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How to Write a Personal Statement (with Tips and Examples)

Hannah Yang headshot

Hannah Yang

How to write a personal statement

Table of Contents

What is a personal statement, 6 tips on how to write a personal statement, personal statement examples (for college and university), faqs about writing personal statements, conclusion on how to write a personal statement.

How do you tell someone who you are in just a few hundred words?

It’s certainly no easy task, but it’s one almost every college applicant must do. The personal statement is a crucial part of any college or university application.

So, how do you write a compelling personal statement?

In this article, we’ll give you all the tools, tips, and examples you need to write an effective personal statement.

A personal statement is a short essay that reveals something important about who you are. It can talk about your background, your interests, your values, your goals in life, or all of the above.

Personal statements are required by many college admission offices and scholarship selection committees. They’re a key part of your application, alongside your academic transcript, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities.

The reason application committees ask you to write a personal statement is so they can get to know who you are. 

Some personal statements have specific prompts, such as “Discuss a period of personal growth in your life” or “Tell us about a challenge or failure you’ve faced.” Others are more open-ended with prompts that essentially boil down to “Tell us about yourself.”

No matter what the prompt is, your goal is the same: to make yourself stand out to the selection committee as a strong candidate for their program.

Here are some things a personal statement can be:

It can be funny. If you have a great sense of humor, your personal statement is a great place to let that shine.  

It can be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to open up about hardships in your life or failures you’ve experienced. Showing vulnerability can make you sound more like a real person rather than just a collection of application materials.  

It can be creative. Candidates have got into top schools with personal statements that take the form of “a day in the life” descriptions, third-person short stories, and even cooking recipes.

Now we’ve talked about what a personal statement is, let’s quickly look at what a personal statement isn’t:

It isn’t a formal academic paper. You should write the personal statement in your natural voice, using first-person pronouns like “I” and “me,” not in the formal, objective language you would use to write an academic paper.

It isn’t a five-paragraph essay. You should use as many paragraphs as you need to tell your story instead of sticking to the essay structure you learned in school.

It isn’t a resumé. You should try to describe yourself by telling a clear and cohesive story rather than providing a jumbled list of all of your accomplishments and ambitions.

personal statement definition

Here are our top six tips for writing a strong personal statement.

Tip 1: Do Some Serious Self-Reflection

The hardest part of writing a personal statement isn’t the actual process of writing it.

Before you start typing, you have to figure out what to write about. And that means taking some time to reflect on who you are and what’s important in your life.

Here are some useful questions you can use to start your self-reflection. You can either answer these on your own by writing down your answers, or you can ask a trusted friend to listen as you talk about them together.

What were the key moments that shaped your life? (e.g. an important friendship, a travel experience, an illness or injury)

What are you proud of? (e.g. you’re a good listener, you always keep your promises, you’re a talented musician)

How do you choose to spend your time? (e.g. reading, practicing soccer, spending time with your friends)

What inspires you? (e.g. your grandmother, a celebrity, your favorite song)

Doing this self-reflection is crucial for figuring out the perfect topics and anecdotes you can use to describe who you are.

Tip 2: Try to Avoid Cliché Topics

College application committees read thousands of personal statements a year. That means there are some personal statement topics they see over and over again.

Here are a few examples of common personal statement topics that have become cliché:

Winning a tournament or sports game

Volunteering in a foreign country

Moving to a new home

Becoming an older sibling

Being an immigrant or having immigrant parents

If you want to make a strong impression in the application process, you need to make your personal statement stand out from the crowd.

But if your chosen personal statement topic falls into one of these categories, that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t use it. Just make sure to put a unique spin on it so it still delivers something the committee hasn’t seen before.

personal statement videos

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Tip 3: Show, Don’t Tell

One common mistake you might make in your personal statement is to simply tell the reader what you want them to know about you, such as by stating “I have a fear of public speaking” or “I love to cook.”

Instead of simply stating these facts, you should show the committee what you’re talking about through a story or scene, which will make your essay much more immersive and memorable.

For example, let’s say you want the committee to know you overcame your fear of public speaking. Instead of writing “I overcame my fear of public speaking,” show them what it was like to be onstage in front of a microphone. Did your palms get clammy? Did you feel light-headed? Did you forget your words?

Or let’s say you want the committee to know you love to cook. Instead of writing “I love to cook,” show them why you love to cook. What’s your favorite dish to cook? What does the air smell like when you’re cooking it? What kitchen appliances do you use to make it?

Tip 4: Connect the Story to Why You’re Applying

Don’t forget that the purpose of your personal statement isn’t simply to tell the admissions committee who you are. That’s an important part of it, of course, but your ultimate goal is to convince them to choose you as a candidate.

