Personal Statement Help


Oct 1, 2017
I know there are several threads dealing with this topic, but they only deal with a single poster (from what I read) and was hoping I could receive some help for both editing and to see if I'm on the right track. Here's my statement, 497 words.

From the early age of eight years old, naval war ships and the U.S. Navy always fascinated me. At that young age, I remember reading books and hearing stories of those who served. I knew that naval service was my best fit if I decided to join the military. To me, no other branch could really compare. As far back as I’ve known, I’ve had countless relatives who served in the navy. Their stories sparked my interest more after I learned about where they had served and what their service was like. By the age of twelve, I knew that naval service would be in my future.

Because my ultimate goal is to serve my country, I believe that the Naval Academy is the best option to do so. Not only does the Naval Academy provide one of the best educations in the United States, but would afford me the opportunity to take what I learn and apply it directly in the navy upon graduation. The Naval Academy would also provide me the tools to achieve my long-term goals of becoming a naval special warfare officer, service to others, and would give me the skills to succeed in a post naval career. I have prepared academically for a school as rigorous as the Naval Academy and I believe earning a five on the United States Government and Politics exam demonstrates that*.

One important life experience that I’ve had that has developed my character was backpacking 117 miles in the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico. The trip occurred in the summer of 2016 and took place at Philmont Scout Ranch. While there, I served as crew leader and was responsible for all people on my crew. Not only did I ensure that we made our destinations every day, but I also monitored each member’s health, their attitude, and how motivated they were to complete the trip. Over the span of twelve days, I learned many things such as my abilities to lead and motivate a group of dissimilar people, how to encourage others to face daily gauntlets, and how to be more cheerful as a leader. I encouraged others and because of that, I became a stronger person both morally and ethically. I developed a mindset of taking care of others before yourself and ensuring that those under me had what they needed. Being in that position in an unknown area can lead to dangerous mistakes and that was always a constant factor in decisions that I made. Since I was the leader, all decisions, both good and bad, fell upon me with the responsibility for the consequences. My integrity strengthened as it taught me to accept total responsibility and a sense of doing what was in the best interest of others and not my own. Throughout the entire trek, I enjoyed having the responsibility of leading and it felt natural to be able to accomplish a giant goal with a team that I helped mold and shape.

*A BGO told me this definitely needed to be fit in here somewhere but I'm not sure if this is an appropriate way to do so.

Thank you to those who help.
Hey there,

I submitted the last portion of my USNA application, the Personal Data Record, about a week and a half ago. The personal statement was the single most stressful and time-consuming component of the application for me, so I understand how the nerves can be getting to you right now. If you're anything like me (and I imagine you are), wanting to craft a succinct, well-written statement that presents your voice and boils down why you want to be a Naval Officer can seem pretty daunting.

I spent a little over a month on my personal statement, seeking advice from my English teacher, my BGO, my father (an attorney), and my mother (a language arts teacher). I redrafted it close to half a dozen times. If you want a good essay, it's going to take some time.

Interestingly, I also wrote about my time as a Philmont crew leader in my essay. I think you're on the right track with describing the role you played, but I would say go back and cut some information that doesn't really add much to what you did and instead discuss a little about the circumstances (the weather, the terrain, the backcountry wildlife) you and your crew had to manage to complete the trek. These details will illustrate the experience better for the reader, and make it speak to your endurance under pressure.

Anyway, I hope this helps some. If you want to talk more about the essay and Philmont, send me a PM. Good luck to you!

Go Navy!
I too walked over 100 miles in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at Philmont (Trek 32) last year, with my DS.
It was a great time, but we split up the nava-guesser and team leader duties each day among all the Scouts. I wish I was there now.

The advice from bandathlete157 is spot on. My DS also asked for suggestions and proofreading from his English teacher and a few others.
You’ve got a great start. It’s great that you’ve got such a wonderful experience to write about! If you are interested in some specific suggestions, keep reading. Otherwise just move on to the next post!

I’d try to add more about what you will bring to the Academy (such as skills tested and developed during your trek) and a little less about what the Academy will do for you. You can spin around “...the naval academy would provide me....” to something more along the lines of “ I look forward to further developing xyz skills at the naval academy so I can be the best ....”

You might also want to pick one specific challenge or decision from your trek and talk about it, if you can do so in a sentence of two.

And like an English teacher (I’m not), I also recommend printing out your essay and highlight or circle every time you use passive voice and try to rewrite it in active voice. Active voice is stronger! If you need help, I’d suggest working with your English teacher to polish it up.

Your opening line is passive so here’s an Active voice example:
I have been fascinated with the Navy and naval war ships since...

Be bold and direct. “By the age of twelve, I knew naval service would be in my future.”
Is attending USNA your first choice? Do you truly want to serve your country? Don’t be afraid to state your goals clearly!!

Again you’ve got a great start and it will only get better each time you rework it! Good luck!!
Active voice, and avoid superfluous and flowery language (i.e. " to encourage others to face daily gauntlets..."). Remember your audience --mostly a group of Naval/Marine Corps officers, and if Civilian faculty, most likely to be engineers and scientists. Be direct and too the point.
If I recall, isn’t there a 500 word max? I didn’t count but got bored about halfway in. Last part was best, (your experience). Avoid same stuff everyone else is saying.
Why not get the readers attention. Maybe “Have you ever had to lead 14 people across 100+ miles of mountains when two of those people were causing total chaos?” Then go describe your leadership. Don’t make anything up but there must have been some things that you had to take charge of. GRAB THEIR INTEREST.
FYI, I believe I read when my DS posted his Candidate Statements for USMA that the work had to be entirely his own except for spell check. In addition, I believe you have to sign a statement that the work is entirely your own. To that end, you might want to refrain from receiving any more help on a public site. If I am wrong I apologize upfront.
FYI, I believe I read when my DS posted his Candidate Statements for USMA that the work had to be entirely his own except for spell check. In addition, I believe you have to sign a statement that the work is entirely your own. To that end, you might want to refrain from receiving any more help on a public site. If I am wrong I apologize upfront.

I don't think you are wrong at all. I have said many times over the years that posting your essays/personal statements on this or any other public site is a bad idea. There are way too many things that can go wrong by doing that. People continue to do it, however, and since it is not against the rules of the forum we allow it.