UW Dream Project

October 31, 2013

Tips for Personal Statements

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It’s that wonderful time of year again—time for Dream Project mentees to start working on those college applications and personal statements!

The personal statement is a perfect opportunity for your mentees to really demonstrate who they are as a student and a unique individual.

A daunting task at first, certainly. But it doesn’t have to be. With some thoughtful guidance on your part, you can help your mentees craft their personalities, trials, triumphs, and significant life events into winning personal statements.

Here are a few tips from Dream Project Mentor and CLUE Writing Tutor Vincent Pham for guiding your mentee through this process:


1) Set the appropriate tone: ask where they are in the writing process and seek permission to work with them.

2) Receive, process, transmit: find out what they’d like to work on, and ask thought-provoking questions that will highlight their unique qualities and accomplishments (refer to workbook p. 41)

3) Take notes that you and your mentee can look over and refer back to

4) Remember that these statements are personal; be sensitive to that

Giving Writing Feedback

1) Ideas and content are always more important than grammar

2) Give clear and useful feedback: write some thoughts after reading the paper, and recognize strong points and details they could expand on

For a detailed list of guiding questions to ask, click here and here.