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5 Ways to Find the Best Reading for Your Personal Statement

15 May, 2023 | University Preparation

Knowing you enjoy a subject and knowing how to express your enthusiasm for it are two very different things, which is one of the major reasons writing your UCAS personal statement can seem like an impossible task.

One way to make this easier is by sourcing quality personal statement reading! It isn’t always obvious where to look to find the best resources, but don’t worry – we’ve put together these five top tips to help you find the best personal statement reading to use in your UK university applications. 

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Table of Contents

Why is reading important for your personal statement?

It’s a fair question, and one we’ll cover before we jump into our tips. Reading (or watching documentaries, or listening to podcasts) shows that you have spent some of your own time, outside of the classroom, delving into topics that interest you.

Universities want to accept students who are knowledgeable, yes, but they also want students who are engaged with the subject and who will enjoy the process of studying it at a higher level.

Plus, the way that you discuss the reading in your personal statement will give the admissions board a good idea of the way you think and learn. You don’t want to just present them with a list of everything you’ve ever read that relates to your subject; instead, you should choose just a few examples, think critically about them , and share your opinions in the statement.

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So, where should you look for personal statement reading recommendations, ask a teacher .

Your teachers will have assisted hundreds, if not thousands, of students through their UCAS applications and are sure to be armed with a lot of personal statement reading recommendations if you ask them!

If there’s a topic you’ve encountered in your school studies that you’ve found especially interesting and are thinking of discussing in your statement, ask your subject teacher for further reading suggestions around it.

They might also be able to point you towards alternative sources of information, like documentaries or exhibitions that you can talk about alongside your reading. After all, the content of your personal statement doesn’t just have to be about books!

Look in books you’ve already enjoyed

If there’s a book you’ve already read and enjoyed, look at the bibliography and references to source further reading. Academics do so much research for the work they publish, and it’s catalogued extensively in these lists. Take advantage of this, and scan their references to find articles or books on niche topics that delve deeper into the subject.

This method of finding personal statement reading is especially useful if your school or institution has access to JSTOR or other article archives, which give you access to university-level articles from thousands of journals. 

University reading lists

Look at the websites for departments you’re considering applying to and see if you can find reading lists relevant to topics that you find interesting. These are great sources for finding personal statement reading because they will point you towards texts that are actually discussed by the academics at the institution you are applying to.

Be careful, though: these reading lists will often recommend highly academic books that are expensive or difficult to find outside of university libraries. After all, these lists are meant to be used by undergrads! If certain subject material becomes inaccessible, don’t worry – universities aren’t expecting you to read such high-level material just yet. If you can’t get a hold of a text that looks particularly interesting, you might like to make a note of it so you can read it later during your studies instead.

Browse bookshops

A simpler method of sourcing reading is to browse your local bookshop. Go to the history, geography, or science sections and have a look at the titles on offer. Although these books are pitched at a popular audience, they can provide great introductions to different topics and inspire further research for your personal statement reading. 

The OxBright University Preparation Report

Here at OxBright, we’ve created a useful university preparation tool to make finding personal statement reading recommendations as easy as possible! You simply spend five minutes answering questions about your interests and subject preference and, at the end of the quiz, we’ll suggest 8 resource recommendations tailored to your personal stage, interests and preferred formats.

This resource should give you an ideal foundation for your personal statement reading, watching and listening, so you can begin writing with confidence.

What if you’re still struggling?

If you’re really struggling to find personal statement reading, don’t panic! If you start planning for your personal statement in advance, you should have plenty of time to find things that interest you. Remember, other resources are always available such as the documentaries and podcasts mentioned earlier. You don’t have to read thousands of pages to produce a quality personal statement, so long as what you’re writing about has genuinely inspired you and you’re keen to discuss it.

If absolutely nothing you’re looking at is sparking any interest, perhaps it might be a case of considering whether the course you’re applying for is really the right one for you. Writing a personal statement is never easy, but if you have absolutely nothing to say on the subject you’re choosing to study, perhaps you shouldn’t be studying it further! If you think this might be you, ask a teacher for help – they may be able to suggest alternative courses or topics you hadn’t thought about before. 

Remember, your reading doesn’t have to be exhaustive by any means; provided that all the material you’re talking about has inspired or intrigued you in some way, you’ll be able to write a wonderful personal statement. Best of luck!

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How to Write a Strong Personal Statement

  • Ruth Gotian
  • Ushma S. Neill

how to talk about podcasts in personal statement

A few adjustments can get your application noticed.

Whether applying for a summer internship, a professional development opportunity, such as a Fulbright, an executive MBA program, or a senior leadership development course, a personal statement threads the ideas of your CV, and is longer and has a different tone and purpose than a traditional cover letter. A few adjustments to your personal statement can get your application noticed by the reviewer.

  • Make sure you’re writing what they want to hear. Most organizations that offer a fellowship or internship are using the experience as a pipeline: It’s smart to spend 10 weeks and $15,000 on someone before committing five years and $300,000. Rarely are the organizations being charitable or altruistic, so align your stated goals with theirs
  • Know when to bury the lead, and when to get to the point. It’s hard to paint a picture and explain your motivations in 200 words, but if you have two pages, give the reader a story arc or ease into your point by setting the scene.
  • Recognize that the reviewer will be reading your statement subjectively, meaning you’re being assessed on unknowable criteria. Most people on evaluation committees are reading for whether or not you’re interesting. Stated differently, do they want to go out to dinner with you to hear more? Write it so that the person reading it wants to hear more.
  • Address the elephant in the room (if there is one). Maybe your grades weren’t great in core courses, or perhaps you’ve never worked in the field you’re applying to. Make sure to address the deficiency rather than hoping the reader ignores it because they won’t. A few sentences suffice. Deficiencies do not need to be the cornerstone of the application.

At multiple points in your life, you will need to take action to transition from where you are to where you want to be. This process is layered and time-consuming, and getting yourself to stand out among the masses is an arduous but not impossible task. Having a polished resume that explains what you’ve done is the common first step. But, when an application asks for it, a personal statement can add color and depth to your list of accomplishments. It moves you from a one-dimensional indistinguishable candidate to someone with drive, interest, and nuance.

how to talk about podcasts in personal statement

  • Ruth Gotian is the chief learning officer and assistant professor of education in anesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City and the author of  The Success Factor . She was named the world’s #1 emerging management thinker by Thinkers50. You can access her free list of conversation starters . RuthGotian
  • Ushma S. Neill is the Vice President, Scientific Education & Training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. She runs several summer internships and is involved with the NYC Marshall Scholar Selection Committee. ushmaneill

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12 Personal Statement FAQs and answers!

There is often a large amount of confusion surrounding how to write personal statements, especially when it comes to oxford and cambridge and other top research universities., every year, we have thousands of students ask us what qualities go into making a successful personal statement., to help, we have broken down this question into 12 of the most frequently asked questions our prospective students ask when they are trying to draft their personal statements., 1. how do i write the introduction.

Introductions are often disappointingly generic. To help you achieve more specificity and concision, the best way to write a good personal statement introduction is to complete the rest of it first. When you are getting started on the first draft, it can be overwhelming to begin at a blank page, but discussing your achievements and interests – relevant to the courses and universities you are applying to – can help you clarify what your motivation to study the subject really is. Then you can come back and explain the reasons behind your passion for Mathematics, Anglo Saxon literature or your subject of choice.

2. How many books should I talk about?

This question can be answered in various ways depending on the subject you intend to study. Clinical scientific subjects will not require many book mentions, however, Arts and Humanities personal statements for Oxbridge see a great benefit from discussing at least two books in detail, with further reading mentioned.

It’s also important to remember that academic sources shouldn’t be only limited to books. A well-rounded personal statement discusses specific theories, touches on lectures you have attended or essays and articles you have read to gain a better understanding of specific academic points rather than a general discussion. One of the biggest pitfalls students fall into when drafting Oxbridge personal statements is getting stuck waffling about general points around a subject of interest. To avoid getting stuck in general chatter, try to use only specific examples in your personal statement.

Centrally, admissions tutors want to see that you know you are getting yourself in for. Only reading a couple of books from their introductory list will therefore not tantalise them; try to follow your interests in a bit more depth and look at readings and ideas which are representative of degree level material.

3. What do I do if I have no work experience?

Referencing work experience in your personal statement is dependent on the subject you intend to study. A rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether you think an academic in the faculty you are applying to will think your work experience was relevant for the course. If you are applying to study History, for example, your two-weeks at an accounting or law firm organising files will be of little interest.

For Medicine, work experience is integral not only to the application process but will help build a strong personal statement. When applying to a vocational subject such as Medicine, where possible you should always ensure you are able to reference at least one work experience placement held. If you don’t have any work experience and your personal statement is due, make sure to arrange some and refer to this in the future tense in your personal statement when talking about your upcoming placement.

Work experience can also be useful for other more vocation-leaning subjects, such as architecture and engineering. More widely, doing work experience is extremely useful to help you begin thinking about what you might want to do with your career, and can build highly useful skills, but, unless it is relevant to the course content, it is unlikely to proffer you any credit for university admission.

4. How long should I talk about extra-curricular activities?

Leading research universities are looking for your potential to succeed on the course you are applying for. Nevertheless, two applicants who seem academically matched might be distinguished from each other by their ability to balance their time with several other things. Do include what you do outside of academia, then, but keep non-relevant activities mentioned to a minimum rather than an exhaustive list. This might mean sacrificing some of the things you do outside of your course and focus on those few things you do most often, or to the highest level. (N.B. Your reference might be able to discuss some of your extra-curricular activities too, and you don’t want to overlap this material).

What you do mention, try to link to your subject. This might be easy, as with an English literature student who has directed lots of theatre, or less easy, such as a maths applicant who plays the violin to a high level. Nevertheless, making these links convincingly can bring originality and creativity to your statement.

5. How can I tailor it for different courses?

Subjects like HSPS at Cambridge or Classical Archaeology and Ancient History at Oxford might make it tricky to tailor your statement for different courses. Oxford and Cambridge are very understanding of this, and specific guidance can usually be found on faculty websites about their expectations.

However, as a rule of thumb, focus on the areas of convergence between the courses you are applying for. If these differ in title, then avoid stating the title of the course in your statement and instead refer to the disciplinary area or focus instead. This involves: a) making sure the courses you are applying for are sufficiently similar to give you a chance of doing this, and b) doing your research on the course content and options so that you are covering the appropriate material.

This research stands even if you are applying for the same titled course everywhere. English, for example, is taught very differently at Oxford to Bristol, and focusing on an interest which does not feature in either course will result in your application being put aside.

