Application essays and personal statements
Use the links below to learn about writing application essays and personal statements.
- Application Essay Home
- Frequently asked questions
- Before you begin: useful tips for writing your essay
- Guided brainstorming exercises
- Get more help with your essay
These pages will give you some general guidelines and an opportunity to start writing.
There is no substitute, however, for talking to people in the program to which you're applying and to admissions committee members if possible.
The most effective essays develop from a good understanding of what is required for each particular program.
When possible, have others read your essay, especially people who have some familiarity with this type of essay.
Get more help with your essay
UW-Madison students can visit The Writing Center for an individual appointment. If you've been writing in the spaces provided in the guided brainstorming exercise, you're already on the way to a draft of your essay. Just email your writing to yourself, print it out, and bring it in when you come in for your appointment.
You can also get help via our email instruction service. Fill out an email instruction request form and submit it. Be sure to send yourself a copy of what you've written above. You may want to use parts of it to help you in your email writing conference and as you write your draft.
You might also want to check out our free classes: Writing Personal Essays for Graduate School Applications and Writing Personal Essays for Professional School Applications
Boyer, Paul. "Graduate Applications: The Important Elements." Perspectives 27:7 (Oct. 1989): 1:5.
Stetlzer, Richard J. How to Write a Winning Personal Statement for Graduate and Professional School. Princeton: Peterson's Guides. 1989.