While some schools consider the personal statement and statement of purpose two distinct essays, others use the names interchangeably. Here are some of the most important elements to include in your essay.
Most of those who have been through the process of applying to graduate school will agree — writing the personal statement was the most difficult and stressful part. Part of the problem for many is that they set out to write their personal statement without a clear set of guidelines for what to include, and with some uncertainty about exactly how it will be used in evaluating their application.
This is the first of a series of 5 articles related to preparing a personal statement. We try to give the reader a Writing personal statements for grad school on how the personal statement is used by members of a selection committee, or by a prospective graduate supervisor.
Understanding the perspective of these important decision makers is essential to making good decisions about what to include and exclude from the statement, and appropriate and inappropriate ways to say certain things.
These latter aspects of preparing the personal statement will be dealt with in the remaining articles of the series. Admissions committees and prospective supervisors look at personal statements to see how you think, and how well you express yourself.
It is the component of the application that shows whether you have maturity, good judgment, and a clear plan to get from where you are today, to where you want to be ten years from now.
If you are applying to a professional school in medicine, business, or law, or to a highly competitive graduate program in another field, there might be interviews later, but for most graduate programs you should think of your personal statement as a substitute for a brief personal interview with the admissions committee or prospective supervisor.
If you think this is a good time to figure out what you want to do, then think again… you should have figured this out already. If your main reason for setting out to decide exactly what you want to do for a career is just so that you can prepare a good personal statement, then you probably need to get more serious about your reasons for wanting to go to graduate school at this time.
The most common mistake that students make is to leave too little time for preparing the personal statement. It requires a great deal of thought and planning to write a good one. You should expect to spend several days or maybe even weeks writing drafts before coming up with a good final product.
And none of the other components of your application will make up for a personal statement that leaves any kind of bad impression. Keep in mind that your statement will be read by people who are trying to form an impression of who you are and what you are like.
If there are a lot of applicants to consider, it may not take a lot of imperfection to get placed into the reject pile.
A generic statement or essay can ruin your application Do not write a generic statement for several different applications. You will probably be applying to several programs, and it is important that each personal statement you send reflects that you have done your homework and understand what the program has to offer.
Although there will be a great deal of overlap in terms of the content of the statements you send to different programs, the point here is that you should not simply send the same statement to each program. Some applicants underestimate the number of important differences there are between the various graduate programs to which they apply.
Admissions officers know this, and when they detect a generic statement that the applicant probably sent to at least a few different programs, then it suggests that the applicant is ignorant of the unique aspects of their program.
Remember, people do not automatically gain admission to a Masters or Ph. It may be helpful to think of the personal statement as a sales job — one where you are both the salesperson and the merchandise being marketed.
You need to take this approach, because the process of getting into most graduate programs is a very competitive one, and you are not likely to get in if you are outdone by other applicants. This will require that you can explain your future objectives in light of your past.
Accordingly, much of the content of your personal statement will be a recounting of select and relevant aspects of your past. If you are in a discipline in which graduate students spend a lot of time engaged in research activities a majority of disciplines fit this descriptionthen you must strive to make a convincing case that you are not only interested in more general field of study, but also more specifically in the area in which your prospective supervisor does research.
Even if it is a program in which you would be assigned to a specific supervisor only after some time in the program, or if you will receive periodic supervision by multiple faculty members on a rotational basis, it should be apparent from your statement where you are expecting to fit in with the research interests of the faculty members who are there.
One of the added benefits preparing your personal statement is that, by the time you are done, you will know how to respond to questions about what you are looking for in a career, how you intend to get there, and how you got to this point in the first place.
Obvious considerations, but still worth mentioning You need to be extremely meticulous in proofreading and editing what you write.
The people looking at your application will be keenly interested to know about your writing abilities. Even just a few grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, or poorly-worded sentences can leave a very bad impression.
Write concisely, and if there is a word limit, be sure not to go beyond it. If you are required to answer specific questions, make sure you understand what is being asked of you.
In the second article of this series we deal with some of the things to consider when deciding what to include, and exclude, from the personal statement. There are other sites out there, but they all provide the same generic information and advice about applying to grad school, and therefore, none of them offer anything that is uniquely helpful.
In fact, following the advice of those other so-called grad-school experts can sometimes hurt your chances of getting in! If you want to see an example of what I mean by that, please check out my blog post from August, — What if the Guru is Wrong About That?
Do you have questions or comments about anything mentioned in this article? Please consider sharing them in the comment section. I will try to answer any appropriate questions.Your personal statement is your introduction to a university admission committee.
The aim of your statement is to communicate that you are intelligent, and literate, and that you have interests.
The Graduate Division oversees graduate admissions, fellowships, grants, academic employment, preparation for teaching, mentoring activities, professional . Oct 12, · 10 tips for writing a grad school personal statement. A filmed personal statement might have helped Elle Woods get into Harvard Law School, .
Graduate Personal Statement: Rather than a letter, a personal statement for graduate school is an essay. It's intended to show who you are as a person, your personal and academic goals, and why you might be a good fit for the program.
Personal Statement Examples for Graduate School. Writing a personal statement for graduate school may at first seem like an overwhelming task. It sets the tone for your grad school application after all.
While every personal statement should be different, these examples can help you brainstorm ideas and give you a place to start. A personal statement for graduate school is an opportunity to showcase what you will bring to the graduate program and to explain how the program fits into your larger career goals.
Some programs will ask you to write a single essay covering both your personal background and what you wish to study in graduate school.