Planning and writing the personal statement can be challenging. Even though it is the most general question, it is the most challenging. The challenge comes in creating a package which entails your passions, goals, experiences, skills, and uniqueness. It is also difficult to put all of this into just a page and a half, but it can be done. It is about telling the story of how you have used your passion for the subject you want to study and applied it to your different experiences. Imagine if there was nothing else in your application packet but this statement, what should the admission committee read to know that you deserve to be at their institution. Here are some general tips and advice on approaching the personal statement.
- Be Personal
- It’s about telling YOUR story. The only way to do that is to give unique details about your life. What pathway has influenced your passions and goals? Was it a childhood experience or special people in your life? When did you become interested in this topic?
- Past Experience
- What have you learned about this field or what experiences have you had? Have you done internships or summer programs that lead to the realization of the topic you wanted to study?
- Leveraging Past Experience
- What skills (technical and leadership) did you acquire? How did you overcome obstacles and challenges? What was your solution? What did you learn?
- Toot Your Horn
- Highlight some of your non-academic experiences and accomplishments that have helped you prepare for graduate school. Discuss your characteristics and discuss ways in which they make you a successful candidate.
- Be Specific
- What makes this program you are applying for special? Research the school and what makes the program unique. Is there a professor you have identified you would like to work with or a special program the school sponsors?
- Begin Strong, End Strong
- The first paragraph is the place you convince the admission committee why they should keep reading. The concluding paragraph is where you convince them that you deserve to be a student at the institution.
- Be Concise, Be Correct
- Remember that hundreds of applications are received during a cycle. Make sure your essay is within the word limit. You want to ensure a reviewer doesn’t see multiple pages and immediately gets discouraged.
- Proofread – proofread – proofread. I have been guilty of this sometimes because re-reading can be tedious, but it is worth it. It is important that your grammar and spelling are correct.
Be honest and confident. You are one-of-a-kind so do not be afraid to share your experience!