How to write a personal statement for graduate school

If you are writing a personal statement for graduate school you should follow this short academic writing tutorial:

Approach your personal statement as though you only have five minutes to meet with the admissions committee. Pretend that you have to make the best case for yourself without losing their attention in only five minutes. What would you say? What would you leave out?

The answers to these questions are critical to writing a great statement and ensuring your finished product is effective. But to get to these answers you need to ask yourself a few specific questions including:

  • Why did you choose to apply to graduate school in this field?
  • Why did you choose this school’s particular program?
  • What are your qualifications for admission?
  • Why is unique or impressive about your life story?

Not all of the answers will come easily to you but the exercise is nonetheless beneficial in preparing you to write an outstanding essay. By answering each question thoroughly you can lay the foundation for presenting a persuasive argument for your personal story.

Remember these hints:

  • Your admissions essay should tell the reader your background and what led you to apply to this program
  • It should tell the reader what you want to get out of the program
  • It should also tell the reader where you hope their program will take you career-wise

A simple autobiography is not what the review board wants. Instead include some pertinent and interesting autobiographical facts. Make your statement future-oriented rather than past-oriented. Describe your future interests because at this point the committee is reviewing your essay because they already reviewed your application and they know you are qualified based on previous merit. Now they want some insight into why you want to research the area you are and how you think.

Graduate schools are unique in that they are primarily interested in your past only insofar as it relates to your future. There is no need to discuss any event from your past that you think will make you stand out because that is not the purpose of a graduate school. Only include aspects that can be incorporated from your past into your future. Put some thought and analysis into everything you include in your graduate school admissions essay so that you know it is relevant.

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