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Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships

Personal Statement

When applying for scholarships at Fresno State, you will be asked to submit a personal statement. Your personal statement is a very important part of your application for scholarships and should be given special time and attention.

Why is a personal statement important?

The purpose of the personal statement is to give you an opportunity to tell us important things about yourself that are not addressed or apparent in the application. In making decisions about scholarships, we want to consider your personal attributes and gain some sense of who you are; your experiences, accomplishments, and a variety of qualities such as motivation, self-discipline, leadership, commitment to others, your intended field of study and your career goals as well as your academic record. 

Each year, Fresno State receives applications from many more students than we can award, and the academic records of these students are usually very similar. In order to discover and evaluate the distinctions among these applicants, scholarship selection committees look closely at an individual's entire application. The academic record, information about accomplishments and activities, and personal statements help us gain insight into a student's level of achievement and character. Taken together, these factors enable us to weigh what we can offer the applicant. In some cases, the personal statement can be a critical factor in the selection process. 

Mechanics of writing the personal statement

Carefully read the instructions and/or questions on the application. A common mistake applicants make is to skim through the instructions contained in the application. Take time to read and understand all the instructions so your application is a true and complete reflection of you. 

Remember that your application will be compared to other qualified students, many of whom have shared similar experiences or academic achievements.  Your personal statement needs to clearly convey what you think is important for us to know about you. In reading your statement, we look for personal characteristics that include creativity, intellectual curiosity and achievement, personal initiative, motivation, leadership, persistence, exceptional recognition and rare talent, the ability to overcome hardship and get along with others, and service to others. In any case, your statement should clearly convey what you think is important for us to know about you and convey a sense of a full human being behind the GPA and test scores. If you are applying to a specific major, you should discuss your interest in your intended field of study.

We expect you to write the personal statement yourself; write in your own voice. At the same time, it is probably wise to have a friend, teacher, or parent read the statement to advise you on how well it conveys what you want it to say, and if it reflects who you really are. Remember: the purpose of the personal statement is to help selection committees know you on a personal level.

What the personal statement is not

It should not be a chronicle of events or an autobiography. The statement is about you, not about events. What is important is what you have learned, or changed, or how your sense of direction was solidified, or how your image of yourself and others has changed, and so on.  Also, please do not use bullet format or résumé style outline for your narrative statements.

What should I discuss if I'm a transfer student or a student returning to college after a long absence?

In addition to suggestions cited above, you should discuss your interest in your intended major, describing any related work or volunteer experience and explaining the way your interest in the field developed. In general, your statement should focus on relatively recent activities and experiences, although scholarship selection committees are  interested in any special circumstances that may have had a significant impact on you earlier in life. You should define your motivation, achievement, leadership, and commitment.