That means it’s important to tie your personal story to your reasons for applying to this specific school or scholarship. Finish your essay with a strong thesis.

For example, if your story is about overcoming your fear of public speaking, you might connect that story to your ambition of becoming a politician. You can then tie that to your application by saying, “I want to apply to this school because of its fantastic politics program, which will give me a perfect opportunity to use my voice.”

Tip 5: Write in Your Own Voice

The personal statement isn’t supposed to be written in a formal tone. That’s why they’re called “personal” statements because you have to shape it to fit your own voice and style.

Don’t use complicated or overwrought language. You don’t need to fill your essay with semicolons and big words, unless that’s how you sound in real life.

One way to write in your own voice is by speaking your personal statement out loud. If it doesn’t feel natural, it may need changing. 

Tip 6: Edit, Edit, Edit!

It’s important to revise your personal statement multiple times in order to make sure it’s as close to perfect as possible.

A single typo won’t kill your application, but if your personal statement contains multiple spelling errors or egregious grammar mistakes, you won’t be putting your best foot forward.

ProWritingAid can help you make sure your personal statement is as clean as possible. In addition to catching your grammar errors, typos, and punctuation mistakes, it will also help you improve weaknesses in your writing, such as passive voice, unnecessary repetition, and more.

Let’s look at some of the best personal statements that have worked for successful candidates in the real world. 

Harvard Personal Statement Example

Love. For a word describing such a powerful emotion, it is always in the air. The word “love” has become so pervasive in everyday conversation that it hardly retains its roots in blazing passion and deep adoration. In fact, the word is thrown about so much that it becomes difficult to believe society isn’t just one huge, smitten party, with everyone holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.” In films, it’s the teenage boy’s grudging response to a doting mother. At school, it’s a habitual farewell between friends. But in my Chinese home, it’s never uttered. Watching my grandmother lie unconscious on the hospital bed, waiting for her body to shut down, was excruciatingly painful. Her final quavering breaths formed a discordant rhythm with the steady beep of hospital equipment and the unsympathetic tapping hands of the clock. That evening, I whispered—into unhearing ears—the first, and only, “I love you” I ever said to her, my rankling guilt haunting me relentlessly for weeks after her passing. My warm confession seemed anticlimactic, met with only the coldness of my surroundings—the blank room, impassive doctors, and empty silence. I struggled to understand why the “love” that so easily rolled off my tongue when bantering with friends dissipated from my vocabulary when I spoke to my family. Do Chinese people simply love less than Americans do?

This is an excerpt from a personal statement that got the applicant admitted to Harvard University. The applicant discusses her background as a Chinese-American by musing on the word “love” and what that means within her family.

The writer uses vulnerable details about her relationship with her grandmother to give the reader an understanding of where she comes from and how her family has shaped her.  

You can read the full personal statement on the Harvard Crimson website.

Tufts Personal Statement Example

My first dream job was to be a pickle truck driver. I saw it in my favorite book, Richard Scarry’s “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go,” and for some reason, I was absolutely obsessed with the idea of driving a giant pickle. Much to the discontent of my younger sister, I insisted that my parents read us that book as many nights as possible so we could find goldbug, a small little golden bug, on every page. I would imagine the wonderful life I would have: being a pig driving a giant pickle truck across the country, chasing and finding goldbug. I then moved on to wanting to be a Lego Master. Then an architect. Then a surgeon. Then I discovered a real goldbug: gold nanoparticles that can reprogram macrophages to assist in killing tumors, produce clear images of them without sacrificing the subject, and heat them to obliteration. Suddenly the destination of my pickle was clear. I quickly became enveloped by the world of nanomedicine; I scoured articles about liposomes, polymeric micelles, dendrimers, targeting ligands, and self-assembling nanoparticles, all conquering cancer in some exotic way. Completely absorbed, I set out to find a mentor to dive even deeper into these topics. After several rejections, I was immensely grateful to receive an invitation to work alongside Dr. Sangeeta Ray at Johns Hopkins.

This is the beginning of a personal statement by Renner Kwittken, who was admitted into Tufts University as a pre-medical student.

Renner uses a humorous anecdote about being a pickle truck driver to describe his love for nanomedicine and how he got involved in his field. You can feel his passion for medicine throughout his personal statement.

You can find Renner’s full essay on the Tufts Admissions page.

