Writing Personal Statements Online



I am a part of all I have read.

—John Kieran

This handbook was inspired first by my students—over the years I grew increasingly interested in their personal stories and finding ways to help them in expressing those stories. The book was also inspired by the many supporters of its sister publication: Writing Recommendation Letters: A Faculty Handbook, Cengage Learning. Faithful users of my faculty handbook, particularly members of the National Association of Fellowships Advisors (NAFA), helped me see the need for a parallel student handbook on personal statements and application essays, and I am most grateful. Most importantly, I acknowledge those students from across the country and abroad—identified here not by name but warmly remembered nevertheless—who contributed samples to this handbook so that other writers might benefit from their experience. The effectiveness of this guide is directly linked to the willingness of these students to share their personal stories and provide models for study.

The electronic edition of this handbook exists thanks to the creative support team at Penn State's John A. Dutton e-Education Institute and the Institute's Open Educational Resources (OER) Initiative. I owe particular thanks to Jennifer Babb, Instructional Design Assistant, who laid out the book in Drupal and taught me the basics of using the software, guiding me patiently through the process and always with a watchful eye for continuity, form, utility, and professionalism. Mark Wherley, Instructional Designer, created the artistic interface for the manual and effectively integrated the look of the previous print edition. These individuals, along with others who are part of the OER Initiative and collaborated on this project, have been an excellent support team.