A well-prepared personal statement can turn a rejection into a wait list, and a wait list into an acceptance. A good personal statement does not reiterate information already in your file–your work experiences, internships, or awards. Instead, it gives further insight into who you are as a person. The best approach is to first choose something interesting to tell–an event that helped you teach you humility, independence, or self-confidence–that changed the way you think about something, or that shows your motivation or personal style.
Write a story–500 words or so–about this topic. Then explain the events in this story by reference to the background you need to show. “Having grown up in the West Philadelphia’s ghettos, mountains were new experiences to me.” “Until I got to college, I had never needed to study.” The finished essay should have the story as its central theme, but should also show how elements of your background affected your development.
Most students have no idea what is interesting or unusual about their lives. They see themselves as a part of their environment, and don’t realize it is the environment itself that makes them different. That’s why it is essential to seek the help of someone who can look at your life experiences objectively. Family members and close friends are not good choices for this task. They often come from the same background you do, and make the same assumptions. Your pre-law advisor, academic advisor, or a favorite teacher can be great resources.