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Tips for Writing a Personal Statement

Young man working at bench

Your personal statement is an important part of your application. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your interest in the program, to explain any issues that might be seen on your transcript, and for you to distinguish yourself from other applicants.


  • Do your research – demonstrate your understanding of the specific program and why you are interested participating.
  • Structure your statement like an essay – have an introduction, body, and conclusion.
  • Aim for around 250-500 words (1-2 pages, 12pt font, double spaced). Be concise, but give yourself enough words to let us know about who you are. Be honest and professional.
  • Use your own words. Don’t plagiarize.
  • Go to your Writing Lab for help – typos and grammar errors will reflect badly on your application and on the seriousness of your commitment to the program.
  • Ask a faculty member and/or friend to read your statement and give you comments.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Why would a selection committee be interested in you? What makes you a strong candidate? Present evidence of personal characteristics that make you believe you will be a productive member of a research group.
  • How and when did you become interested in this area of science? What in particular gets you excited about pursuing this further?
  • Are there any issues in your transcript or academic background that should be explained?
  • Have you had to overcome any hardships or obstacles? How have these made you stronger?
  • Have you participated in other science programs? Clubs?

More tips:

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Parkland College | University of Illinois