How to Write a Personal Statement for Graduate School
Many graduate schools require you to write a personal statement for admission purposes. It is also known as a ‘statement of purpose’ or ‘letter of intent’. If you are applying for a graduate school, your personal statement should reflect some bit of maturity and style. Remember, your personal statement is going to be read by an academic expert, so you need to be very careful with the structure and content of your statement. Besides, an evaluator will have a very small amount of time at his disposal to read your essay. Typically, they spend approximately five minutes to read your personal statement. So, you should be prepared to write an exceptionally good statement for your application since it will be a determinant factor in your selection process. Your aim is to draw attention of the admissions officer in the shortest time possible.
Here are a few steps that will guide you in writing a personal statement for a graduate school:
- Before writing the actual statement, think about exceptional things about yourself and your life. Some life changing event or incident that is of special importance to you might be a good idea. You should try to note down it in a sequential order, as you will later need to include it in your personal statement. The aim is to impress the admission’s officer, so try to choose the most striking and touching incidents.
- Then try to note down your main incidents or events that have shaped up your career goals. For example, in your childhood days you’ve dreamt of becoming an astronaut but due to some incident or event in your life you dropped the idea and now you want to become something different. What has caused you to change your decision and how have you prepared for that? What challenges and obstacles did you have to face in pursuing them and how did you overcome those obstacles? You should try to note down all major points related to this, as you need to include it in your personal statement.
- Apart from these specific events and incidents, you should also try to note down all details of those persons who caused a major impact in your life. It could be your teacher, your parents, your uncle, your cousin, your relatives, your friends or even a stranger. Try to remember the ones that had a lasting impact on your life, personality and your career decisions. They also need to be mentioned in the statement.
- Next point worth jotting down is about your chosen field of study. You need to take note why you like your particular area or field of study. Why do you like your subject? How much insight have you gained by studying your subject of choice? What has led you to become interested in this particular field or subject? What makes you believe you are best suited for this field? Did you show some extra initiative to learn and understand your subject? The aim is to remember and write down why you like your particular subject and what makes you think you are suited for it.
- If you have any work experience, you should also highlight it in your personal statement. Note all the assignments you had before applying for this college/university. Highlight key responsibilities, experiences and knowledge you have gained by such work. What impact has it caused on your intellectual and personal growth?
- You should also mention some of your primary career goals in the personal statement. Note them down also before you start writing the actual statement.
- If you had any gaps in your academic years, you should try to explain them justifying the reasons that led to such breaks or gaps.
- You should also try to highlight your best personal traits in your personal statement. Take note of some attributes, which specially apply to you such as perseverance, patience, hard working, smart thinking, integrity, compassion, persistence, amicable and easy going, team player, team leader, etc. If you can make references to some real life examples where you exhibited your special personal attributes, it would be even better.
- What are your main skills (leadership qualities, effective communication skills, ability to cope with stress and pressure, analytical and thorough in approach)? You should make note of all skills that you have, as these also need to be shown in your personal statement.
After you have made a rough outline of points that you need to mention in your personal statement, you can start writing the actual statement. Be precise and use your words with caution. Avoid grammatical and spelling mistakes, and proofread your essay carefully. Be clear and concise in your expressions and stick to the word limit. While writing, try to be vibrant, so as to captivate and make the reader be carried away by your personal statement with zeal and interest. If you sound typical and mediocre, the statement would not appeal to the admissions officer at all. So be careful in what you say and how you say.
If you follow the above tips, you may find writing a personal statement a lot easier than you thought.
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