The personal statement is distinct from the academic statement of purpose (see above for more details on the academic statement). The point of a personal statement is for us 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. While a statement of purpose focuses on your academic and career goals, as well as your past credentials, the personal statement is more about your life experiences and how they’ve shaped you and your journey to graduate school.

Here are some specific tips for crafting a strong personal statement:

Pick a few points to emphasize about yourself. Introduce yourself and select key factors about your background that you want us 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. This is a statement where you can put your academic record and experiences in context. One effective way to accomplish this is 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, or describe in detail how you have overcome challenges to become who you are today, or can be tomorrow.

Identify faculty as potential advisors . Demonstrate what attracted you to the program. If there is a specific faculty member that caught your attention, or another aspect of the program that greatly interests you, convey it. Listing faculty you are interested in working with ensures that your application will be reviewed by those faculty, and this is particularly important since offers are made by individual faculty.  

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.

Maintain a professional tone throughout your writing. Feel free to share personal details, but avoid oversharing and do not feel obliged to share more than you are comfortable with. 

Proofread. 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 and give advice about the statement’s structure and content,.