Personal Statements: Do's and Don’ts

The personal statement is your opportunity to sell yourself in your application process. Check out the tips below to show yourself in the most positive way possible. Remember you can attend Career Center Drop-In Hours every weekday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. or schedule an appointment with your career consultant for assistance with editing.

Revisions are Important! UGA has a Writing Center with experts to help you at any point in the writing process. They can help you evaluate your personal statement or other documents and show you how to proofread your work for errors. Check out to learn more.

General, comprehensive personal statement:

General statements are often prepared for standard medical school, law school, and schools that use the Centralized Application System (CAS). These statements are used to apply to multiple programs, so they are often broader in focus.

Response to specific questions:

Business and graduate school applications often ask specific questions, so your statement should respond specifically to the question(s) being asked. You’ll want to also write about why you’re interested in the program, including your goals, research on the program, and the reasons why you are a unique candidate.

Top 7 Do's'

  1. Do strive for depth rather than breadth—narrow your focus to one or two key themes, ideas, or experiences.
  2. Do tell the reader something that no other applicant will be able to say. Be yourself, not the "ideal" applicant.
  3. Do provide the reader with insight into what drives you. Why are you interested in this field?
  4. Do hook your reader with your opening remarks— consider using a story.
  5. Do focus on the positives in the personal statement; consider using an addendum or other essay to explain blemishes.
  6. Do proofread carefully for grammar, syntax, punctuation, word usage, and style.
  7. Do use readable fonts, typeface, and conventional spacing and margins.

Top 7 Don'ts'

  1. Don't submit an expository resume; avoid repeating information found elsewhere in your application materials.
  2. Don't complain or whine about the circumstances in your life.
  3. Don't preach to the reader. You can express opinions, but don't come across as fanatical.
  4. Don't talk about money as a motivator; provide more substantial reasons you’re interested in the profession.
  5. Don't remind the school of its rankings or discuss how great the program is.
  6. Don't get the name of the school wrong if editing for multiple programs.
  7. Don't incorporate technical language or very uncommon words; keep your writing clear and straightforward.

Pro Tip

Avoid clichéd statements, such as:

  • “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is...”
  • “This question asks me to discuss...”
  • “It is my sincere hope that you will grant me the opportunity to attend your fine school.”
  • “In sum, there are three reasons why you should admit me...”