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Graduate School

Writing a Winning Personal Statement

The admissions process for graduate and professional school is more competitive today than ever before. The increase in applications has been especially dramatic in recent years. Admissions officials recognize that "the numbers" -- GPA and test score -- do not tell the whole story about the candidate. They are looking for interesting, articulate, and distinctive individuals with different points of view, ambitions, and backgrounds. How does the admission committee strip away the numbers to uncover the human candidate? The essay questions commonly referred to as the personal statement on the admissions application are depended upon heavily.
 

What is a Personal Statement?

A personal statement provides an account of who you are, what you have accomplished within the context of your own experiences and opportunities, what you intend to accomplish during graduate school and beyond. A good statement links the topics mentioned to create a wellorganized and articulate presentation of your candidacy. It should include:

  • 1) compelling reasons for the admission committee to accept you;2) convincing evidence that you will both thrive in and contribute to the academic and social environment of the school.

What should you write about? What does the application question ask? Usually personal statements come from unique experiences, major influences or abilities. Do not discount anything. Though you may be applying to several schools and therefore have to answer many different essay questions, you will probably be able to submit essentially the same essay to multiple schools. Take inventory of all the different questions on the applications and make the appropriate modifications to your statement for each school to which you apply.

A personal statement is like an interview on paper. It is your chance to present a real sense of who you are. Writing an effective personal statement requires soul searching and reflection. Most people find it difficult to write about oneself, especially something personal or introspective. Describe who you are rather than what you have done -- what you care about -- what has shaped your life.