personal statement topic

5 Personal Statement Topic Brainstorming Tips

Are you trying to start your personal statement but are struggling with writer’s block? Here are 5 tips to help you brainstorm your personal statement topic!

5 Personal Statement Topic Brainstorming Tips

1. Ask others for help.

 You’re not in this journey alone. If you’re having trouble brainstorming personal statement topics, ask others for help! Start by asking close friends and family what they think your best attributes are and why you’d make an excellent candidate for law. You may be too modest or too hardworking to notice the aggregate of your accomplishment. This will help get the brainstorming “juices” flowing and kick-start some personal statement topic ideas.

2. Review your resume and make a list.

Take time to reflect on your past experiences and how they molded you into the person you are today. Review your resume again, not simply for grammar and punctuation, but to shore up substantive memories of the experiences you listed.

Create a list of your most proud accomplishments and biggest failures that may be embedded in your resume. With this list, make a note of why you’re proud of how you handled each experience. Surely there are stories behind each bullet point you listed that exemplify more than you could ever fit on paper. Those are likely great personal statement topic ideas just waiting to be explored.

3. Start small and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. 

Don’t put pressure on yourself to turn each idea into a personal statement. That’s simply not necessary! Focus on finding ideas and fleshing those ideas out into a brief outline. The outline may be just a few bullet points for each idea. Then, review your outlines and expand those that are worthy of it into a short statement. Don’t worry about flow, grammar, or spelling mistakes. Simply try to put into writing the narrative behind each of your personal statement topic ideas.

Writing shorter versions of a personal statement can help you realize quickly if the topic is worth expanding into a longer statement. It will also save you the time and pressure of attempting to write multiple pages on a topic that might not warrant it. When you strike an idea where the words fill a page with minimal effort, then you’ll know you’re onto something worthwhile.

4. Read other personal statements.

If you feel like you’re stuck and can’t find a personal statement topic of your own, ask other pre-law students (or current law students) to read their personal statements. Offer to edit and provide feedback while you’re at it, so it’s a win-win.

Sometimes it’s helpful to read someone else’s personal statement so that you can start drawing parallels to your own life. You’re certainly not going to plagiarize the original author but it can help to see what a good (or bad) personal statement looks like in order to better understand how to write your own.

If you’re unsure what the benchmark for a “good” personal statement may be, look for books and online resources that also offer examples of good personal statements from past applicants.

Be sure to also check out our list of Dos and Don’ts for Writing a Compelling Personal Statement!

5. Take a break and relax!

Sometimes the best thing you can do in the brainstorming process is to simply step away from it all. Allow yourself time – hours, days, or even a week (if you have it) to let your ideas marinate. Commit to coming back to an idea or outline on a specific date. Time often allows for a fresh, new perspective. Taking a break may be exactly what you needed in order to find your perfect personal statement topic!

Rachel Margiewicz, Director of Pre-Law Services, wrote this post. Rachel is a licensed attorney with years of admissions experience across three law school programs in different markets of the country. She knows what schools are looking for and how to make your application stand out.

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