Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Personal Statements

Around this time of year, many people are going through the complicated process of applying to graduate schools. First, you have to choose which programs and universities you want to apply to. Then, as if finally deciding which program and university is right for you does not present enough of a challenge, it's time to actually work through the application material. A common element in almost all graduate school applications is the personal statement. Whether you're applying to a master's program, law school, or medical school, you will most likely need to write a personal statement. 
Universities receive thousands of applications a semester, and your personal statement gives you a chance to stand out from the crowd. Sometimes programs cite specific requirements for what to include in personal statements, but for the most part the content and structure is left up to you. In general, your personal statement should include the program you are applying for, the reason you are interested in the program /university, you education/professional goals, and contributions you can make to the program. When drafting your personal statement, try to keep these points in mind:
1. Be Original-Try to avoid writing a bland personal statement that does not communicate your personality and enthusiasm.
2. Be Concise-Try to avoid wordiness. Application committees have to sift through thousands of statements, so they will want you to be clear and to the point.
3. Be Relevant-Application committees are only interested in information that relates directly to you reasons for applying to their program and why you are a suitable candidate. Including unnecessary anecdotes and details will work against you.
4. Be Careful-Follow any guidelines the program provides, such as content, word count, and format. You do not want to be disqualified for not following directions.
These are only a few of the points to consider when writing a personal statement. You can access many personal statement related resources on the internet, as well as asking professors for advice. Writing a personal statement can be a stressful experience, but following these rules and using all of the available resources will put you on the path to writing a successful personal statement.     

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