How to Write a Personal Contribution Statement

by Jenny Molberg ; Updated September 26, 2017
Writing can be challenging, but the rewards are limitless.

When writing a personal contribution statement, remember that you are, in essence, selling yourself to the university or institution to which you are applying. This essay is about you, first and foremost—what makes you different, what makes you stand out, and most importantly, why the person reading your essay should choose you instead of someone else.

Brainstorming: The most important step.

Brainstorm. This is the most important part of the writing process for the personal contribution essay. Think about yourself objectively. Ask yourself questions about your interests, intentions, experience, accomplishments, goals, and field of study and its impact on your life. Take notes while you are thinking over these questions. Identify something for which you are passionate, and not what you think will impress people, and think about how you can contribute this passion.

Focus on what supports YOU

Create a thesis of sorts. It does not have to be a traditional thesis, but you want the entire essay to be in support of the thesis, or you. Use your brainstorming notes to decide what in your life supports this argument. Create an outline for your essay, organizing your main points. Read some examples to get a good idea about how to begin structuring your own essay.

You know yourself best!

Start writing. Don’t worry about grammar; let your ideas flow and go back and edit later. It’s always good to over-write. This way, you have room to cut, rather than having to strain to think of new ideas after your essay is finished. Vary your syntax and do not use “I” too often, although it is absolutely acceptable as this is a personal statement.

Bring your essay to a peer or a teacher for input.

Ask someone who you trust but that does not know you too well to edit your essay. If your high school has a writing lab, take it to someone there, or an English teacher. Ask this person to look for any tangential statements or places where the essay strays from supporting your thesis. Take a couple days away from the essay before you go back to editing; this will help you to be more objective as your own editor.

You're on your way!

Edit. Start with big-picture issues that your peer or teacher-editor may have addressed, like structure, argument and development. Ideally, on another day, correct syntactical issues, grammar and spelling. This way, you won’t get too overwhelmed and the essay will be more polished. Give it a final read, asking yourself, “Is there a better way to say this?”


  • What about your topic is unique? Think about starting your essay with a grabbing image or statement that has to do with the uniqueness of you. Don't start off with "I was born on__" or "The reason I want to go to college is__". The last thing you want to do is make your readers yawn.

About the Author

Jenny Molberg is a Texas native who has worked as an assistant editor at a literary magazine and her poems have been published in several nationally recognized journals. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing.

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