Write A Personal Statement Online

Examples of Successful Statements

Below are samples of personal statements. You may also select "Sample Statement" in the Media Box above for a PDF sample.

Statement #1

My interest in science dates back to my years in high school, where I excelled in physics, chemistry, and math. When I was a senior, I took a first-year calculus course at a local college (such an advanced-level class was not available in high school) and earned an A. It seemed only logical that I pursue a career in electrical engineering.

When I began my undergraduate career, I had the opportunity to be exposed to the full range of engineering courses, all of which tended to reinforce and solidify my intense interest in engineering. I've also had the opportunity to study a number of subjects in the humanities and they have been both enjoyable and enlightening, providing me with a new and different perspective on the world in which we live.

In the realm of engineering, I have developed a special interest in the field of laser technology and have even been taking a graduate course in quantum electronics. Among the 25 or so students in the course, I am the sole undergraduate. Another particular interest of mine is electromagnetics, and last summer, when I was a technical assistant at a world-famous local lab, I learned about its many practical applications, especially in relation to microstrip and antenna design. Management at this lab was sufficiently impressed with my work to ask that I return when I graduate. Of course, my plans following completion of my current studies are to move directly into graduate work toward my master's in science. After I earn my master's degree, I intend to start work on my Ph.D. in electrical engineering. Later I would like to work in the area of research and development for private industry. It is in R & D that I believe I can make the greatest contribution, utilizing my theoretical background and creativity as a scientist.

I am highly aware of the superb reputation of your school, and my conversations with several of your alumni have served to deepen my interest in attending. I know that, in addition to your excellent faculty, your computer facilities are among the best in the state. I hope you will give me the privilege of continuing my studies at your fine institution.

(Stelzer pp. 38-39)

Statement #2

Having majored in literary studies (world literature) as an undergraduate, I would now like to concentrate on English and American literature.

I am especially interested in nineteenth-century literature, women's literature, Anglo-Saxon poetry, and folklore and folk literature. My personal literary projects have involved some combination of these subjects. For the oral section of my comprehensive exams, I specialized in nineteenth century novels by and about women. The relationship between "high" and folk literature became the subject for my honors essay, which examined Toni Morrison's use of classical, biblical, African, and Afro-American folk tradition in her novel. I plan to work further on this essay, treating Morrison's other novels and perhaps preparing a paper suitable for publication.

In my studies toward a doctoral degree, I hope to examine more closely the relationship between high and folk literature. My junior year and private studies of Anglo-Saxon language and literature have caused me to consider the question of where the divisions between folklore, folk literature, and high literature lie. Should I attend your school, I would like to resume my studies of Anglo-Saxon poetry, with special attention to its folk elements.

Writing poetry also figures prominently in my academic and professional goals. I have just begun submitting to the smaller journals with some success and am gradually building a working manuscript for a collection. The dominant theme of this collection relies on poems that draw from classical, biblical, and folk traditions, as well as everyday experience, in order to celebrate the process of giving and taking life, whether literal or figurative. My poetry draws from and influences my academic studies. Much of what I read and study finds a place in my creative work as subject. At the same time, I study the art of literature by taking part in the creative process, experimenting with the tools used by other authors in the past.

In terms of a career, I see myself teaching literature, writing criticism, and going into editing or publishing poetry. Doctoral studies would be valuable to me in several ways. First, your teaching assistant ship program would provide me with the practical teaching experience I am eager to acquire. Further, earning a Ph.D. in English and American literature would advance my other two career goals by adding to my skills, both critical and creative, in working with language. Ultimately, however, I see the Ph.D. as an end in itself, as well as a professional stepping stone; I enjoy studying literature for its own sake and would like to continue my studies on the level demanded by the Ph.D. program.

(Stelzer pp. 40-41)

A Handbook for Students Applying for Scholarships and Graduate Study

For students, personal statements and application essays are among the most difficult and most important documents they will ever write. They are difficult because they require both introspection and polish, and important because the writer may literally be competing for tens of thousands of dollars in a huge field of outstanding candidates. A writing tutor who has provided guidance on more than a thousand graduate applications, Joe Schall advises you on how to be competitive but not cocky, informed but not formulaic, openly creative yet professional. As you consider ways to write your way into your future, count on this website to help you grow and thrive in the process.

About the Author

Joe Schall was the Giles Writer-in-Residence for the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State from 1988 until 2008. He received an M.A. in English from Penn State in 1988 and a B.S. in English Education from Juniata College in 1981. He has won numerous honors for his writing and teaching, including the Bobst Award for Emerging Writers from New York University and the Wilson Award for Outstanding Teaching from Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. His publications range from short stories to style guides (Writing Recommendation Letters Online and Style for Students Online). He has published articles about writing in a wide variety of magazines, including Graduating Engineer and Computer Careers, Writers' Forum, and Academe. By invitation, he has previously taught writing workshops on the subjects of his style guides at over 20 schools, including Pepperdine University, MIT, Roanoke College, SFSU, and the University of Southern Mississippi. Joe Schall is currently a Health Communications Specialist for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Features of this Manual

  • Internal search engine.
  • Printer-friendly chapters and pages.
  • “Self-Study” links to additional resources and recommended websites.
  • Sample documents available as PDFs.

Permission to Use Material from this Manual

This manual is available for free use by students, faculty, and other interested parties, and the intention is to make this material as widely available as possible. For those interested in obtaining permission to use any material herein, the rules are spelled out by the creative commons license.

Comments on this Manual

Comments on this manual are welcomed and can be directed to the author at schall@ems.psu.edu.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *