Strategies for success -the personal statement
Your personal statement provides you with the opportunity to distinguish yourself from all the other highly qualified people and is of major importance. A good Statement of Purpose is a very important part of the application since it gives the School Admissions Committee the best opportunity to evaluate the full range of the Experience and knowledge you bring in your pursuit of a professional degree and the Appropriateness of their school to your objectives. The Statement of Purpose should be concise, well-written essay covering three distinct areas relating to you:
Open with a summary statement of your preparedness, then describe your background, education, and community and the reasons you became interested in the profession of your choice. Briefly discuss your academic preparation (including lab or Research), relevant work, and other experiences, i.e., volunteer work. Make sure to tell the reader what you gained from these experiences – what qualities you have developed. Discuss how the school will help you meet your educational and career goal. State your skills, your strengths, and your uniqueness. Be positive and not apologetic. However, explain any significant lapses in your academic record. After reviewing with Career Center, family, friends, make sure the final copy is Proofread for errors.
Do’s & Don’ts
- Don’t underestimate the importance of the essay (A very common mistake).
- Don’t underestimate the length of time it will take to write your statement.
- Don’t have someone else write it for you! There are ethical issues involved here, but you are also the best spokesperson for yourself.
- Don’t list everything you have ever done. There is usually a place on the application to list your activities.
- Avoid giving unnecessary details. The statement should read smoothly.
- Don’t mention your interest for one particular school in a general application that is being sent to many schools and vice a versa.
- Keep a journal of your work and volunteer experience.
- Get an early start. This cannot be stressed enough.
- Be honest, consistent and straightforward.
- Be specific, not general.
- Be comfortable with the image of your self that you’re presenting.
- Pay attention to detail – absolutely no spelling or grammatical errors.
- Your statement must be neat and error free. No excuses . . . you must make a good impression.
- A summary of your accomplishments first
- Background information – people and events that influenced your decision.
- Learning experience(s) that serve as a foundation for your choice of career
- Where you picked up first-hand information/experience about the field
- Your own appraisal of yourself (strengths, weaknesses, uniqueness)
- Leadership role activities
- Career objectives and goals
- Let your personality and individuality come through. Give insight on your hopes, goals, motivations and dedication. Be interesting and unique. Do not be afraid to let your passion and commitment to a career come through.
- Take the opportunity to explain anything you feel might raise questions (e.g., a weak academic quarter . . . Explain what was going on in your life, if a personal or academic issue affected you).
- Be responsible for your own background. Don’t discuss or compare your self to the application standards or other students.
- Have someone else read your statement but be careful of advice. Get two or three different opinions. Remember, it is your personal statement but other opinions and professional advice can make the difference in gaining acceptance.
- Write a draft, edit, and re-write as many times as needed.
- Make the essay look good. This makes it easier and more enjoyable to read. Follow the guidelines for length, margins, and do not use too small a font. You can squeeze more on a page that way, but readers see hundreds of statements and don’t have time to deal with smallfont.Keep a photocopy of each essay you write. You need to keep a copy of every single piece of your application. It is imperative you have copies of everything, both for your own reference before you go to an interview and as documentation in case someone else loses or misplaces your application. This has happened to students, and you do not want to have to recreate anything. Keep paper copies in addition to disc copies.
- Read your essay before an interview. Make sure you know what you wrote.
- Be prepared to discuss and defend essay points during the interview.
- Schools prefer unique essays so avoid copying any others