Essays & Personal Statements
NOTE: Never underestimate the importance of your essay or personal statement. It is suggested that you write several drafts and have several people review those drafts before your final version is ready to submit.
The emphasis on essays or personal statements varies tremendously from institution to institution. The application essay or personal statement can be anything from a couple of paragraphs about why you want to attend graduate school, to a lengthy document which expounds on your achievements, strengths and weaknesses, and your motivation for attending. Still others ask you to address hypothetical problems.
When reviewing essays and personal statements, admissions committees may be trying to evaluate several things about you including the following:
- Motivation and commitment to a field of study
- Expectations with regard to the program and career opportunities
- Writing ability
- Major areas of interest
- Research, work, volunteer experience
- Educational background
- Immediate and long-term goals
- Reasons for deciding to pursue graduate education in a particular field and at a particular institution.
- Personal uniqueness – what you would add to the diversity of the entering class
Helpful Resources for Writing Essays or Personal Statements
Graduate Admissions Essays: Write Your Way Into the Graduate School of Your Choice, Don Asher
Great Application Essays for Business School, Paul Bodine
Great Personal Statements for Law School, Paul Bodine
Medical School Essays That Made a Difference, 2nd Edition, The Staff of the Princeton Review
NOTE: The above books are available for reference in the Career Services Resource Library (201 Hogg Hall).
About.com: Graduate Essays
Provides a helpful overview of the purpose of the Graduate admissions essay, tips for what to include and not include, things to think about before writing your essay, and more.
GradSchools.com: Writing graduate school statements and personal essays
Provides tips for writing a Graduate School Statement including how to choose a topic, tips for editing, guidance for your essay introduction, advice for concluding your essay, among others.
Writing Personal Statements Online
An online handbook that walks through the personal statement writing process for students applying for scholarships and graduate study.
Career Services Gateway Counselors – Call (610.330.5115) or stop by the Career Services Office (201 Hogg Hall) to make an appointment to talk with a Gateway Counselor about your personal statement.
Academic Department Graduate School Liaisons (Check with your Gateway Counselor about this resource.)
Lafayette College Writing Associate (WA) Drop-In Service Writing Associates can provide general feedback and help with organization of your ideas and flow of content.
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