What makes a good personal statement?

  • Your proudest personal achievement: Look for something that does not show on your resume or transcript -- learning to swim, saving money for a long range goal, making a bookcase, painting a picture. Explain why it was important to you: why was it a goal, why you had failed to do it before (or failed to try), what was different that enabled you to accomplish it now, and what you learned about the world or yourself from having accomplished it.
  • A major even in your life, either good or bad: This could be a trip, a family illness, a move to a new city. Explain what life had been like before the event, how the event changed you, and what you learned from it.
  • A changed belief: Explain where the old belief had come from -- family, peers, life experiences. Tell what made you rethink the belief, and what you believe now. Explain why the new belief is important to you

These topics will show something about you that is not already in your file, and will give the reader something to relate to and to like about your. This kind of personal statement can significantly increase your chances at your "reasonable reach" schools -- the ones where you are just a few points below the medians.

Source: the DeLoggio Achievement Program