How to Write a Great Personal Statement –
Graduate school admissions are competitive; while hard numbers like GPA and test scores are a big piece of the admitting puzzle, the schools want a more three-dimensional picture of the applicant. They want to know your hopes, dreams, goals, and why they should pick you. This is where the personal statement comes in—this part of the application can make or break your chances for admission, and here are some tips for crafting a winning and good essay writing.
How to Approach the Statement
There is no one best way to write a personal statement for graduate school admissions. But, having an idea of what type of approach you want to take, and determining what type of information will best make your case is important. Many experts in this realm suggesting the following approach when crafting your statement: imagine you had five minutes with the admissions committee to tell them why you should be admitted. What would you say to make your strongest case, to keep them interested? What information would be a ‘’must’’ and what information could easily be omitted?
3 Basic Questions to Consider
In crafting your statement, there are three important questions that you must consider. First question is why are you going to graduate school in this field? Second question is why this particular school? And last, but not least, what makes you qualified for admission? These questions may seem obvious, but many fail to really think deeply about them, and this can compromise the quality of your essay.
Think back to earlier experiences that exposed you to this field and discuss how they influenced you—avoid generic statements, such as ‘’I have always known I wanted to be or do X,’’ or ‘’X was always my calling.’’ Talk about specific events. Tell the committee what you plan on doing with this degree—it is a means to an end, and give specific information about that end. When discussing why you want this school in particular, avoid generic praise or reference to rankings. Talk about specific courses , faculty members or research currently underway.
As for discussing qualifications, avoid a pat list of qualities and accomplishments. Give concrete examples that demonstrate your ability to succeed. Research experience is particularly important to highlight, and you may want to focus on one project in particular and discuss it at greater length. Practical experience is also helpful, and it is important to address it in a way that shows enthusiasm and aptitude.
Have Others Review It
Asking friends and family to review your personal statement is very important—they will notice things you will not as the writer, and their feedback can be invaluable. When asking them to read it, there are some important questions they should keep in mind to determine what is working with it and what needs to be revised. Is a central theme emerging in the essay? Does the introduction pique interest and engage the reader? Does the conclusion give closure to the essay? Are statements illustrated with concrete details and specifics? Wherever possible, did I use active-voice verbs? Does the essay contain any empty clichés? Is the sentence structure varied enough? Were transitions used properly? Are there any statements that are unclear or require elaboration? Is there any information that does not support the main argument or is extraneous? What is the best part of the essay and what needs the most work? What does the essay say about your personality? A fresh set of eyes will only help improve your essay.
About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about education; you can find more info here on the doctor of education online and a variety of other advanced degree programs.