I am UIC: How to personalize your personal statement

hand holding pen about to write

What are some of your strengths? What are you passionate about and how have you demonstrated commitments to those causes?

These are some of the questions you are meant to think about when developing a personal statement for graduate and professional school applications. Some thoughts may immediately come to mind, but when it comes to translating those thoughts to the written word, it’s easy to get stuck.

Personal statement workshops, such as those hosted by LAS Pre-Health Advising, provide students with guidance as they struggle to find words to fill a blank Word document. Here are some tips that I gathered at the latest of such workshops.

  • Focus on describing how you have demonstrated the strengths you want the application committee to notice — don’t simply listing those skills.
  • Identify key experiences that serve as highlights for your college career. Then extract concrete examples from those experiences that add to the story-like quality of your statement.
  • It’s OK to write about your background, but make sure you use events that occurred prior to college to paint a picture of who you are today and what you’re doing now.
  • You need to be comfortable speaking about everything in your essay at a potential interview. So, if you’re considering describing a very personal event, make sure it is one that you would be willing to answer questions about.
  • Recognize that the personal statement is one component of your application and it’s unlikely that it will be the determining factor in your acceptance. However, it is still the only opportunity for you to introduce yourself on your terms and likely the component over which you have the most control. So, instead of viewing it as a burden, take advantage of it.

The next LAS Pre-Health Advising personal statement workshop will be held March 12 from 2 to 3 p.m. in 850 UH.

Hoda Fakhari is a senior studying biochemistry and English with a concentration in media, rhetoric and cultural studies. She is interested in making connections between subject areas that appear uncomplimentary in order to arrive at more diverse and relevant ways of understanding people and society.

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