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Planning a Successful Personal Statement

So you have a personal statement that needs writing, and you have taken the time to reflect and clarify your purpose. It’s time to get to writing, isn’t it. Not Yet. Before we can get to writing the next step in creating a successful personal statement is to plan it out. This part is critical and will make your life a lot easier if you don’t rush into writing.

Now is the time to gather all your material. This post will help you plan out what you write for your statement in an easy, and practical way. We have created a helpful planning worksheet that you can use to follow up with this post. This is a brainstorming tool with which you can draw out your experiences by answering the questions provided. This is the foundation you need to prepare exactly what you have to write about and how you’re going to write it.

Planning Your Personal Statement Worksheet – Click Here to Download or Print


Let’s Start Planning

To start off the planning process, make a list of your professional, extracurricular, and academic experiences. List down the experiences that meant something to you. These could be times where you used any kinds of skills, maybe events that inspired you, made you feel passionate, and motivated you. They could also be times where you pushed yourself in a way that was different or new. These don’t have to be experiences that came with certificates or where you held some kind of official leadership position. All they have to be are experiences that you devoted time and energy to and that were significant to you, especially if it helped you grow.

For example, let’s say you’re someone who helps out the family business, or you tutor others when they come to you for help, or maybe you have hobbies you devote your time to like gaming, tending to plants, etc. Those are things that you can potentially use to show an organization who you are, because they are things that make you who you are. When broken down into their elements you’d be surprised at how much beneficial information can be revealed about yourself when reflecting on what means the most to you, regardless of its certification. The focus here is not on anything official, it’s about YOU.

Realistically, we might not have always had the opportunities to gain the right qualifications, or score the best grades. Life happens, but you’ve still made it this far, as the person you are now. And you’re only going to go farther. Even if you didn’t take up all the leadership roles in your student body you’ve still been doing something with your time and energy, you’ve still been growing, and you have a direction that you’re pointing yourself to. Use what you have to take you there.

Once you have your list, it’s time to break out the planning worksheet to reflect on how those experiences shaped you. We are going to be answering questions such as, what skills did you use or develop? What were the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them? Look out for any patterns or trends and why they’re there, are there some activities you choose to go after more than others? Did you spend your time trying really different things? Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what to make out of those experiences. The key is to figure out your capabilities and potential from this list with an empowered view. It’s not about what you haven’t done or don’t have. It’s about how you bring value, and your potential contributions based on your strengths.

Here is an example of how the Planning Worksheet can be filled out. We recommend letting each section develop further the section before it. It’s important to pay special attention to challenges and how you overcame them because this is what will speak about your potential the most. It will show whoever is reading your story that when confronted with the unfamiliar and difficult, you will be able to shine through and accomplish what needs to get done.


Take this as an opportunity to understand more deeply about yourself and where you want to go. Making this list and answering these questions will provide you with the word bank you need to write out your personal statement. You should be able to pick and choose what suits your personal statement or different personal statements once you have a look at all that you have to talk about.

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