Examples of Personal Statements for Strong Applications

, Staff Writer
Updated May 26, 2021
young man creating personal statement for application
    young man creating personal statement for application
    Robert Daly / OJO Images / Getty
    Used under Getty Images license

Get a quick overview of what a personal statement is along with the preferred structure to help you craft your own. See several personal statement examples in action, and read a full personal statement to help you on the journey to writing your own.

What Is a Personal Statement?

A personal statement is a special type of essay that you typically write when applying to school or scholarship programs. Personal statements are an opportunity to share a little bit about who you are and demonstrate that you're a good fit for a particular program. However, before viewing examples of personal statements, it's important to know a bit about their structure.

How to Structure a Personal Statement

Personal statements should make an impact. In addition to showcasing you as a multifaceted individual, it’s important to show why you are the right candidate. Therefore, a personal statement should address three things:

  • why you want to attend
  • how you're supremely qualified
  • how you'll go on to achieve greatness

A common theme in personal statements is overcoming adversity. You can convey significant personal achievements while demonstrating your diversity too. You're not simply writing why you want to attend a certain program. You're explaining why they'd benefit from having someone like you in their program.

Starting a Personal Statement

You may choose to begin with what influenced your decision to apply in the first place. Was it an important moment, a series of events or a significant person in your life? Then, demonstrate how significant events in your life brought you here today. Close with what you hope to achieve after you've completed the program you're looking to enter. View a few personal statement examples to get you started.

Personal Statement Examples

One of the main goals of a personal statement is to explain why you're an ideal candidate. To do that, touch upon your beliefs and experiences. See if any of these personal statement examples relate to your life. Then, you can use them as a springboard to tell your own story.


Graduate Education Program Admissions Sample

Explore a simple example of what the start of a graduate education program personal statement looks like.

When I was a child, I always looked for role models, and my fourth grade teacher stepped up as a very influential figure in my life. Mrs. Reilly took a personal interest in me. Her belief that I could be successful changed my entire life. I want to be able to provide other children with the same inspiration that I received many years ago.

Medical School Admissions Sample

Dive into how you might start your medical school admissions statement.

Doctors shape society and help it to grow. Healthcare is the most basic and fundamental human right. I learned that the hard way. My journey on the path to medicine didn’t begin the typical way. In fact, as a child, I wasn’t interested in becoming a doctor at all. However, the importance of medicine hit me in the face when the person I loved most in the world got sick.

Law School Admissions Sample

Are you looking at law school? See how these personal statements might start out.

My first encounter with the legal system was when my friend's parents were wrongfully evicted from their apartment. A lawyer helped them get their money back and return to their home. Beyond that, and perhaps more importantly, he gave them hope. I, too, want to pursue a noble profession that allows me to give the average person a voice within the legal system.

General College Personal Statement Sample

See a general admissions statement to give you a good starting point.

It has always been my dream to study journalism. Journalists share knowledge and help people make informed decisions about the world around them. It's well known that your university has one of the highest-rated Communications programs in the country. As such, there's no better place to pursue my passion, develop my skills, and, ultimately, shape the world we live in today.

Personal Experience Achievement Examples

Beyond sharing what brought you here today, you also want to illustrate why you're the right candidate. Consider what you've had to overcome in order to attend the program or school you're interested in. Or perhaps you have a unique perspective that would make you a valuable asset. See if any of these personal statement examples prompt you to recall an important person or experience in your life.

First-Generation College Student Sample

Telling your personal story can show your determination. See this first-generation college student excerpt.

As the first person in my family to have the opportunity to attend college, I will value every moment in your school because I know education opens an endless array of doors. I didn’t always think of going to college. None of my family had attended, so I considered joining the trades like my father and uncles. However, after watching their struggles in a job, they aren’t passionate about I started to truly consider my dreams.

Immigrant Student Sample

Showing that you've experienced and fought diversity can show your determination.

As an immigrant who came to the United States when I was 15, I believe I have a unique perspective on social issues that will allow me to make valuable contributions in each of my classes.

Financial Difficulties Sample

Diving into your life experiences can show admissions advisors you are prepared for the challenge of college.

In my final year of college, I found myself facing homelessness. For a month, I lived out of my car, too ashamed to admit to anyone how far I'd fallen. Nevertheless, I maintained my internship at BET as well as my 3.98 GPA. Now, I live in a gorgeous studio in the heart of Manhattan and work as an executive producer on one of BET's hottest shows. I say all this to illustrate my ability to push forward and achieve great heights, even in the face of terrible adversity.

Personal Goals Sample

Did your parents make a huge impact on your college choices? Share that in your personal statement.

My father was a strong man. He rose every morning at 5 a.m., commuted to the city for an 8 a.m. start, and returned home by 5 o'clock on the dime. He did all this to ensure he'd never miss an evening dinner with his family. When he retired, he confided in me that he dreaded 30 of his 33 years on the job. But, he pushed through because of the stability it provided for his home life. It was at that moment I vowed never to work a day in a job that doesn't suit me. My entrance into your program will assure the kind of life that I know my father would be proud of.

Full Example of a Personal Statement

While it’s important to know how to begin, it’s also pivotal to see the whole picture. Explore a personal statement from a student planning to enter a special education program.

It’s hard to remember what I wanted to be as a child. My dreams were always changing and molding. At one point or another, I wanted to be an astronaut, artist, and train conductor. Thank you, Thomas the Train. However, I distinctly remember the moment, I decided I wanted to be a special education teacher.
My brother, Bobby, is 12 years younger than me. Therefore, I was very hands-on in every aspect of raising him. So, our brother-sister dynamic is a bit skewed. I’ve always watched him grow and protected him. Therefore, I was the first to notice that reading was much harder for him than it should be. In fact, all his classes were. At first, my parents did everything they could think of to help him succeed. Nothing worked.
Eventually, my brother was diagnosed with a severe learning disability. His struggle with reading was at times painful to watch. Being his sister and protector, I started to volunteer in his special education classroom. Over time, I began to admire the determination of his special education teachers and acknowledge the difficulties of teaching children with learning disabilities. Each child is unique and special and their learning journey is as well. As I was entering my Freshman year of high school, I knew without a doubt I wanted to be a special education teacher.
Throughout my high school career, I volunteered in the special education classroom, getting as much hands-on experience with the children as possible. I also started actively researching different learning models and styles, trying out different ones during my tutoring sessions to see the effectiveness.
In addition to maintaining a 3.8 grade point average, I actively tutor special needs children in and around my community. I even started a club to help get more students involved. Additionally, during my senior year of high school, I started taking college courses just to prepare myself for the challenges that college would bring.
While I know that specializing in special education in college will be a difficult road, I anticipate the challenge in education and classroom techniques that my major will bring. I look forward to becoming an innovator in the special education field to help children like my brother succeed.

When to Write Personal Statements

There are many times in life when you might have to write a personal statement.

  • an application to a gifted program at your school

  • an application for admission to college

  • an application for admission to graduate school

  • an application for admission to business school

  • an application for admission to law school

  • an application to teach ESL, demonstrating your philosophy of education

Sometimes, you'll be given a topic that your personal statement should address. In other cases, you'll simply be asked to talk about yourself or why you would be a good fit.

Perfecting Your Personal Statement

Tell your story, and tell it with pride. Personal statements are meant to make the review board want to select you beyond any shadow of a doubt. Only you can tell your story. So, be sure to focus on the three key components. Often, you'll be asked to submit a resume along with your personal statement. Use these resume writing examples to make sure you're in tip-top shape. Then, if you get called in for an interview with the review board, here are some smart questions you'll want to have at hand.