4 Tips to a Great Graduate Personal Statement

By Peterson's Staff updated on Thursday, July 18, 2013
Even if you already have a solid idea of what you intend to write about in your personal statement, you may still be pondering the ins and outs of how specifically you should go about that writing; in other words, what style are you going to write in? Let’s take a look at a few tips that will help you write an outstanding essay.

First, a reminder: every individual is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. We can’t tell you exactly how you should write your statement of purpose. All we’re trying to do is provide some general advice and guidelines that will help you conquer this task in your own, individual way. The best statement of purpose you can write will be in your unique voice as a writer. Don’t try to be someone you’re not.

For example, you may find yourself speaking outside of your voice and instead saying something like:

“Systematically synergizing my daily undertakings has vastly enhanced the efficiency of my workflow while minimizing anxiety.”

Avoid “thesaurizing” your work. You’re much better off sounding natural and honest than you are trying to cram in big words. A more natural way of saying this is to simply write:

“By better organizing my to-do list, I have improved productivity and made my days less stressful.”

Secondly, don’t get cute. There are countless guides out there that encourage writers to do something off-the-wall in their essays to get noticed. While that may work – in some instances – for college applicants, graduate school applications are a different thing entirely. The competitiveness, seriousness, and professionalism of these advanced fields demand a statement of purpose to match. Thus, the general advice you may have read suggesting that you need to get noticed by doing something “different” is not wise. For your personal statement, it’s much more important to make a compelling case for yourself in a readable, personal, and professional form. Don’t write poetry, add illustrations, or use other ultra-creative formats (unless they are specifically requested or encouraged for some reason). Instead, strive to sound confident, motivated, and passionate as you tell your story.

Thirdly, avoid contractions, slang, and informal constructions. Under no circumstances should you use anything even remotely related to “chat” or “text speak.” This will weaken your presentation and leave your essay sounding less polished than it could. K? GR8! BRB, Thanx ;-)

Finally, though, don’t be too stiff or overly formal. You’re not drafting a legal brief or research paper. Use natural-sounding language and vivid descriptions It may help to think of this like writing a novel or short story – you want to be readable while at the same time sounding professional.
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