By Kiera Adams, Peer Advisor

A personal statement is an extended essay about yourself used when applying to different types of programs. It’s the perfect way to highlight your experiences and thoughts to stand out among the pack. Here are 5 types of common personal statement mistakes that you should avoid:


Your personal statement should be a chance for you to stand out among all the other applicants. The people who review your personal statement have seen many statements before yours. Avoid common opening sentences like “From a young age…”or  “I’ve always been fascinated with…” These recur in hundreds of personal statement and don’t say anything unique about you.

Another cliché you should avoid would be single phrases such as, “I am a determined person” Use the personal statement to give specific examples that speaks for that quality itself.


Don’t use quotes from other people when opening up your personal statement. The people reading your personal statement want to hear your voice-not Einstein’s. You should only use quotes if you think it’s very necessary to convey a point. It can take up words that you can use to talk about something else.

Other people

In order to tell another about yourself, it is sometimes necessary to talk about other people. Avoid talking too much about friends, family or mentors as a personal statement is supposed to be about you.

Instead, You can talk about how these people have inspired you and then shift gears to talk about how you plan on channeling that inspiration yourself and to your future work.


It’s important to keep your personal statement positive. It is not necessary to make your personal statement only about a negative experience. But, if you decide to talk about negative experiences, make sure you can talk about how you overcame and learned from the experience.

Spelling and Grammar

Make sure to check your personal statement multiple times before sending it in. It’s also important to have someone else check it before in case you miss something.

Here’s a link to the University of Miami’s writing center where someone can review any writing concerns:

Your personal statement is the perfect way to highlight your strengths as a person. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll be on your way to a great personal statement!