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Center for Professional Development
63 South Main Street, 2nd Floor
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755
(603) 646-2215
Fax: (603) 646-1360
E-mail: Center for Professional Development
Recruiting Program E-mail: srs@dartmouth.edu

Personal Statement

The personal statement is your opportunity to present your personal interests, accomplishments, and passions to the admissions committee, since interviews typically are not part of the process. The recommended length is two pages, double spaced. A good essay might be the deciding factor in an admissions decision; an unconvincing or unremarkable essay can adversely affect your chances of admission. It gives the admissions committee a chance to get a glimpse of you as a person rather than as a set of numbers.

A personal statement is a very different kind of writing than the analytical writing required in many of your college courses. Your personality needs to emerge from the writing. Admissions Officers will evaluate your ability to communicate clearly and concisely. Since the essay is evidence of your writing ability it should be grammatically correct and error-free.

The most effective essays convey a personal dimension. Think about your life and why you are applying to graduate or professional schools. Ask yourself, “What do I want the admissions committee to know about me that is not already in my application?" To get started, you might want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is important to me?
  • What am I interested in?
  • What am I proud of?
  • What significant experiences have I had?
  • Why do I want to go to law school?

After you have thought about your life and goals, think about the profession you are intending to enter. What are the skills and values of people in that particular profession? How do they match with yours? How can you highlight those values and skills in your personal statement?

It should be clear why you want to enter the field, but avoid writing about why you want to be a lawyer unless specifically asked. In addition, do not waste space telling the admissions committee what the profession is like. Similarly, do not write your life story or concentrate on a high school or earlier experience. Avoid using your statement to provide a laundry list of your accomplishments; this should be found elsewhere in your application.

Last Updated: 9/6/12