Other languages

  • The World’s Worst Personal Statement: Why It Fails and How to Fix It

my personal statement is too short

Writing a personal statement is never an easy thing to do, but some students fall so spectacularly short of the mark that their efforts can be a lesson to us all.

You should also read…

  • How to Choose the Right University for You
  • Common UCAS Personal Statement Issues and How to Resolve Them

Sometimes the easiest way to figure out how to write a personal statement is to look at someone else’s efforts and see how not to write one. In this article, we present to you a superbly bad (fictional) personal statement and show you just how many ways in which it misses the mark. We’ll also explain what our hapless fictional student should have done in order to write a personal statement that stands out for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.

The personal statement:

So what was wrong with it.

Let us count the ways!

1. The pretentious quote

Image shows a design for Cassandra Clare's 'Clockwork Angel' novel.

The personal statement opens with a pretentious-sounding quote, which, let’s face it, the student probably found from Googling “quotes about English literature”. It doesn’t even come from a great work of literature – it’s from a novel for young adults, which is unlikely to command the respect of the admissions tutors. The student then proceeds to say that this quote reflects their own “thirst for knowledge” (though they mistyped it as “thrist”) – but this doesn’t really relate to the quote at all. What’s more, starting with a quote is a bad idea anyway; it’s pompous, and the admissions tutors want to know what you have to say, not what someone else says.

2. The clichés, the controversial analogy and the Hungry Caterpillar

Image shows the eponymous caterpillar from The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

“Thirst for knowledge”. “From an early age”. The opening of this personal statement is littered with clichés that far too many students use and that admissions tutors have seen countless times before. This student goes a step further down the “loved reading from an early age” route by citing The Very Hungry Caterpillar as an early literary enjoyment. They probably think it sounds cute, but when said children’s book is a picture book with virtually no words, it’s hardly worth taking up valuable characters on a personal statement with. Later in the statement we hear clichés such as “one-trick pony”, “steely determination”, and even a rather embarrassing comparison between their determination to achieve the best grades in an essay and the determination of a hunter to slay an impressive beast. This singularly fails to impress in the way the student clearly wants it to. What’s more, you never know what the beliefs are of the person reading your statement, and it might turn out that they’re passionately against hunting – in which case this comparison with a hunter is going to go down especially badly.

3. Questionable motives

Image shows Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses.

The student’s mention of James Joyce’s Ulysses reveals a rather questionable motive for wanting to read it: to “show off one’s superior intelligence” in front of other people. This sounds major alarm bells. It’s hardly going to tell the admissions tutor that the student wants to study the subject because they have a deep interest in it; they’ll pick up from this that they want to study English for the wrong reasons .

4. Mentioning texts and writers with no comment on them

The student has name-dropped a few novels and poets, but offers no insight into why they are interested in them or what they’ve got out of reading them. The mention of Ulysses seems calculated to make them appear clever for reading such an advanced text, but the fact that they offer no commentary on it has the opposite effect. The same goes for later in the personal statement with the list of poets – a random jumble of poets, modern and older, with no explanation as to why they appeal (and they misspelt Seamus Heaney’s name!). It comes across as a list of poets whose names the student happened to be able to rattle off, without any thought put into it. As for the novels mentioned, these are three incredibly famous novels that virtually everyone has read and loved. Leaving aside the fact that they haven’t said why they like these novels, it doesn’t show much depth or academic pursuit of knowledge to name-drop three very famous novels rather than demonstrating interest in or knowledge of less well-known literature.

5. Naming the course and university

Image shows King's College, Cambridge, at sunset.

The student has committed a huge faux pas in naming the course and university for which they are applying. This reveals that the only university they’re interested in is Oxford. They’re unlikely to be applying for just this university, but they’ve immediately alienated admissions tutors from all the other universities they’ve almost certainly put on their UCAS form.

6. Jokes and slang

The student jokes that they are partly applying for Oxford because of G&D’s ice cream, a famous ice cream parlour in Oxford. Quite apart from the fact that they shouldn’t have mentioned Oxford in the first place, the use of humour in this way does the student no favours. To make matters worse, they then add “Jokes” in brackets. Slang is a big no-no in a personal statement, and when combined with an attempt at humour, it’s frankly disastrous.

7. Hollywood inspiration

The admissions tutors are not going to be impressed that the reason you decided to study English at university because your friends commented on your similarity to a character in a film.

8. Unnamed awards

The student attempts to indicate their talent for poetry, stating that they have “won quite a few awards” for their own poems. However, this claim is too vague to be impressive. Which awards were they? “Everyone says how good” the student’s poems are, but how many people have actually read them, and was it just the student’s parents and grandparents who were impressed by them? These statements would have more weight if the student named the exact awards they’ve won and who has deemed their poetry to be good.

9. Downton Abbey and history

Image shows graves from the First World War.

The student goes on to talk about their other academic interest: history. The only problem is, it seems a bit out of place in a personal statement for English, making one wonder whether they might also be applying for an English and History course elsewhere. To make matters worse, they talk about Downton Abbey as the inspiration for their love of history, and in particular their interest in the First World War, commenting on the fact that it’s the centenary of the start of the First World War. The latter is hardly an insightful comment, while the mere mention of Downton Abbey is enough to discredit the student’s supposed interest in history. What’s more, they go on to say how much they love history, that it’s their joint favourite subject with English, and that they’d love to study it at university. This is inevitably going to make English Literature admissions tutors question the student’s commitment to their subject. What if the student changes their mind and wants to switch to history? It’s a big warning sign against this student.

10. Bragging

Nobody likes people who brag. The student claims to be “best in their class” and someone who’d “fit right in at Oxford” (that name again!) – though, judging by the poor quality of their personal statement, one wonders whether this could possibly be true. Later, they casually drop in “when I’m not winning poetry competitions”, a flippant remark that smacks of arrogance.

11. Negativity about one of their grades

Image shows a woman walking down a street reading a book.

The student attempts to explain a less-than-perfect grade by laughing it off with a comment about reading and writing too much poetry. One can see what they were aiming for here: they wanted to show that they’re so enthusiastic about English Literature that they get carried away and can’t stop reading and writing. However, it’s not going to look good to an admissions tutor, who’ll see someone who is unable to juggle their workload or apply themselves to succeed in all their subjects. What’s more, the student doesn’t attempt to explain what they’re doing about the bad grade – for instance, they could be taking on extra history lessons to bring the grade up, but there’s no such reassurance in their statement.

12. Boring interests

The student gives their interests as “socialising with their mates and going to the cinema”, interests that are so universal and boring that they are not worth mentioning at all. The point of mentioning interests in a personal statement is to demonstrate that there’s more to you than your academic interests. Proper hobbies and so on show you to be a well-rounded person with a range of interests, and those interests help develop skills that you can’t learn in the classroom, and that make you a good person to have around.

13. An unexplained gap year

Image shows a boat on a sea.

The student ends on a rather dull note by stating that they are taking a gap year. However, there’s no explanation of what activities they have planned for this. This would have been a good place to highlight course-related activities planned for the year out, which would have made them more suitable for the course (such as embarking on a writing workshop). This was also a lacklustre way to end the statement; a couple of sentences summarising why they want to study the course and why they’re so suitable for it would have been a good closing remark.

14. The smiley face

They’ve tried to look friendly by putting a smiley face at the end. There’s only one word for this: don’t!

15. General shortfallings

Image shows a book with its pages forming the shape of a heart.

In addition to the specific faults outlined above, there were a few general shortfallings worth highlighting.

  • Poor grammar – such as “its” when they meant “it’s”, and even an instance of double exclamation marks.
  • Typos – “thrist for knowledge”, for example.
  • Not long enough – the statement uses 2,289 characters out of an available 4,000. If you have that many characters to play with, it makes sense to use them by demonstrating even more reasons why you should be given a place.
  • Odd spacing – mostly with one sentence per paragraph, perhaps to make it look longer than it really is.
  • Very little focus on why they want to study English – which is, after all, the entire point of the statement.

Overall, it felt that very little effort had gone into writing this personal statement, leaving one questioning the student’s commitment to the course. Now that you’ve seen a disastrous personal statement first-hand, you’ll have a better idea of how not to write yours. Good luck!

Image credits: banner ; caterpillar ;  Clockwork Angel ; Ulysses ; Cambridge ; WWI ; reading ; boat ; love .

my personal statement is too short

Last Minute Personal Statement Tips: Finish It Fast!

my personal statement is too short

We’ve all been there. Maybe you’ve been putting off writing a personal statement, or perhaps you’ve only just decided to apply for a course or job and the deadline is tomorrow.

Don’t worry. You can write a great last-minute personal statement from scratch today.   

A last-minute personal statement can be successful, even if rushed. Remember that admissions teams want to see evidence of your suitability and experience, skills and motivation. Focus on these elements, along with your value to an institution, and you’ll write a fast, effective application.

I’ve outlined the key steps to take below, along with some advice on who should be kept informed, how to write your personal statement in a single day and what to do if you think your personal statement is too short.

So, stop worrying and start reading…

my personal statement is too short

How do you Write a Last-Minute Personal Statement?

If you’ve just decided to write a personal statement and you’re up against the clock, follow these four steps to create a successful document in a short timeframe…

1 Make a List of Subject-Relevant Experiences and Achievements

Even if you haven’t done it consciously, you’ve almost certainly developed experiences that have prepared you well for your choice of course or role. Start by making a mind map or list of these, or grab a pack of sticky notes and cover your wall with ideas. 

Relevancy is vital, but examples might be:

  • Books you’ve read
  • Lectures, performances or videos you’ve seen
  • Subjects you’ve studied
  • Pending and achieved qualifications
  • Additional courses you’ve attended, IRL or online
  • Practical engagement

When you’ve got a list of specific experiences that have prepared you (even if you have to ‘work backwards’ to make them fit), prioritise them from most important to least. If you’ve got at least five, great, you’re on your way.

Eight is ideal, and ten is too many.

This is the first section of your last-minute personal statement.

my personal statement is too short

2 Think of Five Useful Skills and Where you Learned Them

Universities and employers love to see evidence of specific and transferable skills in your personal statement, as you’ll be expected to rely on these for independent study.

You can easily identify a range of skills without stretching the bounds of credibility.

There’s a great post on what these skills are and how you can use them to develop a successful personal statement here .

Once you’ve got your top five skills, with evidence of their value, write them up.

This is the second section of your last-minute personal statement.

3 Establish Three Reasons why you Want to Study the Subject

This is not always as easy as it appears, especially if your application is close to the deadline because you’ve only just made a decision about a particular subject or course.

Nonetheless, admissions officers will expect to see compelling reasons underpinning your application. In the case of an undergraduate application, you should write about your interest in the subject, not about your interest in studying at a specific university.

Postgraduate applications tend to be targeted to a specific institution, so you can write about your interest in both the subject and the institution.

Whether you are applying for a job or to study a specific subject, the same rule applies; take the time to do your research, even if you are writing a last-minute application. Your three reasons should reflect your knowledge of the subject or industry, be realistic and connect with the course content you are likely to encounter.

This is the third section of your last-minute personal statement.

4 What Will You Offer the University or Employer?

Your answer to this question becomes your final brief paragraph, ending your personal statement.

What you are trying to establish here is the level of value you will bring to the institution you are applying to. How will their community be enriched by having you in it?

You can check out my detailed post on great final personal statement paragraphs here , but to save time, you just need to write a single sentence that begins with…

“I look forward to positively contributing to your community by…”

Maybe you are a great peer mentor, or maybe you have life or industry experience of value to others.

Perhaps you will bring a dynamic and collaborative attitude, or maybe you’re a passionate advocate of student rights and aim to volunteer with pastoral services or the student union.

End by making clear exactly what makes you a great catch, compelling the reader to make you an offer.

So, that’s a rapid-fire strategy for writing a last-minute personal statement.

Don’t overthink it; just make those lists (you’ll notice they get shorter as you go through, with the bulk of the content in the first section) and then write them up so that they flow!

Keep Everyone Informed and up to Date

Even when you are working to meet a fast-approaching deadline, it is still important to keep everyone up to date with your progress. Although you might feel as though you are on your own, most applicants work with several individuals or organisations that play a part in their application.

It’s in your interest to make sure they know when to expect a personal statement, even if you’re a bit stressed or frustrated by your progress.

Who Needs to Know When You’re Ready to Submit a Personal Statement?

  • Your current school, college or employer
  • Your school or college tutor, counsellor, sponsor, agent or principal
  • Your referee(s)
  • The universities or employers you are applying to (especially if your application is late in the process)
  • Third-party agencies like UCAS or Common App
  • Parents, friends and other relevant personal support networks

Can You Write Your Personal Statement in One Day?

It’s entirely possible to write a complete personal statement in a single day. You should gather your resources together so that your sources are at hand, set up your workspace and clear the day of other distractions. You should also have completed course and subject research in advance.

my personal statement is too short

Mindset is important when you are planning to work fast. Here are my top five tips for getting into the zone when you are up against time:

  • Don’t doubt your instincts – if you don’t think something’s worth including, don’t include it.
  • Once you’ve written something that works, leave it alone and move on.
  • Don’t work so fast that you become disorganised. Complete one section or topic as fully as you can, then move on rather than bouncing around the document.
  • Don’t become distracted. You have one job to complete and one thing to focus on.
  • View the task as a positive opportunity to lay the foundations for the next phase of your life, not as a stressful obstacle to the future.

Once you are ready to go, break your day down in the following way:

If you’re editing and proofing in a rush, I would always use a tool like Grammarly for great results. The free version is intuitive and will help you nail spelling, punctuation and grammar fast. You can check Grammarly out here or hit the banner.

my personal statement is too short

Is my Personal Statement too Short?

A personal statement is too short if it runs to less than half of the available word or character count. Applicants are not usually penalised directly for submitting a short personal statement, but shorter statements will contain less compelling content and evidence your suitability less fully.

When you’re making a last-minute application, and you’re working fast, there is no need to worry that your personal statement may be too short. It’s far better to produce a shorter, well-written version than a longer, unedited one or to miss the deadline altogether.

my personal statement is too short

Good luck with your personal statement, and don’t forget to contact me if you’d like some 1-1 support. You’ve got this! D

Research and content verified by Personal Statement Planet .

David Hallen

I've worked in the Further Education and University Admissions sector for nearly 20 years as a teacher, department head, Head of Sixth Form, UCAS Admissions Advisor, UK Centre Lead and freelance personal statement advisor, editor and writer. And now I'm here for you...

Recent Posts

Postgraduate Personal Statement Example: Environmental Policy

Studying examples of personal statements can be a valuable strategy when applying to a university or college.  That’s because personal statement examples can teach you how to write and...

Postgraduate Personal Statement Example: Technology Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Examples of personal statements can be valuable to reference when applying to a university or college course.  That’s because personal statement examples can teach you how to write and...

Have a language expert improve your writing

Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.

  • Knowledge Base
  • Applying to graduate school
  • How to Write Your Personal Statement | Strategies & Examples

How to Write Your Personal Statement | Strategies & Examples

Published on February 12, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 3, 2023.

A personal statement is a short essay of around 500–1,000 words, in which you tell a compelling story about who you are, what drives you, and why you’re applying.

