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Making an Effective Personal Statement

What is a personal statement and how do I write a good one?

A personal statement is your opportunity to speak directly to the admissions committee. It is your chance to set yourself apart and to convince them that you are worth investigating further via an interview.

Because personal statements are personal, there isn’t a precise formula for what constitutes success, although there are some common elements of an effective statement. These elements include addressing the question of why you would make a good professional, and, of course following directions. All personal statements need to be carefully crafted and extensively reviewed.

Staff of the School of Science and the PPHAC (Pre-Professional Health Advisory Committee) have reviewed existing advice for writing personal statements, and we suggest that you read the materials on the Web sites below before beginning your personal statement.

This Web page from the Carnegie Mellon Health Professions Program is an excellent resource for anyone writing any kind of personal statement for an advanced degree or professional school. It lays out some essential points about framing and focusing your statement, as well as emphasizing other grammatical and rhetorical elements common to all good statements.

For graduate school personal statements, please also review this extensive site hosted by Berkeley and our graduate school applications advice page.

For Health Professional School applicants, we suggest that you also visit the following site before beginning your Medical or Health Professional School Personal Statement.

  • also has advice that, combined with the two Web sites above, probably gives you all the information you need to understand what the Medical School Personal Statement is, who it is aimed at, and what you need to do to compile, review, and revise one.

PPHAC personnel and Associate Dean Duckett are happy to review personal statements for Monmouth students who make an appointment with sufficient notice (usually at least two weeks). Workshops on crafting a personal statement are given yearly; please see our main Professional Development Web site for a schedule. Workshops can be organized outside of this schedule with the coordinated request from at least five students; please email Dean Duckett.

Writing a personal statement is just that: personal. And for that reason you may also want to explore additional books and resources on personal statements. Other Web sites that the School of Science and the PPHAC faculty have reviewed that might be helpful are listed below. However, with the Carnegie Mellon site and the others above, a student should have enough information to craft a good draft of a personal statement.

Peterson’s: “Medical School Requirements: 5 Tips for Your Medical School Personal Statement”

U.S. News: “6 Personal Statement Do’s and Don’ts”