Doing this research early can also help you to direct your reading and research to build material for your personal statement which speaks to all your choices.

6. How should I talk about my other A-level subjects?

Lots of students are told to discuss the skills they have gathered from their A Level subjects, but we caution around this; your UCAS application includes a full list of A-Level subjects studied, and your school reference will discuss your A-Level abilities. Talking about the time management or analytical skills you gained from studying history, and the logical skills you gained from physics, can therefore come across as ‘fodder’ which could have already been inferred.

You can, however, talk about how other subjects provide further insight into the course or subject you’d like to study. For example, students who have taken Classics that intend to study English Literature at university can talk about translating texts, such as the Aeneid, and how this helped gain a greater understanding of classical influence in modern English Literature. As with the whole statement, the more specific you can make this, the better.

7. How long should it be?

This is an easy one. Your personal statement should be at most, 4,000 characters or 47 lines, whichever you meet first. Although it can be shorter, we strongly recommend taking full advantage of the available space. Ideally, you want your first draft to be much longer so you can cut down and edit your personal statement to be shorter, rather than using general waffle or struggling to fill the space.

Cutting it down is usually relatively easy, but it might take an outside eye to see the ‘wood from the trees’. Any non-relevant, generic material, anything which is likely to be in many other statements, and frilly, decorative language or repetition can all be chopped down.

If you find you are struggling to reach 4,000 characters or 47 lines, you probably need to revisit the body of your personal statement and discuss more subject-specific content. You may, alternatively, need to go back to the research and reading phase of writing.

8. What formatting should I use?

The final version of your personal statement will be submitted in a digital form with no formatting options, so there is no need to worry about formatting. That means you won’t have to decide what font or colour to use and there is no need for styles such as bold or italics. If you do include these, they won’t appear in the submitted version.

Your school should already have discussed best practice for writing your personal statement but as a reminder – do not write your statement draft in the real form! As with any content that is going to be submitted digitally, you should write it in a word document first (Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Pages, etc) where you can save a copy locally to your computer (and back-up regularly). This way, you can avoid the devastating loss of your best statement draft due to an accidental refresh or the internet dropping out.

9. How many paragraphs should it be?

There is no set-in-stone rule for the number of paragraphs but generally, a well-structured personal statement will be broken up into five or six paragraphs and be easy to read. Admissions tutors will need to comprehend your statement very quickly, so structure with this in mind.

A frequently-successful structure follows this pattern: an introduction, two to three course/subject-specific main paragraphs, a penultimate paragraph detailing your extracurricular activities, and then a final summary paragraph. The final two paragraphs are sometimes pushed together to form one.

10. Will they find out if I slightly…exaggerate my talents?

Yes! Your personal statement for Oxford and Cambridge should be considered a springboard for your interview and you could and should expect to be questioned about any single detail of it. At Oxbridge Applications, every year, we have students that approach us in January who are upset that their Admissions Tutor spent 20 minutes focused on a certain author when “I only mentioned that book briefly as a side note”.

However, you DON’T need to be an expert, or even particularly knowledgeable, about a particular idea or author to mention it in your statement. If you are questioned about an aspect of an author’s work you have mentioned which you are unsure about, then be intellectually honest and say so, but try your best to have a go given what you already know about them or similar authors/ideas.

This is not only the case for authors/books mentioned, but also if you put forward a highly ambitious or critical view in your statement. If you want to argue that Marx was totally wrong, then you better be ready to defend your view in a nuanced way. The bottom line is: stay intellectually honest and err on the side of modesty; academics tend to become less rather than more sure about the ‘truth’ the further they delve into their subject matter.

11. How many teachers should check my personal statement?

Preferably, you will get your drafted personal statement checked by at last two of your teachers or guidance advisers. One should be subject-specific who can check over the content of your paragraphs and the other can be from a different department to provide feedback on grammatical accuracy and quality of the statement.

Getting guidance from second and third parties can be useful ensure you retain editorial control, and that your voice and taste runs through the statement. If you try to include everyone’s different opinion, you can quickly end up with a jumbled statement that no longer reflects on you and your communication style and strengths.

Make sure you leave plenty of time between completing your first draft and the Oxbridge personal statement deadline ensuring you have time for others to check it over and you can make changes as necessary.

12. Should I start my personal statement with a quote?

‘Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.’ Oscar Wilde.

How much have you learned about me from reading Wilde’s words?

Quotes are used each year by applicants who end up getting offers from top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge. It’s not necessarily going to bring your application to an end. Quotes are also awarded marks in certain A Level subjects, if you have taken the time to remember them and give them a bit of context.

However, your personal statement gives admissions tutors the chance to hear your voice, and to get a sense of what you might be like as a student on their course. By definition , using a quote – i.e. someone else’s words – is not personal. It is therefore preferable to avoid using a quote unless it’s absolutely essential. Using a quote doesn’t make YOU sound more interesting.

Before you decide to use a quote, think long and hard. If you would really like to use a quote, try to make it as pithy and concise as possible, and make sure it elevates and builds on what you are saying; that it expresses something you couldn’t have otherwise expressed on your own. (Also, by ‘quote’, we are not talking about specific concepts or theories – these are absolutely fine to include.)

Driven by 20 years of research and first-hand experience in guiding thousands of applicants, our consultations provide an honest and detailed assessment with guidance on individual personal statements.

If you would like to speak to one of our oxbridge-graduate advisors about your own personal statement, contact our oxbridge advising team on  +44 (0)207499 2394 , email at [email protected] , or request a callback  to discuss your situation., explore oxbridge applications, request a callback, application resources, related content, the proposed british standard: a potential shift in uk education, our 2019 guide to oxford and cambridge open days, choosing a college.

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Podcast 76: How to Tackle the Medical School Personal Statement

Read –> The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Great Personal Statement for Medical School

The medical school personal statement can be daunting, but it is a huge part of your application! Dr. Marinelli breaks the essay down so that you can learn how to craft a compelling and unique personal statement!

You don’t want to write it too early, such as when you’re a freshman in college. Wait until you’ve done a lot of extra curricular activities and leadership experiences in order to provide some commentary on them. If you’re applying in June, December is a good time to start writing. The latest time you should start is in April.

Most people have written plenty of five-paragraph essays in high school, and Dr. Marinelli suggests the same format: an introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. The introduction paragraph needs to be used to catch the committee’s attention and make them want to continue reading. To do this, Dr. Marinelli advises writing an anecdote in the introduction before getting into a thesis statement. You should avoid clichés, such as “I always loved science and working with people.” Even if they’re true, admissions committees won’t get excited about these.

Dr. Marinelli recommends talking about who you are as a person. What is it about you that makes you unique? Tell your own story to the admissions committee. Don’t just repeat what you’ve already said in the activities area of your application. Continue with the theme you established in the introduction and relate it back to you as a person.

Bring the statement back to why you want to become a physician. Everybody’s will be different, but you should at least touch on this desire. You should also summarize and then have a conclusion statement about how you’re sure pursuing medicine is the right path for you. Also, it’s okay for the conclusion paragraph to be only a few sentences.

Related posts:

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  • Podcast 75: Must Knows for Medical School Interviews
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  • Podcast 94: Warning to Incoming MS1’s – Your Classmates Are Going to Be Very Smart!

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  • How to Write Your Personal Statement | Strategies & Examples

How to Write Your Personal Statement | Strategies & Examples

Published on February 12, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 3, 2023.

A personal statement is a short essay of around 500–1,000 words, in which you tell a compelling story about who you are, what drives you, and why you’re applying.

To write a successful personal statement for a graduate school application , don’t just summarize your experience; instead, craft a focused narrative in your own voice. Aim to demonstrate three things:

  • Your personality: what are your interests, values, and motivations?
  • Your talents: what can you bring to the program?
  • Your goals: what do you hope the program will do for you?

This article guides you through some winning strategies to build a strong, well-structured personal statement for a master’s or PhD application. You can download the full examples below.

Urban Planning Psychology History

Table of contents

Getting started with your personal statement, the introduction: start with an attention-grabbing opening, the main body: craft your narrative, the conclusion: look ahead, revising, editing, and proofreading your personal statement, frequently asked questions, other interesting articles.

Before you start writing, the first step is to understand exactly what’s expected of you. If the application gives you a question or prompt for your personal statement, the most important thing is to respond to it directly.

For example, you might be asked to focus on the development of your personal identity; challenges you have faced in your life; or your career motivations. This will shape your focus and emphasis—but you still need to find your own unique approach to answering it.

There’s no universal template for a personal statement; it’s your chance to be creative and let your own voice shine through. But there are strategies you can use to build a compelling, well-structured story.

The first paragraph of your personal statement should set the tone and lead smoothly into the story you want to tell.

Strategy 1: Open with a concrete scene

An effective way to catch the reader’s attention is to set up a scene that illustrates something about your character and interests. If you’re stuck, try thinking about:

  • A personal experience that changed your perspective
  • A story from your family’s history
  • A memorable teacher or learning experience
  • An unusual or unexpected encounter

To write an effective scene, try to go beyond straightforward description; start with an intriguing sentence that pulls the reader in, and give concrete details to create a convincing atmosphere.

Strategy 2: Open with your motivations

To emphasize your enthusiasm and commitment, you can start by explaining your interest in the subject you want to study or the career path you want to follow.

Just stating that it interests you isn’t enough: first, you need to figure out why you’re interested in this field:

  • Is it a longstanding passion or a recent discovery?
  • Does it come naturally or have you had to work hard at it?
  • How does it fit into the rest of your life?
  • What do you think it contributes to society?

Tips for the introduction

  • Don’t start on a cliche: avoid phrases like “Ever since I was a child…” or “For as long as I can remember…”
  • Do save the introduction for last. If you’re struggling to come up with a strong opening, leave it aside, and note down any interesting ideas that occur to you as you write the rest of the personal statement.

Once you’ve set up the main themes of your personal statement, you’ll delve into more detail about your experiences and motivations.

To structure the body of your personal statement, there are various strategies you can use.

Strategy 1: Describe your development over time

One of the simplest strategies is to give a chronological overview of key experiences that have led you to apply for graduate school.

  • What first sparked your interest in the field?
  • Which classes, assignments, classmates, internships, or other activities helped you develop your knowledge and skills?
  • Where do you want to go next? How does this program fit into your future plans?

Don’t try to include absolutely everything you’ve done—pick out highlights that are relevant to your application. Aim to craft a compelling narrative that shows how you’ve changed and actively developed yourself.

