Tips for writing a personal statement essay

If you’re applying to undergraduate or graduate programs, you likely have to write a personal statement. This essay usually requires you to explain why you are applying for the particular program, but other than that the instructions do not offer much guidance. Here are a few tips to writing a quality statement:

Be specific. Do not try to explain your entire life up to this point. The admissions representative can find that information in the rest of the application. You must be very specific about why you are interested in this particular program and what you can use from your background to demonstrate your interest in it. Sell yourself – why is this program right for you and why are you right for the school?

Adhere to guidance. Pay attention to word limits and specific instructions (e.g., if the instructions ask you to identify the courses you intend to take, you must answer this within the essay).

Self-edit and ask a friend to edit. This is extremely important. If you have even one small mistake, it can send your application to the no pile and not even reach the admissions panel.

If you do not follow the school’s essay instructions, you run the risk of having your application thrown out after the admissions officer reads your application. Be smart and follow these tips. Best of luck!