Personal Statements

Some professional programs require applicants to write an essay or a detailed questionnaire on why they are applying to the program. The following advice will help you get started.

Your statement should:

  • Show you have direction and how a degree in Industrial Relations, for example, would help you achieve your goal. If you are not sure what you are looking for, take the time to talk to several people, or read books on careers in the area you might be interested in. This will give you more confidence about whether this is the right choice for you as well as help you write your personal statement.

  • Follow a logical argument and be well organized, with no spelling or grammatical errors. The statement of purpose is not only used for content, but as a check of writing skills.

  • Explain why you chose that particular program. The following is a sample introduction to a personal statement for the MBA program at the University of Calgary: “My plan is to start my own business. Therefore, I am particularly interested in being admitted to University of Calgary’s program because of its strong Venture Capital department. I want to establish myself in Calgary and the project orientation of your program would help me to build a network in the Calgary area.” This shows that you have researched their program and your expectations are ones that they can meet. demonstrate your unique qualities (i.e. speak three languages, raised in Johannesburg, Africa, or have lived in three different countries), or your background (i.e. worked for three years with CIDA in developing countries, or cycled across the prairies to raise awareness of multiple sclerosis). Remember that professional programs encourage class participation and part of the learning process comes from sharing experiences with your fellow students. Think of what unique characteristics or experiences you have that might be an interesting addition to the mix.

Avoid:

  • A generic letter. This shows little commitment to the program.

  • Using an arrogant or non-committal tone in the letter. How you say something can be just as important as what you say. Your level of maturity, confidence (or over-confidence), and commitment are aspects of your personality that can be revealed by the tone of your statement.

  • Leaving an impression that the program will be the solution to life’s problems.
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