A Guide to Writing a Personal Statement for Grad School Applications - Deepstash

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Writing a personal statement for graduate school

Writing a personal statement for graduate school

You'll likely be required to write and submit a personal statement as part of the application process to graduate school.

A personal statement is a short essay, two to three pages, explaining why you're applying to the program and why you are a unique applicant. Writing your personal statement is the best way to show off your personality. It helps the admission committee better understand who you are outside of your professional and academic experience that will make you a good prospect for the program.

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Brainstorm before you write your personal statement

Brainstorm before you write your personal statement

The first step to writing an outstanding personal statement is to take some time to reflect. Writing prompts can serve as a foundation for your personal statement.

  • What are my short-term and long-term goals? Will acceptance into this program help me achieve them?
  • What are my strengths and how can these benefit the program?
  • What life experience or interest is so meaningful that I would devote years to exploring the topic?
  • Is there someone who has significantly impacted my life or character? Describe.
  • What do I want the people reviewing my application to know about me? 

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Aspect of a strong personal statement

A great personal statement capture who you are as a person.

  • Your story is unique. The more authentic you are, the better.
  • Your personal statement should be complete. You want to give your audience all the information they might need to decide on your application.
  • It should be mistake-free.

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7 dos for a personal statement

7 dos for a personal statement

  1. Include examples. Back up any claims you make. For example, you can prove that you're driven by sharing that you balanced a job with school to pay down student loans.
  2. Be yourself. Be authentic when crafting your personal statement. 
  3. Do your research. Ensure you know what you're getting yourself into.
  4. Grab their attention. Think of an instance that shaped you and jump right into the story. Keep it short and engaging,
  5. Remember your audience. Stay professional.
  6. Address the prompt in your personal statement.
  7. Revise and proofread

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3 Don'ts for a personal statement

  1. Don’t be presumptuous. “I know my personal statement for grad school is the best, and I have no doubt that I’ll get in everywhere I apply.”
  2. Don’t use platitudes or clichés. Avoid starting your essay with a quote, definition, or anything else that signals the obvious fact that time has passed and you’re now applying for graduate school. "From a young age..." or "I've always been interested in ..."
  3. Don’t overshare. It is not an autobiography. Pick one or two life events that shaped your desire to apply to grad school, but don't share your entire life story.

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Crafting your personal statement

Crafting your personal statement

Start with an outline:

  • Introduction. Include a hook that captures your reader's attention.
  • Body paragraphs. The paragraphs explain your motivations for applying. Include examples of characteristics you want to share, such as a challenge you overcame.
  • Conclusion. Discuss future plans and why acceptance into your desired program would benefit you.

The final paragraph should be just as good as your hook. You want the audience to remember your paper.

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