My interest in psychology was first sparked early in my high school career. Though somewhat scientifically inclined, I found that what interested me most was not the equations we learned about in physics and chemistry, but the motivations and perceptions of my fellow students, and the subtle social dynamics that I observed inside and outside the classroom. I wanted to learn how our identities, beliefs, and behaviours are shaped through our interactions with others, so I decided to major in Social Psychology. My undergraduate studies deepened my understanding of, and fascination with, the interplay between an individual mind and its social context.During my studies, I acquired a solid foundation of knowledge about concepts like social influence and group dynamics, but I also took classes on various topics not strictly related to my major. I was particularly interested in how other fields intersect with psychology—the classes I took on media studies, biology, and literature all enhanced my understanding of psychological concepts by providing different lenses through which to look at the issues involved.

Strategy 2: Own your challenges and obstacles

If your path to graduate school hasn’t been easy or straightforward, you can turn this into a strength, and structure your personal statement as a story of overcoming obstacles.

  • Is your social, cultural or economic background underrepresented in the field? Show how your experiences will contribute a unique perspective.
  • Do you have gaps in your resume or lower-than-ideal grades? Explain the challenges you faced and how you dealt with them.

Don’t focus too heavily on negatives, but use them to highlight your positive qualities. Resilience, resourcefulness and perseverance make you a promising graduate school candidate.

Growing up working class, urban decay becomes depressingly familiar. The sight of a row of abandoned houses does not surprise me, but it continues to bother me. Since high school, I have been determined to pursue a career in urban planning. While people of my background experience the consequences of urban planning decisions first-hand, we are underrepresented in the field itself. Ironically, given my motivation, my economic background has made my studies challenging. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a scholarship for my undergraduate studies, but after graduation I took jobs in unrelated fields to help support my parents. In the three years since, I have not lost my ambition. Now I am keen to resume my studies, and I believe I can bring an invaluable perspective to the table: that of the people most impacted by the decisions of urban planners.

Strategy 3: Demonstrate your knowledge of the field

Especially if you’re applying for a PhD or another research-focused program, it’s a good idea to show your familiarity with the subject and the department. Your personal statement can focus on the area you want to specialize in and reflect on why it matters to you.

  • Reflect on the topics or themes that you’ve focused on in your studies. What draws you to them?
  • Discuss any academic achievements, influential teachers, or other highlights of your education.
  • Talk about the questions you’d like to explore in your research and why you think they’re important.

The personal statement isn’t a research proposal , so don’t go overboard on detail—but it’s a great opportunity to show your enthusiasm for the field and your capacity for original thinking.

In applying for this research program, my intention is to build on the multidisciplinary approach I have taken in my studies so far, combining knowledge from disparate fields of study to better understand psychological concepts and issues. The Media Psychology program stands out to me as the perfect environment for this kind of research, given its researchers’ openness to collaboration across diverse fields. I am impressed by the department’s innovative interdisciplinary projects that focus on the shifting landscape of media and technology, and I hope that my own work can follow a similarly trailblazing approach. More specifically, I want to develop my understanding of the intersection of psychology and media studies, and explore how media psychology theories and methods might be applied to neurodivergent minds. I am interested not only in media psychology but also in psychological disorders, and how the two interact. This is something I touched on during my undergraduate studies and that I’m excited to delve into further.

Strategy 4: Discuss your professional ambitions

Especially if you’re applying for a more professionally-oriented program (such as an MBA), it’s a good idea to focus on concrete goals and how the program will help you achieve them.

  • If your career is just getting started, show how your character is suited to the field, and explain how graduate school will help you develop your talents.
  • If you have already worked in the profession, show what you’ve achieved so far, and explain how the program will allow you to take the next step.
  • If you are planning a career change, explain what has driven this decision and how your existing experience will help you succeed.

Don’t just state the position you want to achieve. You should demonstrate that you’ve put plenty of thought into your career plans and show why you’re well-suited to this profession.

One thing that fascinated me about the field during my undergraduate studies was the sheer number of different elements whose interactions constitute a person’s experience of an urban environment. Any number of factors could transform the scene I described at the beginning: What if there were no bus route? Better community outreach in the neighborhood? Worse law enforcement? More or fewer jobs available in the area? Some of these factors are out of the hands of an urban planner, but without taking them all into consideration, the planner has an incomplete picture of their task. Through further study I hope to develop my understanding of how these disparate elements combine and interact to create the urban environment. I am interested in the social, psychological and political effects our surroundings have on our lives. My studies will allow me to work on projects directly affecting the kinds of working-class urban communities I know well. I believe I can bring my own experiences, as well as my education, to bear upon the problem of improving infrastructure and quality of life in these communities.

Tips for the main body

  • Don’t rehash your resume by trying to summarize everything you’ve done so far; the personal statement isn’t about listing your academic or professional experience, but about reflecting, evaluating, and relating it to broader themes.
  • Do make your statements into stories: Instead of saying you’re hard-working and self-motivated, write about your internship where you took the initiative to start a new project. Instead of saying you’ve always loved reading, reflect on a novel or poem that changed your perspective.

Your conclusion should bring the focus back to the program and what you hope to get out of it, whether that’s developing practical skills, exploring intellectual questions, or both.

Emphasize the fit with your specific interests, showing why this program would be the best way to achieve your aims.

Strategy 1: What do you want to know?

If you’re applying for a more academic or research-focused program, end on a note of curiosity: what do you hope to learn, and why do you think this is the best place to learn it?

If there are specific classes or faculty members that you’re excited to learn from, this is the place to express your enthusiasm.

Strategy 2: What do you want to do?

If you’re applying for a program that focuses more on professional training, your conclusion can look to your career aspirations: what role do you want to play in society, and why is this program the best choice to help you get there?

Tips for the conclusion

  • Don’t summarize what you’ve already said. You have limited space in a personal statement, so use it wisely!
  • Do think bigger than yourself: try to express how your individual aspirations relate to your local community, your academic field, or society more broadly. It’s not just about what you’ll get out of graduate school, but about what you’ll be able to give back.

You’ll be expected to do a lot of writing in graduate school, so make a good first impression: leave yourself plenty of time to revise and polish the text.

Your style doesn’t have to be as formal as other kinds of academic writing, but it should be clear, direct and coherent. Make sure that each paragraph flows smoothly from the last, using topic sentences and transitions to create clear connections between each part.

Don’t be afraid to rewrite and restructure as much as necessary. Since you have a lot of freedom in the structure of a personal statement, you can experiment and move information around to see what works best.

Finally, it’s essential to carefully proofread your personal statement and fix any language errors. Before you submit your application, consider investing in professional personal statement editing . For $150, you have the peace of mind that your personal statement is grammatically correct, strong in term of your arguments, and free of awkward mistakes.

A statement of purpose is usually more formal, focusing on your academic or professional goals. It shouldn’t include anything that isn’t directly relevant to the application.

A personal statement can often be more creative. It might tell a story that isn’t directly related to the application, but that shows something about your personality, values, and motivations.

However, both types of document have the same overall goal: to demonstrate your potential as a graduate student and s how why you’re a great match for the program.

The typical length of a personal statement for graduate school applications is between 500 and 1,000 words.

Different programs have different requirements, so always check if there’s a minimum or maximum length and stick to the guidelines. If there is no recommended word count, aim for no more than 1-2 pages.

If you’re applying to multiple graduate school programs, you should tailor your personal statement to each application.

Some applications provide a prompt or question. In this case, you might have to write a new personal statement from scratch: the most important task is to respond to what you have been asked.

If there’s no prompt or guidelines, you can re-use the same idea for your personal statement – but change the details wherever relevant, making sure to emphasize why you’re applying to this specific program.

If the application also includes other essays, such as a statement of purpose , you might have to revise your personal statement to avoid repeating the same information.

If you want to know more about college essays , academic writing , and AI tools , make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

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Personal Statement Tips | How to write your Personal Statement

Writing a personal statement to apply for university can be a daunting task, it might feel similar to when you first had to write a CV. It can be difficult to get the tone of your statement right so it doesn’t sound like you’re showing off but still including everything you have achieved and explaining why you are a great fit for the university and course!  

It's important to put effort into your personal statement to help you stand out amongst all the other applicants. Keeping your statement concise, genuine and interesting while following a checklist to make sure you don’t miss any crucial information may sound tough, but it will help in the long run. 

In an effort to help you streamline this process and make the task of assessing whether your personal statement is suitable for your UCAS form we’ve put together a checklist of ten tips! Answer these questions to make sure your personal statement is as good as it can be to give you the best chance of securing the uni place you want.

Top 10 tips for your personal statement:

Ask yourself these questions before submitting your personal statement. If you and your careers advisor/tutor can honestly answer ‘yes’ to all of them, we think your statement is ready to submit :)

  • Does your introduction hold the reader’s attention? Don’t start your statement with “I...” or “from a young age” or overuse the word ‘passionate’! Can the reader see clearly why you have chosen that course?
  • Do you sound like you understand what the course involves? Be careful to avoid coming across like you’re telling the admissions tutor what the course is about as they already know this! But show them that you’ve done your research and you’re excited about what you’re going to learn.
  • Have you shown that you have researched around the subject and understood what you’ve read? In most cases there are usually some well-known books to read that aim to introduce you to the topic and it’s never bad to have read these. But a great way to differentiate yourself is to read some lesser known books in the field and show you’ve gone the extra mile.
  • Have you detailed any extra-curricular activities that back up your choice of course? (summer schools, virtual work experience , degree tasters etc).
  • Have you reflected on what you’ve done and not just listed activities/interests? It’s important to show how these things either demonstrate an interest in the course or have improved your world view or even taught you new skills.
  • Have you talked about relevant work experience and what you gained from it?  Have you related it to your course choice? Work experience is a big one to include to demonstrate your interest in a subject; if the pandemic has left you struggling to get in-person work experience then we offer many virtual work experience programmes.
  • Have you said what your future plans are? You don’t have to if you don’t know, but if you are fairly certain of the direction you’re heading it’s never a bad idea to include it in your personal statement. (Although avoid framing your choice to go to university as one that you are taking purely to get a job, universities want students who will actually enjoy the course).
  • Are your sentences a good length? Not too short or too long? Does your statement read easily? You need to make all the key information and most impressive features easily accessible and not buried under a lot of waffle!
  • Is your spelling and grammar ok? While your personal statement should have a more formal tone, it’s supposed to be a genuine reflection of you so try not to come across as pompous or pretentious. Make sure to get several different people to proofread your statement including a careers advisor and a teacher  whose subject you want to study; they’ll be on your side and might even give you some extra tips to help you stand out! ‍
  • Have you concluded your statement positively? End on a high note so that the admissions tutor feels good after having read your statement and recognises that you would be a great addition to their university. Avoid saying your time at University will fuel you with desire and self-fulfilment - find a way to end that isn’t too cheesy!