Law School Personal Statement Essay Example

For most people, the slap on the face that turns their life around is figurative. Mine was literal. Actually, it was a punch delivered by a drill sergeant at Fort Dix, New Jersey, while I was in basic training. That day’s activity, just a few weeks into the program, included instruction in “low-crawling,” a sensible method of moving from one place to another on a battlefield. I felt rather clever for having discovered that, by looking right rather than down, I eliminated my helmet’s unfortunate tendency to dig into the ground and slow my progress. I could thus advance more easily, but I also exposed my unprotected face to hostile fire. Drill sergeants are typically very good at detecting this type of laziness, and mine was an excellent drill sergeant. So, after his repeated suggestions that I correct my performance went unheeded, he drove home his point with a fist to my face. We were both stunned. This was, after all, the New Army, and striking a trainee was a career-ending move for a drill sergeant, as we were both aware. I could have reported him; arguably, I should have. I didn’t. It didn’t seem right for this good sergeant, who had not slept for almost four days, to lose his career for losing his temper with my laziness. Choosing not to report him was the first decision I remember making that made me proud.

These are the first three paragraphs of an anonymous personal statement by a Wheaton College graduate, who used this personal statement to get into a top-25 law school.

This statement describes a time the applicant faced a challenging decision while in the army. He ended up making a decision he was proud of, and as a result, the personal statement gives us a sense of his character.

You can find the full essay on the Wheaton Academics website.

Here are some common questions about how to write a personal statement.

How Long Should a Personal Statement Be?

The length of your personal statement depends on the specific program you’re applying to. The application guidelines usually specify a maximum word count or an ideal word count.  

Most personal statements are between 500–800 words. That’s a good general range to aim for if you don’t have more specific guidelines.  

Should Personal Statements Be Different for Scholarships?

Many scholarship applications will ask for personal statements with similar prompts to those of college applications.

However, the purpose of a personal statement you’d write for a scholarship application is different from the purpose of one you’d write for a college application.

For a scholarship application, your goal is to showcase why you deserve the scholarship. To do that, you need to understand the mission of the organization offering that scholarship.

For example, some scholarships are meant to help first-generation college students get their degree, while others are meant to help women break into STEM.

Consider the following questions:

Why is this organization offering scholarships?

What would their ideal scholarship candidate look like?

How do your experiences and goals overlap with those of their ideal scholarship candidate?

You can use the same personal anecdotes you’d use for any other personal statement, but you’ll have a better chance of winning the scholarship if you tailor your essay to match their specific mission.

How to Start a Personal Statement

You should start your personal statement with a “hook” that pulls the reader in. The sooner you catch the reader’s attention, the more likely they’ll want to read the entire essay.

Here are some examples of hooks you can use:

A story (e.g. When the spotlight hit my face, I tried to remind myself to breathe. )

A setting description (e.g. My bedroom floor is covered with dirty laundry, candy wrappers, and crumpled sheet music. )

A funny anecdote (e.g. When I was a little kid, my friends nicknamed me Mowgli because of my haircut. )

A surprising fact (e.g. I've lived in 37 countries .)

There you have it—our complete guide to writing a personal statement that will make you stand out to the application committee.

Here’s a quick recap: 

A personal statement is a short essay that shows an application committee who you are

Start with a strong hook that pulls the reader in

Tell a story to engage the reader 

Write in your own voice, not in a formal tone

Good luck, and happy writing!

Hannah is a speculative fiction writer who loves all things strange and surreal. She holds a BA from Yale University and lives in Colorado. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her painting watercolors, playing her ukulele, or hiking in the Rockies. Follow her work on hannahyang.com or on Twitter at @hannahxyang.

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How To Write a Personal Statement That Stands Out

How To Write a Personal Statement That Stands Out

Table of contents

personal statement videos

Laura Jane Bradbury

A personal statement is a chance to highlight your unique qualities, skills, and experiences, all while showcasing your personality.

But whether you're applying for university, a job, or funding, it can be daunting to write about yourself. To increase your chances of getting accepted, it's important to know how to create an effective personal statement.

In my six years as a copywriter, I’ve written many personal statements that get results. In this article, I’ll guide you through what to include, what to avoid, and how to tailor a personal statement based on your application type.

Key Takeaways

  • A personal statement is an opportunity to share your unique qualities, experiences, and skills.
  • It should always relate to the course, job, or funding you are applying for.
  • Include accomplishments and experiences that demonstrate how suited you are to the position or course you are applying for.
  • Use clear and simple language to ensure your points are understood.

Your personal statement should be concise and demonstrate how you fit the position or opportunity you’re applying for. It’s important to keep information relevant, rather than listing all of your skills and accomplishments.

Follow these steps to accurately write and tailor your statement.

Understand your prompt

Before you start, make sure you understand what's expected of you. Are there specific instructions, keywords, or phrases that stand out in your prompt? Read through it thoroughly and note the requirements. You can then brainstorm ideas for each point.

