All graduate schools require applicants to submit an admissions essay which helps the admission committee evaluate the applicant as an individual rather than academic statistic. Your graduate admissions essay is your opportunity to portray yourself as an individual and as well as distinguish yourself from other applicants.
If you are ready to apply to graduate school, there's no avoiding the admissions essay. Although you will be requested to write in response to a specific essay prompt, remember that you control the content of your essay. Your essay should accurately represent yourself. It should contain substance and leave a positive impression on the reader. That's a monumental task. Or at least it may feel like it. If you are having trouble starting your admissions essay, consider the following questions to help you gain perspective on your own unique qualities:
Who am I?
- Who am I?
- What characteristics do I possess (e.g. honest, compassionate, loyal)?
- What skills do I have (e.g. analytical, communication, organizational)?
- How have I changed/grown over the years? What caused these changes and how have they affected me?
- What makes me unique? How am I different from other applicants?
- Why should the admissions committee be interested in me?
- Are there any obstacles that I had to overcome and how have I dealt with these difficulties from my past?
- Are there any experiences from my past that have affected my life? Can I relate these experiences to my goals?
- Who has influenced me over the years (e.g. parent, sibling, teacher, or friend) and how have they influenced me?
- What are my career goals?
Why do I want to continue my studies?
- When did I become fascinated by my field of study?
- Why am I interested in my field of study?
- What have I learned about my subject of interest?
- How has my discipline shaped me? What has my field of study taught me about myself?
How can I address my academic record
- Do I have any gaps or inconsistencies on my records (transcript and/or exam scores) that I can explain?
- Are there any awards, recognition, or honors that I have received and that are worth mentioning?
How do field experiences enhance my application?
- What internships and/or jobs have I had in the past?
- What have I learned from my internship and/or job experiences? What skills have I acquired through my internship and/or job?
- How are my internship and/or job experiences related to my field of interest? Have my internship and/or job experiences prepared me for my future career?
- Have I been involved in any social services? How has the experience contributed to my growth and how is it related to my goals?
- What extracurricular activities have I participated in and how do they contribute to my professional goals?
Who is my audience?
- Who will be reading my personal statement?
- How can I make my essay compelling to the readers?
- Why am I applying to this program?
- Why am I applying to this institution?
- How will attending this graduate school help me grow as an individual and prepare me for my future career?
- What do I offer the graduate program. Why should a faculty member take me on as a mentee?
Considering these issues will help you find a theme for your essay. The next step entails weighing the information to decide what to include. Finally, construct story that tells readers about who you are and your goals - and how grad school fits.