Your personal statement should leave your readers with a clear understanding that you’re not just seeking this degree because it seems kind of interesting or because you can’t think of anything else to do; they should sincerely believe that you have a plan in mind and that graduate school figures into that plan.
Standing out from the crowd in personal statements is one of the most common concerns the experts at EssayEdge hear about from potential grad students. Now that you are about to graduate college with a bachelor's degree and are beginning to apply to graduate school, you may find yourself struggling with the personal statement. The personal statement can be one of the most stressful requirements for admissions. It isn't meant to be academic, but should express your academic goals and accomplishments. It isn't completely about your future plans, but you will have to show that you have aspirations to succeed and can offer value their institution.
The first step, however, is to just get started. Write a first draft, don't think about creating the perfect essay, and focus on honing the point of your essay down after careful revisions.
Why should the college accept you into their program?
Your essay can have any focus and be in any format you choose, but consider first articulating your reasons for selecting your chosen path. The why is more important than the how here. Describe why your goals are your goals and how you intend to get there. Connect the dots throughout your previous accomplishments and how you will obtain your future goals. Think about the big picture, but describe this in steps. What courses, internships, professors, research, extracurriculars, and projects have contributed to who you are as a person and who you are going to be? Ultimately, you want to be as specific as possible so that you can provide evidence and show the admissions team your strengths and weaknesses.
Motivation and the capacity to succeed is also a key factor when admissions teams read your personal statement. Graduate schools want people who will show the value and success of their program so that other students will recognize their student's accomplishments and want to go to their graduate school as well. Show them how you can improve the school's reputation by your motivation and ability to succeed.
Start thinking about your personal statement before you even apply to graduate school
You may have never written anything like this before, and even if you have, you should plan to have people that you respect give you feedback for revisions. This can be your parents, mentors, previous instructors, employers, etc. - anybody that you trust to give honest feedback. Admissions teams can typically sniff out essays that are genuine, so while you want to be honest about your dreams for the future, you also want to be authentic and realistic. Establishing a voice and tone that speaks to your most authentic self will be crucial to getting accepted.
Be sincere and be concise.
Admissions teams will sometimes read up to a hundred of these essays when prospective students apply to their program, so you will want to catch their attention right away and be able to maintain their interest throughout your entire essay. If your essay is too long, they will get bored and may even stop reading. This also means avoiding clichés and making every sentence count. Don't meander or go off on tangents. Each word should be chosen for a specific reason.
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Writing About the Future in a Graduate Personal Statement
Writing about the future in a graduate personal statement can be an enjoyable task. Planning your career, thinking ahead to achieving your goals, and “dreaming big” are the best parts of writing about the future.
Graduate personal statements should always include some of the following components in a paragraph devoted to the future.
- Forecast your short term and long term goals. (Include interim goals, if applicable.)
- Define your future career, offering specific details.
- Develop ideas and plans as to how the graduate degree will contribute to your future career.
- Project industry growth, increased demand for employees. Relate it to your specific field.
Regarding goals, short term goals usually include those which can be achieved in the next 3 – 5 years. Long term goals extend beyond 10 years or more. Interim goals apply to some career paths, but not all. The interim goals fall between the short and long term goals outlined in the personal statement for graduate school and depend upon the industry or program.
Your graduate personal statement should relate your future plans to your motivation to achieve these plans. If you introduce the idea of your long term goal in the opening paragraph of a personal statement for graduate school, then it is usually a good idea to return to the idea at the conclusion of the statement. This will remind the reader of your theme, your introduction, and your desire to pursue a career in the field discussed in the graduate personal statement .
Graduate Personal Statements have Never been More Important
Another important part of the section on the future plans in graduate personal statements is the opportunity to focus on the application of the intended degree program to those plans.
The writer of a personal statement for graduate school should include information about desirable coursework in the program and professors of interest who teach those courses. If research is an element of the program, then a discussion of the research lab, its purpose, and the professors in charge of the lab, as well as any past relevant personal research experience , would be a good inclusion in this graduate personal statement.
A graduate personal statement could also benefit from some discussion of future alumni networking and community-building within the program. Potential synergistic relationships, whether in the medical, scientific, business, commercial, or artistic world, could benefit careers and should be noted in the graduate personal statement.
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