Let's say I'm applying for a university journalism course. I've been asked to write a statement that shares why I'm interested and why I would be a good fit. I can use columns to plan my content:

personal statement videos

Putting your ideas together first makes it easier to stay on track. Otherwise, you might lose focus and include irrelevant information. 

Show, don't just tell

Once you’ve listed your experiences, skills, and accomplishments, consider how you can demonstrate them with examples. Take a look at the list you created during the previous exercise and organize your points so you have clear examples and proof.

personal statement videos

This technique helps you demonstrate your experiences and how they tie in with your application.

When telling anecdotes, use engaging stories that demonstrate your skills. For instance, a story about how I handled a fast-paced news internship proves I work well under pressure. 

Start strong

Recruiters, application tutors, and funders read lots of personal statements. You can make yours stand out with an engaging introduction.

Examples of a strong opening include:

A meaningful statistic

This draws readers in and increases credibility: 

"Communication is the key to marketing success, according to Business Marketing News. With five years of experience communicating and delivering campaigns to global clients, I have the skills and passion to add value to your team."

A personal story

Anecdotes connect the reader with the author’s real-life experience: 

"My first exposure to microbiology was during my time as a research assistant for a microbiologist. I was fascinated by the complex and intricate processes within cells."

An alarming statement

This piques the reader’s interest by making an issue seem urgent:  

“ The fashion industry churns out clothes at an alarming rate, causing mass production of synthetic fibers and harsh chemicals which have a detrimental impact on the planet. Funding my sustainability initiative is vital to mitigating this environmental impact." 

Avoid cliches such as "From a young age, I have always loved...." and "For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for..."

Pro tip: Use Wordtune Editor 's Shorten feature to cut unnecessary fluff and make your intro sharper. Simply type in your sentence and click Shorten to receive suggestions.

personal statement videos

Get Wordtune for free > Get Wordtune for free >

Admission committees and employers appreciate sincerity and authenticity. While it may be tempting, avoid exaggeration. You can better emphasize your skills and personality by being honest. For instance, rather than claiming I read every type of newspaper in my journalism application, I can focus on my dedication to reading The New York Times.

Your writing style should also feel genuine. Instead of trying to impress with complex language and fancy words, keep sentences simple and direct . This makes them more effective because they’re easier to read. 

Address weaknesses

Addressing weaknesses can show your willingness to confront challenges. It also gives you a chance to share efforts you have made for improvement. When explaining a weakness, exclude excuses.

Instead of saying "I didn't achieve my expected grades due to work commitments impacting my studies," try “While I didn't achieve my expected grades, I am now working with a tutor to help me understand my weak areas so I can succeed in your program.”

Wordtune’s Spices feature can help you develop counterarguments to weaknesses. In the Editor, highlight your text, click on Spices, and then Counterargument . Here’s an example:

Wordtune Editor’s Spices feature can provide a counterargument to help you address weaknesses in a personal statement.

Using Wordtune’s suggestion, I can highlight my eagerness to learn and provide examples to support my argument.

Highlight achievements

This is your chance to shine! A personal statement should highlight your best qualities — provided they relate to your prompt.

Ask yourself:

  • What are your skills and strengths? Identify both academic and non-academic abilities such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork.
  • What challenges have you faced? Reflect on how you have overcome significant challenges and how these experiences have helped you grow. For example, completing a course, learning a new language, or starting a business.
  • What are your unique selling points? Consider what sets you apart from other applicants. For example, you may have a unique set of technical skills or experience learning in a different country.
  • How have your achievements shaped your goals and aspirations? Sharing your goals shows that you think long-term and have taken the time to make sure you’re applying for the right opportunity.

Connect with the institution or company

Tailor your statement to the specific institution or company you're applying to — this shows you understand their values and have carefully considered where you want to seek opportunities.

To do this, head to the company or institution’s website and look for the About page. Many organizations include a mission statement on this page that conveys its purpose and values.

Princeton University’s “In service of humanity” page highlights that they value supporting society and giving back.

For example, universities often include their values under “Community” or “Student Life” sections. Here, Princeton University’s “In Service of Humanity” section highlights how they value using education to benefit society. Applicants can engage with this by explaining how they interact with their communities and seek to use their education to help others.

You can also research a company or institution’s social media. Look for similarities — maybe you both prioritize collaboration or think outside the box. Draw upon this in your personal statement. 

