Dissecting a UC Personal Statement
In this article, we will analyze, point out, and consider certain aspects of an actual personal statement that was admitted to the University of California Berkeley. Breaking specific paragraphs within the personal statement, we will pull out specific techniques and concepts utilized by the author. View the the personal statements below with the suggestions provided for each paragraph in this article:
Prompt # 1
In this first paragraph (the opening paragraph) of the personal statement, there are several positive things that the author does which can be applied to any personal statement in general. To begin with, the author opens their personal statement with a clear, and definitive statement which informs the reader (the admissions officer) of their intended major. This is particularly crucial when starting a personal statement as admissions officers do not have the option of spending more than 5 minutes per individual essay. In addition, the author provides follow-up information regarding what specifically motivated them toward their intended major. Lastly, the author develops a sense of individuality by placing themselves in the position of an existing minority within their intended major.
In the beginning of this paragraph, the writer further develops background information regarding their interest in their intended major. There is further development of personal experiences that relate to their major. Providing such information is very beneficial as it draws the reader deeper into the writer’s life, persona, and perspective. Toward the end of the paragraph, the author takes the opportunity to highlight any available and present strengths they possess.
In this paragraph, the author further focuses on their motivation for their intended major. They make use of the words “…was a motivation for me,” which rids any confusion that may have otherwise come from an analogy, metaphor, or complex wording. In other words, it is important to remember that your personal statement should be well written and eloquent, but also clear and concise. Throughout the rest of this paragraph, the author includes how their intended major connects and relates to the community around them as well as a view of what their future looks like in accordance with their major. This is done to show the admissions officers that they have a plan and purpose with the major they intend to study.
Prompt # 2
In this paragraph, the author is straightforward, providing specific details such as: time, place, event, etc. The writer then describes specific reasons as to why they took part in the experience. By describing these two things, the author has achieved the task of answering the admissions officers’ questions of “what was the experience?” and “why did you choose to pursue it?” At the end of the paragraph, the author displays their desire to learn more about different cultures and traditions, which further answers the question of “why did you partake in this experience?” Overall, the important thing to note is that the author was clear and thorough as to what they experienced and why. In other words, it is necessary to follow up your statements and sentences with in depth information as opposed to general and vague descriptions.
The most important thing to note in this paragraph is the author’s inclusion of specific and concrete details. As a result of this, the author achieves the goal of providing a more colorful and vivid picture of their experience to the reader. At the end of the paragraph, the author does not forget to maintain focus on their major by connecting the details of their experience to how they plan to specialize in their intended major.
In the last paragraph, the author makes sure to include what they learned/took away from the experience. This presents an image of an appreciative and critical thinking person to the admissions officers. In addition, the author follows up with examples of how the experience changed them, as it is important to show growth and provide insight to the person you are and expect to become.