To write a successful personal statement for a graduate school application , don’t just summarize your experience; instead, craft a focused narrative in your own voice. Aim to demonstrate three things:

  • Your personality: what are your interests, values, and motivations?
  • Your talents: what can you bring to the program?
  • Your goals: what do you hope the program will do for you?

This article guides you through some winning strategies to build a strong, well-structured personal statement for a master’s or PhD application. You can download the full examples below.

Urban Planning Psychology History

Table of contents

Getting started with your personal statement, the introduction: start with an attention-grabbing opening, the main body: craft your narrative, the conclusion: look ahead, revising, editing, and proofreading your personal statement, frequently asked questions, other interesting articles.

Before you start writing, the first step is to understand exactly what’s expected of you. If the application gives you a question or prompt for your personal statement, the most important thing is to respond to it directly.

For example, you might be asked to focus on the development of your personal identity; challenges you have faced in your life; or your career motivations. This will shape your focus and emphasis—but you still need to find your own unique approach to answering it.

There’s no universal template for a personal statement; it’s your chance to be creative and let your own voice shine through. But there are strategies you can use to build a compelling, well-structured story.

The first paragraph of your personal statement should set the tone and lead smoothly into the story you want to tell.

Strategy 1: Open with a concrete scene

An effective way to catch the reader’s attention is to set up a scene that illustrates something about your character and interests. If you’re stuck, try thinking about:

  • A personal experience that changed your perspective
  • A story from your family’s history
  • A memorable teacher or learning experience
  • An unusual or unexpected encounter

To write an effective scene, try to go beyond straightforward description; start with an intriguing sentence that pulls the reader in, and give concrete details to create a convincing atmosphere.

Strategy 2: Open with your motivations

To emphasize your enthusiasm and commitment, you can start by explaining your interest in the subject you want to study or the career path you want to follow.

Just stating that it interests you isn’t enough: first, you need to figure out why you’re interested in this field:

  • Is it a longstanding passion or a recent discovery?
  • Does it come naturally or have you had to work hard at it?
  • How does it fit into the rest of your life?
  • What do you think it contributes to society?

Tips for the introduction

  • Don’t start on a cliche: avoid phrases like “Ever since I was a child…” or “For as long as I can remember…”
  • Do save the introduction for last. If you’re struggling to come up with a strong opening, leave it aside, and note down any interesting ideas that occur to you as you write the rest of the personal statement.

Once you’ve set up the main themes of your personal statement, you’ll delve into more detail about your experiences and motivations.

To structure the body of your personal statement, there are various strategies you can use.

Strategy 1: Describe your development over time

One of the simplest strategies is to give a chronological overview of key experiences that have led you to apply for graduate school.

  • What first sparked your interest in the field?
  • Which classes, assignments, classmates, internships, or other activities helped you develop your knowledge and skills?
  • Where do you want to go next? How does this program fit into your future plans?

Don’t try to include absolutely everything you’ve done—pick out highlights that are relevant to your application. Aim to craft a compelling narrative that shows how you’ve changed and actively developed yourself.

My interest in psychology was first sparked early in my high school career. Though somewhat scientifically inclined, I found that what interested me most was not the equations we learned about in physics and chemistry, but the motivations and perceptions of my fellow students, and the subtle social dynamics that I observed inside and outside the classroom. I wanted to learn how our identities, beliefs, and behaviours are shaped through our interactions with others, so I decided to major in Social Psychology. My undergraduate studies deepened my understanding of, and fascination with, the interplay between an individual mind and its social context.During my studies, I acquired a solid foundation of knowledge about concepts like social influence and group dynamics, but I also took classes on various topics not strictly related to my major. I was particularly interested in how other fields intersect with psychology—the classes I took on media studies, biology, and literature all enhanced my understanding of psychological concepts by providing different lenses through which to look at the issues involved.

Strategy 2: Own your challenges and obstacles

If your path to graduate school hasn’t been easy or straightforward, you can turn this into a strength, and structure your personal statement as a story of overcoming obstacles.

  • Is your social, cultural or economic background underrepresented in the field? Show how your experiences will contribute a unique perspective.
  • Do you have gaps in your resume or lower-than-ideal grades? Explain the challenges you faced and how you dealt with them.

Don’t focus too heavily on negatives, but use them to highlight your positive qualities. Resilience, resourcefulness and perseverance make you a promising graduate school candidate.

Growing up working class, urban decay becomes depressingly familiar. The sight of a row of abandoned houses does not surprise me, but it continues to bother me. Since high school, I have been determined to pursue a career in urban planning. While people of my background experience the consequences of urban planning decisions first-hand, we are underrepresented in the field itself. Ironically, given my motivation, my economic background has made my studies challenging. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a scholarship for my undergraduate studies, but after graduation I took jobs in unrelated fields to help support my parents. In the three years since, I have not lost my ambition. Now I am keen to resume my studies, and I believe I can bring an invaluable perspective to the table: that of the people most impacted by the decisions of urban planners.

Strategy 3: Demonstrate your knowledge of the field

Especially if you’re applying for a PhD or another research-focused program, it’s a good idea to show your familiarity with the subject and the department. Your personal statement can focus on the area you want to specialize in and reflect on why it matters to you.

  • Reflect on the topics or themes that you’ve focused on in your studies. What draws you to them?
  • Discuss any academic achievements, influential teachers, or other highlights of your education.
  • Talk about the questions you’d like to explore in your research and why you think they’re important.

The personal statement isn’t a research proposal , so don’t go overboard on detail—but it’s a great opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the field and your capacity for original thinking.

In applying for this research program, my intention is to build on the multidisciplinary approach I have taken in my studies so far, combining knowledge from disparate fields of study to better understand psychological concepts and issues. The Media Psychology program stands out to me as the perfect environment for this kind of research, given its researchers’ openness to collaboration across diverse fields. I am impressed by the department’s innovative interdisciplinary projects that focus on the shifting landscape of media and technology, and I hope that my own work can follow a similarly trailblazing approach. More specifically, I want to develop my understanding of the intersection of psychology and media studies, and explore how media psychology theories and methods might be applied to neurodivergent minds. I am interested not only in media psychology but also in psychological disorders, and how the two interact. This is something I touched on during my undergraduate studies and that I’m excited to delve into further.

Strategy 4: Discuss your professional ambitions

Especially if you’re applying for a more professionally-oriented program (such as an MBA), it’s a good idea to focus on concrete goals and how the program will help you achieve them.

  • If your career is just getting started, show how your character is suited to the field, and explain how graduate school will help you develop your talents.
  • If you have already worked in the profession, show what you’ve achieved so far, and explain how the program will allow you to take the next step.
  • If you are planning a career change, explain what has driven this decision and how your existing experience will help you succeed.

Don’t just state the position you want to achieve. You should demonstrate that you’ve put plenty of thought into your career plans and show why you’re well-suited to this profession.

One thing that fascinated me about the field during my undergraduate studies was the sheer number of different elements whose interactions constitute a person’s experience of an urban environment. Any number of factors could transform the scene I described at the beginning: What if there were no bus route? Better community outreach in the neighborhood? Worse law enforcement? More or fewer jobs available in the area? Some of these factors are out of the hands of an urban planner, but without taking them all into consideration, the planner has an incomplete picture of their task. Through further study I hope to develop my understanding of how these disparate elements combine and interact to create the urban environment. I am interested in the social, psychological and political effects our surroundings have on our lives. My studies will allow me to work on projects directly affecting the kinds of working-class urban communities I know well. I believe I can bring my own experiences, as well as my education, to bear upon the problem of improving infrastructure and quality of life in these communities.

Tips for the main body

  • Don’t rehash your resume by trying to summarize everything you’ve done so far; the personal statement isn’t about listing your academic or professional experience, but about reflecting, evaluating, and relating it to broader themes.
  • Do make your statements into stories: Instead of saying you’re hard-working and self-motivated, write about your internship where you took the initiative to start a new project. Instead of saying you’ve always loved reading, reflect on a novel or poem that changed your perspective.

Your conclusion should bring the focus back to the program and what you hope to get out of it, whether that’s developing practical skills, exploring intellectual questions, or both.

Emphasize the fit with your specific interests, showing why this program would be the best way to achieve your aims.

Strategy 1: What do you want to know?

If you’re applying for a more academic or research-focused program, end on a note of curiosity: what do you hope to learn, and why do you think this is the best place to learn it?

If there are specific classes or faculty members that you’re excited to learn from, this is the place to express your enthusiasm.

Strategy 2: What do you want to do?

If you’re applying for a program that focuses more on professional training, your conclusion can look to your career aspirations: what role do you want to play in society, and why is this program the best choice to help you get there?

Tips for the conclusion

  • Don’t summarize what you’ve already said. You have limited space in a personal statement, so use it wisely!
  • Do think bigger than yourself: try to express how your individual aspirations relate to your local community, your academic field, or society more broadly. It’s not just about what you’ll get out of graduate school, but about what you’ll be able to give back.

You’ll be expected to do a lot of writing in graduate school, so make a good first impression: leave yourself plenty of time to revise and polish the text.

Your style doesn’t have to be as formal as other kinds of academic writing, but it should be clear, direct and coherent. Make sure that each paragraph flows smoothly from the last, using topic sentences and transitions to create clear connections between each part.

Don’t be afraid to rewrite and restructure as much as necessary. Since you have a lot of freedom in the structure of a personal statement, you can experiment and move information around to see what works best.

Finally, it’s essential to carefully proofread your personal statement and fix any language errors. Before you submit your application, consider investing in professional personal statement editing . For $150, you have the peace of mind that your personal statement is grammatically correct, strong in term of your arguments, and free of awkward mistakes.

A statement of purpose is usually more formal, focusing on your academic or professional goals. It shouldn’t include anything that isn’t directly relevant to the application.

A personal statement can often be more creative. It might tell a story that isn’t directly related to the application, but that shows something about your personality, values, and motivations.

However, both types of document have the same overall goal: to demonstrate your potential as a graduate student and s how why you’re a great match for the program.

The typical length of a personal statement for graduate school applications is between 500 and 1,000 words.

Different programs have different requirements, so always check if there’s a minimum or maximum length and stick to the guidelines. If there is no recommended word count, aim for no more than 1-2 pages.

If you’re applying to multiple graduate school programs, you should tailor your personal statement to each application.

Some applications provide a prompt or question. In this case, you might have to write a new personal statement from scratch: the most important task is to respond to what you have been asked.

If there’s no prompt or guidelines, you can re-use the same idea for your personal statement – but change the details wherever relevant, making sure to emphasize why you’re applying to this specific program.

If the application also includes other essays, such as a statement of purpose , you might have to revise your personal statement to avoid repeating the same information.

If you want to know more about college essays , academic writing , and AI tools , make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

College essays

  • College essay examples
  • College essay format
  • College essay style
  • College essay length
  • Diversity essays
  • Scholarship essays

Academic writing

  • Writing process
  • Avoiding repetition
  • Literature review
  • Conceptual framework
  • Dissertation outline
  • Thesis acknowledgements
  • Burned or burnt
  • Canceled or cancelled
  • Dreamt or dreamed
  • Gray or grey
  • Theater vs theatre

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, July 03). How to Write Your Personal Statement | Strategies & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved March 12, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/graduate-school/personal-statement/

Is this article helpful?

Shona McCombes

Shona McCombes

Other students also liked, how to write a graduate school resume | template & example, how (and who) to ask for a letter of recommendation, master's vs phd | a complete guide to the differences.

my personal statement is too short

Explore your training options in 10 minutes Get Started

  • Graduate Stories
  • Partner Spotlights
  • Bootcamp Prep
  • Bootcamp Admissions
  • University Bootcamps
  • Coding Tools
  • Software Engineering
  • Web Development
  • Data Science
  • Tech Guides
  • Tech Resources
  • Career Advice
  • Online Learning
  • Internships
  • Apprenticeships
  • Tech Salaries
  • Associate Degree
  • Bachelor's Degree
  • Master's Degree
  • University Admissions
  • Best Schools
  • Certifications
  • Bootcamp Financing
  • Higher Ed Financing
  • Scholarships
  • Financial Aid
  • Best Coding Bootcamps
  • Best Online Bootcamps
  • Best Web Design Bootcamps
  • Best Data Science Bootcamps
  • Best Technology Sales Bootcamps
  • Best Data Analytics Bootcamps
  • Best Cybersecurity Bootcamps
  • Best Digital Marketing Bootcamps
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Browse All Locations
  • Digital Marketing
  • Machine Learning
  • See All Subjects
  • Bootcamps 101
  • Full-Stack Development
  • Career Changes
  • View all Career Discussions
  • Mobile App Development
  • Cybersecurity
  • Product Management
  • UX/UI Design
  • What is a Coding Bootcamp?
  • Are Coding Bootcamps Worth It?
  • How to Choose a Coding Bootcamp
  • Best Online Coding Bootcamps and Courses
  • Best Free Bootcamps and Coding Training
  • Coding Bootcamp vs. Community College
  • Coding Bootcamp vs. Self-Learning
  • Bootcamps vs. Certifications: Compared
  • What Is a Coding Bootcamp Job Guarantee?
  • How to Pay for Coding Bootcamp
  • Ultimate Guide to Coding Bootcamp Loans
  • Best Coding Bootcamp Scholarships and Grants
  • Education Stipends for Coding Bootcamps
  • Get Your Coding Bootcamp Sponsored by Your Employer
  • GI Bill and Coding Bootcamps
  • Tech Intevriews
  • Our Enterprise Solution
  • Connect With Us
  • Publication
  • Reskill America
  • Partner With Us

Career Karma

  • Resource Center
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Master’s Degree

How Long Should a Personal Statement Be: Writing a Strong Personal Statement

As part of your applications to graduate schools, you will need to write a personal statement. But what is a personal statement? What should you write about? And more importantly, how long should a personal statement be?

A personal statement is important because it allows you to make sure your application stands out from others. It will allow you to show off your biggest achievements in life and what you consider to be your best attributes.

Find your bootcamp match

Explore the below tips to learn how to write a strong personal statement and what length you should keep your personal statement at.

What Is a Personal Statement?

Woman biting a pencil and looking at personal statement examples on a laptop screen.

A personal statement is an essay explaining your reasons for wanting to enter the coding bootcamp , four-year program, or graduate program you are applying for. It is your chance to tell the school who you are and how you became interested in your field. 

In your personal statement, you should show your passion for the subject and motivation behind applying for the program. There should also be an emphasis on storytelling. Schools typically require applicants to write about challenges in their lives and how they have overcome them.

Maybe you are choosing a program that does not align with your previous education, or maybe you do not have specific work experience related to the field. In this case, a personal statement will help you emphasize your strengths and show why you belong in the program.

How Long Should a Personal Statement Be?

It is best to focus on the message you are delivering in the essay rather than the length. Requirements for the length of a personal essay may vary depending on the school to which you are applying. Typically, colleges and coding bootcamps ask for a word count of about 200 to 500.

How Long Should a Personal Statement Be for College?

While you won’t run into this often, you may find the occasional college application to a four-year school that requires a personal statement. If your ideal college requires a personal statement as part of the college application, you should plan on writing around 500 words. 

