you can meet their skill requirements. Professional personal statements tend to be shorter, so there’s less space to talk about anything but your qualifications.

Here are two examples of shorts personal statement for graduate program applications:

From the moment I stepped into the lab, smelled the clean scent of fresh lab coats, and saw the beakers glistening under the light, I felt an excitement to learn that hasn’t left me since. Each time I enter the lab, I feel the same flutter of my heart and a sense of purpose. I want to continue to chase this feeling while contributing to a broader scientific knowledge catalog, which I know the Graduate Biology Program at City University will allow me to do. I want to continue the research I started in college on communicable diseases while gaining a critical education. City University’s program emphasizes in-class and hands-on learning, a perfect combination for my learning style.
As a graduate of State University with a B.S. in Biology, I have the foundation to build my knowledge and experience. While at State University, I worked in a lab researching the efficacy of a new flu vaccine. There, I managed other student researchers, worked as a liaison between the professor running the lab and students and managed the data reports. I am ready to bring my extensive experience to City University classrooms while learning from my peers. I am eager to begin the coursework at City University, and I believe I am uniquely prepared to contribute to the campus culture and research efforts. I look forward to stepping into City University’s lab in the fall and feeling the familiar excitement that drives me to pursue a graduate program and learn more about public health.

If you need to write a professional personal statement, here’s a sample you can model yours after:

As a recent graduate of State University with a B.A. in Communications, I am prepared to take what I have learned in the classroom and bring my work ethic and go-getter attitude to ABC Company. I believe that I have the skills and experience to excel as a Marketing Coordinator from my first day. My classes in Digital Communication, Social Media Marketing, and Business Management and my work as Outreach Chair of the university newspaper have prepared me to take on responsibilities as I learn more about the field. I also believe that my dedication to animal welfare aligns with the ABC Company’s goal of finding loving homes for all of their foster pets and makes me especially interested in this position.

What do I write in a personal statement?

A personal statement should include an introduction, your relevant skills/experiences, and your goals. You want to keep your personal statement relevant for the program or job in question. Make sure to show your passion and indicate what you’d like to do with the degree or opportunity.

How do you start off a personal statement?

Start your personal statement by introducing yourself. Give a brief snapshot of your background that also describes why you’re passionate about this field or area of study in particular. Another powerful way to start off a personal statement is with a significant accomplishment that immediately speaks to your relevant skill set and experience.

What exactly is a personal statement?

A personal statement is a brief statement that sums up your qualifications. A personal statement is a brief written document that university admissions boards, scholarship programs, and sometimes hiring managers require from applicants. A personal statement’s purpose is to show the reader that you are qualified, fully invested in the aims of the program, and have plans for what you would do if granted the opportunity.

How do you write a 500-word personal statement?

To write a 500-word personal statement, start by writing without worrying about the word count. If your personal statement is too long, look for sentences that include skills, experiences, or qualifications that aren’t strictly related to the requirements or aims of the program/job you’re applying for and remove them.

If your personal statement is too short, go back to the program, scholarship, or job description. Make note of the preferred experiences and required skills. For example, if you’ve included a skill in your personal statement without experience to back it up, consider adding a brief story that shows you putting that skill into action.

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Amanda is a writer with experience in various industries, including travel, real estate, and career advice. After taking on internships and entry-level jobs, she is familiar with the job search process and landing that crucial first job. Included in her experience is work at an employer/intern matching startup where she marketed an intern database to employers and supported college interns looking for work experience.

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DOs and DON’Ts When Writing a Personal Statement

(1) Pay Attention to Each School’s Prompt Hopefully, for most applicants, this is a no-brainer. The prompt for each school is first available in August/September when law schools release that year’s application. The prompts typically don’t change much year to year, so you can get a head start by looking at the previous year’s application. For many/most applicants, the prompts are similar enough that the same personal statement template can be used with minor adjustments for each school (see Tip #2 on personalization). For some applicants, however, the prompts are different enough that you should write multiple personal statements. Be sure that the personal statement you use for a school does in fact respond to the prompt for that school. The ability to follow directions is a necessity for law school applicants.

(2) Personalize Your Statement Most law schools want to see that you have put time and effort into researching why that school is a good fit for you. One of the ways you can demonstrate your due diligence is to include a paragraph (typically at the close of your personal statement) outlining several specific factors that have drawn you to that law school. Be specific. Important considerations to note: (a) Vague statements asserting that a law school is a good fit for you without any supporting evidence or information are useless, so do your research and work on articulating the reasons for your interest in each school. (b) You can review a school’s website to determine what you like about that school, but don’t just regurgitate information from the website. They want to know why that information is relevant to your interests and/or goals. (c) Top-ranked schools (typically, top 5 or so) pretty much know why you would like to attend, so personalization is less important unless there is something that truly differentiates that school from others to you. (d) Some schools have a separate “optional” essay allowing you to discuss why you want to attend that school. If that is the case for one of your schools, write the separate essay, and omit the personalized paragraph from your personal statement. (e) Be sure to submit the correct versions to each school. Save the school’s name in the title to help minimize any potential for error.

