Plans, Goals, and Dreams: Exploring the Future in Your Personal Statement

By Brian Pivik updated on Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Standing out from the crowd in personal statements is one of the most common concerns the experts at EssayEdge hear about from potential grad students. Now that you are about to graduate college with a bachelor's degree and are beginning to apply to graduate school, you may find yourself struggling with the personal statement. The personal statement can be one of the most stressful requirements for admissions. It isn't meant to be academic, but should express your academic goals and accomplishments. It isn't completely about your future plans, but you will have to show that you have aspirations to succeed and can offer value their institution.

The first step, however, is to just get started. Write a first draft, don't think about creating the perfect essay, and focus on honing the point of your essay down after careful revisions.

Why should the college accept you into their program?

Your essay can have any focus and be in any format you choose, but consider first articulating your reasons for selecting your chosen path. The why is more important than the how here. Describe why your goals are your goals and how you intend to get there. Connect the dots throughout your previous accomplishments and how you will obtain your future goals. Think about the big picture, but describe this in steps. What courses, internships, professors, research, extracurriculars, and projects have contributed to who you are as a person and who you are going to be? Ultimately, you want to be as specific as possible so that you can provide evidence and show the admissions team your strengths and weaknesses.

Motivation and the capacity to succeed is also a key factor when admissions teams read your personal statement. Graduate schools want people who will show the value and success of their program so that other students will recognize their student's accomplishments and want to go to their graduate school as well. Show them how you can improve the school's reputation by your motivation and ability to succeed.

Start thinking about your personal statement before you even apply to graduate school

You may have never written anything like this before, and even if you have, you should plan to have people that you respect give you feedback for revisions. This can be your parents, mentors, previous instructors, employers, etc. - anybody that you trust to give honest feedback. Admissions teams can typically sniff out essays that are genuine, so while you want to be honest about your dreams for the future, you also want to be authentic and realistic. Establishing a voice and tone that speaks to your most authentic self will be crucial to getting accepted.

Be sincere and be concise.

Admissions teams will sometimes read up to a hundred of these essays when prospective students apply to their program, so you will want to catch their attention right away and be able to maintain their interest throughout your entire essay. If your essay is too long, they will get bored and may even stop reading. This also means avoiding clichés and making every sentence count. Don't meander or go off on tangents. Each word should be chosen for a specific reason.

Get expert advice on your personal statement with EssayEdge.

About the Author

Brian Pivik is the Content Manager at Peterson's, and has been working in the content creation industry for 13 years. He's a published author with an MA in Literary Criticism, and has edited and written academic, business, journalistic, and online content for such companies as Microsoft and Photobucket. He has a deep passion for education and higher learning, and spends his spare time reading, backpacking through the wilderness, and studying obscure texts.

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