During the application process, you will likely find out the personal statement word limit set by your school. It is important to double-check the requirements set forth by your ideal college because 500 words is simply a ballpark number. Some schools may require shorter or longer essays.

How Long Should a Personal Statement Be for Grad School?

If you are working on a statement for graduate school applications, you can expect to write a bit more than you would for a four-year college. Typically, a grad school application requires a personal statement that is around two to three pages in length.

A personal statement for graduate school is also a bit more serious than one for a four-year college. You’ll notice the entire grad school application requires more application materials in general, like a cover letter . That means you will need to work extra hard to avoid awkward sentences, punctuation errors, and exceeding or not meeting the required length for your personal statement letter.

What Are Schools Looking for in a Personal Statement?

Through a personal statement, schools are trying to get to know you on a deeper level. It is important to include a story about yourself in your statement. It should be related to your personal failures and triumphs. 

All the experiences you write about should also be related to your field of study. It’s a good idea to avoid opening your essay with a quote and try not to use cliches or get too creative. You still want to come across as a professional, serious applicant.

The admissions committee will also be looking for your inspiration behind entering your chosen field. They will want to know what made you interested in the specialization. While explaining your interests, do not make the mistake of going back to the beginning of your life, or even to high school. Avoid starting your statements with “I fell in love with …. When I was 8.”

The school will want to find out what personally motivated you to apply. Be honest in your statement and explain why it is an appropriate step on your educational path, and how it will help you achieve your future career goals.

Of course, strong writing skills are crucial to a strong essay. A successful personal statement will show that you can write coherently. Make sure you use correct grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. Ask a couple of family members, friends, or former professors to proofread your essay when you feel you are finished.

There are five universal traits that most schools will be looking for you to demonstrate in your essay:

  • Punctuality
  • Ability to work independently
  • Good communication skills
  • Time management abilities
  • Determination and perseverance

How to Start Off a Personal Statement

Woman looking at a laptop screen, taking notes, and learning how to start off a personal statement.

If you want to submit a stand-out personal statement letter with your college application, you’ll want to know exactly how to start off a personal statement. The opening sentence is incredibly important to your personal statement essay, as it needs to be clean, clear, and eye-catching.

Throughout each application cycle, the college admissions team will see hundreds of personal statements. Many applicants open their letters with a quote, and while this is not a bad idea, it has become generic. Try starting your personal statement off with a quick and interesting anecdote about a valuable experience that has impacted your desire to enroll in the program.

Any sort of life experience or challenging experience you can think of related to your field of study should go into the essay as early as possible. That being said, don’t cram in all of the relevant experiences you can think of in the first paragraph. If you find yourself doing this, try adding an extra paragraph to your opener.

A killer personal statement should also allude to a few personal characteristics that fit with the field of study. For example, in the law, medical, and philanthropic fields, you may want to start off your personal statement with a quick anecdote about a life experience that displays your ability to logically help others.

How to Start Off a Personal Statement: A Sample

The following sample is tailored to a student applying for medical school:

In 2016, I spent one month in rural Haiti volunteering at a hospital. This was an extremely challenging experience for me, as I saw many people in need of critical healthcare that simply was not available to them. However, it was this experience that helped me decide I wanted to attend medical school and study to become a doctor. 

I quickly learned to separate my logical self from my emotional self so that I could help people receive treatment as quickly and efficiently as possible, while also providing reassurance and bedside company to those who needed it.

Writing a Personal Statement Step-by-Step

Writing a personal statement can be challenging. On top of having to explain all of your strengths in one short essay, you will also need to follow the rules and have no grammatical errors. Here are eight steps to take when writing a personal statement:

1. Start Early

Start the process a couple of months before your application is due. Personal statements take a lot of work, especially if you are also balancing other commitments in your life. Setting aside extra time means you will not have to squeeze in hours of work at the last minute. Starting early also allows for careful planning to ensure everything down to the sentence structure is perfect in your finished application essay.

2. Read the Requirements Thoroughly

It is very important to make sure that you understand the instructions fully. Your program will give the information as to what content your statement should focus on, how long it should be, and even how to save your essay.

Venus profile photo

"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"

Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot

Some colleges are very specific and will give you a character limit for your piece of writing, while others will be much more relaxed. If you have trouble finding the personal statement instructions, try reaching out to your school’s admissions staff.

3. Brainstorm Ideas

Brainstorm topics you would like to discuss. Common topics for this essay include extracurricular activities , a compelling story, and concrete examples of why you are one of the most qualified students for the program. 

This can give you a better shot at admissions by separating you from the other numerous candidates. Figure out how you will present your goals, what the program means to you, and why you are interested in it.

4. Make an Outline

Create a chart or a list of the things you plan to mention in your essay and the order you would like to discuss them. This is the time to develop your personal statement structure. You can find inspiration for your own essay by looking at personal statement examples online.

5. Draft Your Essay

Now, begin writing your admission essay. When you enter this stage, it is entirely okay to write down anything that seems relevant. While you continue to draft, you can take out parts that seem unnecessary. An admission tutor would be very helpful during the actual writing process and can help you become the perfect candidate.

6. Get Feedback

Allow people you trust to read your essay and provide feedback. They will see your writing with fresh eyes and tell you what needs to be fixed. Discussing your essay with people who have read it will help you improve your writing.

7. Edit Your Essay

Now that you have feedback, you will be able to revise and edit your statement based on the responses of people you trust. Look out for sentences with unnecessary information. Personal statements are intended to be short, so if one sentence is not essential, take it out. You can even send your essay to a personal statement editing service.

8. Proofread 

The last step is to proofread, a lot. Make use of your computer’s spellchecker, Grammarly, and any other resources available to you. Proofread one sentence at a time. Then, allow others to proofread your final draft. If they see a problem, go back one step, then proofread again.

How Long Should a Personal Statement Be FAQ

Typically, personal statements are double-spaced. You may find a college requiring single-spaced personal statements, but unless it is clearly stated, double-spaced is a safe option. If you are really unsure, reach out to your admissions office for guidance.

If your personal statement is too long, review it and remove any information that is not 100 percent necessary. Unless a sentence is providing clear, important information about you as a candidate for the program, it should be removed. You can look up personal statement examples to get a better idea of how yours should be.

Avoid saying anything in your personal statement that is negative or braggy, or that takes the focus away from you. Many students complain about past educational experiences, but if you do this, you will likely have a harder time being accepted into the program. You want to describe positive personal experiences you have had but aim to do so without bragging about yourself.

It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to write a personal statement. It primarily depends on how far in advance you plan your essay, your writing style, and how much time you put into editing and reviewing. Taking some extra time to write this statement is never a bad idea.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication .

What's Next?


Get matched with top bootcamps

Ask a question to our community, take our careers quiz.

Jamie Akenberger

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


What are your chances of acceptance?

Calculate for all schools, your chance of acceptance.

Duke University

Your chancing factors


my personal statement is too short

How Long Should Your College Essay Be? What Is the Ideal Length?

What’s covered: , personal statement length vs. supplemental essay length, are college essay word limits hard, what if a college essay word count isn’t given, what if you need to submit a graded paper, where to get your essays edited.

Students often spend hours agonizing over the best topics for their college essays. While it’s natural to wonder whether your personal statement is original or compelling enough, there’s one aspect of the process that shouldn’t cause you undue stress—how many words should a college essay be? Fortunately, with a little research, you can uncover the ideal college essay length for all your applications.

Unlike high school assignments, which typically have a strict page requirement, most colleges provide a word limit or word range for their application essays. This practice helps ensure that essays are the same length regardless of font or formatting. A good guideline is that students should strive to get as close as possible to the upper limit of the word range without exceeding it. Keep reading to learn more about best practices for college essay length.

How many words should a college essay be? Personal statements are generally 500-650 words. For example, the Common Application , which can be used to apply to more than 800 colleges, requires an essay ranging from 250-650 words . Similarly, the Coalition Application , which has 150 member schools, features an essay with a recommended length of 500-650 words.

650 words is the most common limit for your personal statement, but some schools may ask students to write more or less. For example, ApplyTexas , a platform used to apply to Texas public universities and other select colleges, requests essays with requirements that vary by school. For example, students applying to UT Austin will need to submit an essay of 500-700 words, along with three short-answer questions of 250-300 words each.

On the other hand, the University of California (UC) application includes a Personal Insight section with eight prompts . Students are asked to respond to any four of these prompts, with each response topping out at 350 words.

Additionally, some schools request a few supplemental essays, which are typically shorter than a personal statement. These questions are designed to gain more information about a student’s interests and abilities, and may include topics like your reasons for wanting to attend their school, your desired major, or your favorite activity.

Most schools require 1-3 supplemental essays, though some may require more or none at all (see our list of top colleges without supplemental essays ). These essays tend to be around 250 words, but some may be just as long as your main essay. For example, Cornell requires applicants to write a second supplemental essay (of 650 words max) that is specific to the program they’re applying to. The exception to this is the Cornell College of Engineering, for which applicants are required to compose two supplemental essays of 250 words max each.

For best results, keep your essays within the word range provided. While you don’t have to hit the count exactly, you should aim to stay within a 10% difference of the upper limit—without including fluff or filler. For example, if the school requests 500 words, try to ensure that your essay is between 450 and 500 words.

For the Common App, try to stay within 550-650 words, even though the given range is 250-650. Any submission shorter than 500 words will make it look as though you simply didn’t care enough to give your best effort. An essay shorter than 500 words won’t be long enough to truly share who you are and what matters to you.

Exceeding the word count isn’t an option—the application portal cuts off anything over the maximum number of allowed words. This is something you want to be particularly careful of if you’re drafting your essay in a Word or Google document and pasting it into the application.

Although most schools provide applicants with a specific word count, some offer more general guidelines. For example, a college may ask for a particular number of pages or paragraphs.

If you aren’t given a word count, try to adhere to the best practices and conventions of writing. Avoid writing especially short or overly long paragraphs—250 words per paragraph is generally a safe upper limit. If you’re asked to write a certain number of pages, single- or double-spaced, stick to a standard font and font size (like 12-point Times New Roman).

In the event that the college doesn’t offer any guidelines at all, aim for an essay length of around 500 words.

While essays are the most commonly requested writing sample, some colleges ask for additional pieces of content. For example, Princeton University requires students to submit a previously graded paper for evaluation .

Princeton offers guidelines that cover length, but if another school requests an old paper and doesn’t offer length requirements, a paper ranging from 3-5 pages should yield the best results. The goal is to select a paper long enough to showcase your writing skills and unique voice, but short enough that the admissions officer doesn’t get bored reading it.

Is your essay effective while staying within the required word count? It’s hard to evaluate your own writing, especially after rereading it numerous times. CollegeVine’s free Peer Essay Review provides an opportunity to have your essay reviewed by a fellow student, for free. Similarly, you can help other students by reviewing their essays—this is a great way to refine your own writing skills.

Expert advice is also available. CollegeVine’s advisors are prepared to help you perfect your personal statement and submit a successful application to your top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

my personal statement is too short

  • Search All Scholarships
  • Exclusive Scholarships
  • Easy Scholarships to Apply For
  • No Essay Scholarships
  • Scholarships for HS Juniors
  • Scholarships for HS Seniors
  • Scholarships for College Students
  • Scholarships for Grad Students
  • Scholarships for Women
  • Scholarships for Black Students
  • Scholarships
  • Student Loans
  • College Admissions
  • Financial Aid
  • Scholarship Winners
  • Scholarship Providers

my personal statement is too short

Apply to vetted scholarship programs in one click

Student-centric advice and objective recommendations.

Higher education has never been more confusing or expensive. Our goal is to help you navigate the very big decisions related to higher ed with objective information and expert advice. Each piece of content on the site is original, based on extensive research, and reviewed by multiple editors, including a subject matter expert. This ensures that all of our content is up-to-date, useful, accurate, and thorough.

Our reviews and recommendations are based on extensive research, testing, and feedback. We may receive commission from links on our website, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. You can find a complete list of our partners here .

How to Write an Amazing Personal Statement (Includes Examples!)

my personal statement is too short

Lisa Freedland is a Scholarships360 writer with personal experience in psychological research and content writing. She has written content for an online fact-checking organization and has conducted research at the University of Southern California as well as the University of California, Irvine. Lisa graduated from the University of Southern California in Fall 2021 with a degree in Psychology.

Learn about our editorial policies

Zach Skillings is the Scholarships360 Newsletter Editor. He specializes in college admissions and strives to answer important questions about higher education. When he’s not contributing to Scholarships360, Zach writes about travel, music, film, and culture. His work has been published in Our State Magazine, Ladygunn Magazine, The Nocturnal Times, and The Lexington Dispatch. Zach graduated from Elon University with a degree in Cinema and Television Arts.

my personal statement is too short

Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

my personal statement is too short

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

How to Write an Amazing Personal Statement (Includes Examples!)

The personal statement. It’s one of the most important parts of the entire college application process. This essay is the perfect opportunity to show admissions officers who you are and what makes you stand out from the crowd. But writing a good personal statement isn’t exactly easy. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide on how to nail your personal statement, complete with example essays . Each essay was reviewed and commented upon by admissions expert Bill Jack. Let’s dive in!

Related: How to write an essay about yourself  

What is a personal statement? 

A personal statement is a special type of essay that’s required when you’re applying to colleges and scholarship programs. In this essay, you’re expected to share something about who you are and what you bring to the table. Think of it as a chance to reveal a side of yourself not found in the rest of your application. Personal statements are typically around 400 – 600 words in length. 

What can I write about? 

Pretty much anything, as long as it’s about you . While this is liberating in the sense that your writing options are nearly unlimited, it’s also overwhelming for the same reason. The good news is that you’ll probably be responding to a specific prompt. Chances are you’re applying to a school that uses the Common App , which means you’ll have seven prompts to choose from . Reviewing these prompts can help generate some ideas, but so can asking yourself meaningful questions. 

Below you’ll find a list of questions to ask yourself during the brainstorming process. For each of the following questions, spend a few minutes jotting down whatever comes to mind. 

  • What experiences have shaped who you are? 
  • What’s special or unique about you or your life story? 
  • Who or what has inspired you the most? 
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of? 
  • What are your goals for the future? How have you arrived at those goals? 
  • If your life was a movie, what would be the most interesting scene? 
  • What have been some of the biggest challenges in your life? How did you respond and what did you learn? 

The purpose of these questions is to prompt you to think about your life at a deeper level. Hopefully by reflecting on them, you’ll find an essay topic that is impactful and meaningful. In the next section, we’ll offer some advice on actually writing your essay. 

Also see:  How to write a 500 word essay

How do I write my personal statement? 

Once you’ve found a topic, it’s time to start writing! Every personal statement is different, so there’s not really one formula that works for every student. That being said, the following tips should get you started in the right direction:  

1. Freewrite, then rewrite 

The blank page tends to get more intimidating the longer you stare at it, so it’s best to go ahead and jump right in! Don’t worry about making the first draft absolutely perfect. Instead, just get your ideas on the page and don’t spend too much time thinking about the finer details. Think of this initial writing session as a “brain dump”. Take 15-30 minutes to quickly empty all your thoughts onto the page without worrying about things like grammar, spelling, or sentence structure. You can even use bullet points if that helps. Once you have your ideas on the page, then you can go back and shape them exactly how you want. 

