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Writing a Statement

Writing a personal statement helps clarify your personal qualities and your goals. The essay must be concise, reveal the qualities that identify you and reflect a strong sense of purpose. Most personal statements have length constraints.

Begin with an exercise in free-writing

  • Recall the powerful experiences or memories in your life
  • Highlight occasions when you felt the greatest accomplishment or pride in yourself
  • Identify the qualities about yourself that are distinctive
  • Identify people who have shaped your personal goals and direction in life
  • Describe the experiences and stories behind the accomplishments on your resume and reflect on how you have learned from these experiences
  • Use these stories to begin working on your personal statement. Ideally, a pattern or theme will emerge from your free-writing exercise that will help you choose the moments that are the most significant to you as a person and to your direction in life

Create a draft of your personal statement

  • Share the personal qualities of your identity, outlook and life experiences
  • Communicate how your goals were shaped by your experiences
  • Describe what led you to care or become passionate about your goals
  • Explain how you have prepared to meet these goals
  • Connect your goals to the scholarship opportunity and to the organization’s goals and vision
  • Tell good stories in which relevant details unfold seamlessly before the reader
  • Incorporate anecdotes and images into your writing
  • Resist restating your resume with a catalog of accomplishments
  • Create an essay within the required length or word constraints

Re-writing and editing

  • Every essay requires editing
  • Show your first draft to several readers
  • Allow sufficient time between your first and subsequent drafts to reflect on content and organization
  • Be critical; write and rewrite
  • Keep separate versions, in case you are not sure you want to omit something permanently
  • Edit multiple times and with multiple readers