BONUS ADVICE ON WRITING PERSONAL STATEMENTS:
Unless otherwise indicated, personal statements are generally about two pages, and the most important things you need to do in this statement are:
• Tell them WHAT YOU ARE INTERESTED IN, and WHY.
You can include a short personal anecdote or motivation here (i.e., that your family member has a condition that prompted you to pursue this career, or that you took a great class that sparked your curiosity), but this is just a starting place. (Contrary to their name, your statement should not be all that personal.)
• Tell them how you have PREPARED yourself for a career in this field (What courses have you taken? What volunteering have you done? Have you gotten involved in research? What have you enjoyed about these experiences?).
• Tell them why THEIR PROGRAM/LAB is a good fit for you.
For research-based programs, be sure you mention the research topics and questions and seminal articles that you are interested in, and the names of faculty who do research that you are interested in. Research programs generaly have a mentorship approach and you will work with a specific faculty member. Do your homework and be sure to read publications by the faculty you are applying to work with so you can articulate common interests. Research-oriented PhD programs care most about things like prior research experience, experience in stats, methods and lab courses, and the fit of your research interests with faculty research. Describe your prior research experience, especially in terms of the theories that are being tested in studies you have helped with. What manipulations are being using to test what hypotheses? Are there results or preliminary results from the study? What parts of the research process have you helped with (i.e. Collecting data, coding data, organizing data, analysis, experimental design, presentations or publications)?
For clinical or other therapy/practice-oriented programs, make sure to talk about your experience/interest in therapy/career-appropriate situations, including field placements, internships, practica or volunteer activies. Do your homework about each program and mention specific faculty or attributes that are attractive to you.
Do not call yourself "brilliant" or the next Albert Einstein. Let your letter writers tell the school how wonderful you are. Your job is to convince them that you are a good fit for their lab or program, motivated, have a good reason for wanting to pursue this career (i.e., can articulate your interests), and have prepared yourself well by telling them what you have done during your time at UIC.
It is VERY important to make sure your personal statement is well written and error-free. The best way to ensure this is to have someone else read it. This is part of why I ask you to send me a copy before you submit it to the school, so you have a chance to get feedback. Also, it helps me write you a better letter if I understand your motivation and preparation.