Familiarizing themselves with the ins and outs of writing strong personal statements for graduate school can alleviate stress and ease the process of sending out those applications.Because personal statements are individual to the applicant, there is no one-size-fits-all way to write them.A personal statement is the only part of the application where a candidate gets to make their own case for what they can add to the cohort of incoming first year students." Students may get applications that ask for statements of purpose, or statements of intent, as well as personal statements.
"One major mistake I see all the time is students who try to tell too much in the personal statement," says Radunich.
"Tell one or two specific stories or scenarios really well instead of having a broad focus and attempting to tell your life story.
In general, the statement of purpose focuses more on a student's reasons for applying to that particular graduate program and may address topics such as career and research goals, how his or her academic track record demonstrates qualification for that particular school or program of study and how a given program will impact the student's future.
By contrast, personal statements usually lend more freedom when it comes to content and form and are intended to give the admissions committee a glimpse into a candidate's personality.
Students should be cautious about turning their personal statements into risky or edgy creative writing projects and instead maintain a strong narrative structure using anecdotes for support when necessary.
"Everyone loves a coming-of-age story," Radunich says.
Depending on the program and writing prompt, a personal statement and a statement of purpose may fill the same need in the eyes of the admissions committee.
In cases where both are required, however, things can get a little tricky.
Applying to graduate school can be a significant step toward reaching academic and career goals, which can make the admissions process even more intimidating.
Along with gathering letters of recommendation, taking exams and submitting transcripts, prospective graduate students typically have to write personal statements to include with their applications.