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Personal Statements

Developing your personal statement

Crafting a compelling personal statement is crucial for ensuring that your application stands out among the rest during the graduate or professional school admissions process. By following these tips and advice, you can enhance your essay and increase its chances of being noticed. 

What is a personal statement? 

Its purpose is to provide the admissions board with a deeper understanding of who you are beyond your academic achievements and professional background. It serves as a platform to showcase why you are the ideal candidate for the program and why your application deserves serious consideration. Moreover, it presents an opportunity to emphasize essential aspects of your life that may not be readily evident in other parts of your application. 

Differentiating itself from a statement of purpose, which may also be required in some cases, a personal statement delves into more than just your academic and career aspirations and past accomplishments. While it is essential to discuss these factors in your personal statement, its primary focus should be on your life experiences and how they have shaped you and your path to graduate school. 

Step one: Guidelines and tips to get started

Here are some guidelines/tips for crafting your personal statement effectively, envisioning it as a concise introduction to captivate your reader: 

  • Carefully read the personal statement question or prompt to fully understand its requirements and expectations. 

  • Begin working on your personal statement well in advance, allowing ample time for revisions and seeking feedback from faculty members, colleagues, or preceptors, if possible. 

  • Highlight your research interests that align with the position you are applying for, demonstrating your enthusiasm and expertise in the field. 

  • Mention any unique connections you may have to the project or program, showcasing your relevant experiences or perspectives. 

  • Clearly articulate what drives your passion for this research experience, explaining the motivations behind your interests and aspirations.  

  • Express what you hope to achieve and learn from this opportunity, emphasizing how it aligns with your academic, career, and research goals. 

  • Thoroughly proofread your personal statement, paying attention to grammar, spelling, paragraph structure, and correct punctuation to ensure a polished final draft. 

Step two: Conquer the blank page and illuminate your path ahead

Consider the following questions to help get you started writing. Getting started writing a personal statement is often half the battle! 

  • Why did you initially choose a career in [industry]?  

  • How and where did your journey begin?  

  • Who played a significant role in influencing your decision? 

  • What steps are you taking to prepare yourself? 

  • Who has provided you with guidance and support along the way? 

  • In what ways have you grown and evolved? 

  • Looking ahead, what possibilities lie on your horizon? 

  • Whom do you aspire to help through your career? 

  • What motivates you to embrace this challenge? 

  • Ultimately, what rewards do you envision as the payoff for your dedication? 

Step three: Format and structure

There isn’t one singular format when writing a personal statement, but you can start with a three-part format: Introduction, Body of the Essay, and Conclusion. 


Picture your “Before.” Where did you start this journey?  

Body of the Essay  

Picture your “During.” What have you done to prepare?  


Picture your “After.” Wrap it up by bringing it full circle from Intro.  

Remember, your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your unique qualities and convince the admissions committee of your suitability for the program or position. Take the time to craft a well-structured and compelling statement that reflects your true self and aspirations.  

How to Approach the Diversity Statement  

Diversity statements have become increasingly prevalent in graduate school applications and certain professional positions.  Usually limited to one page, a diversity statement follows a structure like a personal statement, but places emphasis on the candidate’s abilities, experiences, and/or eagerness to actively participate in diversity and equity initiatives.  

Guidelines for Writing a Diversity Statement 

  1. Reflect on your experiences: Consider your personal, academic, and professional experiences that have shaped your understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Think about moments when you actively engaged with diverse perspectives or advocated for equitable practices.  

  2. Research the institution or organization: Familiarize yourself with the values, mission, and initiatives of the institution or organization to which you are applying. Understand their commitment to diversity and equity to tailor your statement accordingly.  

  3. Identify your unique perspective: Highlight aspects of your background, identity, or experiences that contribute to the diversity of perspectives. Discuss how these aspects have influenced your worldview and your ability to contribute to inclusive environments. 

  4. Connect with your field or area of study: Explore how diversity plays a role in your field or area of interest. Discuss how your diverse perspective can enhance research, collaboration, and problem-solving within that field. 

  5. Share specific examples: Provide concrete examples of how you have actively engaged with diversity and equity. These can include experiences where you promoted inclusivity, fostered understanding, or contributed to initiatives that celebrate diversity.  

  6. Show self-awareness and growth: Reflect on personal biases or misconceptions you may have had in the past and demonstrate how you have grown in your understanding of diversity and equity. Discuss any actions you have taken to expand your knowledge and skills in this area. 

  7. Discuss future contributions: Outline your commitment to continuing your engagement with diversity and equity initiatives in the future. Describe how you plan to contribute to creating inclusive spaces or promoting equitable practices within the institution or organization. 

Example of a Diversity Statement 

As an aspiring graduate student in the field of psychology, I have come to deeply appreciate the transformative power of diversity and the importance of fostering inclusive spaces. Growing up in a multicultural community, I witnessed firsthand the beauty that emerges when individuals from diverse backgrounds come together to share their perspectives. 

My experiences as a first-generation college student have provided me with unique insights into the challenges faced by underrepresented groups in higher education. As I navigated the academic landscape, I realized the profound impact that access and representation have on shaping opportunities for marginalized individuals. These realizations have fueled my passion to actively contribute to diversity and equity initiatives within the field of psychology. 

During my undergraduate years, I actively engaged with diversity by volunteering as a mentor for a local youth organization that focused on empowering underprivileged students. Through this experience, I developed an understanding of the educational disparities faced by marginalized communities and witnessed the transformative effects of providing mentorship and guidance to these students. 

Furthermore, I have sought out opportunities to broaden my own perspectives by participating in workshops and conferences centered around cultural competency and social justice. These experiences have not only deepened my understanding of systemic inequalities but also inspired me to be a vocal advocate for change within the field. 

In my graduate studies, I am committed to conducting research that addresses the unique mental health needs of diverse populations. I aim to collaborate with community organizations to develop culturally sensitive interventions that empower marginalized individuals and dismantle barriers to mental healthcare. 

As a future psychologist, I envision myself actively engaging in diversity and equity initiatives within the institution, fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for all students. I am eager to contribute my unique perspective, insights, and skills to create spaces where individuals from all backgrounds feel valued and heard. 

In conclusion, my journey as a first-generation student and my passion for psychology have shaped my commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am dedicated to actively participating in initiatives that celebrate diversity, amplify marginalized voices, and work towards a more equitable society.