2. Establish your theme 

Now that you’ve got some basic ideas down on the page, it’s time to lock in on a theme. Your theme is a specific angle that reflects the central message of your essay. It can be summarized in a sentence or even a word. For example, let’s say you’re writing about how you had to establish a whole new group of friends when you moved to a new city. The theme for this type of essay would probably be something like “adaptation”. Having a theme will help you stay focused throughout your essay. Since you only have a limited number of words, you can’t afford to go off on tangents that don’t relate to your theme. 

3. Tell a story

A lot of great essays rely on a specific scene or story. Find the personal anecdote relevant to your theme and transfer it to the page. The best way to do this is by using descriptive language. Consult the five senses as you’re setting the scene. What did you see, hear, taste, touch, or smell? How were you feeling emotionally? Using descriptive language can really help your essay come to life. According to UPchieve , a nonprofit that supports low income students, focusing on a particular moment as a “ revised version of a memoir ” is one way to keep readers engaged. 

Related: College essay primer: show, don’t tell  

4. Focus on your opening paragraph

Your opening paragraph should grab your reader’s attention and set the tone for the rest of your essay. In most cases, this is the best place to include your anecdote (if you have one). By leading with your personal story, you can hook your audience from the get-go. After telling your story, you can explain why it’s important to who you are. 

Related:  How to start a scholarship essay (with examples)

5. Use an authentic voice 

Your personal statement reflects who you are, so you should use a tone that represents you. That means you shouldn’t try to sound like someone else, and you shouldn’t use fancy words just to show off. This isn’t an academic paper, so you don’t have to adopt a super formal tone. Instead, write in a way that allows room for your personality to breathe. 

6. Edit, edit, edit…

Once you’re done writing, give yourself some time away from the essay. Try to allow a few days to pass before looking at the essay again with fresh eyes. This way, you’re more likely to pick up on spelling and grammatical errors. You may even get some new ideas and rethink the way you wrote some things. Once you’re satisfied, let someone else edit your essay. We recommend asking a teacher, parent, or sibling for their thoughts before submitting. 

Examples of personal statements 

Sometimes viewing someone else’s work is the best way to generate inspiration and get the creative juices flowing. The following essays are written in response to four different Common App prompts: 

Prompt 1: “Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”

When I was eight years old, I wanted a GameCube very badly. For weeks I hounded my dad to buy me one and finally he agreed. But there was a catch. He’d only get me a GameCube if I promised to start reading. Every day I played video games, I would have to pick up a book and read for at least one hour. At that point in my life, reading was just something I had to suffer through for school assignments. To read for pleasure seemed ludicrous. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about this proposed agreement. But I figured anything was worth it to get my hands on that shiny new video game console, so I bit the bullet and shook my dad’s hand. Little did I know that I had just made a life-changing deal. 

At first, the required hour of reading was a chore — something I had to do so I could play Mario Kart. But it quickly turned into something more than that. To my complete and utter surprise, I discovered that I actually enjoyed reading. One hour turned into two, two turned into three, and after a while I was spending more time reading than I was playing video games. I found myself captivated by the written word, and I read everything I could get my hands on. Lord of the Rings , Percy Jackson , Goosebumps — you name it. I was falling in love with literature, while my GameCube was accumulating dust in the TV stand. 

Soon enough, reading led to writing. I was beginning to come up with my own stories, so I put pen to paper and let my imagination run wild. It started out small. My first effort was a rudimentary picture book about a friendly raccoon who went to the moon. But things progressed. My stories became more intricate, my characters more complex. I wrote a series of science fiction novellas. I tried my hand at poetry. I was amazed at the worlds I could create with the tip of my pen. I had dreams of becoming an author. 

Then somewhere along the way my family got a subscription to Netflix, and that completely changed the way I thought about storytelling. My nose had been buried in books up until then, so I hadn’t really seen a lot of movies. That quickly changed. It seemed like every other day a pair of new DVDs would arrive in the mail (this was the early days of Netflix). Dark Knight, The Truman Show, Inception, Memento — all these great films were coming in and out of the house. And I couldn’t get enough of them. Movies brought stories to life in a way that books could not. I was head over heels for visual storytelling. 

Suddenly I wasn’t writing novels and short stories anymore. I was writing scripts for movies. Now I wanted to transfer my ideas to the big screen, rather than the pages of a book. But I was still doing the same thing I had always done. I was writing, just in a different format. To help with this process, I read the screenplays of my favorite films and paid attention to the way they were crafted. I kept watching more and more movies. And I hadn’t forgotten about my first love, either. I still cherished books and looked to them for inspiration. By the end of my junior year of high school, I had completed two scripts for short films. 

So why am I telling you all this? Because I want to turn my love of storytelling into a career. I’m not totally sure how to do that yet, but I know I have options. Whether it’s film production, creative writing, or even journalism, I want to find a major that suits my ambitions. Writing has taken me a long way, and I know it can take me even further. As I step into this next chapter of my life, I couldn’t be more excited to see how my craft develops. In the meantime, I should probably get rid of that dusty old GameCube. 

Feedback from admissions professional Bill Jack

Essays don’t always have to reveal details about the student’s intended career path, but one thing I like about this essay is that it gives the reader a sense of the why. Why do they want to pursue storytelling. It also shows the reader that they are open to how they pursue their interest. Being open to exploration is such a vital part of college, so it’s also showing the reader that they likely will be open to new things in college. And, it’s always fun to learn a little bit more about the student’s family, especially if the reader can learn about how the students interacts with their family. 

Prompt 2: “The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?”

I remember my first impression of Irvine: weird. It was foggy, stock-full of greenery and eucalyptus trees, and reminded me of my 5th grade trip to a “science camp” which was located in the San Bernardino mountains. Besides Irvine, that was one of the few places in Southern California where you’d find so many non-palm trees. 

Of course, perhaps my initial impression of Irvine was biased, motivated by a desire to stay in my hometown and a fear of the unknown. While that was true to an extent, Irvine was certainly still a little peculiar. The city itself was based on a “master plan” of sorts, with the location of each of its schools, parks, shops, and arguably its trees having been logically “picked” before the foundation was poured. Even the homes all looked roughly the same, with their beige, stucco walls almost serving as a hallmark of the city itself.

Thus, this perfectly structured, perfectly safe city seemed like a paradise of sorts to many outsiders, my parents included. I was a little more hesitant to welcome this. As I saw it, this was a phony city – believing that its uniformity stood for a lack of personality. My hometown, although not as flawlessly safe nor clean as Irvine, was where most of my dearest memories had occurred. From the many sleepovers at Cindie’s house, to trying to avoid my school’s own version of the “infamous” cheese touch, to the many laughs shared with friends and family, I shed a tear at the prospect of leaving my home.

Moving into the foreign city, remnants of the hostility I held towards Irvine remained. Still dwelling in my memories of the past, I was initially unable to see Irvine as a “home.” So, as I walked into my first-ever Irvine class, being greeted by many kind, yet unfamiliar faces around me, I was unable to recognize that some of those new faces would later become some of my dearest friends. Such negative feelings about the city were further reinforced by newer, harder classes, and more complicated homework. Sitting in the discomfort of this unfamiliar environment, it started to seem that “change” was something not only inevitable, but insurmountable.

As the years went on, however, this idea seemed to fade. I got used to my classes and bike racing through Irvine neighborhoods with my friends, watching the trees that once seemed just a “weird” green blob soon transform into one of my favorite parts of the city. While I kept my old, beloved memories stored, I made space for new ones. From carefully making our way over the narrow creek path next to our school, to the laughs we shared during chemistry class, my new memories made with friends seemed to transform a city I once disliked into one I would miss. 

Through this transformation, I have come to recognize that change, although sometimes intimidating at first, can open the door to great times and meaningful connections. Although Irvine may have once seemed like a strange, “phony” place that I couldn’t wait to be rid of, the memories and laughs I had grown to share there were very real. As I move onto this next part of my life, I hope I can use this knowledge that I have gained from my time in Irvine to make the most of what’s to come. Even if the change may be frightening at first, I have learned to embrace what’s on the other side, whether green or not.

One huge plus to writing an essay that focuses on a place is that you might have it read by someone who has been there. Yet, what’s really helpful about this essay is that even if someone hasn’t been there, a picture is painted about what the place is like.  Admission officers have the hard task of really understanding what the student sees, so the use of adjectives and imagery can really help.  It’s also really clever to see that the green that’s mentioned at the beginning is mentioned at the end.  It’s a nice way to bookend the essay and tie it all together.

Prompt 6: “Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?”

I like getting lost. Not literally, of course, but figuratively. Whether it be in the story of a love song by Taylor Swift, or in the memories brought back by listening to my favorite childhood video game’s background music, I’ve always appreciated music’s ability to transport me to another place, another time, another feeling. 

Alas, I cannot sing, nor have I practiced an instrument since my middle school piano class days. So, perhaps Kurt Vonnegut was right. As he puts it, “Virtually every writer I know would rather be a musician.” While I cannot speak for others, I have certainly not debunked his theory. Writing allows many, including myself, to attempt to mimic the transformative power of music – even if our singing voices aren’t exactly “pleasant.” Just as you can get lost in music, you can do so in a story. Whether it is in George Orwell’s totalitarian Oceania, or Little Women’s Orchard House, the stories outlined in novels can provide an amazing look into the lives and worlds of others, and an escape from the worries and problems of those in your own.

While I am certainly not claiming to have the storytelling abilities of the Orwells or Alcotts before me, I’ve had fun trying to recreate such transformative feelings for others. When I was nine, I attempted to write a story about a little girl who had gotten lost in the woods, only managing to get a couple pages through. As I got older, whenever I was assigned a creative writing assignment in school, I wrote about the same pig, Phil. He was always angry: in my 8th grade science class, Phil was mad at some humans who had harbored his friend captive, and in my 9th grade English class, at a couple who robbed him. 

Thus, when I heard about a writing club being opened at my school in 11th grade, I knew I had to join. I wanted to discern whether writing was just a hobby I picked up now and then, or a true passion. If it was a passion, I wanted to learn as much as possible about how I could improve. Although my high school’s writing club certainly wasn’t going to transform me into Shakespeare, I knew I could learn a lot from it – and I did. The club challenged me to do many things, from writing on the spot, to writing poetry, to even writing about myself, something that’s hopefully coming in handy right now. 

From then on, I started to expand into different types of writing, storing short ideas, skits, and more in appropriately-labeled Google Drive folders. At around the same time, I became interested in classic literature, which largely stemmed from a project in English class. We had been required to choose and read a classic on our own, then present it to the class in an interesting way. While my book was certainly interesting and unique in its own right, nearly everyone else’s novels seemed more captivating to me. So, I took it upon myself to read as many classics as I could the following summer.

One of the books I read during the summer, funnily enough, was Animal Farm, which starred angry pigs, reminiscent of Phil. I had also started going over different ideas in my head, thinking about how I could translate them into words using the new skills I learned. While the writing club helped reaffirm my interest in writing and allowed me to develop new skills, my newfound affinity for classics gave me inspiration to write. Now, I am actually considering writing as part of my future. In this endeavor, I hope that Phil, and the music I inevitably listen to as I write, will accompany me every step of the way.

Admission officers might read 70 (or more!) essays in one day. It’s not uncommon for them to start to blend together and sound similar. This essay might not make you laugh out loud. But, it might make the reader chuckle while reading it thanks to the subtle humor and levity. Being able to incorporate a little humor into your essay (if it is natural for you to do… do not force it), can really be a great way to shed additional light into who you are. Remember, the essay isn’t merely about proving that you can write, but it should also reveal a little bit about your personality.

Prompt 5: “Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.”

I learned a lot of things during the summer I worked at Tropical Smoothie. I discovered the value of hard work. I figured out how to save money. I even mastered the art of the Mango Magic smoothie (the secret is lots of sugar). But most importantly, I learned the power of perspective. And I have Deja to thank for that. 

Deja was my shift supervisor, and one of Tropical Smoothie’s best employees. She was punctual, friendly, and always willing to lend a helping hand. She knew the store from top to bottom, and could handle pretty much any situation thrown her way. She made everyone around her better. On top of all that, she was four months pregnant! I was always impressed by Deja’s work ethic, but I gained an entirely new level of respect for her one day.

It was a Friday night, and Deja and I were working the closing shift together. It was very busy, and Deja and I were the only ones on shift. We managed to get by, but we were exhausted by the end of the evening. After wiping down the counters and mopping the floors, we closed up shop and went our separate ways. I was eager to get home. 

I walked a couple blocks to where I had parked my car. Well, it wasn’t my car actually. It was my dad’s ‘98 Chevy pickup truck, and it was in rough shape. It had no heat or A/C, the leather seats were cracked beyond repair, and the driver’s side door was jammed shut. I sighed as I got in through the passenger side and scooted over to the driver’s seat. The whole reason I was working at Tropical Smoothie was to save up enough money to buy my own car. I was hoping to have something more respectable to drive during my senior year of high school. 

I cranked the old thing up and started on my way home. But soon enough, I spotted Deja walking on the side of the road. There was no sidewalk here, the light was low, and she was dangerously close to the passing cars. I pulled over and offered her a ride. She got in and explained that she was on her way home. Apparently she didn’t have a car and had been walking to work every day. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was complaining about my set of wheels, while Deja didn’t have any to begin with.

We got to talking, and she confessed that she had been having a tough time. You would never know from the way she was so cheerful at work, but Deja had a lot on her plate. She was taking care of her mother, her boyfriend had just lost his job, and she was worried about making ends meet. And of course, she was expecting a baby in five months. On top of all that, she had been walking nearly a mile to and from work every day. The whole thing was a real eye opener, and made me reconsider some things in my own life. 

For one, I didn’t mind driving my dad’s truck anymore. It was banged up, sure, but it was a lot better than nothing. My mindset had changed. I appreciated the truck now. I began to think about other things differently, too. I started making mental notes of all the things in my life I was thankful for — my family, my friends, my health. I became grateful for what I had, instead of obsessing over the things I didn’t. 

I also gained more awareness of the world outside my own little bubble. My encounter with Deja had shown me first-hand that everyone is dealing with their own problems, some worse than others. So I started paying more attention to my friends, family members, and coworkers. I started listening more and asking how I could help. I also gave Deja a ride home for the rest of the summer. 

These are all small things, of course, but I think they make a difference. I realized I’m at my best when I’m not fixated on my own life, but when I’m considerate of the lives around me. I want to keep this in mind as I continue to grow and develop as a person. I want to continue to search for ways to support the people around me. And most importantly, I want to keep things in perspective.

Too often we can be focused on our own problems that we fail to realize that everyone has their own things going on in their lives, too.  This essay showcases how it’s important to put things in perspective, a skill that certainly will prove invaluable in college… and not just in the classroom.  Another reason I like this essay is because it provides deeper insight into the student’s life.  Sure, you might have mentioned in your activities list that you have a job.  But as this essay does, you can show why you have the job in the first place, what your responsibilities are, and more.

