Personal Statement Tell Us About Yourself

You’ve probably heard a great deal about the admissions interview, including various perspectives on its relative importance as part of your college application. It’s a good idea to look into interview options at the colleges on your list, because not only does it provide a good opportunity for the admissions committee to learn more about you as a person, but it also gives you a chance to learn more about the school itself.

 

Once you’ve scheduled an alumni or on-campus interview with a college, how do you prepare? While you have no way of knowing exactly what an interviewer will ask, you can — and should — expect and be prepared for certain types of questions.

At CollegeVine, we specialize in guiding students through the admissions process, including holding mock interviews with tons of practice questions to be as prepared as possible. Learn more about how our College Applications program can help you ace your interview. 

 

Starting the Interview: What your Interviewer Wants to Know

The interviewer will most likely begin with some form of the question, “Tell me about yourself.” While this may seem like a fairly open-ended prompt, and perhaps even a bit daunting, there are certain ways to answer effectively, as well as topics to avoid.

 

Setting the Tone

You should see the “tell me about yourself” prompt as an opportunity to show the interviewer your most important qualities and describe what you can contribute to the school community. Just as with any interview you will have over the course of your career, college years and beyond, this prompt is meant to give the interviewer an idea of what qualities you offer that are relevant to the position at hand — in this case, as a member of that college’s matriculating class.

 

Because this may well be the interviewer’s first question, it will set the tone for the rest of the interview, so be ready with a strong, but not overly rehearsed, answer. Keep in mind that this is not an invitation to share your life story or overly personal information with your interviewer; doing so will make you appear unprofessional and unprepared.

 

Topics to Cover

In general, it is a good idea to begin by mentioning the area in which you grew up. Don’t spend too much time discussing the intricacies of your hometown and home life, but mention if you’ve lived there your whole life or moved around a lot, and, if possible, connect it to your interest in the college’s area, size, or campus.

 

Tell the interviewer about your prospective major, if you have one, or what your main area of interest is and what you hope to study. Also, describe a few personality traits (roughly three), which will allow you to segue into your academic areas of interest and extracurricular activities and why they are important to you. End your answer with why you want to attend that college.

 

Since you should have researched the school thoroughly before the interview, you will have a good idea of how your personality and academic and extracurricular interests will fit in there, so make an effort to connect what you know about the school with your personal strengths and the topics you’ve covered in your answer. Keep in mind that, if the school offers you admission, the admissions officers want you to choose them as much as you wanted them to choose you, so you should express how interested you are in attending.

 

Example:

I grew up in a small town in Connecticut and have lived there my whole life, so I’d really love to experience city life in college. Since I live relatively close to New York, I’ve had the opportunity to visit a few times, and it has so much to offer, especially in terms of the literary scene. I love reading and writing, so I’m planning on majoring in English or journalism. Journalism seems like a good fit because I’m good at noticing the details and know how to dig deep.

 

I’m proud of my ability to persevere and overcome challenges. This year I was having a hard time in trig, but I met with the teacher outside of class and committed to studying for two hours a day, and ended up with an A in the class. I’m also really passionate about my interests, especially writing and foreign languages. That’s why I’m a columnist for my school newspaper and the president of Spanish club.

 

I also tutor English and Spanish at an after-school program in my town. I’d love to attend NYU because it has such strong English and journalism programs. I’m also interested in foreign languages, and I hear NYU has an amazing study abroad program. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, New York is such an amazing city, especially for an aspiring writer.

 

In this response, the interviewee touches on the topics relevant to her interests and qualifications for the school. She discusses her background a bit and connects it to why NYU and the candidate are mutually good fits, explaining her interests in English, writing, and foreign languages, what she has to done to explore them both inside and outside school, and how she can continue to pursue them in college.

 

She also makes it clear what attributes of NYU appeal to her. Additionally, she reveals some attributes that make her unique and avoids offering cliché personality traits. She provides examples that illustrate these attributes, such has her ability to persevere and overcome obstacles in a challenging course, also demonstrating her ability to turn a negative into a positive.

A personal statement is a special type of essay that you write usually when you are applying to school or applying for scholarship or grant programs. Personal statements are intended to tell a little bit about who you are and usually explain to the admissions committee why you might be a good fit for their academic program. 

When You Write Personal Statements

There are many examples of personal statements that you might have to write. For example, some personal statements include:

  • A personal statement for an application to a special gifted and talent program at your school
  • A personal statement for an application for admission to college
  • A personal statement for an application for admission to graduate school
  • A personal statement for an application for admission to business school
  • A personal statement for an application for admission to law school
  • A personal statement for an application to teach ESL that shows your philosophy of education

Sometimes, you will be given a topic that your personal statement is supposed to discuss. In other cases, you'll just be asked to talk about yourself or why you would be a good fit. 

Personal Statements About Why You Want to Attend

One type of personal statement that is commonly written is a statement explaining why you would be a good fit for a specific academic program or about why you would want to attend that program.

Some examples of personal statement ideas that you might use include:

  • For admission to a graduate program in education: "When I was a child, I was always looking for role models and my fourth grade teacher stepped up to fill the role. My fourth grade teacher took a personal interest in me and her belief that I could be successful changed my life. I want to be able to give back and provide other children with the same inspiration that I received."
  • For admission to a medical school program: "I believe that doctors can shape a society and help a society to grow. Healthcare is the most basic and fundamental of human rights and my goal is to become a doctor so I can work to make sure no one is denied access to the healthcare they need."
  • For admission to a law school program: "My first encounter with the legal system was when my friend's parents were wrongfully evicted from their apartment. A lawyer helped them to get their money back and to get back into their home, and the lawyer gave them hope. I, too, want to be able to pursue a noble profession that allows me to give the average person a voice within the legal system."
  • For admission to a particular college: "It has always been my dream to study journalism, and College X has the course program that will allow me to pursue my passions and to develop my skills."

Personal Statements About Who You Are

In some cases, your personal statement will be focused not on why you want to attend a school program but instead on who you are and why you would be the right fit. For example, some people might focus on the struggles they overcame in order to be in a position to attend the school. Others might discuss how their unique perspective would make them a valuable addition to the class.

Some examples include:

  • As the first person in my family to have the opportunity to attend college, I will value the opportunity to attend your school because I know how important education is in opening doors."
  • As an immigrant who came to the United States when I was 15, I believe I have a unique perspective on social issues that will allow me to make valuable contributions in my law school classes. 

These types of personal statements are focused on showing that you would be a valuable addition to the class so the admissions committee will be eager to have you attend. 

Do you have a good example to share? Add your example here.

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Examples of Personal Statements

By YourDictionary

A personal statement is a special type of essay that you write usually when you are applying to school or applying for scholarship or grant programs. Personal statements are intended to tell a little bit about who you are and usually explain to the admissions committee why you might be a good fit for their academic program. 

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