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SOP/Personal Statement Editing

The main goal for a personal statement or an SOP is to showcase your academic or professional fit through an authentic story. That is, you need a coherent story that illustrates your character and your potential to successfully attain the degree that you are seeking. In addition to the relevant qualifications, some of the following need to shine through in your story: you are a person of high moral caliber, a person of strong work ethic, a person of grit and intelligence, a person who overcomes challenges to lay a new path, and a person who opens horizons for social inclusiveness and cultural diversity. 


To use this editing service, you need to submit your final draft that explains your academic or professional fit through an authentic story. Please use the following as the guidance when drafting your personal statement.

Goal of your personal statement

The goal of your personal statement is to convince the admissions committee that you are a good fit for the program or school you are applying to. So it should showcase your qualifications, personality and motivations. If you do not have a stellar GPA, this is also the time to explain why it is the case: by addressing your weaknesses in advance, you can eliminate any doubts the committee might have about you. Your writing should be focused, genuine, and professional, all geared toward enhancing your chances of securing a spot in your desired program. 

For this purpose, you should write in a narrative way, instead of reciting items in your CV, contextualizing relevant experiences and qualifications. For example, instead of giving names, dates, and general facts about courses you have taken, you should tell a story of a particularly meaningful course or lecture that helped solidify your desire to pursue this academic or professional career. 

Edit and revise your statement multiple times, eliminating redundancies and ensuring that every sentence contributes to the overall purpose of your statement.

Structure of the personal statement

You should aim for creating a logical structure for your statement, with each paragraph building upon the previous one and leading to a conclusion that reinforces your main points. While there is some freedom in the number of paragraphs, five or seven paragraphs are sufficient. Make sure that each paragraph has a topic sentence and all the sentences in a paragraph support the topic sentence. Your application should emerge as the logical conclusion to your story.

  1. Intro

Start your personal statement with an engaging hook that will grab the reader’s attention. A hook can be a thought-provoking question, a surprising fact, a powerful quote, or a brief anecdote related to your academic or professional journey. A hook makes reading engaging, enjoyable and memorable.  Discuss your passion: Describe how your interest in the field developed, whether through personal experiences, academic pursuits, or professional opportunities. Share specific moments or events that have influenced your decision to pursue graduate studies. This is an example:

Growing up in a rural community that faced water scarcity, I developed a deep appreciation for the importance of sustainable water management. As an undergraduate, I focused on hydrology and conducted research on groundwater recharge in my region. My experiences ignited a passion for understanding the complex interplay between human activities and water resources. I am eager to pursue a graduate degree in environmental science to develop innovative solutions for water management challenges that communities like mine face.”

  1. Evidence for a good fit

Academic or professional background: 

  • Talk about courses, research experiences, or internship experiences that are related to your field, focusing on the knowledge you gained, responsibilities you held and the skills you developed. 

  • Talk about  how they have influenced your academic and professional interests

  • Talk about  how these experiences have shaped your career goals  

  • Show off any awards or achievements relevant to the field that you are applying for.

This is an example:

While pursuing my undergraduate degree in business administration at ABC University, I interned at a social-network startup company. My responsibilities included  marketing and assisting project managers. This experience sparked my interest in the intersection of innovation and business strategy. During my senior year, I completed a capstone project analyzing the competitive landscape for sustainable packaging solutions, which deepened my understanding of strategic decision-making in the face of evolving market demands. 

Counter any weaknesses in your CV

Briefly mention any potential concerns in your application, such as low grades, low test scores or gaps in employment. Provide context (Explain the circumstances behind the issue) and emphasize what you have learned from the mistakes. The point of talking about a setback is to use it as an opportunity for growth, resiliency, and capacity for improvement. 

During my junior year of college, my grades suffered due to a family crisis that demanded much of my time and emotional energy. This was a difficult period, but it also taught me the importance of resilience and adaptability. In the semesters following the family crisis, I redoubled my efforts in my coursework, resulting in significant improvement in my grades. This experience has ultimately made me more focused and determined in both my academic and professional pursuits

By addressing weaknesses or gaps in your application thoughtfully and strategically, you can demonstrate to the admissions committee that you are a resilient and adaptable candidate who can overcome challenges and succeed in their graduate program.

