Most graduate school applications require a personal statement or essay, which is an integral part of the application and criteria for selection. When all is said and done, your personal statement is about the only part of your application that you can positively affect at the time you are applying (your courses, your GPA, test scores and even your recommenders' opinions are pretty well set). It is the part of the application that will make the difference when there are more than enough qualified applicants. Take the time to do it well. Ask several people to read it and comment - faculty, Career Counselors and peer advisors.
When writing your statement, focus on why you are applying to this specific program and why they should admit you. Graduate programs aren't seeking "cookie cutter" candidates - they are looking for unique skills, qualities and experiences you will bring to the program.
When writing your statement remember that admissions representatives read hundreds of essays. Be concise, clear, and compelling. Make sure that you demonstrate you've carefully considered graduate study and how it will help you accomplish your long-term goals. There are many excellent examples of personal statements in the career library in Parrish 135.
Sample personal statements and additional information can be found at:
- Application Essay Writing 101, Info.GradSchools.com
- All About the Graduate Admissions Essay, About.com
- Writing the Personal Statement, Purdue University Online Writing Lab
- Personal Statement Examples, Purdue University Online Writing Lab
- Definition of a Personal Statement, Mary Tolar of the Truman Scholarship Foundation
- Statement of Purpose Resource including writing critiques and tips.