Deciding to pursue a graduate-level education is a big and important part of your life.
When you go to graduate school, it can boost your career and your potential earnings.
Most schools require that you submit an essay, often known as a Statement of Purpose. Even if your test scores or GPA weren’t perfect, a Statement of Purpose can go a long way in helping you receive a favorable decision from the schools you’re applying to.
With your admissions essay, you have the opportunity to present yourself as a whole person, and put something more to who you are beyond the facts on your application. It shows what your values are as well, and if there’s something you need to explain, you can do so in your essay.
For example, maybe you got a low grade in an undergrad course, and you can briefly explain what led to that in your personal statement.
There are a number of reasons you might decide to go to graduate school. Maybe you’re finishing up undergrad, and you want to go directly into graduate school. Perhaps the coronavirus pandemic has left you wanting to explore other career options, so you’d like to go back to school to pursue a different or higher-level degree.
Regardless of your specific reasoning, the following are some tips to help you make sure your admissions essay stands out.
Create An Outline
What the admissions team wants to see more than anything is why you’re motivated to pursue your graduate degree, and what your goals are. You should work on creating an outline that will highlight what your reasons are for going to graduate school and do so in a detailed way.
If you’re at a point where you hope to change careers, let the admissions team know why you want to make that change.
Your essay needs to be very personal to who you are and to your experiences that have led you to this point.
Before you create an outline, you might want to talk to other people to get insight into who you are from their perspective.
You could talk to friends, family, other students, or your professors.
You can also self-reflect. Give yourself time to think about who you are and what your strengths are, as well as what makes you unique.
Let Them Know Why They Should Accept You
Yes, you want to include in your graduate admissions statement why you want to go to graduate school, but at the same time, you are selling yourself and you can’t forget that.
You don’t want to come off only as pitching yourself, but you do need to frame your essay in a way that lets the admission team know why you’d be valuable for them to have as part of their program.
Yes, your essay is a way to show who you are, but it’s not an autobiography.
Don’t try to tell every detail about yourself and your life.
Instead, try to focus primarily on just showing enough so that the admissions committee would like to meet you face-to-face.
When you’re highlighting experiences, try to make sure they’re within the past few years rather than going back throughout your entire life.
You can use specific examples, however. You want to be concise and to-the-point with your examples, so if you make a claim about yourself, add a brief example highlighting why that’s the case.
Also, if you’re applying to more than one program, don’t use the same essay for both. They can be similar but each essay needs to be carefully tailored to the school, the program, and the specific requirements.
Be Sincere and Authentic
Don’t go overboard trying to impress an admissions committee. They’re going to be much more impressed if you’re sincere and authentic in how you write and how you outline your goals and reasons for wanting to go to grad school.
Finally, when you start the process of writing, don’t overthink it or put too much pressure on yourself.
Give yourself time so that initially, you can just sit down and let things flow. Just write as if you’re speaking directly to the committee and let the things that come to your mind first be what you write.
Then, once you have that you can move toward refining it and perfecting it. You might also want to have a professional editor go over it for you before you finally submit it.