Statement of purpose
Statement of Purpose A document of no more than two pages outlining your objectives for pursuing this graduate degree program or you may choose one (1) of the following prompts below.
Describe a professional situation where you demonstrated one of the following leadership competencies: visionary, strategic, tactical, focused, persuasive, likable, decisive, ethical or inspirational.
Describe a situation where you used your skills to solve real-world problems or describe any hardship or struggle you endured to get to where you are today.
Give us insight into an entrepreneurial endeavor you spearheaded or were a key contributor to.
Dont repeat whats evident in your grade transcript or CV/Resume
Dont boast. Theres a different between reporting achievements and bragging.
Dont repeat information that is available elsewhere on your application.
Dont go over your length limits.
Writing the Personal Statement
The personal statement is an important document in your application packet. Admissions committees not only read them, they remember the memorable ones! A strong personal statement can be make-or-break for your application process.
What is it? Its a combination of things:
It is a business document: you are selling yourself, and need to know how to do so persuasively.
It is an argument: you are showing the reader that they need and want you in their
program, but rather than convince with reasons, you are often arguing using narrative.
It is an assignment, and your target audience is looking for you to show them that you know how to give what is asked for.
Consider your audience. Beware of Web sites and other sources that simply tell you to tell your story. Which story will you choose and for which purpose?
Medical and Law Schools
Humanities MA Programs
Humanities PhD Programs
Want to know
Want to know
Want to see that
Want to know
Want to know
you as a person
your work as a
how you will
you as a person
succeed both in
your work ethic
further study and
and beyond the
know your long-
Remember that your resume tells them that you can do good undergraduate or graduate work. Now they need to know that they are choosing a winner, one who can perform at a higher level and will finish!
Five Standard Topics:
1. your motivation for your career
2. the influence of your family or early experiences
3. the influence of extracurricular, work, or volunteer experiences
4. your long-term goals
5. your personal philosophy
Below is a list of attributes that applicants to professional programs highlight in their personal statements. On the right is a list of indications of the attribute. Read through the list and
Check off those attributes you want to highlight.
List possible stories you can tell about yourself, your family, your extracurricular activities, your goals, or your personal philosophy that express these attributes.
Write one paragraph of introduction to one of these stories.
Indications of this attribute
seeking help when appropriate
accepting responsibility for learning
working well with others
accepting disappointment and moving on
not isolating self from others
concentrating on task at hand
integrating and applying new information
willingness to change
making good use of time
systematically taking care of business
setting long- and short-term goals
Think carefully about your reasons for wanting to go to your chosen program. If you want to help people, for example, then why medicine instead of teaching, social work, firefighting?
Prepare yourself to write several drafts and to show your drafts to several readers. Choose
someone who understands and appreciates the purpose of your essay
someone who will ask you to clarify any questions the essay raises
someone who is not afraid to critique your essay and tell you if it has faults
someone who is a great proofreader
As you can see, this might not all be the same person. The more people you ask to read your drafts, the better you can make it. Listen, but dont necessarily take all the advice you are given. If you want to be the reader of your early drafts, put the draft away for awhile before you revise.
Activity Two: Now that you have written a paragraph (or maybe two), look back at it and see if and how it depicts the attributes you want to get across in your statement. Does it demonstrate these qualities rather than just claim that you have them?
Make your first paragraph powerful and interesting so that readers will want to know more. It might be the most relevant piece of writing you ever do, and the most significant.
Show, dont tell. Imagine all the essays your admissions committee will get and how
weary readers will be of essays that tell them: I am motivated, or I am a hard worker. Demonstrate these qualities.
Most graduate schools expect your essay to be almost perfectly punctuated and grammatically correct. You can put this step (editing) off till last, but dont skip it.
Limit the amount of space you use to describe laboratory experiments. A blow-by-blow account is not a good personal statement.
Use the essay to clarify lower-than-expected grades or gaps in your record.
Think of and highlight those aspects of your experience or philosophy or personality that will set you aside from other applicants.
Make sure you use an excellent printer for your final copy.
Keep a copy of your essay. Keep your early drafts, numbered, in case you decide to go back to something you discarded earlier.
Think of your educational delays as strengths, times when you had experiences that shaped you in some way that makes you stand out.
Keith Russell Ablow, M.D. Medical School: Getting in, Staying in, Staying Human. New York: St. Martins Press, 1990.
Evelyn W. Jackson, Ph.D. and Harold R. Bardo, Ph.D. Write for Success: Preparing a Successful Professional School Application, 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, Inc.