Your graduate school personal statement is your opportunity to express your interests, goals, and achievements to your graduate schools of choice. This document is your introduction to the faculty and staff that will be reviewing your application materials, so it should not resemble a resume or extensive autobiography. Your writing should be clear, concise, and painstakingly proofread. The writing style you use reflects as much about your abilities as a student as the content you include.
The first step in writing a graduate school personal statement is to catalog your abilities and achievements that are relevant to your future educational endeavors. You should mention any works that you have had published or prestigious conference presentations. Graduate directors look for experiences that may have helped you build character and grow as a person such as relevant employment, honors, and volunteer work.
Avoid irrelevant details of your life and education in your graduate school personal statement. Most graduate programs are not interested in your family life, level of popularity, or irrelevant hobbies. If your work experience is in an unrelated field like retail or the fast food industry, you should mention that you worked to help fund your education thus far. Most application packets also include letters of reference from former instructors and employers that will confirm your experience.
You should also include your educational and career goals in your graduate school personal statement. Graduate schools are looking for students who can clearly state their purposes in pursuing higher levels of education. Let the reviewers know that you are driven to achieve academic and professional success.
Each application packet should include a specially-tailored statement that indicates you have researched the program to which you are applying. Most programs offer guidelines that will help you focus your graduate school personal statement. Some schools ask for a letter of intent while others ask for a personal narrative or a statement of purpose. Inform the reviewers how you believe you will fit in with their existing faculty and students. This will help the reviewers to determine if you are right for their program.
The writing style you chose should be appropriate for your intended discipline and represent your best possible effort. Use “I" statements and active voice to keep the reader engaged. Clever use of adjectives and adverbs can make your graduate school personal statement shine above your competition. As you describe yourself, you should strike a balance between being boastful and humble. Focus on your strengths when you write your graduate school personal statement. Be sure that the assertions you make about your talents and your past are true.
When you have finished a good draft of your personal statement, ask your family and instructors to edit your work. They should look beyond simple grammar and structure to style and content and help you to ensure that your writing is expressive and accurate. Take their comments and criticism seriously as you rework your draft. Before you send your graduate personal statement off with your application packet, read it out loud to yourself to make sure that it flows smoothly.