A personal statement is a special type of essay that you typically write when applying to school or scholarship programs. Personal statements are an opportunity to share a little bit about who you are as you demonstrate that you're a good fit for a particular program.
Let's review moments when you might have to write a personal statement and then dive into examples of personal statements. Hopefully, these examples will light a fire that'll inspire you to write one of the greatest personal statements yet.
There are many different times in life when you might have to write a personal statement. For example:
An application to a gifted program at your school
An application for admission to college
An application for admission to graduate school
An application for admission to business school
An application for admission to law school
An application to teach ESL, demonstrating your philosophy of education
Sometimes, you'll be given a topic that your personal statement should address. In other cases, you'll simply be asked to talk about yourself or why you would be a good fit.
A common theme in personal statements is overcoming adversity. You can convey significant personal achievements while demonstrating your diversity too. You're not simply writing why you want to attend a certain program. You're explaining why they'd benefit from having someone like you in their program.
You may choose to begin with what influenced your decision to apply in the first place. Was it an important moment, a series of events, or a significant person in your life? Then, demonstrate how significant events in your life brought you here today. Close with what you hope to achieve after you've completed the program you're looking to enter.
Of course, one of the main goals is to explain why you're an ideal candidate. To do that, touch upon your beliefs and experiences. See if any of these examples relate to your life. Then, you can use them as a springboard to tell your own story.
For admission to a graduate program in education: "When I was a child, I always looked for role models, and my fourth-grade teacher stepped up as a very influential figure in my life. Mrs. Reilly took a personal interest in me. Her belief that I could be successful changed my entire life. I want to be able to provide other children with the same inspiration that I received many years ago."
For admission to a medical school program: "Doctors shape society and help it to grow. Healthcare is the most basic and fundamental human right. When I become a doctor, I will work to make sure no one is denied access to the healthcare they need."
For admission to a law school program: "My first encounter with the legal system was when my friend's parents were wrongfully evicted from their apartment. A lawyer helped them get their money back and return to their home. Beyond that, and perhaps more importantly, he gave them hope. I, too, want to pursue a noble profession that allows me to give the average person a voice within the legal system."
For admission to a particular college: "It has always been my dream to study journalism. Journalists share knowledge and help people make informed decisions about the world around them. It's well known that your university has one of the highest-rated Communications programs in the country. As such, there's no better place to pursue my passion, develop my skills, and, ultimately, shape the world we live in today."
Beyond sharing what brought you here today, you also want to illustrate why you're the right candidate. Consider what you've had to overcome in order to attend the program or school you're interested in. Or perhaps you have a unique perspective that would make you a valuable asset. See if any of these personal statement examples prompt you to recall an important person or experience in your life.
"As the first person in my family to have the opportunity to attend college, I will value every moment in your school because I know education opens an endless array of doors."
"As an immigrant who came to the United States when I was 15, I believe I have a unique perspective on social issues that will allow me to make valuable contributions in each of my classes."
"In my final year of college, I found myself facing homelessness. For a month, I lived out of my car, too ashamed to admit to anyone how far I'd fallen. Nevertheless, I maintained my internship at BET as well as my 3.98 GPA. Now, I live in a gorgeous studio in the heart of Manhattan and work as an executive producer on one of BET's hottest shows. I say all this to illustrate my ability to push forward and achieve great heights, even in the face of terrible adversity."
"My father was a strong man. He rose every morning at 5 a.m., commuted to the city for an 8 a.m. start, and returned home by 5 o'clock on the dime. He did all this to ensure he'd never miss an evening dinner with his family. When he retired, he confided in me that he dreaded 30 of his 33 years on the job. But, he pushed through because of the stability it provided for his home life. It was at that moment I vowed never to work a day in a job that doesn't suit me. My entrance into your program will assure the kind of life that I know my father would be proud of."
Tell your story and tell it with pride. Personal statements are meant to make the review board want to select you beyond any shadow of a doubt. Only you can tell your story. So, be sure to focus on three key components: why you want to attend, how you're supremely qualified, and how you'll go on to achieve greatness.