A few last tips

We hope these essay examples gave you a bit of inspiration of what to include in your own. However, before you go, we’d like to send you off with a few (personal statement) writing tips to help you make your essays as lovely as the memories and anecdotes they’re based off of. Without further ado, here are some of our best tips for writing your personal statements:

1. Open strong

College admissions officers read many, many essays (think 50+) a day, which can sometimes cause them to start blending together and sounding alike. One way to avoid your essay from simply fading into the background is to start strong. This means opening your essay with something memorable, whether an interesting personal anecdote, a descriptive setting, or anything else that you think would catch a reader’s attention (so long as it’s not inappropriate). Not only might this help college admissions officers better remember your essay, but it will also make them curious about what the rest of your essay will entail.

2. Be authentic

Perhaps most important when it comes to writing personal statement essays is to maintain your authenticity. Ultimately, your essays should reflect your unique stories and quirks that make you who you are, and should help college admissions officers determine whether you’d truly be a good fit for their school or not. So, don’t stress trying to figure out what colleges are looking for. Be yourself, and let the colleges come to you!

3. Strong writing

This one may seem a little obvious, but strong writing will certainly appeal to colleges. Not only will it make your essay more compelling, but it may show colleges that you’re ready for college-level essay writing (that you’ll likely have to do a lot of). Just remember that good writing is not limited to grammar. Using captivating detail and descriptions are a huge part of making your essay seem more like a story than a lecture.

4. Proofread

Last but not least, remember to proofread! Make sure your essay contains no errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. When you’re done proofreading your essay yourself, we would also recommend that you ask a teacher, parent, or other grammatically savvy person to proofread your essay as well.

Final thoughts 

With those in hand, we hope you now have a better sense of how to write your personal statement. While your grades and test scores are important when it comes to college admissions, it’s really your essays that can “make” or “break” your application. 

Although this may make it seem like a daunting task, writing an amazing personal statement essay is all about effort. Thus, so long as you start early, follow the advice listed above, and dedicate your time and effort to it, it’s entirely possible to write an essay that perfectly encapsulates you. Good luck, and happy writing!

Also see:  Scholarships360’s free scholarships search tool

Key Takeaways

  • It may take some people longer than others to know what they want to write about, but remember that everyone, including you, has something unique to write about!
  • Personal statements should be personal, which means you should avoid being too general and really strive to show off what makes you “you”
  • Time and effort are two of the most important things you can put into your personal statement to ensure that it is the best representation of yourself
  • Don’t forget to ask people who know you to read your work before you submit; they should be able to tell you better than anyone if you are truly shining through!

Frequently asked questions about writing personal statements 

How do you write a powerful personal statement, what makes an amazing personal statement, how do you start an amazing personal statement, scholarships360 recommended.

my personal statement is too short

10 Tips for Successful College Applications

my personal statement is too short

Coalition vs. Common App: What is the difference?

my personal statement is too short

College Application Deadlines 2023-2024: What You Need to Know

Trending now.

my personal statement is too short

How to Convert Your GPA to a 4.0 Scale

my personal statement is too short

PSAT to SAT Score Conversion: Predict Your Score

my personal statement is too short

What Are Public Ivy League Schools?

3 reasons to join scholarships360.

  • Automatic entry to our $10,000 No-Essay Scholarship
  • Personalized matching to thousands of vetted scholarships
  • Quick apply for scholarships exclusive to our platform

By the way...Scholarships360 is 100% free!

Explore Jobs

  • Jobs Near Me
  • Remote Jobs
  • Full Time Jobs
  • Part Time Jobs
  • Entry Level Jobs
  • Work From Home Jobs

Find Specific Jobs

  • $15 Per Hour Jobs
  • $20 Per Hour Jobs
  • Hiring Immediately Jobs
  • High School Jobs
  • H1b Visa Jobs

Explore Careers

  • Business And Financial
  • Architecture And Engineering
  • Computer And Mathematical

Explore Professions

  • What They Do
  • Certifications
  • Demographics

Best Companies

  • Health Care
  • Fortune 500

Explore Companies

  • CEO And Executies
  • Resume Builder
  • Career Advice
  • Explore Majors
  • Questions And Answers
  • Interview Questions

How To Write A Personal Statement (With Examples)

  • Resume Tips
  • Best Resume Writing Services
  • Things To Avoid On A Resume
  • Resume Paper To Use
  • What To Include In A Resume
  • How To Write A Bio
  • How To Write A Personal Statement
  • Lied on Your Resume?
  • Avoid Age Discrimination
  • Words and Phrases You Shouldn't Include in Your Resume
  • How Many Skills Should You List On A Resume
  • Send A Resume As A Pdf
  • Resume Critique
  • Make A Resume Stand Out
  • Resume Spelling
  • Resume Past Or Present Tense
  • How To List Projects On A resume
  • Best Resume Action Words
  • How To Quantify Your Resume

Resume Bullet Points

  • Are Resume Writers Worth It
  • How Many Jobs To List On Resume

Whether you want to apply to colleges, graduate programs, or competitive jobs, writing a persuasive personal statement will give you a leg up over the other applicants. A personal statement gives you a chance to express your qualifications, motivations, and long-term objectives in a way that gets hiring managers and admissions boards excited to meet you.

No matter why you’re writing a personal statement, we’re here to help you stand out from the crowd.

Key Takeaways:

To write a personal statement, first brainstorm, then narrow down your ideas, and start with an intro that leads into your qualifications.

Make sure to proofread your personal statement before submitting.

Personal statements describe your interests, skills, and goals, with a particular focus on your passion.

Personal statements are typically found in academia, however some professional organizations may also request one.

How To Write A Personal Statement (With Examples)

What Is a Personal Statement?

How to write a personal statement, tips for writing a strong personal statement, questions to ask yourself when writing a personal statement, when do i need a personal statement, academic personal statement examples, professional personal statement example, personal statement faq.

  • Sign Up For More Advice and Jobs

A personal statement is a written work that describes your skills, areas of interest, accomplishments, and goals. It is typically included with a college or scholarship application, and sometimes used as part of job applications as well.

Personal statements are a chance for you to show an admissions board or a hiring committee what makes you special outside of your resume . Think of it as an in-depth cover letter where you get to detail not only your skills, but why you’re so passionate about the subject.

Short of an interview, it’s the best way to show your personality in a way that (hopefully) convinces someone to hire or admit you.

When you’re ready to write your statement, there are a few ways you can approach it. We’re going to go over a seven-step process so you can keep your thoughts organized and work through a process. Feel free to switch up the method, so it works for you.

Understand the prompt. Before you put pen to paper, make sure you understand the prompt and what is being asked of you. If there’s a specific set of questions you need to respond to, make sure you frame your thinking that way instead of just choosing a topic.

Brainstorm. Think of some ideas and an outline before you start writing. Consider how you can answer the prompt you’re given and what unique experiences you can bring to the table. The more options you have, the better off you’ll be.

Narrow it down. An excellent way to pick your final approach to draft a statement would be to jot down a few sentences for each idea you had. This helps you tell what topic is easiest to write about or what you feel most confident. No matter how you narrow down your ideas, you need to settle on the strongest one to convey your qualifications.

Start with an intro. Once you’re ready to write, you’ll want to write your opening paragraph first. This is a chance for you to introduce yourself and let people know who you are. Try to keep this paragraph short since it’s just an intro, and you’ll have more space to get into your qualifications in the next paragraph.

Write about your qualifications. When you write about your skills, make sure you align them with the job description or the program’s goals or university.

You can expand this section to a few paragraphs (if word count allows) and be sure to cover your achievements, qualifications, skills, talents, goals, and what you can bring to the program or organization.

One to three body paragraphs should suffice, with scholarship and graduate school personal statements being the longest of the bunch, and job personal statements being the shortest.

Sum up your argument. Your statement is a persuasive argument for why the committee should pick you. It should be a compelling summary of your qualifications, and it should show that you have a clear desire to work for the company.

Proofread. Look for any spelling or grammar errors and check to make sure your writing is clear and concise. Cut out anything that doesn’t fit or help paint a good picture of what kind of student or employee you are. You might want to show your draft to a few people to ensure everything sounds right.

No matter what approach you take to writing your statement, a few things hold. We’ll give you some tips to make your statement stand out from the rest.

Write to your audience. Chances are you have a good idea of who will be reading your application and personal statement, so try to gear your writing toward them. Think of what will persuade or impress them and incorporate that into your writing.

Stay truthful. It might be tempting to exaggerate the truth or smudge a little bit, but make sure you stay truthful. If you claim to have skills or experience that you don’t have and land the job, it might be pretty easy to tell that your writing doesn’t exactly align with your experience.

Tell a story. If you can, try to weave your narrative into a story. Not only will it be more engaging for your reader, but it will also show if you can use your skill to create a story. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, but tying everything together into a narrative will impress your readers.

Use your voice. To make your statement more personal and unique, you should write in your voice. Don’t try to copy examples of statements you find or let your editor drown out what makes you unique. Make sure you keep your personality and qualifications front and center since it’s a personal statement.

Get specific. Instead of generally talking about skills you have, find ways to show your reader when you used those skills. Being specific and giving examples will make your argument more compelling and show your reader that you’re a master.

Use simple language. Since personal statements are so short, it’s not the time for long and complex sentences. Keep it concise and easy to read. You don’t want to risk confusing your reader since committees usually have a few minutes to consider your candidacy, and you don’t want to lose their attention.

Sometimes, especially during the brainstorm process, it can help to ask yourself questions to get your mind focused. These questions can help realize what you want to write in your personal statement.

Some questions you can ask yourself include:

“Why am I interested in this application? What about it makes me want to apply?”

“What are my strengths and weaknesses?”

“What type of work gets me excited and deeply engaged?”

“What is my life story and how does it relate to this application?”

“Where do I want to go?”

“Who do I want to be?”

“What have I learned from my past?”

“How can I explain my past experiences?”

“How would my friends and family describe me to a stranger?”

“What obstacles have I overcome and how does it make me who I am today?”

Asking yourself questions like these will open up your mind to new ideas on how to write your personal statement.

You may need to write a personal statement for a university, scholarship, or job application.

University application. When you’re writing a personal statement for a school application, you’ll usually have a few paragraphs to get your point across. These prompts tend to be more open-ended and give you a chance to explain why you want to attend that school, how you align with their program, and why you are an excellent fit for the school’s culture.

A personal statement for a graduate program needs to be much sharper and more focused. At this point in your education, you’re expected to know precisely where you’d like to turn your academic focus and be able to communicate that efficiently.

Scholarship application. When you need to write a personal statement for a grant or scholarship application, you want to make sure you align your values and purpose with the providers. These can be tricky to write, but they’re like a careful balance between personal statements for school and work.

Job application. For work-related personal statements, you’ll want to focus on your skills and qualifications more than your personality. Employers are more concerned with how you can meet their skill requirements. Professional personal statements tend to be shorter, so there’s less space to talk about anything but your qualifications.

Here are two examples of shorts personal statement for graduate program applications:

From the moment I stepped into the lab, smelled the clean scent of fresh lab coats, and saw the beakers glistening under the light, I felt an excitement to learn that hasn’t left me since. Each time I enter the lab, I feel the same flutter of my heart and a sense of purpose. I want to continue to chase this feeling while contributing to a broader scientific knowledge catalog, which I know the Graduate Biology Program at City University will allow me to do. I want to continue the research I started in college on communicable diseases while gaining a critical education. City University’s program emphasizes in-class and hands-on learning, a perfect combination for my learning style.
As a graduate of State University with a B.S. in Biology, I have the foundation to build my knowledge and experience. While at State University, I worked in a lab researching the efficacy of a new flu vaccine. There, I managed other student researchers, worked as a liaison between the professor running the lab and students and managed the data reports. I am ready to bring my extensive experience to City University classrooms while learning from my peers. I am eager to begin the coursework at City University, and I believe I am uniquely prepared to contribute to the campus culture and research efforts. I look forward to stepping into City University’s lab in the fall and feeling the familiar excitement that drives me to pursue a graduate program and learn more about public health.

If you need to write a professional personal statement, here’s a sample you can model yours after:

As a recent graduate of State University with a B.A. in Communications, I am prepared to take what I have learned in the classroom and bring my work ethic and go-getter attitude to ABC Company. I believe that I have the skills and experience to excel as a Marketing Coordinator from my first day. My classes in Digital Communication, Social Media Marketing, and Business Management and my work as Outreach Chair of the university newspaper have prepared me to take on responsibilities as I learn more about the field. I also believe that my dedication to animal welfare aligns with the ABC Company’s goal of finding loving homes for all of their foster pets and makes me especially interested in this position.

What do I write in a personal statement?

A personal statement should include an introduction, your relevant skills/experiences, and your goals. You want to keep your personal statement relevant for the program or job in question. Make sure to show your passion and indicate what you’d like to do with the degree or opportunity.

How do you start off a personal statement?

Start your personal statement by introducing yourself. Give a brief snapshot of your background that also describes why you’re passionate about this field or area of study in particular. Another powerful way to start off a personal statement is with a significant accomplishment that immediately speaks to your relevant skill set and experience.

What exactly is a personal statement?

A personal statement is a brief statement that sums up your qualifications. A personal statement is a brief written document that university admissions boards, scholarship programs, and sometimes hiring managers require from applicants. A personal statement’s purpose is to show the reader that you are qualified, fully invested in the aims of the program, and have plans for what you would do if granted the opportunity.

How do you write a 500-word personal statement?

To write a 500-word personal statement, start by writing without worrying about the word count. If your personal statement is too long, look for sentences that include skills, experiences, or qualifications that aren’t strictly related to the requirements or aims of the program/job you’re applying for and remove them.

If your personal statement is too short, go back to the program, scholarship, or job description. Make note of the preferred experiences and required skills. For example, if you’ve included a skill in your personal statement without experience to back it up, consider adding a brief story that shows you putting that skill into action.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

' src=

Amanda is a writer with experience in various industries, including travel, real estate, and career advice. After taking on internships and entry-level jobs, she is familiar with the job search process and landing that crucial first job. Included in her experience is work at an employer/intern matching startup where she marketed an intern database to employers and supported college interns looking for work experience.

Recent Job Searches

  • Registered Nurse Jobs Resume Location
  • Truck Driver Jobs Resume Location
  • Call Center Representative Jobs Resume Location
  • Customer Service Representative Jobs Resume
  • Delivery Driver Jobs Resume Location
  • Warehouse Worker Jobs Resume Location
  • Account Executive Jobs Resume Location
  • Sales Associate Jobs Resume Location
  • Licensed Practical Nurse Jobs Resume Location
  • Company Driver Jobs Resume

Related posts

How To Make A Resume PDF (And When To Use It)

How To Make A Resume PDF (And When To Use It)

my personal statement is too short

How To Write A College Freshman Resume (With Examples)

my personal statement is too short

10 Resume Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)

my personal statement is too short

  • Career Advice >

Add Project Key Words

my personal statement is too short

Personal Statement for College: 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid

September 20, 2016

my personal statement is too short

Writing a good personal statement for college is a tricky task. There are endless ways to write a good essay, as well as endless ideas to draw upon from your own individual life. The smallest experience can be the perfect example of a stand-out quality you want to highlight, and sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint these good experiences to write about. A good personal statement for college is one that is unique, well-written, and demonstrates who you are. The key word here is personal.

