If you have been preparing for the GRE, chances are that you have already looked at the list of required applicant materials for your desired program of study. Some schools want a writing sample from you. Some schools ask for three letters of recommendations instead of two. Some say you will have to be interviewed at some point. But one thing all graduate schools will want from you is a personal statement or statement of purpose, or simply put, an admission essay.
While admission essays for college applications instructed you to show that you possess enough intelligence and character for the school, admission essays for graduate programs instruct you to do something a little (or a lot) different. Your transcript will show what kind of student you are, and your letters of recommendation will explain why you are a great candidate for the program. But the one place you yourself get to talk about where your true passions lie is the personal statement. You get to show the school that you know your stuff and that you want that knowledge to grow even more at this particular school. By evaluating your admissions essay, the office of admissions is able to carefully select students who would make the best use of the school’s and program’s resources. No school wants its students to be unhappy and potentially even quit halfway through the program; this doesn’t benefit anyone. So before you start writing, do some research on the school’s mission statement and professors who share your interests. This gives the school an idea of what you want to accomplish and how interested you really are in the program.
You may also have something on your resume or CV (curriculum vitae) which you want to further elaborate. Give details about a research project you did or a program you were a part of overseas that relates to your desired program of study. Doing so shows how devoted you are to your field.
The essay also allows you to explain any inconsistencies in your transcript. Maybe you had to take a year off of school for financial reasons. This would be where you provide more information if necessary. Maybe you were just a lazy student who later realized the importance of working hard. This would be where you tell what inspired you to be a better student and come to the decision of applying to grad school. Improvement is always a good thing; explain yourself and give them more reason to carefully consider your application.
Take the time to thoroughly write, revise, and rewrite your personal statement. The admissions essay is your chance to directly convey to the school of your dreams why you are the perfect candidate for them, and they you, so take full advantage of this great opportunity to let them know why they can’t live without you.