Writing a graduate school personal statement is an extremely important part of the admissions process. Personal statements offer a great way to bring out a qualitative difference to your application, beyond the mere quantitative factors such as GRE scores and GPA numbers. It’s a great way for the admissions committee to know more about you and your motivations to attend graduate school.
Apart from depicting the fact that you can communicate your ideas effectively, personal statements help the admissions committee to determine whether you fit into their graduate program. A personal statement is one of the few factors that is completely in your control. Make sure that you work hard on this part of the application process.
Here are some tips for graduate school personal statements:
1. Write clearly – The best graduate school statements are always written very clearly. Be very specific and do not use unnecessary words to increase the word count. Do not try to be creative or dramatic. Instead, be sincere while writing the statement.
2. Pay attention to the statement structure – If you start your statement with an attention grabbing line, you are more likely to get the reader’s attention. Highlight the interesting parts about your life and/or defining achievements. Do not write a very long statement.
3. Customize your statement for different schools – Each school comes with its own distinct set of values. Having a common statement for every school is detrimental to your admission process. Instead, take the effort of customizing your statement for every school and your reasons for interest in the program. This will pay off in the long run. Of course, you can have a basic template which can be customized depending on the school.
4. Go beyond academic experience – Your personal statements should speak about your character, skills and achievements. Highlight your struggles and your steps to overcome them. If you have won awards, describe your work behind the award. Point out interesting facts of your life, instead of sticking to just your academic experience.
5. Mention your reasons for applying to the school – Make sure that you map out the factors that make the school ideal for you. Write briefly about the distinct factors that steered your interest towards the school/program. Do not try to flatter the admissions committee, otherwise you risk sounding insincere.
6. Proofread before submission – This is a very important step. Typos and grammatical errors can leave a very bad impression in front of the admissions committee. Always proofread for spelling mistakes, typos, grammatical errors and sentence construction before submission.
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