Check out some more university content below!

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Why You Should Showcase Leadership in a Personal Statement

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Kaila Barber, from College Essay Guy, in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.

What’s Covered:

How to showcase leadership.

  • Choosing Your Personal Statement

In this post, we will discuss some strategies and tips for showcasing leadership, and other essential values and transferable skills necessary for success, in your personal statement essays for applying to college. 

Let’s say you want to talk about leadership in your essay, there are many ways you can go about it. You can talk about leadership capabilities and experience through topics such as your organization skills, productivity and making things more efficient, communicating with people, and being a mentor. Categorizing the different skills and components of leadership can help you brainstorm potential topics that will position you as a good fit, and even an asset, for prospective colleges.

In particular, leading through mentorship is a great topic to write about as it is very important because you are creating a safe environment for those around you that fosters personal, academic, and professional growth. Building connections and community and creating a safe space where people can be authentic and feel mutual trust is what mentorship is all about, and having these abilities is a major plus.

Choosing Your Personal Statement 

Writing about a challenge.

If you choose to write about a challenge you overcame, make sure you’re talking about, and focusing on, specific actions you took, and what skill you gained from it. You can include leadership and productivity skills like time management, adaptability, or flexibility if those are relevant. 

Many students, especially during the pandemic, had to help out their families financially. If this describes your experience, or you have gone through similar challenges, you can write about it as  taking on that kind of extra responsibility is a big deal for students studying full-time. From experiences such as this, students gain a lot of real world experience applying skills essential for academic, and later professional, success and those are things colleges want to hear about.

Writing About Your Hobby

A popular topic for personal statement essays is how students turn their hobbies into an interest they now want to study in college. If you choose this topic, you want to make sure you demonstrate the insight you’ve learned from this hobby, as well as the values and transferable skills it has helped you develop. 

Similar to the way we broke down leadership, categorize the different skills you’ve gained from this hobby. You can then also talk about how these skills have influenced your decision to now study your hobby. Remember, the most important thing in this essay is to personalize it to your life story. If your hobby has affected your values and life views, that is a great way to personalize your essay.

A great example of breaking down how your hobbies can change your values is crocheting. A hobby like crocheting takes time and patience. There is a beauty and importance in taking the time to learn and practice the basics so you can then master more complex processes. Someone who writes about their crocheting hobby will be able to talk about how these values, gained through their hobby, changed their life values and helped them develop transferable skills. Crocheting is just one example, but this is the structure you should aim to have if you choose this topic. 

If you’re worried about choosing the right topic, you can always do a topic check with CollegeVine. This is a community feed where you can ask specific questions about the topic you’re considering writing about. 

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

how to talk about podcasts in personal statement

Podcast: Critiquing AI-Generated Law School Personal Statements

In this episode of Status Check with Spivey , Spivey Consulting's COO Anna Hicks-Jaco gives the insider perspective on AI-generated personal statements—currently a hot topic of discussion in law school admissions offices—and critiques two personal statements written using ChatGPT. One of the AI-written essays follows a more general prompt, and one a specific prompt based on an A+ personal statement written by a real applicant a few years ago. You can read both of the full essays (plus a full transcript of this episode) below.

Helpful related resources:

  • Podcast: Dean Z on Chat GPT (and other current admissions topics)
  • Video: How to Choose a Law School Personal Statement Topic (with Derek Meeker)

You can listen and subscribe to Status Check with Spivey on Apple Podcasts , Spotify , Stitcher , YouTube , and Google Podcasts .

AI-Generated Personal Statement #1

Saturdays at the farmer’s market were always filled with vibrant colors, enticing smells, and the rhythmic chatter of vendors hawking their wares. One particular Saturday, as I was purchasing fresh bell peppers, I overheard a terse exchange between a farmer named Mr. Ramirez and a customer. The customer, unsatisfied with the price, was demanding a discount, claiming the advertised price was deceptive.
"Your sign says $1.50 a pound, but you told me $3.00 for these two peppers. That's cheating," accused the customer.
Mr. Ramirez patiently explained, "The sign is right, but those peppers are heavier than a pound. Why don’t we weigh them again?" The scale reaffirmed his honesty. Rather than leaving, the customer continued to haggle, asserting his own sense of fairness over the clearly marked prices.
This altercation may have seemed trivial to many, but to me, it illuminated a fundamental principle: the undeniable importance of laws and regulations in our daily lives. In that marketplace, where dozens of transactions occurred every minute, the principles of contract law, however informally applied, guided each sale. It was the beginning of my appreciation for the legal frameworks that subtly govern even our simplest interactions.
As I continued my undergraduate studies in sociology, I found the interplay between law and society fascinating. My course on “Law and Social Order” explored how societies codify beliefs, set norms, and enforce rules through legal systems. I realized that law, at its core, is a delicate balance of serving the collective good while respecting individual rights. But like that altercation at the market, the application of the law isn’t always straightforward.
My interest in law led me to intern at the office of Attorney Lydia Mendoza. Lydia was a community lawyer who worked tirelessly for those without a voice, often representing marginalized communities. She once shared, “Law isn't just about understanding statutes; it’s about understanding people. Every clause, every precedent has a human story behind it.”
During my internship, I had the opportunity to assist on a case where a tenant, a single mother of two, was being wrongfully evicted from her apartment. The landlord claimed neglect on her part, citing damage to the property. But as we delved into the evidence, it became clear that the building’s disrepair was a result of the landlord’s own negligence. Here, contract law wasn’t just an academic concept; it was a lifeline for a family at risk of homelessness. We eventually secured the tenant's rights to stay, but this victory was more than just a legal triumph; it was a testament to the power of law to protect and ensure justice.
These experiences solidified my decision to attend law school. I believe that with a robust legal education, I can effectively serve individuals and communities who find themselves at the crossroads of life-altering legal issues. Whether it’s a dispute over a simple transaction or a complex contractual disagreement, I want to be the voice that advocates, mediates, and seeks justice.
In conclusion, that day at the farmer’s market was an unexpected lesson on the pervasive nature of law. It's everywhere - in the weighing of peppers, in the signs that advertise prices, and in the very fabric of our daily exchanges. I want to immerse myself in the intricacies of this discipline, not just for the love of jurisprudence but for the countless individuals whose lives are shaped by it. I am eager to embark on this journey and play my part in the evolving narrative of justice.

Real Personal Statement

Featured on our podcast here . Please note that all names have been changed for anonymity, and this essay is shared with permission from the applicant.

I was eight years old when my older sister Maria handed me an envelope, put me on a city bus, and told me to bring it to my mother and not to look inside. Of course, I looked. Then I panicked. The envelope was full of heroin.
I ran to my other sister Jenny’s house—I am one of five siblings, with four sisters all between 10 and 15 years older than me—and asked her what to do. My first instinct had been to go to the police, as I had been taught in school, but I didn’t want my mom to get into trouble. Jenny calmed me down, then put me back on the bus, alone, and told me to do as I was told.
When I got to my mom’s house, she wasn’t home. Instead, I was greeted by her boyfriend, Charlie, who was furious that I’d made him wait for the drugs and became violent and abusive. When my mom got home, she was angry that I’d made Charlie angry, and more abuse followed. This was always how things happened between the three of us—I’d accidentally make Charlie mad, and that would make my mom mad. They both became violent when they were angry. When this dynamic became too much, I would show up at one of my older sister’s houses, but sooner or later I would be sent back to my mother. My father, for his part, had died of an overdose when I was four years old. I don’t remember him. My earliest memory is the day he died—the ambulance lights, the EMTs, then bits and pieces of the funeral.
At sixteen, I’d finally had enough. After a particularly violent outburst, I ran to my sister’s house, called the police, and reported Charlie for assault. My mother arrived in a rage, demanding I drop the charges. When I refused, she disowned me. I remember her eyes darkening, her face hardening. She told me, “I have no son.” That was the last time I saw her—three years later, she died.
After that night, I moved onto the couch in my sister Maria’s living room along with her husband and three children, then dropped out of high school so I could work full-time and pay rent. On my eighteenth birthday, I signed a lease for my own apartment, and I set out on my own. I got my GED and enrolled in community college, but my work schedule, constantly changing, made it difficult to ever consistently attend my classes. Professors sometimes gave assignments that required me to buy materials I couldn’t afford, or travel somewhere I wasn’t able to. When they asked me why I didn’t complete the assignment, I was too ashamed to explain why or to ask for help. I ended up leaving school after just two months.
The turning point for me came when I moved in with a new roommate and her three-year-old son Sammy. I care for children deeply, and Sammy grew to see me as a parent figure. I remember one day taking him to the park—I taught him how to swing, and we rolled down a hill, laughing and grass-stained at the bottom before sprinting back up to do it again. I ended up carrying him the six blocks home, his head on my shoulder as he slept in my arms. I knew then that I never wanted to raise my voice in anger towards Sammy, or hurt him in any way. I knew I could be different from my family—that I did not just have to be the product of my circumstances.
Over time, I managed to get some success in taking college courses, and it started to build on itself. I took it one step at a time, and before I knew it, I had finished my bachelor’s degree. This step had once seemed impossible to me, but now it was a reality. Today, anything seems possible. Just a few years ago, my world was so closed off, but now I have a wonderful support system of friendships, and my future seems limitless. After growing up in deeply unfair circumstances, I developed a strong sense of fairness, and I hope to take that into law school and into a career as a lawyer. As a child, I never would have imagined myself where I am today, but I know now that I have the ability to achieve my dreams, and becoming a lawyer is the next step in that pursuit.
When I was a kid living in La Habra, I sometimes spent my days collecting cans from dumpsters and bringing them to a recycling center, earning 90 cents per pound. Sometimes, I would earn enough to buy a massive Mexican bread cookie from the local bakery. A couple of years ago, I went back to my old neighborhood, seeing it all with new eyes. I stopped into the bakery and bought one of those bread cookies, but it seemed so much tinier than I remembered. I wasn’t sure if the cookie had gotten smaller, or if I had just gotten bigger. In so many ways, the neighborhood seemed just the same. It was me, I realized, who had changed.