But while most of your experiences, honors, and activities are fair game to that end, there are certain topics which are either overly used, poorly executed, poorly received, or a combination of all three. The following list outlines topics to avoid in your personal statement for college.

1. Writing your resumé twice makes you seem boring and uncreative

Perhaps the most common mistake that college applicants make is to re-write their resumé or activities list and call it a personal statement. This is bad for several reasons.

First, it gives admissions officers no information about you that they didn’t already have. In general, the less they know about you, the less likely you are to be admitted.

Second, rewriting your resumé makes you seem uncreative. If you are incapable of writing a 2-3 page paper that doesn’t repeat the other 12 pages you’ve sent the admissions office, then you seem uncreative, or, worse, lazy.

This does not mean that you cannot discuss activities or experiences which also appear on your application; indeed, you almost always should discuss activities and experiences which appear elsewhere. Your personal statement for college is a great time to reinforce and highlight your unique interests and views. However, those activities which you discuss must be related to the broader theme of your personal statement. They should not be a simple recitation of your most impressive awards, honors, etc.

2. Overcoming adversity is only a viable topic in your personal statement for college if you’ve actually overcome adversity

A classic mistake is for college applicants to “invent” adversity in their lives. This often takes the form of re-imagining a small set-back as being equivalent to a life of hardship and tribulation. Students might write about having difficulty in a class, failing a test, or being unpopular in middle school, as evidence that they too have overcome adversity. While it is certainly true that everyone experiences hardship differently, you must understand that from a third party perspective, these sorts of problems do not register as true adversity.

Thus, if you are going to discuss how you overcame adversity in your personal statement for college , be sure that you are discussing a matter with which anyone could sympathize.

On the other hand, if you had to work the night shifts of a part-time job to save up for college, you can feel fairly confident that most admissions officers will not question the challenges you’ve faced. In short, if you have to ask yourself, “Is this really adversity?” the answer is almost certainly no. Remember that you will be applying against individuals who have endured unquestionable adversity: people who have endured war, crippling disease, traumatic violence. That is the standard by which you should assess your struggles.

3. Save the diversity for the diverse candidates

If you lack genuine racial, ethnic, or national diversity, do not depict yourself otherwise in your personal statement. Many applicants try to trump up their distant and attenuated lineage, in the hopes of getting “diversity points” for their application. This is almost always a bad idea. Admissions officers are easily able to spot this sort of ploy for the “diversity points.” So, if your diversity isn’t related to succeeding in college, then it doesn’t belong in your personal statement. That being said, colleges do look for people with varied backgrounds and perspectives - i.e. diversity - so if you come from a unique background, then you should of course highlight this in your personal statement for college or elsewhere on your application.  

4. The “Injured Athlete” Cliché

“After years spent honing my talents, it was devastating to leave the team...”

This is one of the essay topics that appears so frequently in the average  personal statement for college  that they make every admissions officer’s eyes roll. Most students applying to college participate in athletics at some point throughout their high school careers. Many get injured. Unless you were the top Division I field hockey recruit in the country, steer clear of this topic (and even if you were, this topic is still clichéd). The “injured athlete” story is usually similar to the “overcoming adversity” motif. So, to reiterate, you need to make sure that the adversity you face is objectively true.  

5. The “International Sojourn or Tropical Vacation” Cliché

“I learned so much about Mexican culture during my extended stay in Cabo San Lucas.” It is worth noting that tons of students write about the time they spent traveling. For the most part, admissions officers can easily determine when these trips were glorified vacations and when they were meaningful academic, intellectual, or philosophical experiences. It is tempting to write about global connections and experiences in your personal statement for college , but unless your experience abroad was highly standout and unique, this topic is best to avoid because it is overdone.

6. The “Inspiring Relatives” Cliché

“My grandmother has an incredible life story.”

Most of us can relate to being inspired by someone close to us. Our family members have gone through great lengths to help us get to where we are are today. But recounting the great feats that your grandmother met to arrive successfully at the present moment is a bad idea. An admissions officer in most cases would commend your inspiring relative. But they are not evaluating your grandmother’s application. They want to find out about you. Your personal statement for college needs to be, first and foremost, personal . You should be the main character in your essay. Always.

7. Writing about middle school

If you write about your middle school achievements, admissions officers will think you have accomplished nothing of value in high school. Unless your achievements were truly outstanding (for example, you started a successful company that is still in place today), or if the topic you write about is ongoing and still relevant, you should avoid writing about middle school. It is a personal statement for college - make it personal, and make it relevant to college.

8. Trying to do too much

You have 650 words on your personal statement for college , which in the grand scheme of things, is not very many. There is certainly not enough space to highlight everything you have ever done or achieved. Instead, you should focus on choosing a specific time or experience or topic that can stand as an example of your interests and background more generally. In trying to accomplish too much, you will in turn, accomplish very little.

Every part of the application is important. Your GPA and standardized test scores qualify you for certain schools. But sometimes you don’t have the highest SAT score . You can still get into top schools by using your personal statement for college as a chance to set yourself apart. Draw from experiences that are unique, that are personal, and that clearly display your individual interests.

Tags : college admissions , applying to college , college essay , Personal Statement , personal statement for college , personal statement tips

Schedule a free consultation

to find out how we can help you get accepted.

My Top 10 Most Common Personal Statement Errors - (6) Statement is too short

too short

UCAS has given you 47 lines (or 4,000 characters) for a reason - they expect you to use them. If not all of them, then the vast majority. If you cannot do this then you need to go back to the planning stages as clearly you are not going into the detail that will be expected of you.

One of the worst examples of this that I have seen over the last 12 years was a dentistry applicant who felt that a short 5 line statement would be enough to get them into one of the most competitive courses that exists. Thankfully this example is extreme and it was, quite clearly, a lack of understanding on expectations. But there are always students who think that academic standards alone are going to be enough to get you onto the course of your choice. This is simply not true. Even with an A2 prediction of 4 A*s, a 5 line personal statement will never be enough. And nor will 25, or even 35 lines. 45, however, and you’re in with a good chance.

If you are really struggling with the length of your personal statement then don’t panic - get it reviewed by someone who is familiar with the application process (a careers adviser, a tutor) and they should be able to spot areas that you have either missed out completely or that you need to expand upon. As I have said before, it is very rare - certainly in my professional experience - that a statement is deemed ‘perfect’ at first draft so as long as you have completed it in plenty of time, it is a problem that can be quite easily overcome.

Don’t forget that Momentum Careers Advice offer a personal statement review service for just £60. Email [email protected] if interested or read my blog post What is involved in a UCAS personal statement review?

If you want to browse through the other blog posts that I’ve written on the subject of UCAS applications then please click on this link .

  • Career Exploration
  • Arts, Communications, & Media
  • Education, Nonprofit, & Social Impact
  • Business, Consulting, Finance, & Marketing
  • Government, International Affairs, Law, & Public Policy
  • Health Professions Advising
  • Graduate School
  • Signature Internships
  • Grants Program
  • Internship Credit
  • Short Internship Projects (SHIPs)
  • Fellowships for Undergraduates
  • Fellowships for Graduates
  • Class of 2025 Fellowship Planning
  • Fellowships for International Students
  • Civic Engagement

Writing a Personal Statement

Wellesley Career Education logo

Preparing to Write

Brainstorming, don't forget, sample prompts.

A personal statement is a narrative essay that connects your background, experiences, and goals to the mission, requirements, and desired outcomes of the specific opportunity you are seeking. It is a critical component in the selection process, whether the essay is for a competitive internship, a graduate fellowship, or admittance to a graduate school program. It gives the selection committee the best opportunity to get to know you, how you think and make decisions, ways in which past experiences have been significant or formative, and how you envision your future. Personal statements can be varied in form; some are given a specific prompt, while others are less structured. However, in general a personal statement should answer the following questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What are your goals?
  • How does this specific program/opportunity help you achieve your goals?
  • What is in the future?

A personal statement is not:

  • A variation of your college admissions essay
  • An academic/research paper
  • A narrative version of your resume
  • A creative writing piece (it can be creative, though)
  • An essay about somebody else

Keep in mind that your statement is only a portion of the application and should be written with this in mind. Your entire application package will include some, possibly all, of the materials listed below. You will want to consider what these pieces of the application communicate about you. Your personal statement should aim to tie everything together and fill in or address any gaps. There will likely be some overlap but be sure not to be too repetitive.

  • Personal Statement(s)
  • Transcripts
  • Letters of recommendations
  • Sample of written work
  • Research proposal

Preparing to Write A large portion of your work towards completing a personal statement begins well before your first draft or even an outline. It is incredibly important to be sure you understand all of the rules and regulations around the statement. Things to consider before you begin writing:

  • How many prompts? And what are they? It is important to know the basics so you can get your ideas in order. Some programs will require a general statement of interest and a focused supplementary or secondary statement closely aligned with the institution's goals.
  • Are there formatting guidelines? Single or double spaced, margins, fonts, text sizes, etc. Our general guideline is to keep it simple.
  • How do I submit my statement(s)? If uploading a document we highly suggest using a PDF as it will minimize the chances of accidental changes to formatting. Some programs may event ask you to copy and paste into a text box.
  • When do I have to submit my statement(s)? Most are due at the time of application but some programs, especially medical schools, will ask for secondary statements a few months after you apply. In these instances be sure to complete them within two weeks, any longer is an indication that you aren't that interested in the institution.

Before you start writing, take some time to reflect on your experiences and motivations as they relate to the programs to which you are applying. This will offer you a chance to organize your thoughts which will make the writing process much easier. Below are a list of questions to help you get started:

  • What individuals, experiences or events have shaped your interest in this particular field?
  • What has influenced your decision to apply to graduate school?
  • How does this field align with your interests, strengths, and values?
  • What distinguishes you from other applicants?
  • What would you bring to this program/profession?
  • What has prepared you for graduate study in this field? Consider your classes at Wellesley, research and work experience, including internships, summer jobs and volunteer work.
  • Why are you interested in this particular institution or degree program?
  • How is this program distinct from others?
  • What do you hope to gain?
  • What is motivating you to seek an advanced degree now?
  • Where do you see yourself headed and how will this degree program help you get there?

For those applying to Medical School, if you need a committee letter for your application and are using the Medical Professions Advisory Committee you have already done a lot of heavy lifting through the 2017-2018 Applicant Information Form . Even if you aren't using MPAC the applicant information form is a great place to start.

Another great place to start is through talking out your ideas. You have a number of options both on and off campus, such as: Career Education advisors and mentors ( you can set up an appointment here ), major advisor, family, friends. If you are applying to a graduate program it is especially important to talk with a faculty member in the field. Remember to take good notes so you can refer to them later.

When you begin writing keep in mind that your essay is one of many in the application pool. This is not to say you should exaggerate your experiences to “stand out” but that you should focus on clear, concise writing. Also keep in mind that the readers are considering you not just as a potential student but a future colleague. Be sure to show them examples and experiences which demonstrate you are ready to begin their program.

It is important to remember that your personal statement will take time and energy to complete, so plan accordingly. Every application and statement should be seen as different from one another, even if they are all the same type of program. Each institution may teach you the same material but their delivery or focus will be slightly different.

In addition, remember:

  • Be yourself: You aren’t good at being someone else
  • Tragedy is not a requirement, reflection and depth are
  • Research the institution or organization
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread
  • How to have your personal statement reviewed

The prompts below are from actual applications to a several types of programs. As you will notice many of them are VERY general in nature. This is why it is so important to do your research and reflect on your motivations. Although the prompts are similar in nature the resulting statements would be very different depending on the discipline and type of program, as well as your particular background and reasons for wanting to pursue this graduate degree.

  • This statement should illustrate your academic background and experiences and explain why you would excel in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (UMass Amherst - M.S. in Civil Engineering).
  • Describe your academic and career objectives and how the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies can help you achieve them. Include other considerations that explain why you seek admissions to the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and your interests in the environmental field (Yale - Master of Environmental Management).  
  • Please discuss your academic interests and goals. Include your current professional and research interests, as well as your long-range professional objectives. Please be as specific as possible about how your objectives can be met at Clark and do not exceed 800 words (Clark University - M.A. in International Development and Social Change).
  • Write a 500- to 700-word statement that describes your work or research. Discuss how you came to focus on the medium, body of work, or academic area you wish to pursue at the graduate level. Also discuss future directions or goals for your work, and describe how the Master of Fine Arts in Studio (Printmedia) is particularly suited to your professional goals (School of the Art Institute of Chicago - MFA in Studio, Printmaking).
  • Your statement should explain why you want to study economics at the graduate level. The statement is particularly important if there is something unusual about your background and preparation that you would like us to know about you (University of Texas at Austin - Ph.D in Economics).
  • Your personal goal statement is an important part of the review process for our faculty members as they consider your application. They want to know about your background, work experience, plans for graduate study and professional career, qualifications that make you a strong candidate for the program, and any other relevant information (Indiana University Bloomington - M.S.Ed. in Secondary Education).
  • Your autobiographical essay/personal statement is a narrative that outlines significant experiences in your life, including childhood experiences, study and work, your strengths and aspirations in the field of architecture, and why you want to come to the University of Oregon (University of Oregon - Master of Architecture).
  • Personal history and diversity statement, in which you describe how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. You may refer to any educational, familial, cultural, economic or social experiences, challenges, community service, outreach activities, residency and citizenship, first-generation college status, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how your life experiences contribute to the social, intellectual or cultural diversity within a campus community and your chosen field; or how you might serve educationally underrepresented and underserved segments of society with your graduate education (U.C. Davis - M.A. in Linguistics).
  • A Personal Statement specifying your past experiences, reasons for applying, and your areas of interest. It should explain your intellectual and personal goals, why you are interested in pursuing an interdisciplinary degree rather than a more traditional disciplinary one, and how this degree fits into your intellectual and personal future (Rutgers University - Ph.D in Women’s and Gender Studies).
  • Your application requires a written statement to uploaded into your application and is a critical component of your application for admission. This is your opportunity to tell us what excites you about the field of library and information science, and what problems you want to help solve in this field. Please also tell us how your prior experiences have prepared you for this next step toward your career goals and how this program will help you achieve them (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill - Master of Science in Library Science).
  • After watching the video, please describe what strengths and preferences as a learner you have that will facilitate your success in this innovative curriculum. What challenges in our curriculum do you anticipate and what strategies might you use to address these challenges? (MGH Institute of Health Professions PT - They recently redesigned their curriculum)
  • Your personal goal statement should briefly describe how you view the future of the field, what your goals are to be part of that future, and what brought you to pursue an advanced education degree in your chosen field. You may include any other information that you feel might be useful. (Northeastern PT)
  • Personal Statement: In 500 words or less, describe a meaningful educational experience that affected your professional goals and growth and explain how it impacted you. The educational experience does not need to be related to this degree. Focus on the educational experience and not why you think you would be a good professional in this field. (Simmons PT)
  • Personal Statement (500 word minimum): State your reasons for seeking admission to this program at this institution. Include your professional goals, why you want to pursue a career in this field and how admission to this program will assist you in accomplishing those goals. (Regis College Nursing)
  • “Use the space provided to explain why you want to go to this type of program.” (AMCAS)
  • Address the following three questions(Though there is no set limit, most statements are 1–2 pages, single-spaced.): What are your reasons for pursuing this degree? Why do you wish to pursue your degree at this institution? How do you intend to leverage your degree in a career of this field? (Boston University MPH)
  • Please submit a personal statement/statement of purpose of no more than 500 words for the department/degree of choice. Professional degree essays require a clear understanding of the _______ field and how you hope to work within the field. Be sure to proofread your personal statement carefully for spelling and grammar. In your statement, be sure to address the following: what interests you in the field of _____ what interests you in a specific degree program and department at this institution and what interests you in a particular certificate (if applicable). Please also describe how you hope to use your ________ training to help you achieve your career goals. (Columbia PhD in Public Health - Epidemiology)
  • Because each Home Program requires significant original research activities in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, we are interested in obtaining as much information as possible about your previous research experiences. Those who already have such experience are in a better position to know whether they are truly interested in performing ______ research as part of a graduate program. Please include specific information about your research experience in your Statement of Purpose. You may also use the Statement to amplify your comments about your choice of Home Program(s), and how your past experiences and current interests are related to your choice. Personal Statements should not exceed two pages in length (single spaced). Make sure to set your computer to Western European or other English-language setting. We cannot guarantee the ability to access your statement if it is submitted in other fonts. (Stanford Biosciences PhD)
  • Your statement of purpose should describe succinctly your reasons for applying to the Department of ____ at ___ University. It would be helpful to include what you have done to prepare for this degree program. Please describe your research interests, past research experience, future career plans and other details of your background and interests that will allow us to evaluate your ability to thrive in our program. If you have interests that align with a specific faculty member, you may state this in your application. Your statement of purpose should not exceed two pages in length (single spaced). (Stanford Bioengineering PhD)
  • Statement of purpose (Up to one page or 1,000 words): Rather than a research proposal, you should provide a statement of purpose. Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at this institution and your relevant experience and education. Please provide an indication of the area of your proposed research and supervisor(s) in your statement. This will be assessed for the coherence of the statement; evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study; the ability to present a reasoned case in English; and commitment to the subject. (Oxford Inorganic Chemistry - DPhil)

Related resources

Which program are you applying to?


