You may want to start by just getting something—anything—on paper. Think about the questions we asked above and the prompt for the essay, and then write for 15 or 30 minutes without stopping.
What do you want your audience to know after reading your essay? Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, organization, or anything else. For help getting started, see our handout on brainstorming. Find the most relevant, memorable, concrete statements and focus in on them.
If you don’t do what they ask, the reader may wonder if you will be able to follow directions in their program.
Make sure you follow page and word limits exactly—err on the side of shortness, not length.
Often, writers start out with generalizations as a way to get to the really meaningful statements, and that’s OK.
Just make sure that you replace the generalizations with examples as you revise.
The narrative should reflect your perspective, experiences, thoughts, and emotions.
Focusing on events or ideas may give your audience an indirect idea of how these things became important in forming your outlook, but many others have had equally compelling experiences.
This handout will help you write and revise the personal statement required by many graduate programs, internships, and special academic programs.
Because the application essay can have a critical effect upon your progress toward a career, you should spend significantly more time, thought, and effort on it than its typically brief length would suggest.