AI-Generated Personal Statement #2

In the early afternoon sun, the world seemed both vast and insignificant to my 8-year-old self as I clutched the envelope my sister had handed me. With strict instructions not to peek, I embarked on a mission to deliver it to our mother. However, curiosity gnawed at me, and I yielded to its temptation, revealing a shocking truth – the envelope contained a substance I would later understand to be heroin.
My immediate response was to seek help, a notion ingrained in me by elementary school lessons about right and wrong. I contemplated involving the authorities, but my young mind grasped the potential consequences this could inflict on my mother. The struggle between duty and loyalty was daunting for a child, and so I turned to my older sister for guidance.
Her counsel echoed with conflicting emotions, mirroring the complex dynamics of our family. "Give it to Mom," she advised, highlighting the intricate balance of love and responsibility that had shaped our lives. I followed her counsel, but destiny played a harsh hand, leading me to our mother's boyfriend – a man who had wielded both physical and emotional pain.
Growing up had forced me to confront realities that others my age could scarcely comprehend. My father's absence, lost when I was merely 4, had painted the canvas of my earliest memories. Those early brushstrokes had traced a life marked by hardship, yet they also carried the seeds of resilience that would guide me through the tumultuous journey ahead.
Leaving my mother's house at 16 was not an act of defiance but a desperate bid for self-preservation. With a high school education abandoned in the face of survival, I navigated life's stormy seas, finding refuge on my sister's couch as I paid rent through hard work. A GED, a beacon of second chances, led me to the doors of a community college, but internal battles thwarted my academic aspirations.
Amidst this turmoil, a new chapter began. Sharing a home with a roommate and her child illuminated a path of hope and transformation. The genuine connection forged with her child sparked a revelation – the power to break familial cycles of hardship and build a foundation for a brighter future.
Guided by this newfound purpose, I discovered an unwavering drive to rekindle my academic journey. Fueled by a desire to harness the law as a force for good, I secured a college degree against all odds. This journey, born from adversity, instilled within me an unshakable determination to pursue a legal education. The tenacity that saw me through tumultuous times now compels me to embrace the challenges of law school.
Through my experiences, I have glimpsed the power of advocacy and the transformative potential of the law. My journey from a child burdened with secrets to an adult empowered by the pursuit of justice drives my aspiration to become a lawyer. I am resolved to be a voice for those who are unheard, to advocate for justice in the face of adversity, and to forge a legacy that nurtures hope in the hearts of the next generation.
As I stand on the precipice of law school, I carry with me the stories of my past, woven into the fabric of my identity. These stories inform my commitment to justice, resilience, and the pursuit of a better tomorrow – not just for myself, but for the countless lives I hope to touch along the way.

Full Transcript:

Hello, and welcome to Status Check with Spivey , where we talk about life, law school, law school admissions, a little bit of everything. My name is Anna Hicks-Jaco, and I am taking over the mic today as Spivey Consulting's Chief Operating Officer; I also just got off of a temporary law school dean of admissions position. And today we're going to be talking about AI-generated law school personal statements, specifically ChatGPT just because that's sort of the most common and most accessible one that people are talking about right now.

So, this is a hot topic in admissions, and I'm going to get a little bit "inside baseball" here, but this is something that has been on the minds and in the conversations of law school admissions officers for several months now. It's something that I would be surprised if there was a single law school Dean of Admissions out there who hasn't given it at least some thought. I would imagine the vast majority of law schools have had conversations about this in the admissions office, among senior leadership. There was a big session on it at the LSAC annual meeting—so every year LSAC hosts a big meeting where all law school admissions officers come together to discuss admissions topics, and ChatGPT was a big point of discussion at this past year's LSAC annual meeting. And now law schools are starting to come out with policies on it. So we've seen schools saying you have to certify on your application that you did not use AI to put together your application materials, and we have at least one school that is specifically saying that you are allowed to use tools like ChatGPT.

If you're coming to this podcast thinking you might want to use ChatGPT for parts of your application process, and you're looking for some background information about how that might be perceived, how that might go over, we're mainly going to be focusing on that latter category of schools that do allow you to use ChatGPT, or just don't say anything about it at all. We would never encourage you to use these types of tools for schools that specifically say you're not allowed to, schools where you have to certify that you did not use them. We're hoping to give you the insider perspective on all of this. And we can also give what I think is probably more objective advice than law schools may be able to give, and I don't mean that in a bad way at all, but law schools have their own motives, law schools have their own goals that they are furthering. But if I'm a law school that doesn't want you to use ChatGPT in your application, I'm going to talk about this topic differently from if I were a law school that was okay with it, if that makes sense. So we're going to try to be as objective as possible here.

We're going to be critiquing a few essays written by ChatGPT as sort of vehicles for discussing strategy for applicants and how law school admissions officers are actually going to be looking at these things. I'll start with one that was posted on Reddit. Mike posted about it and asked for folks to post some AI-generated personal statements. This first one is interesting. The poster put into ChatGPT basically just, “write me a law school personal statement that begins with an anecdote.” So that's super, super general. If you're listening to this, you're doing research on how to best navigate this process, you're trying to think about these things strategically—I would very much doubt that anyone in our audience would put this simple of a prompt into ChatGPT and just turn that in. Though I would almost guarantee you that at least a few people will just straight up do that this cycle. You'd be surprised at the sorts of things people submit in law school admissions.

So I'm going to read these essays. But we will include the full text in our blog post. There's a link to that in the show notes or description if you're not already on our blog post. So if you'd rather read them, you can just skip ahead, but I am going to read them out in full just so that we can all have the same context and the same understanding of what we're talking about.

So here's that first personal statement I talked about from the Redditor who put that really general prompt in there. And again, this is not what you would really be submitting, I think, if you were using ChatGPT in your application process. But I do think there's some interesting observations that we can get from it. So I'm going to jump into this first personal statement.

Okay, that's the first personal statement. My first thought when reading this was that it was almost a little bit uncanny valley for me. It reads a lot like a personal statement in some ways, if you sort of blur your eyes and turn off part of your brain. You know, like when you're reading a textbook, and you get to the end of the page, and your eyeballs have passed over every word and your brain has processed them in some way, but you just haven't learned anything at all. If you sort of read this essay with your brain half turned off, as I said, it feels a lot like a personal statement. It does. But when you start to look just a little bit closer to it, it doesn't feel right. There's something off about it. And that's because of the content, right? The content doesn't quite make sense. That farmers' market story is just incredibly boring. It's not differentiated at all. It starts with this sort of vivid description of the farmers' market that doesn't really make much sense—you know, you're wondering, why would this person remember this incident at a farmers market that they describe as pretty tame and pretty boring? You know, what about that anecdote that they described would stick out to someone and catalyze them to become interested in law? I think the essay says that it was "the beginning of their appreciation for the legal framework that governs even our simplest interactions." And none of that quite makes sense; none of that quite feels authentic. So that's why I say it feels uncanny valley to me. There are parts of it that do feel a lot like a personal statement, which makes sense, but overall, it does not strike me as something that a real person would write.

As I said before, I don't think that a lot of people are going to be submitting anything that looks like this. I think that they would at least be giving it their own personal prompt, their own personal topic. But as I said, there are a couple of things that I find particularly interesting about this personal statement. The first is that it talks about two different stories, the first being the farmers' market and the second being the wrongful eviction case. That wrongful eviction case is way more memorable, way more relevant. It's just better in every way, I think, than the farmer's market story, which again is just really boring. So I think that's interesting, that the essay includes two different stories but selects the wrong one to emphasize. That tells me that these tools, even if you give it strong stories, even if you give it good materials, it might have a difficult time discerning between what in a specific applicant’s profile and background makes sense to emphasize and what doesn't. It might be able to write something that sort of reads all right with decent writing, but I predict that strategic decision-making is going to be a big hindrance to AI tools’ effectiveness here.

The second observation I made, that I think is probably going to be pretty obvious, is that this essay is incredibly generic. Again, it does feel off if you really read it closely, but if you kind of skim it and don't pay too much attention to the details, this reads like a lot of personal statements I have read before. Especially the paragraphs about doing the undergraduate studies in sociology and taking a course on law and then the interest in law leading to an internship at an attorney's office, that all feels like stuff I have read hundreds of times before. And that kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? It is, by the very nature of AI, an amalgamation of hundreds or thousands of other personal statements, so it kind of makes sense that it's not differentiated at all, at least when you're not giving it a specific differentiated topic. But I just wanted to highlight that as a pitfall of using these types of tools. We talk a lot about "differentiation " at Spivey Consulting Group, if you read our book, our Spivey Consulting Law School Admissions Bible , it's part of the PowerScore series. We wrote it with Dave Killoran. And differentiation is a big point of emphasis there. And it makes sense that using AI tools will almost by definition trend toward becoming less differentiated, because it is being made up of other personal statements. Technologically, I know I'm not talking about this with any level of precision, so we're not going to get into the details of that, but it's something to watch out for, certainly, if you use these tools in any capacity.

If a real applicant came to me and gave me this essay, and it was all true stories, and asked for suggestions for what they could do to improve it, I think I would have a lot of suggestions. The first one would be, as I was saying earlier, to start with the story of the wrongful eviction, especially if the applicant had personal conversations with the client, saw the client's family, really worked on this case, it was important to them. I think that could be a strong start to a personal statement. I would probably cut the farmers' market story altogether unless there was some information that explains why it was more impactful than it comes across in this essay. But as it is presented here, I would just cut that entirely; I don't think it's helpful. I don't think it's differentiating, and it certainly doesn't make sense to start out with it vividly described as it is here.

Along those same lines, I would probably use fewer quotations. There's a lot of usage of quotations here and, sort of, dialogue presented as if these were the exact words being said. I don't think that makes a whole lot of sense in most personal statements, but it especially does not make sense here. It just makes it feel even more inauthentic, because why would you remember the precise words being used in this small dispute over a couple of bell peppers? Unless it was some big bombastic fight that's just not described in the personal statement, as I was saying.

I would also suggest cutting probably the whole paragraph on the undergraduate studies in sociology and the interplay between law and society, whatever. I think in general, it's not a great idea for applicants to spend time in their personal statement sort of opining about the importance of the law and what the law means and big philosophical questions like that. Unless you're talking about them in the context of a personal, important, impactful experience that you had, and then directly what that experience taught you about the law—that's different if it's personal. But if you're just talking about it as, “I took this class and based on that I started to understand XYZ,” and then you spend several sentences or a couple of paragraphs talking about your philosophical ideas about the law, that is typically wasted space. And it can come across a little bit naive even, especially to admissions officers who have practiced the law to be reading sort of strong statements being made about the law from someone who hasn't even taken a law school class yet. So I would avoid that. I would definitely cut it in this essay. And honestly, overall, the essay might benefit from just a different topic entirely. So that's a conversation that I would probably have with the applicant about whether there are other experiences that might make sense to highlight in a law school personal statement.

