This handout will help you write and revise the personal statement required by many graduate programs, internships, and special academic programs.
Because the application essay can have a critical effect upon your progress toward a career, you should spend significantly more time, thought, and effort on it than its typically brief length would suggest.
(Note: If you are having trouble forming clear sentences without all the prepositions and nouns, take a look at our handout on style.) You may want to create an impression of expertise in the field by using specialized or technical language.
But beware of this unless you really know what you are doing—a mistake will look twice as ignorant as not knowing the terms in the first place.
Like many other patients I would see that year, this man suffered from an illness that only a combination of psychological and medical care would effectively treat.
I realized then that I wanted to be able to help people by using that particular combination of skills only a psychiatrist develops.
The essay may take two forms: This is a hard essay to write.
It’s probably much more personal than any of the papers you have written for class because it’s about you, not World War II or planaria.
You may want to start by just getting something—anything—on paper. Think about the questions we asked above and the prompt for the essay, and then write for 15 or 30 minutes without stopping.
What do you want your audience to know after reading your essay? Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, organization, or anything else. For help getting started, see our handout on brainstorming. Find the most relevant, memorable, concrete statements and focus in on them.