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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Below are some common scholarship essay questions. You can use these as a great starting point for a pesonal statement. Some of these essay questions are used in the Maricopa Scholarship Database.
- What life experiences have shaped who you are today and what challenges have you overcome in achieving your education (i.e. financial, personal, medical, etc.)?
- Explain why you need financial assistance.
- Describe your academic and career goals and your plans to achieve them and discuss any of your extracurricular/volunteer activities (both on and off campus) that you may perform.
- Describe an event in which you took a leadership role and what you learned about yourself.
This is a sample essay to help guide you when you are writing essays for scholarships. Keep in mind that all scholarship applications are different, so you may have to design your essay to meet those specific requirements.
(State an overview of what you are going to talk about in the essay. If the essay is about you, give a brief description of your experiences, goals, aspirations, family background, etc. Touch on why you want the scholarship.)
For as long as I could remember, I have wanted to be a veterinarian. I have been responsible for the care and feeding of pets ever since I was in the second grade. In high school, I participated in the 4-H club as well as the Junior Humane society. To reach my goals, I realize that I must pursue an eight year college education which will begin with the Fall 2010 semester. I am very excited about my future and feel that with the opportunity your scholarship will provide, I can help many animals.
Paragraph II & III
(Go into more detail on one of the topics listed in paragraph I. For example, elaborate on your previous experiences, family and financial situation, volunteer work, employment, academic career, future goals, college plans, etc.)
My love for animals has been encouraged by my family and friends. I have had the opportunity to volunteer with the local animal shelter and provide basic care to the stray animals. With the help of my biology teacher, I was able to start a 4-H club on campus. Many of the other students on campus developed an interest in the animals and now our club has 100 members. My family also has many animals for which I provide care, including basic needs as well as first aid. I find that I enjoy that aspect of pet ownership best. Unfortunately, my family cannot afford to pay for my entire education, so I hope to use my skills and love of animals to help me pay for college.
(Conclude your essay with a wrap-up of why you should be considered for the scholarship; how do your goals match those of the organization, etc.)
Your organization stands for what I believe in. Like your organization, I hope to help animals for the rest of my life. To reach my goals, I need as much help as possible. I already have the moral support of my family and friends, but that is not quite enough to make my dream come true. I hope that your organization can help me reach this dream by awarding me your scholarship.