Accepted Admissions Blog

Everything you need to know to get Accepted

my personal statement is too short

May 12, 2022

How Personal is Too Personal?

How Personal is Too Personal in Your Application Essays?

The personal statement is a terrific opportunity to share an intriguing and unique aspect of your life with the admissions committees. How much should you tell? At what point are you crossing the line into TMI? 

When I applied to college, I wrote a personal statement describing some challenging family circumstances I’d had while growing up. I can still remember my best friend warning me that it was too risky, too intense. So I went back to the essay and asked myself: What did I learn from this experience? Does it speak to my strengths and individual qualities , or is it something meant for a therapist’s office or a private journal?

I studied the essay carefully and made sure it gave the reader a good sense of who I really was , and that it wasn’t just about the people in my family. I was careful to focus on what I had learned from these challenges and how the experience had made me grow into a more independent, compassionate person.

I decided to send it in and I was accepted. In fact, one admissions counselor even wrote me a personal note about my essay! So in that case, taking the leap was well worth it. But, in some cases, it is not.

What are the adcoms looking for?

All admissions committees want to accept a wide range of interesting, talented applicants . They want – as you would, if you were picking a team of any sort – a diverse group of smart, motivated, innovative individuals who can come together to create a dynamic, richly layered community. They want people with integrity who will get along with others, and they want people who will enhance their campus community in an endless variety of ways. They also want applicants who are resilient, stable and confident, and who have already achieved important things in their lives.

How do you choose a personal, but not too personal essay topic?

Prepare for your personal statement by listing the most meaningful and significant events in your life. Which experiences really changed you, influenced you, and made you the person you are today?

Questions you may want to address that would offer lively, distinctive essay material include:

  • Did you grow up overseas?
  • Do you speak several languages?
  • Are you from a cultural background that might make you stand out or may have enriched your life in a special way?
  • Do you have a handicap that has in fact made you stronger?
  • Do you love to cook Thai food, run marathons, play the piano?
  • Do you have a passion or interest that gives meaning to your life?
  • What have you had to work really hard at?
  • When have your values been challenged and how did you respond?
  • When have you had to take a risk? What was at stake?
  • Have you had to overcome a personal challenge?

READ: 7 Simple Steps to Writing an Excellent Diversity Essay >>

Mark the questions that helped you clarify your values and your direction in life. The situations you describe can be personal, but only up to a point: beware of revealing too much that is emotionally intimate. Ask yourself: Do these experiences make me sound emotionally unstable, ambivalent, or insecure? If so, don’t bring them to the admissions committee. But if your topic has helped you become stronger and wiser, then I’d consider it a viable option.

Tips for sharing personal stories

Here are a few additional tips to help you determine if your personal statement is too personal or just right for displaying your inner truths and ambitions:

  • Always be honest, but avoid overdramatization. Admissions committees can smell exaggeration from a mile away!
  • Don’t give details about your current or past romantic relationships. This is information to share with your therapist or best friend, but not the adcom!
  • Don’t focus your anecdotes on resentment, anger, or other feelings of ill will. Instead, focus on strength, recovery, and growth – in short, resilience.
  • Don’t simply write about an experience that happened. Instead, emphasize what you learned from the experience and show how it has changed you. Describe how your new self-knowledge has led you to make new, perhaps bolder decisions, revealing you as a more mature, evolved individual. 

With these guidelines in mind, start your creative engines and begin to write! Be authentic, be yourself, and show how your life experiences have helped you grow.

The expert advisors at Accepted can help you with your application essays, from choosing a topic (and making sure it’s an appropriate one!) to putting the final touches and making it ready to submit. Explore our Graduate Application Services and we’ll match you with a personal admissions coach who will help you GET ACCEPTED.

From Example to Exemplary - Download your guide today!

Related Resources:

  • 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Application Essays , a free guide
  • Different Dimensions of Diversity , a podcast episode
  • Proving Character Traits in Your Application Essays

About Us Press Room Contact Us Podcast Accepted Blog Privacy Policy Website Terms of Use Disclaimer Client Terms of Service

Accepted 1171 S. Robertson Blvd. #140 Los Angeles CA 90035 +1 (310) 815-9553 © 2022 Accepted

Stamp of AIGAC Excellence

Politics latest: Rishi Sunak dismisses speculation around general election date

The prime minister has shut down any lingering speculation he could go to the country at the same time as the local elections.

Thursday 14 March 2024 23:01, UK

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

  • PM rules out 2 May general election
  • Labour deputy leader says Abbott should have suspension from parliamentary party lifted
  • Electoral Dysfunction:  Phillips also says Abbott should have party whip restored
  • Profile: Tory donor at centre of row  |  Political donation rules explained
  • Gove names some of groups that will be re-assessed under new extremism definition
  • But he's accused of 'hiding behind parliamentary privilege'
  • Live reporting by Faith Ridler

But before you go, here are Thursday's highlights:

  • Rishi Sunak has ruled out holding a general election on 2 May following speculation the prime minister could choose to go to the polls early;
  • Michael Gove has named five groups that will be re-assessed as a result of the government's new definition of extremism;
  • Speaking in the Commons, the communities secretary said two far-right organisations - the British National Socialist Movement and the Patriotic Alternative - and three Islamist organisations - the Muslim Association of Britain, Cage and Mend - were groups "we should be concerned" about;
  • The Conservative Party has reportedly received a further £5m from a donor embroiled in a race row over comments he is said to have made about Diane Abbott ;

Northern Ireland's first minister has urged the United States to bring the same critical approach to pursuing a ceasefire in the Middle East that it once brought to Northern Ireland.

We'll be back at 6am with all the latest from Westminster.

Michelle O'Neill and her power-sharing partner, Emma Little-Pengelly, the deputy first minister, are on a trade mission to Washington, where they will meet President Joe Biden at events marking St Patrick's Day.

The first minister said: "When it comes to the Middle East, firstly, I will always recognise the constructive role that US administrations played in terms of the peace process.

"I don't believe we would have had the Good Friday Accord if we had not had the role of the United States, so we're grateful for that.

"But I think that same critical approach, practical approach, that they applied to the Irish peace process, they now need to apply to the Middle East."

You can read more from our senior Ireland correspondent David Blevins below:

It's an election year - and that means political donations have ramped up.

And this has been compounded by the comments of Frank Hester, who said Labour MP Diane Abbott made him "want to hate all black women", after giving £10m to the Conservatives.

But what exactly are the rules on donations? Do they change for elections? Who gets the most money? Why do people donate? And can parties give funds back?

Below, our political reporter Tim Baker explains:

The Sky News live poll tracker - collated and updated by our Data and Forensics team - aggregates various surveys to indicate how voters feel about different political parties.

Labour is still sitting comfortably on a roughly 20-point lead, averaging at 43.7% in the polls, with the Tories on 23.9%.

In third is Reform UK on 11.1%, followed by the Lib Dems on 10.0%.

The Green Party stands at 5.8%, and the SNP on 3.0%.

See the latest update below - and you can read more about the methodology behind the tracker  here .

One year ago, Rishi Sunak made five pledges for voters to judge him on.

The prime minister met his pledge to halve inflation by the end of 2023, leaving four pledges outstanding.

However, he is faring less well with his other pledges.

It has been confirmed the UK is now in recession, which means the PM's pledge to grow the economy is not being met.

With the general election approaching, how is Mr Sunak doing on delivering his other promises?

You can see the progress for yourself below.

The government has unveiled its new definition of extremism as part of a drive to clamp down on Islamist and far-right extremism.

Some have warned the change could have a "chilling effect" on free speech, while others have said it doesn't go far enough.

How has the definition changed, why has the government done it, and why is it under scrutiny? Here's everything you need to know.

What is the new definition of extremism?

The definition describes extremism as "the promotion or advancement of an ideology based on violence, hatred or intolerance" that aims to "negate or destroy the fundamental rights and freedoms of others" or "undermine, overturn or replace the UK's system of liberal parliamentary democracy and democratic rights".

It also includes those who "intentionally create a permissive environment for others to achieve" either of those aims.

What was the old definition?

The 2011 definition described extremism as "vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and belief" as well as "calls for the death of members of our armed forces".

Why has the government changed it?

Communities Secretary Michael Gove told Sky News the new definition is seeking "specifically to respond to the increase in the amount of antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred that we've seen on our streets and social media and elsewhere" since the Israel-Hamas war began.

But he denied suggestions the change was intended to prevent people demonstrating, saying it was "not a restraint on free speech" and only applies to engagement with government.

Essentially, the government's new definition means organisations that perhaps wouldn't have fallen under the "extremism category" before will now do so, prohibiting them from being eligible for government support and funding.

"We know that there's been cases in the past where individual extremist organisations have sought to take advantage of government patronage, money and influence in order to advance their agenda," Mr Gove said.

"So today's definition applies only to government and makes it clear that we will keep these organisations at arm's length so they can't benefit from access to government and its funds."

He added the new definition isn't statutory and is "about making sure that government uses its powers and its money in a wise way".

Read more here:

In the early months of the Iraq war in 2003, around 88 British troops were deployed to the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant to provide round-the-clock security. 

 What the soldiers didn't know was that while on duty, they were being exposed to a carcinogenic chemical used to maintain the pipes in the plant. 

Ten ex-soldiers have now spoken out for the first time after suffering a range of health problems, including daily nosebleeds, a brain tumour and several diagnoses of cancer. 

Today on the Daily, Niall Paterson speaks to Sky's Michael Drummond about his report into why the former troops are still seeking reparations, and to ex-RAF sergeant Andy Tosh who was exposed to the chemical and says his health has been permanently damaged. 

Plus, we'll get the latest from deputy political editor Sam Coates on the government's new definition of 'extremism'.  

Sky News revealed yesterday that children have been filming themselves using the devices to hurt animals, and sharing the videos in a UK-wide network on WhatsApp.

Earlier today, Henry Smith, the Conservative MP for Crawley, raised the investigation in the House of Commons.

Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the House, said she would flag the issue with Home Secretary James Cleverly.

Watch the exchange below...

Just 24 hours ago I said Downing Street needed to shut down talk of a May election.

Tonight just before 7pm, that's exactly what Rishi Sunak did. 

But he didn't repeat his preference for second half of the year.

 We only know not 2 May - and it's a decision that's his and his alone.

Someone in Team Sunak said when that happened they hoped things would calm down.  But that seems... a big ask.

The reason we were talking about a 2 May election was because MPs increasingly didn't think the prime minister was up to it - had anything left in the tank. 

Or if he could withstand the presumed drubbing on the council elections - and deal with more small boats coming while the weather is better. 

An early election had been a safety valve for those concerns.

Now that's gone, it's not clear what happens next.  

Reaction is starting to pour in to Rishi Sunak's decision to rule out a general election on 2 May - the day of the local elections.

Pat McFadden, Labour's national campaign co-ordinator, said the British public have a "right to expect an election to be called by 26 March and held on 2 May".

He adds: "Until the day to call it has passed, we are prepared for the election to take place on the usual day in the election cycle. 

"Rishi Sunak should stop squatting in Downing Street and give the country what it desperately needs – a chance for change with a Labour government. 

"The prime minister needs to finally come clean with the public and name the date of the election now."

Be the first to get Breaking News

Install the Sky News app for free

my personal statement is too short

The biggest moments from Biden’s 2024 State of the Union address

President Biden delivered an aggressive State of the Union speech Thursday night in which he drew sharp contrasts with former president Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress.

Biden made reference to “my predecessor” more than a dozen times and challenged GOP lawmakers over their resistance to his first-term agenda. As the speech went on, he increasingly engaged with angry outbursts from the audience .

It was a speech befitting the political moment, as Biden faces an expected rematch against Trump and tries to push his agenda through a polarized Congress.

While Republicans found multiple occasions to jeer, Democrats broke out in chants of “Four more years!” more than once.

Here were six highlights:

‘My predecessor’

Within the first few minutes of the speech, Biden swiped at Trump — and did not let up.

Biden knocked Trump over topics including his coziness with Russia, the Jan. 6 , 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, and his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.

After describing the economic and societal anguish brought by the pandemic, Biden said his predecessor “failed the most basic” presidential duty: “the duty to care.”

That drew an angry outburst from the audience as someone yelled out, “Liar!” House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) shook his head.

Abortion rights

Biden wasted little time addressing a top issue for Democrats in the November election: abortion rights.

Biden criticized Trump for bragging about appointing the Supreme Court justices who in 2022 helped overturn Roe v. Wade and end the constitutional right to an abortion. And with some of the justices in the audience, Biden warned that the decision has unleashed a political storm.

“With all due respect, justices, women are not without electoral or political power,” Biden said. “You’re about to realize just how much.”

Biden also seized on the recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are children , which has disrupted fertility care in the state. Democrats have called it the latest consequence of Republicans’ long campaign against abortion rights and reproductive care. Biden challenged the GOP to “guarantee” IVF protections “nationwide.”

Looking to November, Biden also accused Trump of wanting a national abortion ban, a topic the former president has ducked as he prepares for the general election. “My god, what other freedoms would you take away?” Biden said.

Mixing it up with congressional Republicans

While Biden repeatedly criticized Trump, he also did not hesitate to mix it up with the Republican lawmakers in the room.

