University of Iowa

Tips for Writing the Personal Statement

Tips for Writing the Personal Statement

1. Detailed, honest self-reflection is the key to writing a meaningful statement. The personal statement should answer the question: “why choose me?” Remember, admissions committees receive hundreds or even thousands of applications. If your personal statement is general, or contains a mere listing of accomplishments, it will blend in with all of the others. Be creative. Write heartfelt, interesting, personal narratives that bring you to life. Your goal is to be so fascinating on the page that your readers want to meet you in person.

2. Please don’t rewrite your resume in narrative form and call it a personal statement. You will list your experiences and accomplishments elsewhere in the application. This is your opportunity to reflect upon how your life and experiences have turned you in to a person who wants to take care of others’ health. The personal statement should illustrate who you are more than what you have done.

3. Statements vary in length depending on the program. Most are short. For example, the AMCAS Personal Statement is 5300 characters and spaces (about one single-spaced typewritten page). Creating a meaningful essay in a single page requires a great deal of work. Start early!

4. We advise you to write the first draft six months in advance of when you plan to apply. You will want ample time to discuss the content with your mentors and to schedule a face to face meeting at Writing Center. (They have an online scheduler on their UI website.) Proofread carefully and polish your statement to absolute perfection.

5. We have provided a list of writing classes for you to consider. A writing class will help you sharpen your skill set during a time when you will be doing a great deal of personal writing. Remember, throughout the world The University of Iowa is famous for its writing programs. Taking writing classes at Iowa is one way to demonstrate that you want to make the most of your educational experiences. Health programs are looking for lifelong learners.

Special note: If you were charged with misdemeanors or felonies, you will write a separate essay explaining what happened. Be honest and take responsibility if you made choices that run counter to your career goal. Describe what you learned.

Sometimes college students lose sight of the fact that underage drinking is against the law and downplay charges for possession of alcohol under the legal age. Any charge is a serious offense. Write accordingly.