How to Write a Personal Statement for Grad School | Application Best Practices

Out of every component of a graduate school application, the personal statement holds great significance. It provides an opportunity to illustrate who you are, expand on your experience and work, and highlight why you are a good fit for that program. This is a daunting task because unlike undergraduate applications, graduate programs are niche and specific and with that it is important to ensure your personal statement is as well.

I applied to three programs at the begining of this year. The application requirements were generally similar in structure, as was my personal statement for each school. It was quite the process at the begining trying to decide how to best communicate who I am and why I am passionate about this field. My rough draft was really really rough, but like any good piece of writing, after multiple edits it was ready for submission.

I want to share what the entire application process was like and tips I picked up along the way. Best of luck in your own journey and congratulations to have made it to this point.


GENERAL TIPS

My applications were made up of:

A personal statement, a resume, the application fee, an optional writing sample, optional additional information, a diversity statement, official transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an interview.

Out of those it is important to note:

The optional writing sample should be something you have already written, but this doesn’t mean you can’t go back and revise it.

It is also beneficial to example a piece of writing that bridges your interests and experience. I shared a research paper I had written for my Global Maternal and Child Health class, that talked about child nutrition.

When asking for letters of recommendation, it is courteous to share some of your application materials with professors.

This includes your personal statement and resume, so have those ready.

Prepare the information you want to communicate during your interview.

Whether that is responses to questions or questions you have about the program, practice and prepare beforehand for a seamless conversation.


PERSONAL STATMENT TIPS

Answer the prompt

While there are evident components of your story you want to share, integrate those points in a manner that answers the given prompt.

Be specific

What exactly do you love about the program? From professors to research projects to location, highlight those specific interests

Ask everyone you know to edit it

Different people in your life will not only be able to speak to your skillset but they also carry a skillset of your own that can be beneficial when reviewing your personal statement. If 20 people change 20 minute factors of your personal statement, it is that many times better.

Further explain experiences from your resume and how you’ve grown

Your resume doesn’t have room to expand on not only what you did but what you learned, so there is a chance to do that here.

Tell a cohesive story

Its not only your story but writing in a story manner that circles back to initial points will make it memorable.

Again, good luck in your application process and to hear these tips in full, listen to the full episode, How to Write a Personal Statement for Grad School | Application Best Practices.