End with a strong conclusion

A strong conclusion is clear, concise, and leaves a lasting impression. Use these three steps:

  • Summarize the main points of your statement. For example, “My experience volunteering for the school newspaper, along with my communication skills and enthusiasm for writing, make me an ideal student for your university."
  • Discuss your future . Share your future ambitions to remind the reader that you’ve carefully considered how the opportunity fits into your plans.
  • Include a closing statement. End on a positive note and offer the reader a final explanation for why you would be a great match. For instance, “Thank you for reviewing my statement. I am confident my skills and experience align with the role and your company culture.”

Tip: Learn more about writing an effective conclusion with our handy guide . 

Different types of personal statements

Now you know how to write a personal statement, let’s look at what to focus on depending on your application type.

personal statement videos

The length of your personal statement will vary depending on the type. Generally, it should be around 500 words to 650 words . However, a university application is often longer than a statement for a job, so it’s vital to determine what is expected of you from the beginning.

Whatever the length, it’s important to remove and edit content fluff , including any repetition or copy that does not relate to your prompt.

Personal statement checklist

Use this checklist to ensure that your statement includes: 

  • An engaging introduction.
  • Clear examples of your experiences, skills, and expertise. 
  • A commitment to improvement, if required.
  • Any applicable achievements. 
  • A direct connection to the company or institution’s values.
  • A strong conclusion that summarizes information without adding new content.
  • Authentic, simple language.

Personal statements are an opportunity to delve deeper and share who you are beyond your grades or resume experience. Demonstrate your ability with anecdotes and examples, address any weaknesses, and remember to use genuine and simple language. This is your place to shine, so follow our tips while displaying your unique personality, and you’ll be sure to stand out from the crowd.

Want to get started and create a powerful introduction? Read our step-by-step guide .

What is the difference between a cover letter and a personal statement?

A cover letter expresses your interest in a position and introduces you to an employer. It’s typically shorter and focuses on your qualifications, skills, and experience for a particular role. A personal statement, however, is common for a job, internship, funding, or university application. It explores your background, goals, and aspirations, as well as your skills and experience.

What is the purpose of a personal statement?

A personal statement is an opportunity to stand out by detailing your background, experiences, and aspirations. It should explain why you are interested in and a good match for the company or institution you are applying to.

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  • 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.

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How to Write an Excellent Personal Statement (Video)

Aim to craft an excellent personal statement, because this is your chance to show an admissions committee that you are the ideal candidate for them to teach on their course..

In this video, Jane Marshall, currently a Widening Participation Manager at  Imperial College London , talks about the do's and don’ts of an excellent personal statement.

Ms Marshall is certainly an inspiring and enjoyable speaker and an experienced professional with background from the London Schools of Economics and the  Institute of Education at UCL.

Treat the personal statement as you would an important piece of academic work. Don’t jump in with both feet first — take time to brainstorm ideas (try Googling "mind-mapping" and "spider diagram" techniques) and think carefully about the content and structure.

Remember that, first and foremost, this is an application for a course of study. So aim to focus at least two-thirds of your 47-line (4,000-character) statement on your academic motivations and interests. Show that you have an understanding of the subject and a genuine interest in it.

You will be expected to show that you have gained sufficient work experience or career knowledge through, for example, work shadowing, observations, taster days or networking with professionals.

Your personal statement should focus not just on what you did but on a reflection of what you learned about the career and the skills that it requires.

First impression

The first impression counts the most. Creating an original and engaging start to your statement will help to hold the reader’s interest throughout. Be positive. Even if selling yourself is a skill that you are not comfortable with, now is the time to embrace it.

Keep your language clear, concise and honest. Your personal statement should sound as though it’s coming from you, not a thesaurus.

Make it personal. Your statement should not sound generic. It should pull together all the motivations, interests and experiences that make you unique as a person.

Be prepared to write several drafts before you have a final version that you are happy with.

And remember to always proofread for errors (and get others to proofread it too) – an excellent personal statement, but one full of mistakes reveals a sloppy attitude and a lack of attention to detail.

Enjoy watching the video and don’t forget to comment!

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Video your personal statement

Our goal is to build a highly qualified and diverse student population. We still accept the Common Application, as well as, the traditional AUR online application; however, we have now created the American University of Rome video application to provide another platform for students to show us why they want to attend AUR, and how they will fit into our close-knit international community of learners.

Application Components:

  • Short video (2-3 minutes) that responds to the prompt below
  • Written response to ONE admissions essay prompt
  • Online application or Common Application
  • $50 application fee

Be creative! But remember, your video submission is only a part of a holistic admissions approach. Applicants will not be accepted based on their video alone.

