On this site, we have tried to take the intimidation out of the essay-writingprocess by providing step-by-step guidelines that we and our friends founduseful in our own application processes. While we concentrate on Statementsof Purpose for graduate schools, this site will also be of some use toundergraduate applicants and to those writing essays as part of the applicationprocess.
If you're applying to , , , or you'll be required to take a standard entrance examination. Isn't jumping through the hoops entailed in earning a college degree enough? Not in the eyes of graduate admissions committees. Few students relish the idea of standardized tests, but they help admissions officials determine who is capable of withstanding the rigors of graduate school.
Although it occupies the same position in the graduate application as the 'essay' did in the undergraduate one, the personal statement is a very different kind of document. In a nutshell, it is your opportunity to justify and discuss your academic career to date, outline your future intellectual and career goals, and explain why the program to which you are applying is an appropriate bridge between your past and your future. The personal statement should not be a virtual academic paper or dissertation proposal (students in the US are not expected to arrive in graduate school with dissertation topics in hand), nor should it be a mirror reflection of the institution's self-proclaimed strengths (do not write, "I want to attend the University of Q because of its excellent library"). Rather, it should show how and why the institution (department, program) is a good fit with both your prior qualifications and your coming plans.