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How to Write a Winning College Personal Statement: Sample Essay and Critiques

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on May 1, 2014

The personal statement below is an actual student essay, which is printed in its entirety. Following each essay is a critique to determine if the essay lived up to the standards of a winning personal statement. Keep in mind that the remarks in the critiques are subjective; readers are free to disagree.

Personal Statement

The student who wrote this Personal Statement is attending an honors program in a medium-sized public college. She has self-identified as being a candidate for a dietetics program, which is science oriented. While the student could write about any topic, she chose to focus on why she is interested in pursuing a career in dietetics.

Science Honor Society was a goal I wished to fulfill during my junior year of high school. I had the grades and hard work, yet I still needed an extra science-related activity to become eligible for admittance. I decided to volunteer at a nearby hospital. At first, I was a little nervous, since I did not know what the experience would be like or the type of work I would be doing. However, after only a couple of weeks on the job, I learned the ropes of the hospital and became comfortable in its environment. As a volunteer, I am a messenger, responsible for picking up patients’ prescriptions at the pharmacy, getting blood from the blood bank, or doing any other favor that a nurse or hospital employee needs. On some days, I work in medical records, sorting patients’ files accordingly, while on other days, I visit patients, bringing them magazines to read or assisting in the discharge process in helping the patients begin a safe trip home. I not only see how important it is to have people willing to help others, but I see how everyone working in the hospital is a family of people who work day in and day out making the lives of patients more comfortable and secure and knowing that their health is in good hands.

There are some volunteers at the hospital who have been working for nearly twenty years. I see these individuals as being dedicated, which I too have gained from this experience through my 80 hours and 7 months of work thus far. This drive to help others and succeed in a task is something I will bring with me in whatever situations I encounter in the future. When I graduate from college, I intend to be a part of this magic of working in the health profession as a dietician, making meal plans to meet patients specific needs and teaching patients how to eat right in order to remain healthy, become healthy if not already, and live a life of longevity. I have been interested in nutrition for the past few years. It is important to me that I know which foods are healthy and which are deleterious, so I can in turn eat right, be healthy, and remain this way for the rest of my life. I have and will continue to pass on good habits to my family and eventually to my patients as well.

Working in the hospital allows me to see the type of environment I will be working in when I get older, since the hospital is one sector in which dieticians work. Even though I began volunteering at the hospital to meet a requirement for Science Honor Society, I now see that volunteering is rewarding to experience the joy of a day’s work, a place of camaraderie to make new friends with people who want to help others just as I do, and it is a way for me to look at my future and see that I will be helping others. It is not just spending time out of the house after school and during the summer, but an adventure that I will treasure forever.

Personal Statement Critique

This Personal Statement is a very focused essay, which provides the reader with the rationale in applying to a very specific program. The message is clear, and it is written in the voice of a 17 year old. It is persuasive, and definitely written from the heart. It conveys the impact working in a hospital had on the student and that the student is passionate about her prospective field. Although her opening sentence could have been more hard-hitting and some of her images more vivid, this Personal Statement is a strong essay that definitely answered the question about the writer’s interest in the dietetics field.

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