(3) Be Personable As you now know, one of your goals as an applicant is to let admissions committees get to know you. It is just as important that they like you. Admissions committees are in no rush to admit applicants who are arrogant, pretentious, elitist, or rude. So the tone you use in your personal statement is important. Don’t assume that you need to use a formal tone just because you think lawyers write very formally. By using a formal tone, you are actually building a wall between yourself and the admissions committee—the opposite of what you should be doing. Aim for a more conversational (but not casual) tone so that the statement flows easily for the reader. Further, forget the big words that you think make you sound smart. They actually risk making you sound arrogant, pretentious, or even unintelligent (if used improperly). Strong writing conveys intelligence without the need for big words.

(4) Tell a Story Another easy way to be both personal and personable in your personal statement is to start off with an anecdote about yourself that sets up the framework for the rest of the statement. For example, if you are highlighting certain characteristics in your statement, tell an anecdote that demonstrates those characteristics. If you are discussing a defining moment in your life, describe a scene from that experience. A well-told anecdote can immediately capture readers’ attention and draw them into your world. Even if you don’t include an anecdote in the statement, the topic that you choose should, in a sense, “tell a story” about you in a way that captures and keeps the reader’s attention.

(5) Be Concise Some schools set no limit for personal statements, but most suggest either 2–3 or 2–4 pages. Aim for two pages, double-spaced. Do not make the error of thinking that more is better. Law schools value the ability to persuasively convey information in a relatively short space. Also, keep in mind that admissions committees are reviewing thousands of applications. Don’t waste their time.

10 DON’Ts 1. DON’T just restate your résumé in narrative form. That shows no critical thinking ability. If you are going to talk about more than one achievement or experience mentioned on your résumé, then connect the dots. Find a common theme that ties those items together. 2. DON’T address your weaknesses in the personal statement. Use an addendum.The personal statement should highlight the positives about you. 3. DON’T focus on your high school activities or accomplishments. Focusing on achievements in high school can draw attention to a lack of similar achievements in college. 4. DON’T be overly dramatic. Understatement is better. 5. DON’T spend too much time talking about someone or something else. Always bring the focus back to you. 6. DON’T start your statement with a famous quotation, no matter how well you think it might fit with the theme of your personal statement. Admissions committees want to hear your words, not those of someone else. 7. DON’T use legalese or Latin phrases. 8. DON’T be careless. Be sure not to accidentally mention the wrong school in your statement. 9. DON’T use big words in an effort to impress the admissions committees. It sets the wrong tone for the statement. 10. DON’T write a position paper or opinion piece. Even written well, those types of writings are not particularly useful to admissions committees because they miss the point of the personal statement.

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How To Start a Personal Statement? | Writing Tips and Samples

EssayEdge > Blog > How To Start a Personal Statement? | Writing Tips and Samples

After making up all your ideas and expectations on applying to the educational institution, you may face the real tasks that you must do. Thus, you will come up with the question of how to start a personal statement . It is a little necessary step that you must do on the way to achieving a global goal of getting the admission offer.

Writing the whole essay is kind of a tough thing, but you have to start writing it to understand that the process is on and it doesn’t seem to be as frightening as you thought before.

Table of Contents:

How to begin a personal statement: process preparation

The beginning is always the most difficult and important part of doing something. However, to get the result, you should start the process. The same regards to your personal statement. Think over your life experiences, important points that you want to mention, recollect your best achievements in studying and everyday routine. It all matters if you want to get an excellent essay. You can write down a list of the things you want to tell the admissions committee. When everything is in front of your eyes, it will be easier to understand what exactly must be included in your essay. Preparing to write in advance would also simplify everything. Having some tips and examples in your mind can help you to cope with the task. You can read articles and blogs about personal statement , ask your admitted peers about their experiences of writing such an essay. Take into consideration that the writing process is long-lasting and get ready to spend time on doing it well.

Begin the writing with the thought that you will certainly deal with all the given tasks and, finally, you will get an excellent result. Don’t be afraid to try several times until you are pleased with the text.

It is better to write the beginning of your essay last as you will have the whole picture of your essay right in front of you. Therefore it will be simpler for you to understand what exactly you want to include in your essay. If you are not sure about a piece of information that you want to include, ask someone who knows you well to tell you whether that point of your life is worth including in your personal statement opening or not.

Personal statement introduction 

The introduction is the most important paragraph of your personal statement as it formulates the first impression of the whole writing. That’s why it is essential to concentrate on it and write it in the right way. You shouldn’t write general statements or information that might be the same for every applicant. Be special. Be unique. Focus on catchy data. Your task is to commit the most impressive part of your life into the words. Evaluate the significance of your application, catch the attention of the reader, explain why you are writing the essay, what is your purpose of the application.

It is good to start writing with an impressive background fact: describe the situation that had an impact on your decision of applying to the educational institution or tell the impressive story from your life that considered your opinion about future specialization. It is up to you how to begin a personal statement, but memorize that this information must be uncommon and regarding exactly you. Make a try to write everything in the evaluating, not describing tone. Provide the reader with the consequence of the depicted information.

Starting a personal statement: tips on doing it

When you have collected all the thoughts on writing your essay together, you may come up with the question of how to start off a personal statement. Here are several tips for you to deal with the given task.

