Tips for Writing Your Personal Statement

Know the specifics

  • Research the award selection criteria on the program website before starting your personal statement.
  • Look if there are specific questions for the personal statement. If so, your statement should respond specifically to those questions.

Tell a story

  • You want to present a compelling snapshot of who you are, your priorities, your character and values, and the contributions you want to make.
  • Maintain focus; establish a consistent story line.

Use examples

  • Consider one or two concrete anecdotes that will help you focus and give a human face to your discussion.
  • What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today? How did you do so?
  • What motivates you to do what you do? Was there a specific instance, person, experience that drives your commitment?

Say what can’t be said anywhere else

  • Beware of merely stating your skills. Better to use a moment from your experience to show a number of the qualities you want to convey.
  • Don’t let your personal statement be a narrative resume. Instead, highlight and draw out elements of yourself as a person that might be implied by your other accomplishments, or that might make those accomplishments especially impressive.

Get feedback and revise

  • You want to keep working your statement until you recognize yourself in the essay. Is it you? Is it your best you? Is it honest? Does it implicitly reflect the goals and values of the foundation or award you are applying for?
  • Ask readers to tell you what they think the main point of your statement is – what stands out as the most interesting or salient point of your essay? Is that what you intended? If not, revise.