Personal Statements & Essays

Below are some basic guidelines to help you write an effective statement or essay. We also have several printed resources in Career Services that can be checked out.

Click here to view our Writing an Effective Personal Statement Handout (PDF)


Tips for Personal Statements and Essays:

  • Create and develop your statement in relation to the question(s): What does the reader want to know?  Follow directions with respect to word limits and content.
  • Organize the statement to be clear, specific, detailed and concise.  Think of your response in terms of how your background, skills, abilities, goals, etc. match the characteristics and opportunities of the graduate program/school.
  • Think about what sets you apart from other applicants.
  • Demonstrate your written communication skills, motivation, energy level, creativity, commitment and depth of response.
  • Provide specific examples as appropriate.
  • Tailor your statement to each school; highlight key points.
  • Invite critiques by faculty and staff members in Career Services.

Things to avoid

  • Using too many "I's" in the statement or beginning each sentence with "I".
  • Using the phrase "I have always wanted to be a..."
  • Including personal information that can be misread or misjudged by a selection committee.  Understand that there is a fine line between providing personal information that strengthens an application or information that will have selection committees questioning your motives, abilities, etc.  (To avoid this, have others read your statement and provide feedback.)

Essay Critiques

Would you like to get feedback about your personal statement or essay? If so, you may contact our office to set up an appointment by calling (920) 465-2163.  To allow our staff time to effectively critique your statement, we ask that you e-mail or drop off a printed copy of your statement at least 2 business days in advance of your appointment. We also ask that you provide us with a copy of the questions or guidelines that the graduate school or program has provided for candidates.

Additional Resources