The Genre of the Personal Statement: Key Features

The US personal statement is a unique essay within the higher education landscape. Though most universities across the globe want a writing sample to assess your academic ability and interest in a specific course, the US asks for a personal narrative that highlights key values and qualities that you will bring to the university community. Writing a good personal statement can be a challenge. Usually, this will be the first time you have written about yourself in this way. However, because it is an extremely important part of the application, it is worth investing time in drafting and carefully revising this part of the US application. A-List provides personal statement help so you can ace this part of the application.

Regardless of the personal statement’s topic and structure, every good personal statement will have the following key features:  

• Personal reflection: Though your essay may address a topic you are passionate about (the environment for example) or may tell the reader about a music teacher who shaped your love for the piano, a good personal statement must also incorporate personal personal reflection about your values and who you are, not just what you do. 

 • Vivid details: Even if you are writing a conceptually rich personal statement, a successful essay will contain vivid details so the reader can imagine you and what you are doing and thinking. Your writing should be filled with visual rich details which will metaphorically transport the reader from the scene of reading to the where, when, and what you are describing. In a good personal statement, a reader should be able to see you! 

 • Clear examples: Though this essay works to present your values and qualities that will appeal to admissions committees, these intangible personal traits must be tied to real life examples! Saying you are dedicated to others isn’t as compelling as describing in detail a time you were self-sacrificing in order to meet another person’s needs. As with an academic paper that requires evidence for your claims, a good personal statement requires the evidence of concrete examples for claims about your character.  

 Clear takeaways: Though the structure and content of your essay may look very different than other personal statements, every good personal statement has clearly identifiable takeaway points for the reader. This essay serves to prove why you would be a wonderful addition to the larger university community and the reader will not work to interpret or decipher why that is— rather—it should be made obvious. This isn’t a mystery genre!  

If you would like personal statement help, please reach out to our advising team. Helping students pick a great topic and draft a compelling essay is one of our many areas of expertise.




The Genre of the Personal Statement: Key Features
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