  • Start with the attention-grabbing fact As mentioned above, tell the story that will differentiate you among other applicants, put the value out of it: what it brought into your life, how it influenced you. Try to catch the reader’s attention to it.
  • Leave doubts – just start Even if you can’t remember something unusual, you should start writing. Recollect everything that somehow made an impact on you. It can be a talk while having family dinner, a film you watched and understood that the main character is your ideal prototype.
  • Write like you Don’t try to pretend you are someone else, just naturally write the essay as you want to tell it to your closest person. It will transform into the essay paragraph further. At the beginning, the manner you write doesn’t matter.
  • Be sincere It is not good to act as an ideal one, tell about the failures that happened to you. In no case, you mustn’t use someone’s background or life experience, projecting it on your life. You know, the admission committee can check everything.
  • Ask for help, if you feel like that There is nothing bad about asking for help. You can refer to your parents or friends to hear their impressions of your essay. They can also help you to remember something valuable that you can use. Moreover, you can appeal for help from a personal statement editor to find out specific features about your essay.
  • Try not to preach to the reader with your experience Even though you managed to do something out of the ordinary, don’t evaluate your actions like something mind-blowing. It may only spoil the impression of you as a person. Try only to provide the information and don’t view it from the wrong perspective.
  • Don’t use cliche introductions For every admission tutor, it seems to be the same from essay to essay. Try to stand out from the crowd and introduce yourself as an uncommon personality. That will work in your favor.

Need help? Check out EssayEdge editing services:

Personal statement introduction example

Personal statement introduction is a strong statement that formulates the whole mood of the writing. Don’t neglect using successful examples just to see how it works. Below you can find an example which demonstrates student’s motivation and interest in studying certain program at the university.

I’m interested in studying the Linguistics program because I’m sure that this is exactly that one thing that certainly will make my life fully completed. 

My curiosity in this program is an explainable thing. Since childhood, I’ve been interested in people’s communication. Moreover, I even remember the moment when I pronounced the first word out of my mouth and the happiness of the people around. Whenever someone was speaking, I was just wondering how it works. Why do we hear some sounds and understand them as a piece of particular information? How does it produce the point of social connection? Languages are a kind of bridge that can connect people from all over the world. For me, studying branches of linguistics is a tool to help people from different corners of the world to find the key to understanding each other.

In this personal statement introduction example, you can find the applicant’s background, a catchy and interesting fact about spelling the first word out, and the connection to future specialization.

Starting a personal statement is a challenging step in every applicant’s life, but having enough patience and motivation can help you to deal with all the difficulties that may come up while writing. Don’t be afraid to use help, start beforehand and everything will be fine. Remember that the number of admitted students who coped with everything reached their goal and acquired success is huge and you can easily become one of them.

More information on how to start personal statement and other significant tips about admission essays you can find in the EssayEdge blog.

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how should you start off a personal statement

How To Start A Personal Statement: An Expert View

how should you start off a personal statement

Starting a personal statement can often be the hardest challenge that applicants face. The prospect of starting with a blank page can be daunting, and it can often lead to people not starting in good time. This post will give you the tools you need to get started in the right way…

There are 9 steps to starting a personal statement, and apart from the first and last, you can work on them in any order. Do not write the first draft from scratch or try to write the opening paragraph first. Instead, gather key information and make comprehensive notes before creating the content.

Here are those nine steps in greater detail…

1 Make a Resource Document with Relevant Sections

The very first step when starting work on your personal statement is to create a single resource document. This can be in pages, word or in-app; whatever works best for you. All of your research, notes and writing will go into this one document, so make sure you’re comfortable with the software you use. The rules for this document are simple and if you stick to them, your personal statement will have a far higher chance of success.

Firstly, make sure your document is available across your devices. If you have reliable cloud storage, keep it there. Secondly, if you have connectivity or security issues, or you’re not comfortable with working online, make sure you regularly save a local copy. Back it up, but only work on one version and make sure you know exactly which version is which. Lastly, organise your document into specific, well-planned sections, and be disciplined about adhering to this structure. If you’re not sure how to divide your document, you can see an example below, based on the headings in this post.

If you’re more comfortable with pen and paper planning, a simple workbook like this will suit you perfectly.

how should you start off a personal statement

2 Research Courses and Gather Key Vocabulary

Research a range of courses that focus on your chosen subject or speciality. You can do this incredibly easily and comprehensively here in the UK or here in the US . Once you have identified courses offering core components and modules that interest you, and with descriptions that engage you, take the time to make a list of the top 10 common or closely related vocabulary used to describe not only the course but also the attributes of a potential student.

You should end up with a list of powerful buzzwords that apply across the spectrum of courses you’re applying for. You should be ready to use a mix of these words, if appropriate and relevant, in your personal statement. This will show the reader that not only have you done your research, but that you are exactly the right fit for their program.

3 Consider Personal Inspirations and Anecdotes

Some consider this heading to be contentious, but in the early stages of starting your personal statement, it is vital that you prioritise writing about yourself. Regardless of whether you think they’re trivial or profound, note down as many of the reasons why you want to study a particular subject or go into a particular industry as you can. You might only use a sentence from this section in your final document, but having a pool of notes about what drives you is important; it will provide the reader with a tangible insight into your motivations and ambitions.

You might list personal experiences that inspired your interest in a subject or consider individuals or groups that have fostered your interest. You might have a desire to make a change in a particular field, or to work on overcoming a challenge faced by others. You might even have seen something as a child that has stayed in your mind. For now, write it all down. At a later point in the process, you will want to distil your motivation into an effective, relevant passage.

4 Evidence Your Knowledge, Skills and Suitability

One of the most important elements to include in a personal statement is evidencing your academic and personal suitability for the course you are applying for. At the start of the process, this might feel like a bit of a list, but you can develop it later, when you start to shape the material. Lots of the content in this section is likely to come from what you’ve explored and been inspired by during current or previous courses of study.

