Grad School Personal Statement
What is the Personal Statement?
The Personal Statement is the graduate school version of an undergraduate college admission essay. Almost all graduate applications have a required Statement in some form. While your grades and test scores are very important, the Statement provides the admission committee a chance to personally distinguish you from other applicants, and the opportunity to see you as a person instead of numbers and statistics. All things being equal, your Statement may be the deciding factor in whether you are accepted or denied admission as it reveals a great deal about your ability to write and communicate a unique perspective in an engaging way. And, it is one aspect you still have influence over at this stage in the process. The personal statement varies by institution. It can either be general - giving you freedom in terms of what you write - or it can ask specific questions. Some business school applications favor multiple essays, typically asking for responses to three or more questions, while medical or law school applications often ask you to address your motivation or qualifications in more general terms.
Content. The majority of schools will ask you to explain why you want to study in the program, how you became interested and how your previous academic work has prepared you for your graduate studies.
Writing. As you write your Statement, remember how you communicate is just as important as what you communicate. When we read a book, we can hear the author’s “voice”. The same should be true in your statement. The reader expects a polished piece of writing in your unique voice. Write a preliminary outline, edit your drafts and have someone else review your writing. Revise until you have a version you are proud to submit.
Attitude. Attitude is revealed through the combination of content, writing and style. The Statement ultimately shows your passion for your studies, confidence in your ability to succeed and pride in your accomplishments. Your style will help demonstrate that you will be a valuable and productive student in a particular program.
How Do I Write a Personal Statement?
How you structure and organize your essay can determine your fate. With a well-structured essay, the reader will not only be interested in the content of your essay, but will also know you have the capacity to create a legible essay -- and thereby think clearly and logically. There are several different ways you can structure your essay but the most common format includes an introduction, a body, and a concluding paragraph. Write about who you are, why you want to continue your studies, what experiences support your application, and your previous academic record. Make sure you answer the required question(s). Your paragraphs need to have transitions and resolutions. Transitions start a paragraph by providing a statement that suggests the theme for that paragraph. This allows the reader to be aware of the direction the essay is heading in. Transitions connect paragraphs to other paragraphs (usually preceding paragraphs), which causes the essay to flow smoothly. Resolutions, on the other hand, are statements that end paragraphs and allow for transition to the next paragraph. The resolution should not be a general statement but rather a meaningful one that connects facts included in the current paragraph. Both transitions and resolutions are beneficial in terms of making your essay clear and understandable.