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The people who review your grad school applications will be inundated with lists — resumés, transcripts, and scores.So your personal statement needs to become something more than a basic list of facts: it should be a narrative that draws connections that include and transcend your “on paper” profile.
If there’s a big break in your resume or a blemish on your transcript, your personal statement is an opportunity for you to tell your side of the story.
That said, you ultimately want your essay to draw attention to your strengths, growth, and triumphs.
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? Do your homework and include institution-specific details — especially you Ph D candidates!
And if you want to start writing based on a specific prompt, consider choosing one of the longest ones on your list.
These kinds of assignments typically range from 250-1000 words, so just remember that it’s always easier to cut than to embellish.Prompts tend to be so similar that you could probably flesh out an outline without ever looking at an institution-specific application.Once you have expanded your story, tailoring it to specific schools should be a breeze — adding a little here to elaborate on your research experience, subtracting a little there to meet a strict word limit.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.You won’t be able to tell your whole life story in your personal statement — and you shouldn’t try!Instead, set aside some time to brainstorm and hone a list of key personal, professional, and academic experiences.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?Many schools offer an optional “additional information” section that is specifically intended for applicants to elaborate on personal issues that may have affected their academic or professional performance.The challenges you face in life are important, but they don’t have to define you.