Video Prompt:

The American University of Rome prepares students to live and work across cultures as skilled and knowledgeable citizens of an interconnected and ever-changing world. AUR is home to a highly diverse student body of roughly 500 students representing over forty countries. In reflection of this eclectic student body, students bring to the table a diversity in perspective that contributes and enriches our classrooms and campus. Tell us about how your personality and experience will contribute to our rich student body. We want to know: Why are you AUR?

Video Guidelines:

  • Your video should begin with a short clip of you in front of the camera saying, “Hi, my name is [insert name] from [insert hometown and state].
  • After that, what you choose to say and how you choose to say it is up to you. However, all videos must adhere to the basic YouTube guidelines .
  • Videos will not be evaluated for production quality; simple is fine (you can even use your phone), but you video must be a minimum of 2 minutes and a maximum of 3 minutes long.

How to Submit your Video:

Once you have created your video application you may submit it by uploading it as an “unlisted” video to YouTube, and then sharing the link with our Admissions team by emailing it to [email protected] . Please click on the following link for help with uploading your video to YouTube: Video Upload Guidelines .

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'Hisab Kitab Hoga': Shivpal Yadav's Video 'Warning' Voters Goes Viral, SP Leader Says Remark Taken Out Of Context

Sp mla brajesh yadav, who is seen sharing the stage with shivpal yadav refuted the allegations and said that the video has been presented after twisting its content..

Lok Sabha Election 2024 Shivpal Yadav Warning Voters Video Goes Viral Brajesh Yadav Budaun Samajwadi Party 'Hisab Kitab Hoga': Shivpal Yadav's Video 'Warning' Voters Goes Viral, SP Leader Says Remark Taken Out Of Context

New Delhi: A video of Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate from Budaun, Shivpal Yadav, has stirred controversy after it went viral on social media. In the video, Yadav can be heard purportedly stating, "We will seek everyone's vote. If you vote for us, it is all right, otherwise, the matter will be settled later." Although the location and date of Yadav's remarks remain unclear.

विधायक शिवपाल यादव ने कहा, सभी से वोट मांगिए, जो वोट नहीं देगा तो बाद में हिसाब किताब होगा। #ShivpalYadav pic.twitter.com/O4AJv2oDDm — Divyendu Rai (@DivyenduRai) April 5, 2024

In the video, Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA from Sahaswan Brajesh Yadav and Shivpal's son are also seen on the stage along with him. However, SP MLA Brajesh Yadav refuted the allegations, saying, the video has been presented after twisting its content, reported news agency PTI.

The video of Shivpal Yadav, reportedly recorded on March 15 during his visit to Gunnaur, has been traced to the Bilsi assembly constituency in Budaun.

The Budaun District Magistrate, Manoj Kumar, confirmed that the video is under investigation, with the Chief Electoral Officer of Uttar Pradesh seeking information regarding its contents, as per PTI. Shivpal Yadav, currently serving as an SP MLA from Jaswantnagar in Etawah district, faces scrutiny as Budaun gears up for the Lok Sabha elections in the third phase on May 7.

Shivpal Yadav Says Statement Taken Out Of Context 

Addressing the video controversy in an interview with a news channel, Shivpal Yadav clarified the context behind his remarks. Shivpal Yadav said, "That video, which was shown, was of 20-25 seconds. What was spoken before that (video) and after that was not shown", as quoted by PTI.

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"I had only said for those who had become MLA after contesting the assembly elections as SP candidate, but had voted for other party, that in the upcoming elections, the people will do 'hisaab-kitaab' (take account) from them", he added.

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Trump Shares Video Featuring Image of a Hog-Tied Biden

The social media post reflects the increasingly violent and personal attacks that Donald J. Trump has employed during the presidential campaign.

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Donald Trump stands outside in front of a line of police officers. A man to his left holds an umbrella over his head.

By Chris Cameron

Former President Donald J. Trump posted a video on Friday to his social media website that features an image of President Biden with his hands and feet tied together.

Mr. Trump posted the video to Truth Social early Friday afternoon with a line that said it was filmed on Long Island on Thursday, when Mr. Trump attended the wake of a slain New York City police officer in Massapequa Park, N.Y. The video shows two moving trucks decorated with flags and decals supporting Mr. Trump. The tailgate of the second vehicle features the image of Mr. Biden.

Macabre imagery targeting Mr. Trump’s perceived enemies frequently circulates online among right-wing provocateurs and pro-Trump groups, and in some cases has been featured at conservative conferences . Photos of trucks featuring similar images of Mr. Biden tied up have been shared across social media, and online vendors sell vehicle stickers with the image.

Mr. Trump’s promotion of the video featuring the image reflects the increasingly caustic and personal attacks that he has directed against Mr. Biden — for example, in a speech this month he said that “everything Joe Biden touches turns to” filth, though he used an expletive — and it extends a record in which the former president features violent imagery on his social media accounts.

