When you’re ready to write your graduate school essay, keep in mind that there are certain things you definitely should do as well as common pitfalls to avoid. Graduate school essays tend to be very specific to the school and program. Because of this, you might simply be told to include a personal statement in your application package or be given a paragraph-long prompt as well as formatting guidelines. Regardless of whether you are applying to an EdD program, an MPA, or med school, follow these guidelines to create your best grad school application essay.
Your graduate school essay should have great content and be free from errors
The first step in writing your best grad school essay is to brainstorm content. What were the pivotal events that led you to the point in your life that you are applying to grad school? Pick anecdotes that you can clearly express to the reader as well as demonstrate analytical skills in your reflection on the meaning of those events. Help the admissions officers experience these events alongside you so that they can gain insight into your background and potential.
Additionally, you’ll need to budget enough time to proofread and have others look over your essay. We can all become blind to errors in spelling and grammar that will become obvious when a new set of eyes reads your essay. Also, be selective in who you choose to read your essay. Too many opinions will only confuse you and leave you with an essay that is actually worse than it was before. Pick people who are either professionals or have had success in gaining acceptance to your chosen school or program.
Your grad school essay should be more than a summary of your resume
When writing graduate school essays for admissions committees, strive for depth. It is likely that, now that you are applying to graduate school, you will have numerous experiences in your background that attest to your qualifications for the program. However, instead of briefly writing about many experiences, it is better to go in depth about a handful or even just one.
The admissions officers are looking for much more than just further details on your resume. In your essay, they want you to demonstrate self-reflection, critical thinking skills, the ability to apply what you learned across broad real world scenarios, and what you would do differently if you encountered a similar situation in the future. Although you don’t need to cover every one of these aspects within your essay, this can give you an idea of what is important to the admissions officers. Along with the facts of a situation, the essay also needs to include your perspective.
Know your GRE, GMAT, LSAT or MCAT level vocabulary
While your graduate school essay should be written in straightforward language, it should also reflect a command of graduate level vocabulary. However, you need to be able to use those words with precision. If you’re not sure, look online for examples. If you’re still not sure, leave it out. Better to use plain language well than advanced vocabulary incorrectly. Even so, higher vocabulary gives you a chance to add shades of meaning and streamline your phrasing. Can you substitute one word for a phrase? Can you use an advanced vocabulary word instead of an idiomatic expression? Look for opportunities to include a broader variety of word choices in your graduate admissions essay.
A graduate school personal statement should be concise
Whether your grad school essay is 500 words or three pages, effective graduate school personal statements are succinct. Everything should fit together and flow smoothly within the context of an overarching theme. Decide what you think is most important for the admissions officers to know about you, and then focus on those experiences within the essay. Concise essays demonstrate respect for the admission’s officers’ time, and that tacit message will be received by the reader. Moreover, writing in this manner lets the admissions officers know that you can organize your thoughts well and express them clearly to others.
Learn more about admissions to graduate school with articles, tips, and strategies from Peterson’s.