It’s that time of the semester when many seniors begin to consider seriously the graduate school application process. One of the most common elements of the application is the “statement of purpose” or “personal statement.” They can come in many styles and sizes, but the most common is very open-ended and asks the candidate to tell why he or she is interested in this particular degree or program and what its completion will mean to the candidate. The most crucial word here is “personal.” Not only must it be a well-crafted essay with no spelling or grammatical errors, but it must also convey to the reader(s) a sense of who you are and what makes you unique. A quick Google search will give you lots of advice about writing a personal statement, and once you’ve written your first draft, the Saunders Writing Center on campus is a great place for a free critique. The Office of Career Services offers an “Applying to Graduate or Professional School” workshop each semester—for fall semester, it will be Wednesday, October 10th at 5 p.m. in Riverside 102. It’s a 45-minute overview of the application process with hints and websites to help you find the information you need. One of the handouts, I always use is taken from Perfect Personal Statements by Mark Alan Stewart and gives the “Top 10 Rules to Write By” for your personal statement.
1) DO strive for depth rather than breadth; narrow your focus to one or two themes, ideas or experiences.
2) DO tell the reader what no other applicant will honestly be able to say.
3) DO provide the reader with insight into what drives you—what makes you tick.
4) DO be yourself rather than pretending to be the ideal applicant.
5) DO get creative and imaginative, especially in your opening remarks.
6) DO address the particular school’s unique features that attract you.
7) DO focus on the affirmative in the personal statement itself; consider an addendum to explain deficiencies or blemishes.
8) DO evaluate your experiences rather than merely recounting them.
9) DO enlist others to proofread you essay for grammar, syntax, punctuation, word usage and style.
10) DO use a highly-readable typeface with conventional spacing and margins.
Is graduate school right for me?
Where should I apply?
When should I apply?
How will I pay for grad school?
What tests do I have to take?
Come to our workshop on October 10th to help you find the answers to these and other questions you may have about applying to graduate or professional school!