Writing the DREADED Personal Statement…Dun, dun, duuuuuunnn!!

Okay, it’s no secret that—possibly other than the GRE—the Personal Statement is the most dreaded part of the Masters of Social Work application, for any program. However, it’s the part that shows your personality, a look into who you really are, and most importantly why YOU are going to be the best thing since sliced bread in the field of social work. This essay is what will (or won’t) set you apart from other applicants and has the potential to solidify your place in the upcoming cohort.

The key to the Personal Statement is to convey what experiences and what characteristics make you unique and will allow you to bring an element of diversity to the program. Now remember, while diversity certainly means things such as race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, it also includes life experiences, opportunities, and abilities…basically anything that has provided insight into the world of a unique population. Be sure to explain how these characteristics help mold your world view and inform your approach to your career and your personal life. Highlight how your experiences led you to social work and fostered a passion for social justice and service.

Finally, when you proof read your Statement, read it from a perspective of persuasion. It shouldn’t just tell the story of your course work, previous jobs, volunteer positions and international trips. It should paint the picture of your strengths and what you will bring to your classes and the field, as a whole. It should convince the reader of your confidence that social work is what you were meant to do. It should leave the reader assured that you will be an asset that this school cannot pass by.

And remember, the more people that proof read your statement for you, the better. So start early. Write, edit, have others edit, let it sit for a few days, and then edit again. And make sure your Personal Statement impresses upon your reader that you are remarkable and you deserve a spot in this program!

Good luck! It may seem daunting now, but I promise, a degree from the UNC School of Social Work, will lead you to the top of the best career field in the world…at least in my opinion 🙂


About Hannah Welch

I and almost my entire family are from Gastonia, NC. I earned my Bachelors in Psychology and Sociology from UNC Chapel Hill in 2012 and spent a year as a special needs Kindergarten Teacher Assistant before coming back to get my MSW. I am in the Triangle Distance Education cohort and have a Research Assistantship that has afforded me lots of learning and professional development opportunities. I love the color purple, them Tar Heel boys and the beautiful Carolina campus, and try to continuously live out a quote that was given to me by a friend many years ago: "if possible, nothing without joy."
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