Personal Statement

How to Write a Personal Statement?

Personal statement is a different type of essay than the study or research objective.

Personal Statement essay will allow you to:

Tell a story
Consider what’s special, unique, distinctive and impressive about your life story.

Present your life experience
Consider why you might be a better and more successful Fulbright grantee than others.

Help your future teacher/supervisor get to know you as a person
Consider what personal characteristics you possess.

A good essay

  • Is fresh, lively, different and concise
  • Distinguishes you and makes you memorable
  • Really shows your personality (be yourself)

How do you get started?

  • Reflect on your life. Talk to friends and family, ask them to tell you what they think is most unique about you and what your strongest personal characteristics are. Do you agree with them?

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What details of your life (personal or family problems, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help a person better understand you or set you apart from other applicants?
  • Consider aspects of your life which have helped to form the person you are now. For example, what significant events have happened to you? How did those experiences influence the choices you have made? Who have been your role models, and why?
  • Explain relevant stages of your life path and your academic career from early on til now.
  • When did you become interested in applying to the Fulbright program and going to the U.S.?
  • As a Fulbright grantee, you will be expected to share your experiences while in the U.S. What aspects of living in Finland will you want to bring forward? When you return to Finland, what do you hope you will have gained? What type of plans do you have after your studies are complete?
  • What aspects of the Fulbright Program do you find most engaging? Why do you want to be a part of the Fulbright experience?
  • What major interests do you have outside your academic studies and work?
  • Do you have some community involvement or organizational experience?
  • Do you have interest in contributing to the general society or influencing others and the society? If yes, in which way?
  • Explain your future goals.

Ask your supervisor and college/university officials about yourself:

  • What personal characteristics do I possess that would appeal to him/her/them? 
  • What academic achievements distinguish my career so far?
  • What life experience do I have that would convince them of my maturity, integrity, adaptability and seriousness of purpose?
  • What are the most compelling reasons I can give for my future supervisor to be interested in me?

Note: Take your time. The way a person devises the essay, determines the length, develops the response is all part of the process. The level of effort sends a message.

Remember: Do the essay yourself, be careful, edit it and write as many drafts as necessary. Try not to repeat what is already explained or described elsewhere in the application.


Use these guidelines to help you in the thinking process of writing the Personal Statement. Remember to keep the Statement concise (about 400-500 words).