Reemphasis on your strengths 

Reflect on your personal attributes that have contributed to your success in your academic and professional endeavors. These may include leadership skills, resilience, work ethic, creativity, or problem-solving abilities. Support your claims by providing specific examples of situations where you have demonstrated these qualities. This can include academic projects, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, or professional experiences.


Career goal

Talk about your long-term career goal to tell the committee that you have a well-defined plan and are committed to your chosen field.

Connect to the degree program

Explain how your unique qualities will help you achieve your academic and professional goals. This will show the admissions committee that you possess the necessary traits to succeed in graduate school and beyond. These are examples:

The program’s emphasis on collaboration and innovative thinking resonates with my own approach to problem-solving and my belief in the importance of working together to address complex environmental challenges.

I am eager to contribute my knowledge, skills, and passion to the program’s research efforts and collaborate with faculty and peers to address pressing conservation challenges. 

I am confident that my academic background and determination will enable me to thrive in the XYZ program at ABC University.

I am excited to apply to the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at XYZ University because…

Do NOT do these in your personal statement:

These are some of the common mistakes you should avoid in your personal statement.

Being Vague

A vague statement lacks detail and might apply to many candidates, which doesn’t set you apart or demonstrate your unique qualifications. To avoid this impersonality, you should use personal details that relate to relevant academic or professional experiences. By being original and avoiding clich├ęs, you can make your personal statement more engaging and memorable

Providing an autobiography

Unfocused autobiography can make it difficult for the admissions committee to identify the most relevant information and may weaken the overall impact of your statement. Focus on the most relevant experiences and achievements that demonstrate your suitability for the program. Avoid sharing your entire life story with irrelevant information. To be concise and focused, you should prioritize your experiences, achievements, and interests that are most relevant to the program or school you’re applying to. 

Talking about challenges without explain how you met the challenges 

While it’s crucial to be honest about your challenges and setbacks, dwelling too much on them can create a negative impression and cast doubt on your ability to succeed in the program. You need to be strategic about addressing weaknesses. Choose those that are relevant and demonstrate your ability to learn from your mistakes. Avoid discussing weaknesses that might raise red flags about your ability to handle the rigors of the graduate program. This is a bad example.

In my first semester of college, I struggled with programming and received a C in my introductory computer science course. I was overwhelmed by the complexity of the material and the pace of the course. I often felt discouraged and questioned my abilities to succeed in the field. Despite these early setbacks, I still want to pursue a graduate degree in computer science.

The following is a good way to address weakness: 

During my first semester of college, I encountered initial challenges in my introductory computer science course. However, I recognized the need to develop stronger problem-solving and programming skills to excel in the field. I sought out additional resources, such as tutoring and online courses, and joined a study group to improve my understanding of the material. By the time I completed my undergraduate degree, I had earned consistently high grades in my computer science courses and even served as a teaching assistant for the introductory course. This experience taught me the value of perseverance and adaptability, which I am confident will serve me well in a graduate computer science program.

This statement acknowledges the applicant’s early challenges but shifts the focus to their growth and resilience. It demonstrates how they took initiative to overcome obstacles and ultimately succeeded, which can leave a positive impression on the admissions committee.

Not professional 

While it’s essential to convey your passion and motivation, striking a balance between personal experiences and maintaining a professional tone is key. Share your passion for your field, but avoid excessive emotional language or melodrama. Maintain a professional tone and focus on conveying your ideas clearly and effectively. Aim to maintain professionalism and maturity throughout your statement.

Not tailoring to the program

Customize your personal statement for each program you apply to, demonstrating your understanding of the program’s unique features and explaining why you would be a good fit. Avoid using a one-size-fits-all approach. The admissions committee wants to see why you  fit into their  program. So, you should tailor your statement to the program: Demonstrate your understanding of the specific program and its unique features, such as faculty, research opportunities, or curriculum.

We offer editing services for the personal statement or statement of purpose (SOP) for $50.

(Dr. Byrnes will send you an email to inform you where to submit your essay.)