The Personal Statement // Purdue Writing Lab
Start by researching the school and the program you want to apply to. Carefully read over the application as a whole, paying special attention to the prompt for the personal statement.
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A good note-taking app like TaskPaper can help you log what you find. You may find that you need a distraction-free environment to get your thoughts down. Ulysses offers a minimalist writing environment that let you tune out the chatter and commit your thoughts to paper. Just focus on figuring out what you want to say and how you want to say it, and let the guiding questions from your outline direct you. Don't expect to finish in one or two drafts, either.
The challenge is finding the right balance between the parts of the statement and making sure it reflects your voice.
When editing, it's better to work in short bursts so that you maintain a sense of objectivity. Studies have found that we start to get sloppy if we work at the same task for too long. Plus, you don't want this statement to take over your whole life.
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Use a task-tracking app like Be Focused to set useful limits as you work. Set its built-in timer for 25 minutes of concentrated editing, then give yourself a break. It will keep your eyes fresh and your attention sharp. Finally, ask friends and family to read over your statement as well.
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After several rounds of editing, your statement should be close to finished. Make sure you have all the relevant materials before you submit. Our newsletter is typed with care for all the Mac-loving app-connoisseurs. Subscribe for a few notes from us each month containing app tutorials, productivity tips, and the latest Mac buzz.
Try free. Know what a personal statement is How to start a good personal statement for grad school Start by researching the school and the program you want to apply to. Submitting your statement After several rounds of editing, your statement should be close to finished. Get Setapp. The idea is to come up with a few formative or exemplary incidents in each of these categories. As you pare down your list and begin to create an outline or structure for your essay, play around with different ways to organize your story.
Sometimes the clearest option is to address each area of your life separately, but the narrative can feel stilted. Often going with a more chronological or thematic structure will help illustrate your personal growth and demonstrate how your personal, professional, and academic experiences complement and build on each other. As we mentioned above, you could organize your story in a number of ways, but we recommend favoring the structure that most clearly illustrates your personal growth. No matter what, signposting throughout your essay will be key.
Write a compelling graduate school personal statement
State your intentions at the beginning so you can easily circle back throughout your essay. You are trying to help your readers envision you at their institution, so use the entire essay to build and strengthen the connection.
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That said, you ultimately want your essay to draw attention to your strengths, growth, and triumphs. For example, if you want to address some bad grades you got in college due to a chronic illness, think about what you learned from the experience.
Did it have a direct influence on your chosen field or decision to go to graduate school? Did it force you to develop a new skill set that will serve you well in chosen career? This may seem obvious but we have to say it: write about how the specific program you are applying to will build on your experience, cater to your interests, help you meet a goal, or all of the above. This crucial information can often come as an afterthought that applicants tack on in the final three sentences. While the end of the essay is a logical place to address your goals for grad school, they should be treated with the same care as the rest of your narrative.
Your conclusion deserves as much attention as required to illustrate how grad school will be the culmination of your prior experiences: How will it draw them together and allow you to apply or build on what you already know? How will it help you achieve a goal? Do your homework and include institution-specific details — especially you PhD candidates! Focus on a few core experiences so you can fill your personal statement with unique, concrete details.
What can you write to make it so that no one else can put their name on your essay?
Which details can you include to bring your story to life? Ok, now for a curve ball. Yes, you still need to submit a meaningful essay. In these sorts of cases, you must use your judgement. So keep it short — both in timeframe and physical page limit. Usually a page or so will do, and that is more than enough space to cover the key events from the last five years of your career.
Perhaps more if you are later in your career — again, judgement is key. For better or worse, lots of people have experience with this! The only way to know how another person will react to your essay is surprise! Even a friend who is unfamiliar with the application process will be able to offer insight into what works, what feels confusing, and what is missing.
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