Unlike those for your undergraduate applications, your personal statements for graduate, professional training, and postgraduate opportunities should show some degree of focus on, achievement in, and passion for a specific field. They should speak strongly to why the program you are applying to is a great fit for you, as well as to why you are an asset to your chosen program and your field. For the most competitive opportunities, there is no substitute for a track record of stellar academic and other relevant achievements; however, a solid personal statement that speaks to your drive and vision is also necessary to get the results you desire.
Keep these five tips in mind as you write:
- Your graduate school personal statement must have focus and clarity. At this stage in your academic life, your personal statement should, without rehashing your resume, portray you as committed to your field of study and sure about why you have this commitment.
- If you are clear about your motivation to attend graduate school, you should be able to communicate this succinctly and convincingly. From the first sentence, the essay should entice and keep the reader’s attention. A succinct essay easily undercuts the word limit; no word should be wasted.
- Your personal statement must assure the reader that you are qualified for the opportunity, that you will be an asset (hopefully you already are!) to the field in the short- and long-term future, and that this opportunity, uniquely, will help you advance your life goals.
- Although you are likely to have developed a track record of commitment, or even expertise, in the area you now want to pursue, and you need to advertise this, your personal statement should still be personal. Ensure that the reader gets a good idea of what motivates you, what you value, and all that has gone into bringing you to your current desire to attend their school.
- Leave breathing room in your personal statement—use only striking anecdotes, and only as many of them as are likely to be remembered; in most cases, one or two for statements under 850 words. If you try to tell the reader everything you have ever done, the truly memorable anecdotes will be undersold, and there is nothing left for the reader to wonder about or want to ask you in an interview.
Good luck! Which other strategies are you using to write a graduate school personal statement that stands out?