For now, make a list of all the skills you have that you think will be relevant to your application. You’ll want to think about specific subject-related knowledge, wider academic skills and your personal suitability for the course. I’ve given you some examples in the table below to get you started. Think as deeply as you can about what the subject would demand of you at a higher level, and how you can show that you meet the appropriate standard, rather than just telling the reader that you do. Here’s a great video going into that in a bit more detail:

Use your planning document as a space to write down everything that occurs to you, as long as it follows the structure in the table below. You could even insert a table of your own into your document, if it helps. You can always remove the table and turn the points into logical, well-crafted prose later in the process.

An Economics module on Market Failure has given me specific knowledge about global economic investment strategies and international financial relationships. I could evidence this by using relevant vocabulary and making comparative points regarding two contrasting market approaches.I have shown independent study experience, research skills and revision technique during my study of Psychology. Practice of classification and organisation in Biology has allowed me to manage data accurately.
Understanding of application of mathematical formulae in Mechanics. Evidenced in mock exam grades and unit tests.
On my recent course I developed my organisational and time-management skills by managing three study modules at once. Punctuality and organisational skills were evidenced as I managed my academic studies and co-curricular activities, such as completing my Maths course with a top band grade whilst captain of the netball team.
My Chemistry studies, focusing on Kinetics, have given me a detailed understanding of the nature of reactants, catalysts and light absorption. I applied this advanced understanding when completing my extended project and developed a research experiment that won my school’s science award.I have carried out detailed analytical research into causes of poverty in my Politics and History studies, and as a consequence I am skilled at applying results and data to the formulation of specific conclusions. I have developed long-form and short-form answer skills as evidenced in my top-grade Music paper.I work successfully in small groups, contributing to the collective development of a task. I took the lead in the development of a mini-rocket project last year at school. My communication and motivational skills have been sharpened by volunteering at a local charity organisation.

5 Evidence Wider Reading, Activities and Opinions

When you start your personal statement, it is important to keep an accurate record of the wider reading you do in preparation for the course. Some of this is likely to be related to your current courses of study, but specifically, admissions teams are looking for evidence that you have researched, read and participated in activities that extend your knowledge of the subject beyond your current syllabus, and by extension, make you a more suitable candidate for study at a higher level.

You should be able to evidence a range of books you’ve read that relate to the subject you want to study, but also trade publications you’ve seen, videos and lectures you’ve watched, workshops, conferences or seminars you have attended live or online and ways in which you have sought out opportunities to deepen your knowledge in general. This can seem like a lot of work, but if you are dedicated to deeper study of a subject, it should naturally be ongoing and enjoyable.  

It is also good practice, along with notes of what you read or experienced, to give your informed opinion of it. This will be very useful in your personal statement, as you’ll be able to make comparative points to demonstrate your knowledge as well as your academic potential. There are some excellent pointers for improving your academic research here .

6 Gather Information About the Subject or Industry

Regardless of your intended field of study, you will be able to gather some key information about contemporary movements or opinions in the field, or opportunities and challenges within the industry that are relevant to your course. Take some time to move beyond the information in your current course texts and use your own research to develop a few specific, clear examples. You will want to refer to some of these in your personal statement, but only when doing so is relevant to the point you want to make.

Remember, you should evidence your suitability by showing your knowledge, opinions and ambition, not by listing the top three answers to a quick Google search.  As an example, if you were applying for a degree in Medicine, you might gather the following kinds of information:

how should you start off a personal statement

7 Explain Your Ambitions in Relation to the Course

This can be a challenging thing for some people to write about but is exactly what admissions officers and course leaders want to see. So, having thoroughly researched the content of the courses you are applying for, make a list of the specific ambitions you have for your studies.

Rather than saying “I want to learn more about Physics”, which doesn’t really mean anything, perhaps you could say “I am particularly interested in deepening my understanding of fluid dynamics, in advance of applying for an Aeronautics placement later in the course.” By writing like this, you are showing that you understand the course content, and making your application purposeful; there’s a specific reason for your choices, which is important to universities.

You could also show a wider level of ambition by linking the specialisms of study on a particular course with your career aspirations. If you want to go into Events Management as a career, then talking about the value of studying a module in Venue Risk Management connects your goals to the course content incredibly clearly.

8 List Your Relevant Co-Curricular Experiences

This section should list all the things you have done in addition to your studies that might be relevant or valuable to your application. When you are starting your personal statement, it’s alright to pour lots of thoughts and examples into this document. You will need to review and edit later, but for now, it’s alright to include as much content as you can.

What makes an experience relevant or valuable? It needs to have a direct bearing on your ability to successfully complete a higher level of study in your chosen field, or it needs to evidence sympathetic skills which will be of value to you during the course.

For example, saying that you enjoy swimming has no immediate relevance to an application to study Archaeology. However, if you have developed a self-disciplined and motivated mindset due to regular and demanding training, then that’s a skill worth mentioning, as it could be related to your potential success as a student. If you intend to study Interior Design, and you have experience of a part-time job in retail, that’s not a particularly valuable inclusion. Explaining what you learned about visual design as a result of creating a successful window display in the store would evidence relevant skills as well as indicating that you can balance study and work effectively.