So let's talk about a more realistic use case, which is that you give ChatGPT not just a general prompt of “write me a law school personal statement,” because obviously the biggest problem that I didn't even talk about with that last personal statement is that, if you gave it that general prompt, those stories would not be true, which obviously is not a personal statement that you want to submit. The more likely use case, though, is an applicant going to ChatGPT, having a topic in mind, having a story in mind, giving it the basic facts of that story, and then ChatGPT turns your actual authentic story into an essay. So I did a little experiment on this. I worked backwards from one of my favorite personal statements of all time, and I actually have read this for the podcast before. So we'll link that in the show notes and in the blog. It is one of the absolute best personal statements I've ever read. And for this experiment, I decided to put the basic facts of that personal statement into ChatGPT and see what it gave me.

First, I do want to read the original, just so that you know sort of what we are working backward from. So here's the actual personal statement that the applicant wrote themselves and submitted to law schools. And I do want to give a quick disclaimer here that this personal statement does include mentions and themes of abuse and of illicit drug use. So if you don't want to listen to that, I would recommend skipping forward a little bit. Here's the personal statement.

So, that's the personal statement. As I said, I think it's one of the best personal statements I've ever read. It was paired, I should note, with a diversity statement that talked more about the applicant's Mexican heritage. It was accompanied by optional essays and short answers and other materials that conveyed his specific interests in law in a little bit more detail. But this particular essay talked about his background and his motivations in life in a way that was incredibly elevating for his applications. So, I put the facts of that personal statement into ChatGPT. I didn't put the essay itself. I just put, as plainly as I could state them, the various details and facts that were included in the personal statement that I just read. So here is the version that ChatGPT gave me.

Alright, that's it. That's the personal statement. I don't know what your reaction was listening to that, but from the perspective of an admissions officer reading that on the page, boy does it feel overwrought. It does not feel genuine or authentic at all. It sounds like it is trying to sound as deep and wise as it possibly can. The language was a lot more complex than the original. There were a lot more analogies, a lot more, sort of, stilted language. The original version, they used simpler language, the language that this applicant actually would have used in a conversation instead of all of these deep metaphors and things. That essay, written sincerely from the heart, was far better and far more differentiating than this version.

So if the real applicant came to me with this ChatGPT-written version of the personal statement and asked me for a critique or asked me for suggestions on how to improve it, I do think that the first thing I would suggest is toning down the language and simplifying the language. Especially having known this applicant, having spoken with this applicant, and knowing that his real-life communication style is much simpler and more straightforward. Step one, we would want the tone of this essay to be more aligned with his actual authentic voice. So I think that's the biggest thing, and I think that alone would make a huge difference, because this does have the bones of a strong personal statement—we know that it does; I gave it the bones of a strong personal statement.

Second, I think near the end, ChatGPT kind of turned it into a bit of a “why law,” which the original was less of a “why law.” This ChatGPT version, in the last couple of paragraphs, started talking about a "passion for the pursuit of justice" and aspirations of becoming a lawyer and resolving to be a voice for those who are unheard and advocating for justice. There’s certainly nothing inherently wrong with that, obviously, but I don't think it especially makes sense in this essay. The experiences as conveyed don't necessarily lead the applicant naturally to “and this is why I want to go to law school” being the conclusion. I think that's kind of shoehorned in, and I don't think it quite makes sense here. What I do think makes more sense is conveying those legal aspirations elsewhere in the application, which is what this applicant did, and I think that made more sense for him.

The other suggestions I would give would honestly just go toward getting it closer to the real version that the applicant submitted. So I won't get too into the weeds of that, but definitely the biggest one would be toning down the language and making it more authentic for this actual applicant and how he speaks and writes and communicates.

And this is a version working backward from an excellent personal statement. This is a topic, this is a story that we know can make a great personal statement. So I think it's interesting that it turned out a version that is far worse than the original. Moreover, I think if this were real life, if I were an applicant, actually, not working backwards from an essay, but talking about my real life, putting that into ChatGPT, I think I probably would have missed some of the details that were included in the original essay. And of course, it can't make up details it doesn't have, you know, you have to give it all the information that it's going to present in the essay if it's going to be true and authentic. And I think that the actual personal statement writing process allows applicants to flesh out your ideas and reflect on the experiences and what they mean to you in a way that, I think, that sort of just listing out facts to a robot does not. So I do think that if this were real life, the applicant probably would have missed some of the details that made the original essay shine.

Moreover, I think it probably would have included some extraneous details, some details that weren't in the original essay, which of course I did not do. I included only information from the original essay. And I think some of those details would make more sense to leave out. You know, when you're writing a personal statement, you have to make strategic decisions about what you include, what you don't. And it seems ChatGPT, at least at this point, does not have the ability to discern, as we were talking about earlier, what to highlight, what to not highlight, what to include, what to exclude. You are the one who's going to have to make those decisions. This is sort of a silly example, but I actually tried giving the ChatGPT the exact same prompt as I did for the essay I just read, but including the sort of useless facts, "My favorite food was spaghetti." I didn't emphasize that at all or say it was important at all; I just included that as one of the many facts that I listed. And ChatGPT gave me back an essay that included the sentence, “My favorite food, spaghetti, became a refuge of comfort in turbulent times.”

So you have to give it exactly the right information. You have to include all of the facts, all of the information that would make a strong essay, and you need to exclude all of the facts, all of the information that is not strategically sound to include. And by the time you've done all of that work, all of that research, all of that introspection and reflection, and potentially writing to sort of help you flesh out that introspection and reflection, you’ve probably already written basically a personal statement by that point. And that personal statement is probably a lot better than what ChatGPT would put together. Even if you're using super simple language, not using metaphors, you're not using analogies, I really think that something that you write authentically—even if your language is super simple, even if you're not talking about things in this sort of flowery way—that sincere essay is going to be far more effective than something that an AI language model spits out that is not based on your style, your voice, your authentic self at all. Your version is going to be stronger than that probably 99 times out of 100.

I think the most likely usage for ChatGPT and similar tools in law school personal statements is probably from applicants who just don't feel confident in their writing or English abilities, and they want to write something that sounds professional and well written, and they don't think they can do it on their own. As I've been talking about, you’d still have to do your own research on the strategy side, you'd still have to choose a strong topic yourself, you'd still have to do all that reflection, all that introspection, and give it every detail that would be valuable to include, and probably do a lot of editing. Again, that would probably be just as much work, if not more work, than just writing a personal statement yourself. You don't need to be a strong, beautiful, creative writer to write a great law school personal statement and really elevate your chances of getting into your goal schools. Creative writing is not a part of the law school curriculum; you need to be able to write clearly and concisely. Your essay does not need to be a beautiful piece of creative writing; it really, really does not, and aiming for that at the cost of authenticity, I think, is going to be to your detriment.

Number two, I do think more and more schools are going to start looking at the LSAT writing sample and the GRE writing section when they're trying to assess writing skills. So the LSAT writing sample, when I applied to law school, the advice was basically "no one reads them; as long as you don't draw a picture, you are fine." But that was when those essays were handwritten, and a big part I think of why basically nobody read them was because half or probably much more were almost incomprehensible; the handwriting issue honestly was a big part of it. Now that it is typed, I do think that more and more law school admissions folks are reading them. And with tools like ChatGPT becoming common and usable, I actually think the majority will start at least reading it, and especially if for some reason your writing skills are in question, I think they're going to be looking at that a lot more than your personal statement. Because again, ChatGPT is a huge topic in law school admissions, it is absolutely being discussed in law school admissions offices, this is something that is on folks' radar. So I do think that's going to become more common. And if your LSAT or GRE writing is drastically different in terms of writing ability relative to your personal statement, relative to the other elements of your application, that could hurt you.

So you're probably, in the vast majority of cases, going to come up with a stronger personal statement writing it yourself relative to one that an AI language model creates for you. And something that we talk about a ton when we talk about personal statements is authenticity and sincerity, and I've brought that up many times in this podcast because it is so important, and it is what makes for the most positively differentiating personal statements. And it is going to be very difficult to come up with something that is authentic and real using ChatGPT.

There was one other AI-generated personal statement that was posted on that Reddit thread that I mentioned that I actually thought was pretty decent, though it'd need some real editing before being submitted. The Redditor created a personal statement using ChatGPT based on a story from a TV show from a character who is a lawyer; the show is Community— great show by the way, if you haven't watched it, though we don't talk about Season 4, just skip that one. So the Redditor basically put in the main character Jeff Winger's backstory, and sort of that character's reasoning for wanting to go to law school, into ChatGPT, and asked it to write a personal statement based on that. And it put out one that was pretty okay. Again, it would need some editing, but it was pretty okay. And I think that sort of makes sense. The story was literally made for TV. It was written by professional writers who were trying to convey an interesting and effective backstory for a character who wanted to go to law school, who wanted to become a lawyer, right? So it makes sense that the story was interesting, and that put into ChatGPT was able to come up with a relatively interesting personal statement. I think it just comes back to the strategy question of, if you include all of the right details that would make a strong personal statement, if you make those strategic calls yourself and figure out a story that is effective and conveys aspects of your background that are positive for a law school application, you probably could create an okay personal statement—with some editing, with some reconfiguring. But it's not going to be as authentic as just what you could write yourself, and that's hindering you.

Let's talk about where I could see potentially recommending someone use AI language models like ChatGPT in their law school applications. Because if you haven't noticed, the thrust behind a lot of what we've been talking about is that using ChatGPT is more likely to create a worse personal statement than what you could create yourself. But there are cases where I could see using it. And this is where I think law schools probably aren't going to be as free and as open talking about this aspect of it. But I think where you could use it, and where frankly I think applicants are most likely to use it, is if you are writing your full personal statement by yourself, you have done that strategizing, you have done that introspecting, you have done that reflection and you've come up with this story, and maybe you hit a wall on one specific section. Or maybe you try to rewrite a sentence five times and just can't figure out how to word it correctly or phrase it correctly. That's the sort of situation where I could see, “Okay, I'm going to put this sentence or two into ChatGPT and ask it to rewrite it so that it sounds a little bit more professional or so that the structure is a little bit refined.” When you're hitting those walls, I could see using ChatGPT for specific, small parts of your personal statement where you are having trouble or where you think seeing a rephrasing of things could be helpful for you.