“Trump is regularly inciting political violence, and it’s time people take him seriously — just ask the Capitol Police officers who were attacked protecting our democracy on Jan. 6,” said Michael Tyler, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, referring to a pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Steven Cheung, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said “that picture was on the back of a pickup truck that was traveling down the highway,” adding that “Democrats and crazed lunatics have not only called for despicable violence against President Trump and his family, they are actually weaponizing the justice system against him.”

The video was still on Mr. Trump’s Truth Social page as of late Friday evening.

The Trump campaign has repeatedly cited Democratic statements from years past to defend Mr. Trump’s rhetoric. Mr. Cheung on Friday pointed to a statement by Mr. Biden in 2018 in which he said, referring to Mr. Trump, “If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.” Mr. Biden was responding to comments that Mr. Trump had made about women on a tape linked to the show “Access Hollywood.”

Mr. Trump has previously posted doctored photos and videos depicting him physically attacking political opponents, focusing particularly on Mr. Biden in the last year. The former president has, for example, repeatedly shared videos depicting him hitting Mr. Biden with golf balls . Mr. Trump also posted a photo last year of him holding a baseball bat next to Alvin L. Bragg , the Manhattan district attorney, who is prosecuting Mr. Trump in connection to a hush money payment made to a porn star during the 2016 campaign.

Mr. Trump has also used increasingly authoritarian language on the campaign trail, repeatedly saying that migrants are “poisoning the blood of our country” and describing his political opponents in a Veterans Day speech last year as “vermin” who needed to be “rooted out.”

This month, Mr. Trump said that some migrants were “not people” and, amid a discussion of the auto industry, that the country would face a “blood bath” if he lost the election. A few days later, he attacked Jewish Democrats in a radio interview, saying that Jews who vote for Democrats hate their religion and Israel .

On Saturday, Mr. Trump posted to Truth Social a new attack on the daughter of Justice Juan M. Merchan, who is overseeing his hush money trial in Manhattan.

The attack linked to a news article that displays two pictures of the daughter, both of which appeared in Mr. Trump’s post.

The attack came soon after an official working for Mr. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, argued in a letter to the court that Justice Merchan’s daughter was covered by a limited gag order that the judge issued earlier in the week. The letter urged the judge to make clear that the gag order protects family members of the judge from attacks by Mr. Trump. The judge is expected to state in the coming days whether he agrees.

Mr. Trump also posted a handful of attacks on the judge’s daughter earlier this week. His lawyers have said that because she has done work for Democrats, Mr. Trump should be able to attack her, insisting that his freedom of political speech is being curtailed.

In one post earlier this week, Mr. Trump claimed that an account on X with a photo of him behind bars belonged to the judge’s daughter. Court officials said the account was not hers.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

Chris Cameron covers politics for The Times, focusing on breaking news and the 2024 campaign. More about Chris Cameron

Our Coverage of the 2024 Presidential Election

News and Analysis

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has emerged as a wild card in the 2024 election , attracting a motley mix of ideologically diverse supporters, raising piles of cash and drawing legal attacks from Democrats and verbal barrages from former President Donald Trump.

Melania Trump, who has been mostly absent from public view while her husband campaigns for president, will appear at a fund-raiser at Mar-a-Lago , marking a return of sorts to the political arena.

The centrist group No Labels has abandoned its plans to run a presidential ticket in the 2024 election, having failed to recruit a candidate. The group had suffered a string of rejections recently  as prominent Republicans and Democrats declined to run on its ticket.

Florida court rulings on abortion have all but guaranteed that voters will have the issue on their minds in November, bringing potential risks for two anti-abortion Republicans  in the state whose districts aren’t solidly red.

Trump’s falsehoods about mail voting have created a strategic disadvantage for Republicans, who must rely on Election Day turnout . The group Turning Point Action has a $100 million plan to change voters’ habits to encourage early voting.

The focus of Trump’s hotel business is shifting from big cities to his golf resorts,  after a deal to host tournaments for LIV Golf , the upstart league sponsored by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, another example of the ties between the Saudis and the Trump family.

Biden and Trump are the oldest people ever to seek the presidency , challenging norms about what the public should know about candidates’ health.

Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist and consultant, has spent the past two years telling Democrats they need to calm down. His Biden-will-win prediction is his next big test .

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Trump is selling ‘God Bless the USA’ Bibles for $59.99 as he faces mounting legal bills

Former President Donald Trump, now the presumptive 2024 Republican nominee, released a video on his Truth Social platform on Tuesday urging supporters to buy the “God Bless the USA Bible,” inspired by country singer Lee Greenwood’s patriotic ballad.

