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Personal Statements

A "Personal Statement" is an important vehicle through which you introduce yourself to a third party for a specific purpose - enrolling in a graduate school, applying for a scholarship, seeking an internship opportunity, or applying for a job. To write a good Personal Statement, the skills required are as delicate as creating Coffee Art - and practice makes perfect! The following sections will introduce key qualities of good Personal Statements. The recommended links provide both practical and user-friendly tips, samples/templates, and textbook resources on writing Personal Statements (i) for Academic Purposes; and (ii) for Career Purposes.

Essentials for Personal Statements

Effective Personal Statements can open the door to an interview, selection for admission to graduate schools, or even help you to secure a scholarship – but just remember "COFFEE ART"

Contributions To demonstrate your worth through how you can contribute to the academic institution or organization,
Objectives and Plan To outline your objectives and plan in pursuing the immediate future goal -further studies, or entry positions into specific industry,
Fresh and Distinctive To stand out, you must be unique amongst thousands of candidates so that you will impress readers of your compelling Personal Statement. Focus on your features and core competitive advantage with concrete information,
Focused, Structured with Style To be well-organized, make your Personal Statement enjoyable and interesting to read,
Expressions To make sure your expressions and tone are used appropriately. You can also demonstrate your personality via your writing style,
Easy to Read To ensure that the content is concise and easily understandable,

Achievements To show your achievements, dedication, setbacks, and capabilities to overcoming hardships,
Reasons for Choosing Each Other To demonstrate specific reasons why you have selected the particular academic programme or organization; and convince them skillfully why they should choose you,
Theme To set out the theme or include headings for the content that you would like to communicate with the reviewer which fit with the specific purposes of your Personal Statement.

Samples For Academic Use - By Discipline

Recommended Print Resources

Graduate admissions essays: Write your way into the graduate school of your choice (3rd ed.)
Graduate admissions essays: Write your way into the graduate school of your choice (3rd ed.)
This book demystifies the graduate school application process and offers a detailed action plan that has proved successful for some of the most competitive programs in the country. The 50 sample essays selected from thousands of candidates showcase the best of the best, while the Essay Hall of Shame identifies common pitfalls to avoid. Sample letters of recommendation and essays for scholarships, residencies, fellowships, and postgraduate and postdoctoral applications cover all stages of the application process.

50 Successful Harvard application essays: What worked for them can help you get into the college of your choice (2nd ed.)
50 Successful Harvard application essays: What worked for them can help you get into the college of your choice (2nd ed.)
Each essay in the reference book is followed by a brief discussion written by a Harvard Crimson staff writer who analyzes its main strengths and weaknesses. Through this analysis and our Fifteen Steps to Success, you'll learn (1) How to pick a topic; (2) How to structure your essay; (3) How to keep the reader entertained; and (4) How to avoid common pitfalls.

How to write a winning personal statement for graduate and professional school (3rd ed.)
The personal statement is the single most important part of a graduate school application, and yet very few applicants know how to write one that will gain them admittance to the program of their choice. The edition shows readers numerous ways to greatly improve their essays.


  • “Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.”

    Mark Twain

  • “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.”

    Winston Churchill

  • “The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live.”

    Mortimer Adler

  • “Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.”

    Vernon Howard

  • “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

    Benjamin Franklin

  • “Be observing constantly. Stay open minded. Be eager to learn and improve.”

    John Wooden

  • “Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

    Abigail Adams

  • “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

    Henry Ford