Discussing Jan. 6 early in the speech, Biden said Trump “and some of you here seek to bury the truth” about what happened that day.

As the speech went on, though, Republicans in the audience became more willing to respond — and Biden obliged them. One of those moments arrived when Biden charged Republicans with wanting to cut Social Security and cut taxes for the wealthy.

“Oh, no? You guys don’t want another $2 trillion tax cut?” Biden said. “I kind of thought that’s what your plan was. Well, that’s good to hear.”

Biden also appeared happy to highlight the unanimous Republican opposition some of his signature proposals have faced in Congress. Referencing the Inflation Reduction Act — a sweeping measure to combat climate change, lower health-care costs and reduce the federal deficit — that Biden signed in 2022, he said Thursday that it sought to lower prescription drug prices and noted that “not one of you Republican buddies voted for it.”

Border battle

Addressing one of the biggest vulnerabilities in his reelection campaign — the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border — Biden again called on Republicans to drop their resistance to the Senate bipartisan security deal that the GOP recently scuttled at the behest of Trump.

“We can fight about fixing the border,” Biden said, “or we can fix it.”

The border deal would overhaul the asylum system and give the president new power to effectively shut down the border if illegal crossings reach a certain threshold. But Trump lobbied Republican lawmakers to oppose the deal, calling it a political gift for Biden.

Biden touted the proposal’s toughness in his speech, which led to objections from Republicans in the audience. Biden also used the moment to engage with GOP lawmakers, credulously asking why they did not like a bill “that conservatives got together and said was a good bill.”

Going into the speech, Republicans had challenged Biden to “say her name” and mention Laken Riley, the slain Georgia nursing student whose alleged killer, immigration authorities say, illegally entered the country .

They got their way — sort of — while Biden discussed the bipartisan border security deal. Responding to an outburst from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Biden paused and addressed the matter, though he appeared to initially mispronounce Riley’s first name as “Lincoln.”

“An innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal, that’s right,” Biden said.

Tough on Russia

The first moments of Biden’s speech were striking not just for the direct criticism of Trump but also for the context in which it came. Calling for increased Ukraine aid, Biden deployed the kind of tough-on-Russia rhetoric that has become less common in the GOP under Trump.

“My message to President Putin … is simple,” Biden said. “We will not walk away. We will not bow down. I will not bow down.”

Ukraine aid has become tied up in Congress, in part because some Trump-aligned Republicans believe the United States should focus more on domestic issues than the overseas conflict.

Biden also did not spare Trump on Russia, hammering him over his recent comments that he would encourage Russia to do whatever they want to a NATO country if that country was not paying enough for defense.

“Bowing down to a Russian leader,” Biden said. “I think it’s outrageous, it’s dangerous and it’s unacceptable.”

The age matter

With polls showing many voters concerned about his age, Biden, 81, did not shy away from the topic.

“I know I may not look like it, but I’ve been around a while,” Biden said jokingly. “And when you get to my age certain things become clearer than ever before.”

He then referenced his age to contrast his optimism for America with Trump’s view, nodding at the fact that Trump is just four years younger than he is.

“Now other people my age see it differently — an American story of resentment, revenge and retribution,” Biden said. “That’s not me.”

Election 2024

Get the latest news on the 2024 election from our reporters on the campaign trail and in Washington.

Who is running? President Biden and Donald Trump both secured their parties’ nominations for the presidency , formalizing a general-election rematch.

Key issues: Compare where the candidates stand on such issues as abortion, climate and the economy.

Key dates and events: From January to June, voters in all states and U.S. territories will pick their party’s nominee for president ahead of the summer conventions. Here are key dates and events on the 2024 election calendar .

  • Election 2024 latest news: Biden to campaign in Michigan in latest visit to battleground state 12 minutes ago Election 2024 latest news: Biden to campaign in Michigan in latest visit to battleground state 12 minutes ago
  • 5 key X factors in the Biden vs. Trump rematch March 13, 2024 5 key X factors in the Biden vs. Trump rematch March 13, 2024
  • Biden and Trump secure their parties’ presidential nominations March 13, 2024 Biden and Trump secure their parties’ presidential nominations March 13, 2024

my personal statement is too short

my personal statement is too short

House Speaker Mike Johnson believes Hunter and James Biden made ‘untrue’ statements during impeachment inquiry

W HITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va – House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Wednesday told The Post that he believes President Biden’s son and brother made “demonstrably untrue” statements during their testimony to lawmakers as part of the impeachment inquiry into the commander in chief. 

“What was missing from those interviews, in my view, is a lot more truth,” the House speaker said at the annual House GOP policy retreat, held this year at the Greenbriar Resort in West Virginia. 

“I think they were fairly evasive,” Johnson said of Hunter and James’ impeachment inquiry testimony last month. “I think clearly – I believe that there was testimony provided that is just demonstrably untrue based upon the bank records and some of the evidence, whistleblower testimony, that’s come forward.” 

Johnson, however, stopped short of accusing Hunter and James Biden of perjuring themselves. 

“I’m gonna let people draw their own conclusions,” he said. 

“But I don’t think that Hunter Biden shared the whole truth. That’s my personal opinion,” Johnson added. 

Last November, Johnson argued that the impeachment probe into the president’s involvement in his family’s business dealings was reaching an “inflection point” and that congressional subpoenas for testimony from the first son and first brother would produce the necessary evidence to move the inquiry into a full-fledged impeachment trial. 

On Wednesday, the House speaker argued that the evidence the three House committees handling the inquiry have gathered “has confirmed what we all sort of suspected or knew intuitively” about the Biden family’s alleged influence peddling operation and that “a lot of untoward, probably unlawful activities” were taking place over the course of the scheme. 

Despite that, he was not prepared to move forward with a full House floor vote on impeaching the president.

“The committees of jurisdiction, as I mentioned, are still doing their investigations and that’s what they’re required to do under the law,” Johnson said. “It’s a very serious, sober minded, slow and deliberate process. I’m grateful that they handled it that way.”

“So all that is to say, I think there’s still some additional evidence that has not been turned over.”

“We’re just not quite yet to that point,” he said of voting on articles of impeachment. 

On Sept. 12, House Republicans initiated their impeachment inquiry, pointing to evidence from bank records , transcribed interviews with Hunter’s former business associates as well as documents and testimony from IRS whistleblowers that Joe Biden was aware of his son’s shady business dealings with foreign entities — and that his administration interfered during a five-year probe into them.

There’s evidence that the then-vice president met with associates of Hunter and his uncle James Biden from China , Mexico , Kazakhstan , Ukraine and Russia — directly contradicting statements Biden made during his 2020 presidential campaign and while in office .

Republicans also are looking into Hunter earning more than $1 million working for a corrupt Romanian businessman as his vice-president dad campaigned against corruption in that country.

There are no set rules on how long an impeachment inquiry can or must last.

The only real deadline is Jan. 3, 2025, when the 118th Congress ends its final legislative session. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson believes Hunter and James Biden made ‘untrue’ statements during impeachment inquiry


  1. Short yet informative one page personal statement sample. If you want

    my personal statement is too short

  2. 😝 Writing a good personal statement. How to Write a Powerful Personal

    my personal statement is too short

  3. 💋 Writing a personal statement for college application. 5 Tips On How

    my personal statement is too short

  4. How To Start A Personal Statement: Tips & Examples

    my personal statement is too short

  5. Personal Statement Examples

    my personal statement is too short

  6. Mini personal statement review

    my personal statement is too short


  1. Personal Statement Suggestions

  2. your personal statement sucks


  1. Personal Statement

    26. Reaction score. 0. Aug 23, 2010. #6. While I was sharing my personal statement with a program director, I was told to make it as short as possible -- with a page as the very upper limit. They have too many applicants and do not particularly like it when they are made to read tons of stuff.

  2. The World's Worst Personal Statement: Why It Fails and How to Fix It

    1. The pretentious quote. Not exactly highbrow literature. The personal statement opens with a pretentious-sounding quote, which, let's face it, the student probably found from Googling "quotes about English literature". It doesn't even come from a great work of literature - it's from a novel for young adults, which is unlikely to ...

  3. How to Write a Personal Statement (Tips + Essay Examples)

    In a great personal statement, we should be able to get a sense of what fulfills, motivates, or excites the author. These can be things like humor, beauty, community, and autonomy, just to name a few. So when you read back through your essay, you should be able to detect at least 4-5 different values throughout.

  4. How Long Should A Personal Statement Be: The Honest Truth

    Postgraduate statements should be around 800 words, as should most Statement of Purpose applications. Where no guidance is given, 800-1000 words (2 sides of A4) is an ideal length. There is another approach to take when considering the most effective length for a personal statement, which does not focus on word or character count. Check out the ...

  5. The ten biggest mistakes when writing your personal statement

    3. Spending too long discussing personal issues. Many applicants mention personal issues in their statement, like health and bereavement. This is relevant as it affects studying, but it might be better covered in your reference instead.

  6. How to Write a Personal Statement

    Insert a quote from a well-known person. Challenge the reader with a common misconception. Use an anecdote, which is a short story that can be true or imaginary. Credibility is crucial when writing a personal statement as part of your college application process. If you choose a statistic, quote, or misconception for your hook, make sure it ...

  7. Last Minute Personal Statement Tips: Finish It Fast!

    A personal statement is too short if it runs to less than half of the available word or character count. Applicants are not usually penalised directly for submitting a short personal statement, but shorter statements will contain less compelling content and evidence your suitability less fully.

  8. How to Write a Powerful Personal Statement

    A personal statement is a short essay that highlights the best qualities of the writer, usually in the context of school or job applications. Somewhat autobiographical, personal essays delve into the talents, skills, passions, ambitions, and accomplishments of the writer. ... Don't worry too much about spelling and grammar mistakes for now ...

  9. How to Write Your Personal Statement

    A personal statement is a short essay of around 500-1,000 words, in which you tell a compelling story about who you are, what drives you, and why you're applying. ... Don't focus too heavily on negatives, but use them to highlight your positive qualities. Resilience, resourcefulness and perseverance make you a promising graduate school ...

  10. How Long Should a Personal Statement Be?

    Personal statements are intended to be short, so if one sentence is not essential, take it out. You can even send your essay to a personal statement editing service. 8. Proofread ... If your personal statement is too long, review it and remove any information that is not 100 percent necessary. Unless a sentence is providing clear, important ...

  11. How Long Should Your College Essay Be? What Is the Ideal Length?

    Personal statements are generally 500-650 words. For example, the Common Application, which can be used to apply to more than 800 colleges, requires an essay ranging from 250-650 words. Similarly, the Coalition Application, which has 150 member schools, features an essay with a recommended length of 500-650 words.

  12. How to Write an Amazing Personal Statement (Includes Examples!)

    5. Use an authentic voice. Your personal statement reflects who you are, so you should use a tone that represents you. That means you shouldn't try to sound like someone else, and you shouldn't use fancy words just to show off. This isn't an academic paper, so you don't have to adopt a super formal tone.

  13. How To Write A Personal Statement (With Examples)

    If your personal statement is too short, go back to the program, scholarship, or job description. Make note of the preferred experiences and required skills. For example, if you've included a skill in your personal statement without experience to back it up, consider adding a brief story that shows you putting that skill into action. ...

  14. Personal Statement for College: 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid

    It is a personal statement for college - make it personal, and make it relevant to college. 8. Trying to do too much. You have 650 words on your personal statement for college, which in the grand scheme of things, is not very many. There is certainly not enough space to highlight everything you have ever done or achieved.

  15. My Top 10 Most Common Personal Statement Errors

    My Top 10 Most Common Personal Statement Errors - (6) Statement is too short. UCAS has given you 47 lines (or 4,000 characters) for a reason - they expect you to use them. ... One of the worst examples of this that I have seen over the last 12 years was a dentistry applicant who felt that a short 5 line statement would be enough to get them ...

  16. How short is too short for a personal statement? : r/premed

    My personal statement is turning out to be around 4300 characters, which seems somewhat short compared to the others who are bragging about hitting the character cap. Is it discouraged to submit a short PS? I feel like my essay is concisely portraying the things I want it to portray with a direct and streamlined narrative.

  17. Writing a Personal Statement

    A personal statement is a narrative essay that connects your background, experiences, and goals to the mission, requirements, and desired outcomes of the specific opportunity you are seeking. It is a critical component in the selection process, whether the essay is for a competitive internship, a graduate fellowship, or admittance to a graduate school program.

  18. Is it bad if the personal statement is short?

    HanginInThere. 5500 words is 5.5 pages roughly, if it takes you that long to tell the most powerful story of your life, then you either have one hell of story to tell or need to practice cutting out the filler. That's 5300 characters, not 5500 words. The personal statement is about one full page single-spaced, not 5+.

  19. How to Write a Powerful Personal Statement

    For a university application, discuss what parts of the program or school align with your passions. Your university introduction should be a full paragraph. 2. Expand on relevant skills, interests and experiences. The body of your personal statement lets you share more about your relevant skills, interests and experiences.

  20. How short is too short for personal statement? : r/premed

    Aim for around 5000 characters, give or take 100 characters. 4000 (even 4500) characters is too low. Surely there's something more to talk about. If you can fulfill the purpose of the personal statement with good to strong writing in less than 4000 characters, then there's no need to uselessly pad your essay. That being said, make sure ...

  21. How Personal is Too Personal?

    Here are a few additional tips to help you determine if your personal statement is too personal or just right for displaying your inner truths and ambitions: Always be honest, but avoid overdramatization. ... Instead, focus on strength, recovery, and growth - in short, resilience. Don't simply write about an experience that happened ...

  22. Is my personal statement too short? : r/6thForm

    Yes, your personal statement is too short. 46531. • 1 yr. ago. Yes. You either need to analyse a lot more of you need to add in other supercurriculars you've done. If you've not done any more supercurriculars, get on coursera or FutureLearn and get a MOOC done and analyse that or read a smallish book on the subject and analyse that. Best of luck.

  23. Is my personal statement too short?

    4. Hey, I've written what my teachers say is a good statement, but I've been told to change a sentence in it. Problem is, I really can't think of anything extra to say in the two lines, everything turns out too long or repetitive. If I just remove the sentence, that leaves my statement at 45 lines long and under the character limit.

  24. Politics latest: Gove defends new extremism definition after warning it

    The government has unveiled its new definition of extremism to a mixed reception. Some have welcomed "greater clarity", while others warn it could have a "chilling" effect on free speech.

  25. What if my personal statement is too short : r/ApplyingToCollege

    r/ApplyingToCollege is the premier forum for college admissions questions, advice, and discussions, from college essays and scholarships to SAT/ACT test prep, career guidance, and more. 1.1M Members. 1.6K Online. Top 1% Rank by size.

  26. The biggest moments from Biden's 2024 State of the Union address

    March 7, 2024 at 11:24 p.m. EST. In his 2024 State of the Union address on March 7, President Biden took several swipes at former president Donald Trump. (Video: The Washington Post) 'My ...

  27. House Speaker Mike Johnson believes Hunter and James Biden made ...

    WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va - House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Wednesday told The Post that he believes President Biden's son and brother made "demonstrably untrue" statements during ...