9 Edit and Structure Relevant Content Carefully

It will take you a long time to research and note down all of these elements, but it is worth persevering, being accurate and thorough, and giving yourself the time to go through these steps in full. Once you have all this information, you’ll find you’ve got a large document, and it might seem like quite a challenge to edit it down. However, once you’ve gathered everything, you’ll find the hardest part of the process has been completed.

If you need some help with proofing and editing, you should check out Grammarly . I often recommend this free, intuitive software to students as it really helps get personal statements to a high level of accuracy, and it’s great for university study as well. You can click here to find out more about it , or hit the banner.

how should you start off a personal statement

Depending on the context you’re writing your personal statement for, you’ll need to edit down to a specific word or character count. Even if you don’t have a word count to work to, it will be important to edit your notes to make your personal statement compelling and engaging. If you’re stuck on getting your first paragraph right, you can pick up some great advice here , and you can check out how to structure your content successfully over at this post .

Good luck with your personal statement, and don’t forget to contact me if you’d like some 1-1 support. You’ve got this! D

Research and content verified by Personal Statement Planet.

David Hallen

I've worked in the Further Education and University Admissions sector for nearly 20 years as a teacher, department head, Head of Sixth Form, UCAS Admissions Advisor, UK Centre Lead and freelance personal statement advisor, editor and writer. And now I'm here for you...

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Statement of Purpose 

The statement of purpose is very important to programs when deciding whether to admit a candidate. Your statement should be focused, informative, and convey your research interests and qualifications. You should describe your reasons and motivations for pursuing a graduate degree in your chosen degree program, noting the experiences that shaped your research ambitions, indicating briefly your career objectives, and concisely stating your past work in your intended field of study and in related fields. Your degree program of interest may have specific guidance or requirements for the statement of purpose, so be sure to review the degree program page for more information. Unless otherwise noted, your statement should not exceed 1,000 words. 

Personal Statement

Please describe the personal experiences that led you to pursue graduate education and how these experiences will contribute to the academic environment and/or community in your program or Harvard Griffin GSAS. These may include social and cultural experiences, leadership positions, community engagement, equity and inclusion efforts, other opportunities, or challenges. Your statement should be no longer than 500 words.

Please note that there is no expectation to share detailed sensitive information and you should refrain from including anything that you would not feel at ease sharing. Please also note that the Personal Statement should complement rather than duplicate the content provided in the Statement of Purpose. 

Visit Degree Programs and navigate to your degree program of interest to determine if a Personal Statement is required. The degree program pages will be updated by early September indicating if the Personal Statement is required for your program.

Writing Sample 

Please visit Degree Programs and navigate to your degree program of interest to determine if a writing sample is required. When preparing your writing sample, be sure to follow program requirements, which may include format, topic, or length. 

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The Personal Statement Topics Ivy League Hopefuls Should Avoid

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Yale University

A compelling personal statement is a critical component of an Ivy League application, as it offers students the unique opportunity to showcase their personality, experiences, and aspirations. Kickstarting the writing process in the summer can give students a critical advantage in the admissions process, allowing them more time to brainstorm, edit, and polish standout essays. However, as students begin drafting their essays this summer, they should bear in mind that selecting the right topic is crucial to writing a successful essay. Particularly for students with Ivy League aspirations, submitting an essay that is cliche, unoriginal, or inauthentic can make the difference between standing out to admissions officers or blending into the sea of other applicants.

As ambitious students embark on the college application process, here are the personal statement topics they should avoid:

1. The Trauma Dump

Many students overcome significant hurdles by the time they begin the college application process, and some assume that the grisliest and most traumatic stories will attract attention and sympathy from admissions committees. While vulnerability can be powerful, sharing overly personal or sensitive information can make readers uncomfortable and shift focus away from a student’s unique strengths. Students should embrace authenticity and be honest about the struggles they have faced on their path to college, while still recognizing that the personal statement is a professional piece of writing, not a diary entry. Students should first consider why they want to share a particular tragic or traumatic experience and how that story might lend insight into the kind of student and community member they will be on campus. As a general rule, if the story will truly enrich the admissions committee’s understanding of their candidacy, students should thoughtfully include it; if it is a means of proving that they are more deserving or seeking to engender pity, students should consider selecting a different topic. Students should adopt a similar, critical approach as they write about difficult or sensitive topics in their supplemental essays, excluding unnecessary detail and focusing on how the experience shaped who they are today.

2. The Travelogue

Travel experiences can be enriching, but essays that merely recount a trip to a foreign country without deeper reflection often fall flat. Additionally, travel stories can often unintentionally convey white saviorism , particularly if students are recounting experiences from their charity work or mission trips in a foreign place. If a student does wish to write about an experience from their travels, they should prioritize depth not breadth—the personal statement is not the place to detail an entire itinerary or document every aspect of a trip. Instead, students should focus on one specific and meaningful experience from their travels with vivid detail and creative storytelling, expounding on how the event changed their worldview, instilled new values, or inspired their future goals.

3. The Superhero Narrative

Ivy League and other top colleges are looking for students who are introspective and teachable—no applicant is perfect (admissions officers know this!). Therefore, it’s crucial that students be aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and open about the areas in which they hope to grow. They should avoid grandiose narratives in which they cast themselves as flawless heroes. While students should seek to put their best foot forward, depicting themselves as protagonists who single-handedly resolve complex issues can make them appear exaggerated and lacking in humility. For instance, rather than telling the story about being the sole onlooker to stand up for a peer being bullied at the lunch table, perhaps a student could share about an experience that emboldened them to advocate for themselves and others. Doing so will add dimension and dynamism to their essay, rather than convey a static story of heroism.

