How to Write a Personal Statement

Writing a personal statement is an important part of the Maryland Sea Grant REU application. This is your opportunity to distinguish yourself from the other applicants. And it allows the committee to get to know you on a more personal level. Remember, since this is an important part of your application, don't leave it until the last minute.

To help you get started, consider answering these questions in your statement:

  • Who are you?
  • Why are you interested in marine science?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Why do you want to apply to this particular REU program?
  • What skills do you possess?
  • Why should the Maryland Sea Grant REU program be interested in you and why are you interested in us?

When you write a personal statement, make sure to focus on the place where you are applying. For example, you should look at Maryland Sea Grant’s REU website to get an idea of what other students have done in our program. Using this information, please mention in your essay what mentors and topics are of primary and secondary interest to you.

Here are some helpful guidelines for writing a personal statement:

  • Use spellcheck.  Spelling and grammar mistakes will DOOM your essay and your application, so proofread your personal statement carefully.
  • Start with an outline and then expand it.
  • Keep it short and concise.
  • Type (rather than handwrite), using at least an 11-point font.
  • Be honest and positive, and be yourself.
  • Ask a friend, teacher, or writing support group at your university to read your essay and make comments/edits.

Be Informed

Get information, guidance, and examples on writing a great personal statement by using the web. The web is a great place to find LOTS of guidance. We selected a few websites to help get you started. Writing a personal statement for an REU application is similar to what you will do if you apply to graduate school.

These websites offer useful guidance to help you write your REU personal statement and some good lists of "Do's and Don'ts":

Purdue University

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