FILE - President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Trump is now selling Bibles as he runs to return to the White House. The presumptive Republican nominee released a video on his Truth Social platform Tuesday urging his supporters to purchase the “God Bless The USA Bible." (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

FILE - President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John’s Church across Lafayette Park from the White House, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Trump is now selling Bibles as he runs to return to the White House. The presumptive Republican nominee released a video on his Truth Social platform Tuesday urging his supporters to purchase the “God Bless The USA Bible.” (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is now selling Bibles as he runs to return to the White House.

Trump, who became the presumptive Republican nominee earlier this month, released a video on his Truth Social platform on Tuesday urging his supporters to buy the “God Bless the USA Bible,” which is inspired by country singer Lee Greenwood’s patriotic ballad. Trump takes the stage to the song at each of his rallies and has appeared with Greenwood at events.

“Happy Holy Week! Let’s Make America Pray Again. As we lead into Good Friday and Easter, I encourage you to get a copy of the God Bless the USA Bible,” Trump wrote, directing his supporters to a website selling the book for $59.99.

The effort comes as Trump has faced a serious money crunch amid mounting legal bills while he fights four criminal indictments along with a series of civil charges. Trump was given a reprieve Monday when a New York appeals court agreed to hold off on collecting the more than $454 million he owes following a civil fraud judgment if he puts up $175 million within 10 days. Trump has already posted a $92 million bond in connection with defamation cases brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll , who accused Trump of sexual assault.

Former President Donald Trump awaits the start of a pre-trial hearing with his defense team at Manhattan criminal, Monday, March 25, 2024, in New York. A judge will weigh on Monday when the former president will go on trial. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool)

“All Americans need a Bible in their home, and I have many. It’s my favorite book,” Trump said in the video posted on Truth Social. “I’m proud to endorse and encourage you to get this Bible. We must make America pray again.”

Billing itself as “the only Bible endorsed by President Trump!” the new venture’s website calls it “Easy-to-read” with “large print” and a “slim design” that “invites you to explore God’s Word anywhere, any time.”

Besides a King James Version translation, it includes copies of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as a handwritten chorus of the famous Greenwood song.

The Bible is just the latest commercial venture that Trump has pursued while campaigning.

Last month, he debuted a new line of Trump-branded sneakers , including $399 gold “Never Surrender High-Tops,” at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia. The venture behind the shoes, 45Footwear, also sells other Trump-branded footwear, cologne and perfume.

Trump has also dabbled in NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, and last year reported earning between $100,000 and $1 million from a series of digital trading cards that portrayed him in cartoon-like images, including as an astronaut, a cowboy and a superhero.

Donald Trump is facing four criminal indictments, and a civil lawsuit. You can track all of the cases here .

He has also released books featuring photos of his time in office and letters written to him through the years.

The Bible’s website states the product “is not political and has nothing to do with any political campaign.”

“GodBlessTheUSABible.com is not owned, managed or controlled by Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization, CIC Ventures LLC or any of their respective principals or affiliates,” it says.

Instead, it says, “GodBlessTheUSABible.com uses Donald J. Trump’s name, likeness and image under paid license from CIC Ventures LLC, which license may be terminated or revoked according to its terms.”

CIC Ventures LLC, a company that Trump reported owning in his 2023 financial disclosure, has a similar arrangement with 45Footwear, which also says it uses Trump’s “name, likeness and image under paid license from CIC Ventures LLC, which license may be terminated or revoked according to its terms.”

A Trump spokesperson and God Bless the USA Bible did not immediately respond to questions about how much Trump was paid for the licensing deal or stands to make from each book sale.

Trump remains deeply popular with white evangelical Christians , who are among his most ardent supporters, even though the thrice-married former reality TV star has a long history of behavior that often seemed at odds with teachings espoused by Christ in the Gospels.

When he was running in 2016, Trump raised eyebrows when he cited “Two Corinthians” at Liberty University, instead of the standard “Second Corinthians.”

When asked to share his favorite Bible verse in an interview with Bloomberg Politics in 2015, he demurred.

“I wouldn’t want to get into it. Because to me, that’s very personal,” he said. “The Bible means a lot to me, but I don’t want to get into specifics.”

When he was president, law enforcement officers aggressively removed racial justice protesters from a park near the White House, allowing Trump to walk to nearby St. John’s Church, where he stood alone and raised a Bible. The scene was condemned at the time by the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.

Before he ran for office, Trump famously hawked everything from frozen steaks to vodka to a venture named Trump University, which was later sued for fraud .

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