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Words of Wisdom

As to the adjective, when in doubt strike it out.

— Mark Twain


Howdy, Ags, and welcome to “Write Right,” the student podcast of the Texas A&M University Writing Center. I’m your host, Megan Dortch, and today’s “Quick Tip” will focus on an important part of your professional application package- the personal statement. But don’t be intimidated – even if you haven’t written an essay since your freshman English class, you can rest assured knowing that a personal statement is not like a dissertation, rhetorical analysis, or history report. It’s simply your opportunity to tell your story. Whether you’re applying for a job, internship, or higher education program, you should go beyond the outlined resume to your own personality.
Here’s some questions you may want to ask yourself:

  • What experiences have shaped who I am as a student and person? It may be a big life change or something small that affected you in a profound way.
  • What do I enjoy about my field of study? How did I choose it?
  • What are my goals, both professionally and personally? What motivates to me to pursue graduate or professional school?
  • Is there an individual, such as a mentor, who has greatly impacted who I am?
  • What can I offer to my field? What sets me apart?

As you can tell by these questions, personal statements are reflective. While they don’t have a specific format, they still contain an introduction, body, and conclusion. A good introduction will hook your audience and make you memorable. For example, you could tell an anecdotal story about yourself or your family. In your body, make sure you answer any specific question you’re asked. If an application wants to hear what you could contribute to a certain position, don’t spend the whole time talking about your motivation to apply. Be careful not to get side-tracked, and also avoid repeating information found in your resume, or other parts of your application package. Personal statements are only 1-2 pages in length, so choose your focus carefully.

Above all, make your statement distinctive. You want to separate yourself from all the other applications. Here’s your chance to represent your goals, experiences, and qualifications, and to show your readers who you are as a person.

For more resources on personal statements, you can visit our website, at Thanks for listening to this “Quick Tip,” and we’ll see you next time, on “Write Right.”

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute The University Writing Center, Texas A&M University.

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