Again, I would not do even this limited amount of using it for schools that specifically tell you that you cannot use it or that require you to certify that you have not used it. I talked about that at the beginning. But for schools that don't give any specific guidelines or for schools that say specifically you can use these types of tools, I think that would be a very fair usage of it. I would just recommend being judicious in your usage of it. I would use it as little as possible, because the more you use it, the more you are using words that are not your own, and I think that your sincerity is just going to decrease the more that you use these sorts of tools. And law school admissions officers gain a really good radar for sincerity. You read enough personal statements, you meet enough applicants, you start to have a sense for what is genuine from an applicant and what is just writing down words that the applicant thinks that the admissions officers want to read, if that makes sense. So we emphasize sincerity hugely at the Spivey Consulting Group in terms of personal statements, in terms of your application elements. Long before there were AI language models that can write your personal statement for you, we have always emphasized sincerity. So that's still ultimately incredibly important and using these types of tools is getting away from being authentic.

Ultimately, it does seem to me that AI language models are able to create a personal statement that has decent writing, maybe it's super overwrought like that last one, but some of the other ones I've seen have been less overwrought. So I think you probably could come up with a decent personal statement, but you’d have to give it all of the right things. You’d have to do a ton of work on your own, and I think in the course of doing that work, in the course of writing out the various things that you want ChatGPT to use in your personal statement, what you create on your own is probably going to be better than what ChatGPT can give you. These AI tools can certainly generate competent writing, they can generate something that follows the basic structure of a personal statement, but as of right now, at least from everything that I have seen, it's not effective at making strategic decisions about what to write about, what to highlight, what to emphasize, what to de-emphasize, what to leave out. I think all of that is going to be decisions that you, the applicant, are going to have to make.

And in most cases, a plainly-written essay written sincerely by you is probably going to be a far better personal statement than an elaborate flowery essay from ChatGPT that's trying to sound smart and trying to sound wise, telling the exact same story. Again, your personal statement does not need to be a beautiful personal essay, it does not need to be an incredible piece of creative writing. It needs to authentically tell a story that is personal to you, that is important to you. And writing-wise, you just want it to be clear, you want it to be understandable, you want it to display that you are able to write in competent English.

So, I hope this was helpful. I hope it gave you some things to think about if you are considering using some of these tools in putting together your law school applications. It's certainly something that's on the minds of law school admissions officers, Mike and Dean Z, Sarah Zearfoss from the University of Michigan Law School, actually discussed it in our recent podcast interview with her in part two of that series. So we'll link that in the show notes. Feel free to listen to that one if you want her thoughts on it, and feel free to like and subscribe if you found this helpful, if you want more advice in the future on law school admissions, on legal education news, mental health and wellness. Thank you for listening, and best of luck.

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This is one call folks are going to be talking about for a long time.

As No. 13-seeded Samford attempted to catch up to and potentially upset No. 4 seed Kansas on Thursday night in their first-round Midwest Region clash, a controversial foul all but ended the dream as the Jayhawks squeaked by with a 93-89 NCAA Tournament win.

After Jaden Campbell pulled the Bulldogs within one with a 3-pointer with under 15 seconds left in the second half, Kansas inbounded the ball, and Nicolas Timberlake went up for a dunk to try to put the Jayhawks back up by three.

This was called a foul… — Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) March 22, 2024

But A.J. Staton-McCray caught him down from behind with what appeared to be a perfectly timed block, giving Samford a shot.

However, it was all for naught.

Officials called Staton-McCray with a shooting foul, and Timberlake sank both free throws and Kansas advanced

They will play Gonzaga on Saturday in the second round, and if Timberlake thought there was any controversy, he wasn’t letting on.

“I was definitely fouled on the breakaway,” he said.

Replays, though, showed Staton-McCray appeared to block just the ball and should not have been called for a foul, leading to plenty of outrage across the college basketball world.

Samford was called for a controversial foul at the end of their loss to Kansas.

But any outrage on the call was no help to tiny Samford, champion of the Southern Conference, who was denied a last chance to try to snag its first tournament victory in program history.

“I thought A.J. made an incredible play, you know what I’m saying?” Samford coach Bucky McMillan said. “I’m not faulting the call. You can see it different ways. But I was really proud of our guys’ ability to go make a play.”

“With the game on the line that’s an incredible block taken away from Samford,” TBS analyst Brendan Haywood said.

A.J. Staton-McCray #5 of the Samford Bulldogs is called for a foul on Nicolas Timberlake #25 of the Kansas Jayhawks with 14 seconds left during the second half in the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Delta Center on March 21, 2024 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Rules analyst Gene Steratore agreed with Haywood’s assessment, as did a large swath of social media users.

“Ain’t tweeted in a min but that’s ballllllllll,” Lonzo Ball posted on X in the moments after the call .

“Samford was called for a foul…COME ON! This was ALL BALL,” former NFL quarterback Chase Daniel wrote .

Clark Kellogg, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley discuss the controversial foul on Samford, as well as the review system. — Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 22, 2024

On the roundtable show after the game, analyst Kenny Smith also blasted officials.

“We sat here and watched them review like seven calls, but they couldn’t review that one,” Smith said.

After all of the hullabaloo, Kansas will next play Gonzaga in the second round.

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how to talk about podcasts in personal statement

Top 10 Personal Brand Statement Examples To Follow

Maddy Osman

Updated: March 11, 2024

Published: June 18, 2023

In a 2022 personal branding trends study, most respondents said they consider personal branding an essential component of work and their everyday life. 

what is a personal brand statement

It found that 75% of Americans trust someone with a personal brand, and 63% are likely to buy from someone with a personal brand. 

As an entrepreneur who is always on the lookout for customers or potential investors, you know that trust is key. Developing a personal brand for yourself can be an effective tool to help grow your business.

What is a personal brand statement?

A personal brand statement is a couple of sentences that highlights your unique skills and experience. It’s meant to be a quick introduction to people who discover you online because it summarizes what you can offer them.

Basically, it’s a catchphrase, tag line, or elevator pitch for you as a professional individual. While it showcases what you do professionally, you can also display your personality.

Why leaders should have a personal brand statement

You make a better first impression.

As the saying goes, “You only have one shot to make a first impression.” The challenge for entrepreneurs is that you don’t always know when that opportunity arises, as many first impressions happen online.

When a potential client or investor hears about you, their first instinct is to look up your social media profiles. If you’ve got a clear and well-thought-out personal brand statement, you’ve got a better chance at making them stick around for second and third impressions.

You can establish yourself as a thought leader

Thought leadership is a powerful content marketing tactic that can help you reach bigger audiences and generate leads for your business. When you’re known as a leader in your particular industry, that automatically gives you a higher level of credibility. 

A personal brand statement can strengthen your thought leadership strategy by clearly stating your area of expertise.

You can create networking opportunities

Whether you’re looking for top talent, new clients, or potential investors, networking is half the battle. 

Personal brand statements make it easy for potential connections to understand exactly what you do and what you value. Without it, you may miss out on opportunities simply because they didn’t know that you had something relevant to offer them.

Best personal brand statement examples for leaders

“bilingual creative who lives at the intersection of business & design.” —chris do.

how to talk about podcasts in personal statement

Source: Chris Do’s LinkedIn page .

Chris Do is a multi-hyphenate: a designer, creative strategist, public speaker, founder, and CEO of The Futur, an online education platform.

What makes it great : Because he wears so many hats, Do’s personal branding statement is better than trying to explain everything he does.

“Helping people find their zen in the digital age.” —Shama Hyder

how to talk about podcasts in personal statement

Source: Shama Hyder’s homepage .

Shama Hyder is the founder and CEO of Zen Media, a marketing and PR firm. She’s also written a book about digital marketing .

What makes it great : Hyder’s brand statement is an attention-grabbing play on her company’s name and showcases one of her key values: making clients feel a sense of calm in a fast-paced digital world.

“Write better sales emails faster with our in-inbox coach.” —Will Allred

how to talk about podcasts in personal statement

Source: Will Allred’s LinkedIn page .

Will Allred is the co-founder of Lavender, an AI-powered email software startup.

What makes it great : Brooklin Nash, CEO of Beam Content, shares, “In one sentence, Allred captures the entire focus of his social presence: to help salespeople write better emails faster while demonstrating his authority and sharing his product in the second part of that headline.”

“Keeping it awkward, brave, and kind.” —Brené Brown

how to talk about podcasts in personal statement

Source: Dr. Brené Brown’s homepage .

Brené Brown has a Ph.D. in sociology and is the author of several books that cover topics like shame, vulnerability, empathy, and courage.

What makes it great : Dr. Brown’s personal brand statement embodies her mission statement of encouraging people to embrace their vulnerabilities by sharing her own.

“Empowering ridiculously good marketing.” —Ann Handley

how to talk about podcasts in personal statement

Source: Ann Handley’s homepage .

Ann Handley is a digital marketing expert and bestselling author. Her company helps marketers get tangible results.

What makes it great : Sharon Jonah, creative director and founder of digital marketing agency Buzz Social, shares, “In four words, we understand what Handley does, how she does it, whom she’s speaking to, and how she speaks.”

“Still just a girl who wants to learn. Youngest-ever Nobel laureate, co-founder @malalafund and president of Extracurricular Productions.” —Malala Yousafzai

how to talk about podcasts in personal statement

Source: Malala Yousafzai’s Twitter profile .

Malala Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel laureate and an activist whose fund aims to remove the barriers to female education around the world.

What makes it great : Her bio highlights her impressive achievements with language that makes her sound relatable. 

“Marketing. Strategy. Humanity.” —Mark Schaefer

how to talk about podcasts in personal statement

Source: Mark Schaefer’s homepage .

Mark Schaefer is an educator, speaker, marketing consultant, and author. He’s developed corporate marketing strategies for brands like Microsoft, IBM, and AT&T.

What makes it great : “It’s subtle, concise, and creative. It describes what Schaefer does, what he focuses on, and his unique and distinguished approach,” says Omer Usanmaz, CEO and co-founder of mentoring and learning software Qooper. 

“Empowering successful women to take control of their finances.” —Jennifer Welsh

how to talk about podcasts in personal statement

Source: Jennifer Welsh’s LinkedIn profile page .

Jennifer Welsh founded Money School, a digital course that teaches women about personal finance. What makes it great : Welsh’s strong personal brand statement says exactly what she does and whom she does it for. 

“Let’s make Excel the solution, not the problem.” —Kat Norton (Miss Excel)

how to talk about podcasts in personal statement

Source: Miss Excel’s homepage .

Kat Norton (known as Miss Excel) became famous on TikTok for her bite-sized Microsoft Excel tutorials. She now offers Excel courses on her website.

What makes it great : Norton’s clever statement shows that she understands her audience's problem and highlights her personality.

