The Personal Statement
The following are tips to help applicants find appropriate topics, styles, and tones for their personal statements. Please also see the University of California’s instructions.
In your application—including your personal statement—we are looking for evidence of your intellectual curiosity and your interest in personal development. UCLA is a dynamic and exciting place—due largely to our creative, ambitious, and diverse student body. We anticipate that the applicants we admit will contribute to the intellectual vitality, cultural life, and diversity of UCLA.
The personal statement...
- Offers us an understanding of you as a unique individual within the context of your family, school, community, and the world.
- Adds clarity, richness, and meaning to the information collected in other parts of your application.
- Allows you to make your best case for why you should be admitted to UCLA.
- Clarifies the distinctions between applicants whose academic records appear to be quite similar.
- Provides us with information that may not be evident in other parts of your application.
- Is a forum for you to explain how factors outside of your school environment have enhanced or impeded your ability to maximize available academic and intellectual opportunities.
The most compelling personal statements often include discussion of…
- Your academic record, accomplishments, and activities.
- Any unusual circumstances, challenges, or hardships you have faced and the ways in which you have overcome or responded to them.
- Your initiative, motivation, leadership, persistence, service to others, special potential, and/or substantial experience with other cultures.
- Your achievements in light of the opportunities available to you.
Tips for Success
Start on your personal statement early.
Give yourself time to think about your topics, and carefully consider the rationale behind each question.
Be clear. Be focused. Be organized.
Make sure your personal statement follows a logical structure.Try to think about how it may seem to an audience who doesn’t know you. Input from people you trust—teachers, friends, relatives—can help you get different perspectives on how your personal statement affects those who are reading it.
Be careful with humor and clichés.
What might seem funny or bitingly ironic to you might not seem that way to someone who doesn’t know you. Remember that the personal statement is an opportunity for you to give us a complete picture of yourself. Don’t allow clichés to speak for you.
Don’t manufacture hardship.
A personal statement isn’t effective simply because it chronicles difficult circumstances. Rather, an effective personal statement gives us a clear sense of your personal qualities and how you have used and developed them in response to your opportunities and challenges.
Use specific examples to illustrate your ideas.
Thousands upon thousands of personal statements discuss initiative. Only hundreds show us initiative with concrete examples of demonstrated motivation and leadership. But examples are only one part of the equation: we also need to see how you have assigned meaning to your experiences and how you have grown from them.We want you to prove to us with written examples that you have a sense of who you are, where you are going, and how you are going to use your education and your experiences to accomplish your goals. Although some events have long-term or even lifetime ramifications, it is usually better to focus on recent events because they shed more light on who you are right now.
Finally, give yourself plenty of time for revisions.
Read your writing to others, and revise for clarity in content and in style. Pay attention to rules of correct grammar and punctuation, and don’t forget to spell check.
We hope these tips will help you get organized and will inspire you. Your accomplishments, your opinions…you are important. Your personal statement is the best tool you have to show us the individual gifts you have to offer to the UCLA community.
Please visit the University of California site for more help with your personal statement, including the text of the questions you will be asked to answer.
Special Instructions for Veterans
The University is interested in knowing about your military service. Therefore, you may wish to use the personal statement to communicate the following.
- Describe how your military service has been instrumental in developing your educational plans.
- Indicate if you are entitled to educational benefits as a result of your own military service to the service connected death or disability of a parent or spouse.
- Indicate if you are affiliated with the military such as, but not limited to, the spouse of dependant of someone who is on active duty or a current participant in an ROTC-type program.