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Best 5% interest savings accounts of 2024, 4. the plan for world peace.

Similarly, many students feel compelled to declare their intention to solve global issues like world hunger or climate change. While noble, these proclamations can come across as unrealistic and insincere, and they can distract from the tangible achievements and experiences that a student brings to the table. Instead, applicants should focus on demonstrable steps they’ve taken or plan to take within their local community to enact positive change, demonstrating their commitment and practical approach to making a difference. For instance, instead of stating a desire to eradicate poverty, students could describe their extended involvement in a local charity and how it has helped them to discover their values and actualize their passions.

5. The Sports Story

While sports can teach valuable lessons, essays that focus solely on athletic achievements or the importance of a particular game can be overdone and lack depth. Admissions officers have read countless essays about students scoring the winning goal, dealing with the hardship of an injury, or learning teamwork from sports. Students should keep in mind that the personal essay should relay a story that only they can tell—perhaps a student has a particularly unique story about bringing competitive pickleball to their high school and uniting unlikely friend groups or starting a community initiative to repair and donate golf gear for students who couldn’t otherwise afford to play. However, if their sports-related essay could have been written by any high school point guard or soccer team captain, it’s time to brainstorm new ideas.

6. The Pick-Me Monologue

Students may feel the need to list their accomplishments and standout qualities in an effort to appear impressive to Ivy League admissions officers. This removes any depth, introspection, and creativity from a student’s essay and flattens their experiences to line items on a resume. Admissions officers already have students’ Activities Lists and resumes; the personal statement should add texture and dimension to their applications, revealing aspects of their character, values and voice not otherwise obvious through the quantitative aspects of their applications. Instead of listing all of their extracurricular involvements, students should identify a particularly meaningful encounter or event they experienced through one of the activities that matters most to them, and reflect on the ways in which their participation impacted their development as a student and person.

7. The Pandemic Sob Story

The Covid-19 pandemic was a traumatic and formative experience for many students, and it is therefore understandable that applicants draw inspiration from these transformative years as they choose their essay topics. However, while the pandemic affected individuals differently, an essay about the difficulties faced during this time will likely come across as unoriginal and generic. Admissions officers have likely read hundreds of essays about remote learning challenges, social isolation, and the general disruptions caused by Covid-19. These narratives can start to blend together, making it difficult for any single essay to stand out. Instead of centering the essay on the pandemic's challenges, students should consider how they adapted, grew, or made a positive impact during this time. For example, rather than writing about the difficulties of remote learning, a student could describe how they created a virtual study group to support classmates struggling with online classes. Similarly, an applicant might write about developing a new skill such as coding or painting during lockdown and how this pursuit has influenced their academic or career goals. Focusing on resilience, innovation, and personal development can make for a more compelling narrative.

Crafting a standout personal statement requires dedicated time, careful thought, and honest reflection. The most impactful essays are those that toe the lines between vulnerability and professionalism, introspection and action, championing one’s strengths and acknowledging weaknesses. Starting early and striving to avoid overused and unoriginal topics will level up a student’s essay and increase their chances of standing out.

Christopher Rim

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Student loan payments to restart soon as pause ends: Key dates to remember.

It’s crunch time, with only a few weeks remaining before student loan repayments resume. 

Starting Sept. 1 , interest will begin accruing again on those balances, followed by the first debt repayments in October.

While those are the most important dates to know, there are many more, including when you can enroll in President Joe Biden’s new payment plans and by when you need to enroll in autopay.  

Nearly 44 million Americans held student loans valued at more than $1.6 trillion at the end of March, according to the New York Federal Reserve.  After a 3-1/2-year break from repayments and interest, restarting student debt payments is sure to be challenging. To make the transition easier, here's a rundown of the timeline of events that you should mark on your calendar: 

The Biden administration launched a beta application for its new income-driven repayment plan called Saving on a Valuable Education, or SAVE, plan .

The plan may cut many borrowers’ previous monthly payments in half and leave some people with no monthly bill. SAVE increases the income exemption from 150% to 225% of the poverty line. It also eliminates unpaid monthly interest charges if you make your monthly payment on the principal, and it ends the need for your spouse to co-sign your application. Additional benefits start in July 2024. 

You can apply for SAVE on the Department of Education website if you aren’t already enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan (IDR) or need to switch plans. If you’re already enrolled in the “REPAYE” income-driven plan, you’ll automatically be moved to the SAVE plan. If you apply now, your application will be processed before the official launch.  

As long as you apply this summer, your application will be processed in time for your first payment due date. It may take your servicer a few weeks to process your request because they will need to obtain documentation of your income and family size. 

Be prepared: Best way to pay off student loans? Prepare. Here's what you should (and shouldn't) do.

  • Also in August : Autopay is optional, but if you choose it, you’ll save 0.25% on your interest rate. On autopay, you'll get a reminder ahead of each withdrawal, but you need to enroll and do so before the end of the month . If you were enrolled before the pause, you need to contact your servicer and reenroll. If you enrolled after the pause began, you’re already enrolled. 

If you don’t plan to make a payment in September, your servicer may apply an administrative forbearance on your loan, so no payment is due. If you want to opt out of this forbearance and pay in September, you must notify your servicer by this date. 