“‘The Customer Whisperer.’ I help marketers discover the hidden reasons why customers buy so they can become un-ignorable.” —Katelyn Bourgoin

how to talk about podcasts in personal statement

Source: Katelyn Bourgoin’s LinkedIn page .

Katelyn Bourgoin is a creator and serial entrepreneur who founded a branding agency, a mentoring platform for female entrepreneurs, and a restaurant consulting firm. She trains entrepreneurs to uncover what makes their products “un-ignorable.”

What makes it great : Bourgoin’s clever branding statement effectively tells marketers that she can help them understand their customers better and make their brands memorable.

How to write a personal brand statement

Writing an effective personal brand statement can be tough because it requires you to be catchy yet compelling. It should give audiences all the necessary information in a sentence or two.

Here are some tips for writing your own:

Think about your unique value proposition

A unique value proposition (or unique selling point) is what makes you different. It tells people why they should try your product or service, network with you, or invest in your business.

Tip : Identify your core values, goals, and strengths.

If you don't know what those are, ask yourself:

  • Why am I building my brand?
  • What do I want my audience to know me for?
  • How do I do things differently?
  • Do I have a distinct skill set, experience, point of view, or passion?
  • What value do I bring to my audience?

Keep it short and sweet

Your brand statement should be simple and easy to understand. 

The goal is to have someone look at your profile or website and immediately understand who you are and what you do, so keep it brief. Keep in mind that you don’t need full sentences either. 

Start by writing one to three sentences that outline what you do, for whom, and how you do it. You can also add a sentence about values. 

Then, look at different ways you can shorten them. Or pick out the most specific and impactful words and see what happens when you simply list them. 

Showcase your personality

Injecting your personality empowers you to share what you do without being bland or boring. Being authentic also helps attract like-minded customers, investors, and peers. 

At the end of the day, there are other people out there who may offer similar services or solve the same problems for your target audience. Your personality can set you apart.

“Don't be afraid to inject a bit of humor, quirkiness, and passion. It’ll help make you more memorable and help you stand out from the crowd,” says Usanmaz.

Ideally, you want customers to know what you do and get a little taste of what it will be like to work with you.

A personal brand statement conveys your mission, differentiates you from competitors, and attracts your target audience. Use these tips and real-life examples of personal brand statements to inspire you to write your own.

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Watch CBS News

The Fed is meeting today. Here's what experts are saying about the odds of a rate cut.

By Aimee Picchi

Edited By Alain Sherter, Alex Sundby

Updated on: March 20, 2024 / 3:22 PM EDT / CBS News

Update: The Fed left its benchmark interest rate unchanged .

Americans are bearing the financial burden of higher costs for every type of loan , from mortgages to credit cards, after two years of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. With the central bank meeting today, economists and consumers alike have one question on their minds: When will the central bank start cutting rates? 

The answer: Almost certainly not this month, and probably not at its next meeting, according to Wall Street forecasters.

Most economists polled by financial data company FactSet think the Fed will keep its benchmark rate steady on Wednesday, as well as at its following meeting on May 1. Consumers holding out for lower borrowing costs may have to wait until the following month for relief, with about half of economists now penciling in the Fed's June 12 meeting for the first cut in four years, FactSet data shows. 

The Fed kicked off its flurry of rate hikes in March 2022 as inflation soared during the pandemic, reaching a 40-year high in June of that year. Although inflation has rapidly cooled since then, it remains higher than the Fed would like, which is why economists believe the central bank will keep rates steady this week.

That doesn't mean that the Fed won't say anything noteworthy. Experts said the Fed's latest economic outlook could provide hints about when rate relief might be in the cards.

"The Fed is going to be taking a lot of the oxygen out of the room this week as they conclude their March meeting on Wednesday afternoon," said Sam Millete, director of fixed income at Commonwealth Financial Network, in an email. "We've seen some mixed economic data to start the year. It's going to be interesting to see how the Fed reacts to that, especially in Fed Chair Jerome Powell's post-meeting press conference."

Here's what to know about Wednesday's Fed meeting and what it means for your money. 

When is the Fed meeting this week?

The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee meets on March 19-20. The rate-setting panel will announce its rate decision at 2 p.m. Eastern time on March 20.  

Chairman Jerome Powell will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday to discuss the FOMC's rate decision and provide information on the central bank's outlook.

When and by how much will the Fed cut interest rates?

The Fed on Wednesday is expected to maintain the federal funds rate in a range of 5.25% to 5.5%.

The question is whether the central bank might provide guidance about the expected timing of what would mark the first rate cut since March 2020, when the economy was in free fall due to the pandemic, prompting the Fed to slash borrowing costs to buoy the economy. 

On Wednesday, analysts expect Powell to reiterate that the Fed wants to see continued improvement in its battle against inflation before cutting rates.

"The Fed will keep their forward guidance unchanged while stressing that they need further evidence that inflation is on a sustainable path toward their 2% target before cutting interest rates," Ryan Sweet, chief U.S. economist with Oxford Economics, told investors on Monday in a report. 

Economists still think the Fed could cut rates several times in 2024, although some economists are now projecting fewer reductions than they had forecast earlier. For instance, Goldman Sachs on Monday said it is penciling in three cuts in 2024, down from its earlier forecast for four cuts this year.

That change is "mainly because inflation has been a bit firmer than we expected," Goldman Sachs economists said in a research note.

What is the inflation rate in 2024?

In February, consumer prices rose  3.2% on an annual basis , faster than January's 3.1% pace and well above the 2% target sought by the Fed. 

To be sure, inflation has cooled considerably after touching a four-decade peak of 9.1% in June 2022, but it remains higher than its pre-pandemic levels of about 2% and represents one reason why economists believe the Fed will push back rate cuts until at least June.

If inflation is down, why isn't the Fed cutting rates?

Powell has repeatedly noted that cutting rates too soon could spark a resurgence of inflation, causing more financial pain for consumers and businesses.

"The Fed does not want to repeat the same mistake made in the 1970s by declaring that they have conquered inflation too soon, only to have it reemerge," said Villanova University economics professor Victor Li, a former senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, in an email.

He added, "But the Fed knows they can sabotage the soft landing that they created by holding rates too high for too long and causing a recession."

The good news, said LendingTree economist Jacob Channel, is that the Fed also isn't likely to raise rates even with  inflation cooling less quickly than investors had hoped and amid signs that economic growth remains robust.

"Fortunately, while cuts might still be a few months (or more) off, it doesn't look like the Fed is going to raise rates again anytime soon," Channel said in an email. "We'd need to see inflation growth pick up far more steam that it currently has before the Fed starts seriously considering more hikes."

How will the Fed's rate decision affect your money?

If the Fed keeps its benchmark rate steady on Wednesday, borrowing costs will remain high, impacting everything from credit card rates to loans for auto purchases or homes , experts say. Credit card APRs, for instance, are at their highest levels since the Fed started tracking them in 1994, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

There is a one upside to elevated interest rates: Savers can get robust returns by parking their money in high-yield savings accounts or CDs .

"Some of the highest CD rates are found in shorter-terms right now, so they remain accessible if you need access to the cash in 6 months or one year's time," noted Elizabeth Renter, data analyst at NerdWallet, in an email. 

  • Jerome Powell
  • Federal Reserve

Aimee Picchi is the associate managing editor for CBS MoneyWatch, where she covers business and personal finance. She previously worked at Bloomberg News and has written for national news outlets including USA Today and Consumer Reports.

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Luke Bryan Fans Urge Him to Talk About Riley Strain's Death

A BC’s American Idol Season 22 is here, and fans are eager to see who Luke Bryan , Katy Perry , and Lionel Richie pick as their favorites moving forward. Bryan is a country superstar with a huge fan base. But fans of his work are asking him to make a statement regarding college student Riley Strain’s death. Strain died after leaving Bryan’s restaurant, Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Fans urge ‘American Idol’ judge Luke Bryan to make a statement about college student Riley Strain

American Idol and country music fans alike are calling for Luke Bryan to make a statement regarding Riley Strain’s death. Strain was on a college spring break trip in Nashville, Tennessee , with his fellow fraternity brothers in early March 2024. His last known location was Bryan’s Nashville restaurant, Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink. Police recovered Strain’s body from the Cumberland River in West Nashville on March 22, 2024.

The Metro Nashville Police Department posted an update on the situation via X . “BREAKING: The body of Riley Strain was recovered from the Cumberland River in West Nashville this morning, approximately 8 miles from downtown,” they posted on March 22. “No foul play-related trauma was observed. An autopsy is pending.”

The University of Missouri President Mun Y. Choi wrote an email to students and members regarding Strain’s death. “I write to you with a heavy heart with the news that the search for MU student Riley Strain has ended tragically,” he wrote, according to The Tennessean . “After an exhaustive search by authorities and volunteers, Riley’s body was recovered today in Nashville, Tenn., where he had traveled to attend his fraternity’s spring formal event.”

Bryan didn’t post a statement regarding Strain’s death. His last Instagram post was of him and his fellow American Idol judges, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry, at his high school on March 17, 2024.

“At least make a post about Riley,” a fan commented on the post .

Another fan commented on a photo that Bryan posted of all four American Idol judges and host Ryan Seacrest. “Glad to see you’re SO concerned about Riley Strain. Do better,” the fan wrote.

Other fans defended Bryan in the comments for promoting American Idol while the investigation regarding Strain’s whereabouts continued.

‘American Idol’ 2024: Lionel Richie Shows ‘Contempt’ When Disagreeing With Judges, Body Language Expert Says

Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink released a statement before the news of the student’s death

During Riley Strain’s disappearance, all eyes were on American Idol judge Luke Bryan’s bar, Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink. TC Restaurant Group stated that bartenders only served Strain one alcoholic beverage and two glasses of water. According to NBC News , security removed him around 9:35 p.m. based on the restaurant’s “conduct standards” on the night of his disappearance. It’s unclear what Strain’s behavior was before his removal.

Luke’s 32 Bridge Food + Drink released a statement on March 15, 2024, and Bryan reposted it to his personal Instagram account. “In our effort to help the Nashville Metro Police Department’s Missing Persons investigation of Riley Strain, we proactively provided detailed information quickly after his visit to our business on March 8,” the statement reads. “This statement included all security camera footage, photos of Riley at our establishment with detailed time stamps, transaction records, and staff accounts.” The statement explains what Riley had to drink that evening and what they know of what occurred after he left.

American Idol  Season 22 airs on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

For more on the entertainment world and exclusive interviews, subscribe to  Showbiz Cheat Sheet’s YouTube channel .

‘American Idol’ judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie | Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images


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