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Personal Statements and Essays

When completing your application for graduate school, you will probably need to write a personal statement or an admission essay. Of course, the essay will be about you, but the topic may vary. Some graduate programs may ask for a personal statement. Other schools might ask you to be more specific and they may want to know why you chose a certain field, what you intend to do when you graduate and why you are applying to their school.

No matter what the topic of the essay is, keep in mind that the admissions committee members want to know two things when they read your essay:

  • Are you realistic about the field in general? The applicant who wants to get a Master's in Social Work to "help rid the world of poverty," the education student who wants to "mold the minds of youth for the 21st century" are simply not realistic. In addition, someone who does not have a clear view of his or her field of study is probably not very realistic about the demands and rigors of a graduate program either. Most graduate schools look for students who know what they are getting into and why.
  • Are you articulate? Can you write a decent paragraph? Graduate schools want students who can express themselves in an intelligent way, using proper logic, form, grammar and punctuation. The essay is important not only for WHAT you write, but also for HOW you write it. It should also be well organized, succinct, specific, customized, and proofread.

The essay is your chance to show why you want to go to graduate school, your strengths and achievements, and why you are interested in a particular department or program.

To help you achieve the results that you want, it is very important to talk about your essay with someone else to get a different view. The Center for Career Development has many samples of essays, as well as staff members to assist you in critiquing your personal statement. Consult your faculty for additional guidance.

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