No matter how many 15-page essays you’ve written during the
course of your college career, the 2-page personal statement(also
called a "statement of intent")can be more intimidating than
any of them. “Justify the last 4 (or 5) years of your college
life, and everything else that you have done,” the personal
statement seems to demand. “Why do you deserve to go to grad
statement is a chance for you to write something that is purely
about you – your experiences, goals, plans and thoughts on
your undergraduate career and your expectations of grad school.
It allows schools to evaluate your writing style and , and
also to see, based on your strengths and goals, if you are
a good “fit” for the school. You may have the GPA, the test
scores, and have aced all the required courses, but if you
want to study Medieval Literature at a small college that
specializes in the 20th Century American Novel, you are not
a good fit for that institution, and vice versa.
don’t want to be risky in their choices: they can’t afford
to be. This is why sometimes even the best students who seem
to be shoo-ins to the schools of their choice don’t get in:
if it comes to a choice between 2 students, one who is known
to the graduate committee and one who isn’t – the one who
is known has a major advantage. Graduate committees want to
know that you can handle the challenge of graduate-level courses
– they can’t afford to gamble on students.
do you talk about? There are various opinions about what you
should write and how you should structure the personal statement.
There are probably several ways that you could write a personal
statement – you need to adjust the form to your content. You
want to demonstrate to the committee who will review your
application a coherence and logical path to the academic and
personal choices that you have made; you are committed to
attending school at the institution you are applying to –
you want to show how attending their school is something that
you have been working towards and how this fits in with your
future career plans.
research on the school – who are the professors whose research
interests or area of concentration are close to yours? You
might want to mention that you are familiar with their work,
or that you would be interested in studying with them. You
want to demonstrate to the committee that you have concrete
reasons for applying to this particular school – it isn’t
a whim, but rather a long-standing goal. You don’t have to
include a title and outline for your thesis, research or graduating
project, but be prepared to briefly state the areas that you
are interested in, and why.
have a draft down on paper, it’s best to leave it for a few
days. Return to it with a fresh eye. And have at least two
other people look at it for you. Your friends and your professors
know different sides of you, and will have suggestions about
your strengths and what you have to offer to the program.
You want to convey that this is something that you are excited
and enthusiastic about, without sounding insincere or vague.
“I love Literature” or “Research is my life,” are not good
enough statements for the admissions committee – they may
be true, but you need to demonstrate how they are true, and
how you have made decisions based on the strong interest you
have in Business, or History, or Medicine.
the reason that the personal statement is so difficult is
because it forces you to really think about why you want to
pursue an advanced degree. Is it something that you’ve been
planning to do for so long that you can’t remember why you
wanted to do it in the first place? How does pursuing a Master’s
degree fit into your personal and professional goals at this
point in your life? These are difficult questions to answer,
especially if you’re in the middle of your senior year of
college, wondering why on earth you would subject yourself
to several more years of exams, papers, projects, and student
“lifestyle.” But who knows how you’ll feel by next September;
if, even in the midst of madness, you can acknowledge that
you love to learn, and research, and write and study and that
you want to know more – you should probably apply.