Personal Statements

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A personal statement is an important part of your application to graduate school, fellowships, or other applications. The personal statement is the best way for an admissions committee to get an idea of who you are, so it might be the most important part of your application. While the MU Career Center does not offer reviews of personal statements, here are a few tips to help get you started.

Key Considerations

Research. Spend time researching a graduate program website to learn about how the program describes itself, states goals for the program and how it is unique from other programs of study.  You can then incorporate that information into your personal statement.

Focus on the questions. Pay attention to the information the school is seeking. Just because you wrote an amazing personal statement once does not mean you can use it for every application. Most of the time, applications will ask you specific questions, so make sure you answer those prompts in your personal statement.

Be yourself. Concentrate on what makes you different from other applicants. Are you passionate about a certain cause? Do you have special skills or training? Have you gone above and beyond in some way? Write about it!

Stay focused. Most of the time there is a word limit, so you need to focus on just two or three topics, and explain them thoroughly. Any more than that and your message might get lost.

Tell a story. The admissions committee will look at a lot of personal statements and you don’t want them to get bored. Every story has a beginning, middle, and end–tell the story of why you got interested in this field, or the story of how you had a great experience that makes you perfect for their program.

Proofread. This should go without saying, but check for grammar and spelling. And then check it again. And then have someone else check it. It’s important that this document not have any errors. It is the best representation of you, and you want it to be perfect!

Have several people read it. Start with the MU Writing Center as they can make sure you are on the right track. Other good options are having your advisor and/or a professor review it. They will know what personal statements look like in their field and can give you suggestions about what the admissions committee might be looking for.