How to Write a Personal Statement for University: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Learning how to write a personal statement for a university is essential to your application. It may sound like a simple step, but truthfully, this letter plays a huge role in the decision-making process!

The admissions department reads hundreds of statements every day. You want to be unique, brief, and concise to grab their attention.

Check out all you need to know about writing a successful personal statement! 😉

What is a personal statement for the university? 

It is a letter that allows international students to show their experiences, skills, and personality to the admissions department at a university.

You often write these to explain why you would be a suitable candidate for the program that you are applying to. 

Remember: this is your chance to convince them that you deserve a place at the institution!

A man sitting on his desk and typing on his laptop.

How long should a personal statement be?

The length of personal statements is specified on the university’s website, usually on the admission requirements page. 

However, typically it should be 4000 characters, including spaces and punctuation, and no more than 47 lines. 

Personal Statement Structure:

There isn’t one structure that everyone has to follow. But, based on many successful examples and samples, the following structure is most commonly used:

#1 Opening Paragraph

Introduce yourself by showing your excitement and highlighting your interests and motivations to apply to the degree. 

It must be an attention-grabbing sentence and always avoid overused phrases such as “I have always wanted to…” or “I am applying for this course because…”. 

Instead, you can start with something like “‘My goal is to pursue a career in…” or “My fascination with psychology and the study of human behavior stems from…”.

To make this easier for you, you can keep in mind the following questions while writing the first paragraph to make sure you are covering everything:

  • What does enrolling in this course mean to you? 
  • How does the course fit into your career goals?
  • Why did you choose this university?
  • What do you want to do with your degree?

Make sure to be brief to be able to fit other points in your statement.

#2 Background

This is a shorter paragraph that talks more about your community and family background. You will need to dig into more details about how you became interested in the field.

Be sure to answer here these two questions:

  • What drove your interest in this field? Did something interesting happen that made you want to take this decision? 
  • Which aspects of the course are you particularly drawn to?

You want to discuss the program in more detail to further convince them.

#3 Academic Achievements

After that, you can start mentioning your academic achievements, including subjects you took at high school, previous degrees, certificates, or any courses that you pursued. 

You need to explain why you pursued that education and connect it back to the program that you are applying to.

For example, if you are applying to a computer science program and have taken coding courses online, mention that. 

Another example would be if you received excellent grades in a writing class in high school and are applying to a writing program, mention your high grades and awards for that class. 

A man and a woman wearing graduation gowns and hats.

#4 Experience/Qualifications

This is where you really want to focus on providing details. 

When discussing your past work experiences, you don’t just want to say “I had a part-time job as a Sales Associate” and end it there. 

You need to describe your main tasks and then explain how they developed your skills. After that, you want to link it back to the degree that you’re applying for. 

For instance, if it’s a business program, talk about how working in sales introduced you to this field and inspired you to work on that passion. 

If you don’t have any previous work experience, you can talk about any other volunteering or extracurricular experience that you have. 

If you helped an organization in your community, for example, you want to highlight that and discuss why and how that benefited you.

#5 Conclusion

The last paragraph must sum up the information in a brief way by emphasizing two main points:

  • What are your career goals?
  • Why would you be an asset to the university?
A man and two women sitting in the office on their computers.

5 Mistakes to Avoid in your Statement:

  • Grammatical errors. Make sure to have family members or friends proofread your statement for you! 
  • Oversharing. It’s good to talk about your story but always focus on your academic and career growth rather than personal aspects.
  • Too long. The committee will already be reading a lot of letters; you want to make sure that you are following the guidelines to show responsibility. 
  • Redundancy. Be sure to avoid repeating all the stated points in your resume! This letter is for you to showcase other important things about you. 
  • Tone. The voice and tone throughout your letter matter a lot. You don’t want to sound like you’re bragging about your accomplishments but rather professionally showcase them.

Ready to start learning how to write a your statement? Share this content with your friends who are also planning to apply to universities soon! 😉

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