Interest begins to accrue again on your loan. If you choose not to pay in September, you will be charged interest for this month.   

◾ Also in September: Many people will get their bill, with the payment amount and due date, at least 21 days before your due date. 

Your first payment is due. 

If you have a loan that isn't held by the Department of Education, such as a commercially held Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL), school-held Perkins loan, or a Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL), you’ll need to consolidate your loan into a new Direct Consolidation Loan before Dec. 31, to get credit for that loan under the IDR account adjustment .

A one-time IDR account adjustment could change whether certain payments or months are credited toward your loan forgiveness.  Borrowers who work in public service must submit an employment certification form and Public Service Loan Forgiveness application no later than the end of 2023 . If borrowers have payments remaining after the review, they’ll need to enroll in an IDR plan. 

If you were on an IDR plan before the payment pause, you’ll have at least 6 months (or until around March 2024) to recertify your income after the payment pause ends. Normally, this must be done each year. However, you may want to recertify for a lower payment if your income has dropped or your family size has increased.

For your payment amount to be adjusted before your first bill, recertify as soon as possible. You can recertify early using the IDR application and select the button next to “Recalculate my monthly payment.” After the payment pause ends, your monthly payments will restart at the new amount. 

July 1, 2024

Additional SAVE benefits begin: Undergraduate loans will be cut in half (reduced from 10% to 5% of income above 225% of the poverty line). Borrowers who have undergraduate and graduate loans will pay a weighted average of between 5% and 10% of their income based on the original principal balances of their loans. 

Forgiveness : Borrowers with original principal balances of $12,000 or less will receive forgiveness of any remaining balance after making 10 years of payments, with the maximum repayment period before forgiveness rising by one year for every additional $1,000 borrowed. 

Borrowers who consolidated loans will receive credit for a weighted average of payments that count toward forgiveness based upon the principal balance of the loans being consolidated. They will also automatically receive credit toward forgiveness for certain periods of deferment and forbearance. And those debtors can make additional “catch-up” payments to get credit for all other periods of deferment or forbearance. And borrowers who are 75 days late will be automatically enrolled in IDR if they have agreed to allow the Department of Education to securely access their tax information. 

Sept. 30, 2024

“On-ramp" expires, and unpaid federal student loans become delinquent. The 12-month “on-ramp” from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2024, means borrowers who missed monthly payments during this time wouldn’t be considered delinquent, reported to credit bureaus, placed in default, or referred to debt collection agencies.

This date also coincides with the last day for borrowers to apply for the “ Fresh Start ” program, which gives borrowers already in default before the pandemic an opportunity to become current .  

Medora Lee is a money, markets, and personal finance reporter at USA TODAY. You can reach her at [email protected] and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday morning.    

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  1. How To Start A Personal Statement: Tips & Examples

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  2. How To Write A Good Personal Statement For A Job

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  3. 77+ Personal Statement Examples

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  5. How to Write a Personal Statement

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  6. 😍 Best personal statement examples. Top Personal Statement Examples

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COMMENTS

  1. How To Write a Good Personal Statement (With Examples)

    How to write a good personal statement. Follow these steps to a good personal statement: 1. Craft a strong opening. Begin with an opening sentence that interests your audience and makes them want to read more. Use your words to introduce the main idea of your response. You can start by describing a scene from your past or sharing a thought ...

  2. How to start a personal statement: The attention grabber

    Top tips on how to write your statement opener. We spoke to admissions tutors at unis and colleges - read on for their tips. 1. Don't begin with the overkill opening. Try not to overthink the opening sentence. You need to engage the reader with your relevant thoughts and ideas, but not go overboard. Tutors said: 'The opening is your chance ...

  3. How To Start A Personal Statement: Tips & Examples

    Type everything that goes off the top of your head. When you're done, take a look at your list. Cross out the ones you dislike, and encircle the ones you think have potential. Then start piecing the puzzle pieces together to check out if the intro lines fit with the rest of your personal statement.

  4. How to Write a Personal Statement (with Tips and Examples)

    Tip 4: Connect the Story to Why You're Applying. Don't forget that the purpose of your personal statement isn't simply to tell the admissions committee who you are. That's an important part of it, of course, but your ultimate goal is to convince them to choose you as a candidate.

  5. How To Start a Personal Statement in 5 Steps (With Tips)

    Personal mission, ethics or core values. Academic or professional goals. Volunteer or work experience. 2. Include relevant background information. After dividing the elements of your personal statement, you can write about your experience, accomplishments and any goals you have regarding your education.

  6. Personal Statement Format + Examples

    How to Start Your Personal Statement. We've seen plenty of strong essays that don't use a hook, so don't stress out or spend more time on this than on other, generally more important parts of your essay. ... I yanked the thousand-page crossword book off the shelf and sat beside her. While shopping the day before, the book had caught my ...

  7. How to Write a Strong Personal Statement

    Address the elephant in the room (if there is one). Maybe your grades weren't great in core courses, or perhaps you've never worked in the field you're applying to. Make sure to address the ...

  8. How to Write an Amazing Personal Statement (Includes Examples!)

    5. Use an authentic voice. Your personal statement reflects who you are, so you should use a tone that represents you. That means you shouldn't try to sound like someone else, and you shouldn't use fancy words just to show off. This isn't an academic paper, so you don't have to adopt a super formal tone.

