The Personal Statement/Personal Essay/Statement of Purpose
The admission essay should give the committee a sense of who you are and why you want to attend their institution and program. Much like a cover letter for a job, an admission essay must convey to the committee the important information for which they are looking, so that they will consider you for a place in their program. You must understand the questions asked within the application and answer them in a thoughtful manner. Writing style and techniques can be important, especially if your target program is in the Humanities, Arts or Journalism.
What are Readers Looking For?
There are many ways to approach writing the admissions essay or personal statement. Peterson's Guide to Graduate Programs suggests that admissions committees may be looking for the following when evaluating the essay portion of the application:
Motivation and commitment to a field of study
Expectations regarding the program & career opportunities
Major areas of interest
Research and/or work experience
Immediate and long-term goals
Reasons for deciding to pursue graduate work in a specific field
Reasons for wanting to study at a particular institution
Personal qualities: what your presence would add to the diversity of the class
How Should You Format Your Essay?
Research the school, understand the audience, and locate their application instructions for both the Institution and the specific program you are applying for. One or both of these website areas should include their specifics on how to format your statement and what questions to answer or topics to cover in the statement content. If the site does not provide any direction for the statement, find the contact info for the Admissions Counselor and place a call or send an email requesting clarification on both the formatting and content guidelines.
If you are unable to reach a counselor, the standards for a Personal Statement recommended by this office are:
Format: double-spaced, essay style up to 2 pages
Why do you want to pursue a graduate degree?
What are your goals/research interests?
Why did you select this program
How you are qualified and why you are exceptional?
How will their program help you reach your goals?
Make an appointment with a Career Advisor or a faculty member revise and polish your essay before submission.
Statement Examples and Resources
Eckerd Alumni Medical School Personal Statement Example
Law School Personal Statements
The Princeton Review: Statement of Purpose
Purdue Owl Online Writing Lab: The Personal Statement
UC Berkley: Graduate School Statement Guidelines
Quintessential Careers: Writing the Grad School Application Essay
University of Michigan-Ford School: Writing an Effective Statement of Interest