The Structure and Organization of a Personal Statement
From Tara Kuther, Ph.D.,
The personal statement is an important part of the graduate school application. It provides the admission committee a chance to distinguish you from other A+ applicants and the opportunity to get to know you at a more personal level. Your personal statement has the ability to determine if you will be accepted or rejected by a school. Therefore, it is necessary that you write an essay that is honest, interesting, and well structured.
Many students write personal statements that are fascinating but incomprehensible to the reader and as a result, they may be rejected. Thus, the structure and organization of your essay is a crucial component to your personal statement. With a well structured essay, the reader will not only be interested in the content of your essay but will also know that you have the capacity to create a legible essay.
There are several different ways you can structure your essay but the most common format includes an introduction, a body, and a concluding paragraph.
- The introduction is the most important part of the essay, especially the first sentence. The first sentence can say a lot about the content and format of your essay.
- Keep the reader interested by making them continue to read your essay after reading the first paragraph.
- The first sentence should be unique and compelling, possibly thought provoking or attention-grabbing.
- First sentences may explain your desire to study the subject of interest or discuss the motivation that influenced your desire to study the subject of interest. State it in a creative manner.
- The sentences following the first sentence should provide a brief explanation that supports the claim stated in the first sentence.
- The body should include several paragraphs (usually about 3) that provides detailed evidence to support the statement made in the introductory paragraph. The paragraphs should flow by using transitions and resolutions.
- Each paragraph should have a transition, which starts each paragraph with a topic statement that will be the theme of that paragraph (See more on transitions and resolutions below).
- Each paragraph should have a resolution, which ends each paragraph with a meaningful sentence that provides a transition to the next paragraph (See more on transitions and resolutions below).
- Experiences, accomplishments, or any other evidence that can support your claims should be included in the body. Future Goals should also be mentioned in the body.
- A short summary of your educational background can be discussed in the 1st paragraph.
- Personal experiences and the reasons for wanting to attend the school can be discussed in the 2nd paragraph.
- Do not repeat what was stated in the application.
- The last paragraph should explain why you should be accepted.
- The conclusion is the last paragraph of the personal statement.
- State why you are interested in studying the subject of interest.
- State the key points mentioned in the body, such as your experiences or accomplishments that explain your interest in the subject. State it in a conclusive and brief manner.
- End on a positive note with one or two attention-grabbing sentences.
It is crucial that your paragraphs have transitions and resolutions. Transitions start a paragraph by providing a statement that suggests the theme for that paragraph. This allows the reader to be aware of the direction the essay is heading in. Transitions connect paragraphs to other paragraphs (usually preceding paragraphs), which causes the essay to flow smoothly. Resolutions, on the other hand, are statements that end paragraphs and allow for transition to the next paragraph. The resolution should not be a general statement but rather a meaningful one that connects facts included in the current paragraph. Both transitions and resolutions are beneficial in terms of making your essay clear and understandable.
Your essay should include enough detail, be personal, and specific. The purpose of a personal statement is to show the admission committee what makes you unique and different from other applicants. Your job is to display your distinct personality and provide evidence that confirms your passion and desire for the subject and the school. However, even if you can write an interesting and compelling essay, the structure and organization may not be appropriate. Therefore, it is necessary that you follow the proper structure of an essay and allow all your paragraphs to flow smoothly. The structure and organization of your personal statement will not only make your essay more comprehensible and fascinating but it will also increase your chances of being accepted.
This About.com page has been optimized for print. To view this page in its original form, please click here.