  9. How to Write Your Personal Statement

    Strategy 1: Open with a concrete scene. An effective way to catch the reader's attention is to set up a scene that illustrates something about your character and interests. If you're stuck, try thinking about: A personal experience that changed your perspective. A story from your family's history.

  10. How to start a personal statement

    Make a plan. Prepare how you're going to write your personal statement before you begin any of the actual writing. Note down how you want to structure it and what you want to say in each paragraph. By summarising what you're going to write in a plan, you can assess whether your personal statement will flow and if you have all the things you ...

  11. How to Write a Personal Statement

    Watch out for cliches like "making a difference," "broadening my horizons," or "the best thing that ever happened to me." 3. Stay focused. Try to avoid getting off-track or including tangents in your personal statement. Stay focused by writing a first draft and then re-reading what you've written.

  12. How to Write a Personal Statement

    To help craft your personal statement, take advantage of these tips. Create a solid hook. To capture the attention of a selection committee, you can start your personal statement with a solid hook. A hook is a sentence or two at the beginning of your personal statement that compels the reader to continue reading.

  13. How to write an excellent personal statement in 10 steps

    Use your closing couple of lines to summarise the most important points in your statement. 9. Check your writing thoroughly and get someone else to check it, too. 10. Give your brain a rest by forgetting about your personal statement for a while before going back to review it one last time with fresh eyes.

  14. How To Write an Attention-Grabbing Personal Statement

    5. Expand on relevant skills, interests and experiences. In the next section of your personal statement, share details of your relevant experience, talents, and achievements. This is the main body of your personal statement and should include the following: Your experience: If you're applying for university, you can include any experience that ...

  15. How to Start a Personal Statement

    One of the keys for how to write a personal statement is to use your own voice while still remembering that you are speaking to a college admissions officer. As experts in how to write a great college essay know, avoid slang and spell out contractions for added formality. 3.

  16. How to Start Your Personal Statement

    Now for the 3 Key Do's for Starting a Personal Statement. Central to how you start your personal statement are these three Do's: Do be decisive; Do choose the right starting point; and; ... Need off-hours help? Contact information. Toll Free 877-454-4957 Outside US 832-464-5990 [email protected]. 1700 Post Oak Blvd

  17. How to Write a Personal Statement for Grad School: Tips & Samples

    Strike the right tone. While it's important to give readers a glimpse of your personality, avoid oversharing or revealing intimate details of your life experiences. You should also avoid making jokes or using humorous cliches. Maintain a professional tone throughout your writing. Start strong and finish strong.

  18. THE PERSONAL STATEMENT

    The Free Guide to Writing the Personal Statement. Kick things off with the two greatest brainstorming exercises ever, learn about options for structuring a personal statement + example outlines, check out some amazing example personal statements, and get on your way to writing your own killer personal statement for university applications.

  19. Personal Statements: Examples, Do's and Don'ts

    You should never use the same personal statement, when applying for multiple jobs you can use a similar statement for each, but it should be tailored to each individual role if possible. How to start a personal statement . Start your personal statement by introducing yourself and set the tone for the rest of your personal statement.

  20. 9 winning personal statement examples for a job

    Here are some examples of personal and professional statements: 1. Personal statement for a postgraduate programme. Joan David Personal statement for master's programme in Public Policy and Administration London School of Policy 'I held my first textbook when I was a 23-year-old undergraduate.

  21. How To Write A Personal Statement (With Examples)

    Key Takeaways: To write a personal statement, first brainstorm, then narrow down your ideas, and start with an intro that leads into your qualifications. Make sure to proofread your personal statement before submitting. Personal statements describe your interests, skills, and goals, with a particular focus on your passion.

  22. DOs and DON'Ts When Writing a Personal Statement

    2. DON'T address your weaknesses in the personal statement. Use an addendum.The personal statement should highlight the positives about you. 3. DON'T focus on your high school activities or accomplishments. Focusing on achievements in high school can draw attention to a lack of similar achievements in college. 4.

  23. How To Start a Personal Statement?

    The same regards to your personal statement. Think over your life experiences, important points that you want to mention, recollect your best achievements in studying and everyday routine. It all matters if you want to get an excellent essay. You can write down a list of the things you want to tell the admissions committee.

  24. How To Start A Personal Statement: An Expert View

    1 Make a Resource Document with Relevant Sections. The very first step when starting work on your personal statement is to create a single resource document. This can be in pages, word or in-app; whatever works best for you. All of your research, notes and writing will go into this one document, so make sure you're comfortable with the ...

  25. Statement of Purpose, Personal Statement, and Writing Sample

    Please also note that the Personal Statement should complement rather than duplicate the content provided in the Statement of Purpose. Visit Degree Programs and navigate to your degree program of interest to determine if a Personal Statement is required. The degree program pages will be updated by early September indicating if the Personal ...

  26. The Personal Statement Topics Ivy League Hopefuls Should Avoid

    1. The Trauma Dump. Many students overcome significant hurdles by the time they begin the college application process, and some assume that the grisliest and most traumatic stories will attract ...

  27. Bossy Husbands

    Bossy Husbands | FULL EPISODE | Dr. Phil What's a woman to do when her spouse is constantly standing over her shoulder and nitpicking everything she...

  28. When do student loan repayments start? Important dates to remember

    Here are some important dates you should remember. In a few weeks, student loan payments will come off a 3-1/2- year hiatus. How to talk money 🤑 America's Top Retailers Average net worth Best ...