A personal statement, also known as a “statement of purpose” or “goal statement,” is a document that demonstrates your writing ability on a more personal level for your application into a graduate program.
A personal statement, also known as a “statement of purpose” “goals statement” or “admissions essay” serves to:
- Demonstrate your writing ability on a more personal level for your application into a graduate program.
- Discuss your personal, career, and educational goals or answer a general question posed by the graduate school’s admission committee.
- Gauge your critical and analytical thinking as well as your writing, editing skills, and general reasoning skills and your ability to reflect on your education and work experience.
- Provide insight into who you are which helps to determine if you would be a good fit into a specific graduate program.
Writing a Personal Statement
What are you writing about?
Regardless of the path you take to beginning your personal statement, there are many questions that you will have to inevitably cover.
- How do you want to answer their questions?
- What piece of you do you want shown to the admissions committee?
- What kind of tone do you want your personal statement to take?
- What kind of theme should I use for the personal statement?
These can be very difficult questions to answer. You can make the brainstorming process smoother by knowing yourself first. Gather your transcripts, resumes, and anything else that shows who you are. These will let you know all your strengths,but more importantly, it will also tell you your weaknesses. You can use your personal statement to address your weaknesses or show them in a better light.
Research the college to which you are applying.
- Every graduate school program available has a different set of goals, ideals, and most importantly, students which should be understood before you begin to create a personal.
- Contact students who are in the program you are applying for or have already completed the program will have valuable insight into what they thought was most useful on their personal statement.
- Considering who you are and where you are applying will allow you to decide whether you want to expand on your professional experience in your field or focus on how you enjoy the particular method of instruction that the department is known for.
- You have an introductory paragraph and a concluding paragraph that surround the body paragraphs.
- The length of your paragraphs and how many body paragraphs you will include will be determined by the guidelines the admissions committee will have for you.
- Open with something that will catch their attention, and finish with something strong and memorable.
Once you are able to create a draft of your personal statement, you should then take advantage of the Career Development Center services also those of the The Learning Hub. The Career Development Center has trained professional staff available to go over your draft and give advice on how to refine a personal statement into something that best exhibits your skills and achievements.
Some general tips for writing a personal statement:
- Be yourself and be genuine in your writing.
- Avoid cliche statements and ideals whenever possible.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread.
- Use your personal experience to reinforce your points, but do not make the personal experience itself the focus.
- You can now use “I” and “me” without worry. Just remember that beginning every sentence with “I” would look rather conceited.
- If a question is asked, answer it completely with specific details and examples. It is respectful to the admissions committee and shows that you know how to follow directions.
- Always write a new unique personal statement for each college you are applying for.
Tools for Writing a Personal Statement
Your personal statement is the heart of your application for work as a newly qualified teacher and should be re-written for each role. This is your opportunity to provide evidence of how you match the needs of the specific teaching job you are applying for, and earn yourself an invitation to the next stage, which is likely to be a selection day held at the school.
Writing tips for personal statements
See our example personal statement for primary teaching and personal statement for secondary teaching for further guidance.
When completing a personal statement for a teaching job you should usually observe the following guidelines:
- Do not exceed two sides of A4, unless otherwise instructed.
- Tailor your statement for each new application according to the nature of the school or LA and the advertised role.
- Emphasise your individual strengths in relation to the role.
- Consider using the government's Teachers' Standards to structure your statement, or follow the structure of the person specification.
- For a pool application, make sure you give a good overview of your skills and experience.
- It is essential that you give specific examples of what you have done to back up your claims.
What you must cover in your personal statement
Why you are applying for the role:
- Refer to any knowledge you have of the LA or the school, including any visits to the school and what you learnt from them.
- Mention any special circumstances, for example, your religious faith, which you think are relevant.
Details about your course:
- Give an overview of your training course, including the age range and subjects covered, and any special features.
- If you are a PGCE student, mention your first degree, your dissertation (if appropriate), any classroom-based research projects and relevant modules studied. Also mention if you have studied any masters modules.
Your teaching experience:
- What year groups you have taught.
- What subjects you have covered.
- Any use of assessment strategies or special features of the practices, for example, open-plan, multi-ethnic, team teaching.
Your classroom management strategies:
- Give examples of how you planned and delivered lessons and monitored and evaluated learning outcomes, including differentiation.
- Explain how you have managed classrooms and behaviour.
- Detail your experience of working with assistants or parents in your class.
Your visions and beliefs about primary/secondary education:
- What are your beliefs about learning and your visions for the future? You could touch on areas such as learning and teaching styles and strategies.
- Reflect on key policies relevant to the age range you want to teach.
Other related experience:
- This can include information about any previous work experience.
- Include training activities you have carried out and ways in which your subject knowledge has been developed.
Other related skills and interests:
- Give details of any particular competencies, experiences or leisure interests, which will help the school to know more about you as a person.
- Any involvement in working with children (running clubs, youth work and summer camps) is particularly useful to note.
Aim to end on a positive note. A conclusion which displays your enthusiasm in relation to the specific application and teaching in general will enhance your application, but avoid general statements and clichés.