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This is one of the most common questions the experts at EssayEdge hear from applicants and unfortunately, it’s one that nobody beside the applicant him or herself can answer. There is no silver bullet, no detailed content map that will ultimately guarantee success.

Almost all graduate programs will require you to include a personal statement in your application package. However, it is common for graduate programs not to provide a prompt or guidelines. This leaves many applicants wondering what exactly the admissions officers will want to see within the essay. Whether you’re just starting to brainstorm for your essay or whether you’re in the middle of the writing process and wondering if you’re on track, use this guideline to help you create an effective personal statement that will help you get noticed.

Include great content.

This means that the content gives the admissions officers insight into your personality and potential. One of the most common ways in which graduate school applicants weaken their statements is by including generalizations or not clearly explaining how something connects to the decision to pursue graduate studies. Therefore, include anecdotes in your personal statement that reflect the development of your skill set. You may also want to create a balance between skills specific to the profession as well as ‘soft skills’ such as leadership or teamwork. Let the admissions officers see you applying your skills successfully in a variety of real world scenarios. Each anecdote should help the admissions officers better understand your background as it relates to your ability to excel in your chosen program.

Avoid repeating information in other parts of your application package.

Keep in mind that your statement will be reviewed as part of your overall application. In an effort to emphasize that the applicant is highly qualified, we often see essays that repeat information such as test scores or awards won. The admissions officers will be able to see that information elsewhere, so it will seem strange to them that you are including it in your personal statement. Instead, focus on events in your history where you can go more in depth and write about not only the outcome but also the process. By doing this, your graduate personal statement will play a unique and significant role in your application.

Show strong familiarity with the school.

At the graduate level, the admissions officers will definitely want to see that you have thoroughly researched the program and made an informed decision in your application. While there’s nothing wrong with writing about ‘renowned professors’ and ‘state-of-the-art facilities’, don’t leave it there. After writing a generality, follow immediately with detailed information. Tell the admissions officers about particular professors within the program and why their work interests you. Which facilities appeal to you and why do you consider them crucial to your goals within the program? Finally, you may want to write about the school in the larger context. Will you enjoy living where the school is located? Why?

Use graduate level writing.

At its simplest, this means being able to express your message clearly to the reader. More specifically, it means having a command of language that reflects that you are prepared for graduate studies. Surprising to some applicants, plain language is always better than florid writing. However, your personal statement should reflect a command of graduate level vocabulary, good flow between sentences and paragraphs, and strong organization that moves the reader along smoothly from one idea to the next.

Conclude with an overarching vision of your future.

Use the concluding paragraph of your personal statement to summarize the main points of the essay and provide the reader with a strong vision of how you will use the knowledge and experience that you will gain during graduate studies. What do you see yourself becoming? What impact do you hope to have on your organization, field, and community? Remember that this is not written in stone, and no one will revoke your degree if you change your mind or life takes you in a different direction. The admissions officers want to know that you have a broad understanding of where you want to go and what that will mean not only to yourself but to others.