Writing Tips – Choosing a Theme

Choosing an overall theme for your personal statement will make it easier to write and will result in a more effective essay. In general, your theme should discuss a positive attribute or quality about yourself. You should present your theme in the introductory paragraph. The purpose of the remainder of your essay is to give evidence in support of your theme.

Theme Suggestions:


  • Maturity
  • Honesty
  • Sincerity
  • Reliability
  • Compassion
  • Strong communication skills
  • Leadership
  • Tenacity
  • Self-awareness
  • Enthusiasm
  • Cooperativeness
  • Comfort with diversity
  • Passion
  • Professionalism


Your personal statement is meant to sell yourself to the admissions committee. Therefore, it should present you in a positive light. The goal for your essay should be to prove yourself to be an interesting, likable person. You should avoid discussing topics which are controversial, or might be deemed offensive by some readers. Steer clear of clichés and overused themes. (You may truly want to go to medical school because you want to help people; however, the admissions committee has long ago become tired of hearing this statement).  Also avoid themes that highlight your less positive qualities. With the exception of extreme circumstances, it is best not to use your personal statement as an opportunity to explain poor grades or other blemishes in your file. In the rare event that your record does require some explanation, this should not be the main theme of your essay.  Instead, focus on your positive attributes. If the admissions committee is concerned about anything in your record, they will likely give you the opportunity to explain during your interview.

Themes to Avoid:


  • Excuses
  • Negativity
  • Elitism
  • Intolerance
  • Inflexibility
  • Religion
  • Clichés
  •  Politics
  • Arrogance
  • Laziness
  • Victim-mentality
  • Controversial subjects