To assist you in writing your personal statement for graduate school applications, University Career Services has prepared this three-step worksheet and guidelines.
3 Basic Steps:
- Writing Your Personal Statement
- Personal Statement Critiques
STEP 1: Brainstorming
- Devote some undisturbed time to reflecting on these key questions.
- Also discuss them with friends or family members.
- Jot down notes. In some cases write sentences.
- Don't expect to have responses to every question or example.
- Also think about the flip side of each question. For example, why are you really committed to the field of biology despite pressure from your parents to become a lawyer or to get a job?
Your answers to the following questions will form the heart of your personal statement.
- How did your pre-college education influence your decision to pursue graduate study in your field?
- Think about: High school courses, teachers, special programs, student organizations,and community or volunteer work.
- How has your Rutgers experience influenced your decision?
- Think about: College courses, professors, academic interests, research, special programs, and student organizations. Think about the decision-making process you went through to choose your major.
- How has your work experience influenced your decision?
- Think about: Internships, externships, part-time jobs, summer jobs, and volunteer or community work.
- What person or persons have had the most influence on your decision to pursue graduate study? In what ways?
- Think about: Parents, relatives, teachers, professors, clergy, friends of the family, college friends, parents of friends, local merchants, supervisors, coaches, doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc.
- What situation or situations have had the most influence on your decision?
- Think about: Family, academic, work or athletic situations. Think about happy, sad, traumatic, moving or memorable situations.
- What personally motivates you to pursue graduate study in this field?
Think about: Your personal skills, interests and values.
STEP 2: Writing Your Personal Statement
- Read the guidelines listed on this page.
- Incorporate your notes or responses to the above questions.
- Begin writing your first draft.
- Develop an outline of your statement prior to writing. It doesn't have to be a detailed outline. It can be three or four main points in the order you want to make them.
- Accentuate your strengths and what makes you unique.
- Explain your weaknesses in a positive way. For example, refer to them not as weaknesses, but as areas for improvement or growth.
- Paint pictures and tell stories about what makes you special. In this way the admissions readers will remember you. The story can be happy or sad. The more feeling you can inject into your statement, the more you will stand out.
- Find out the specific orientation and philosophy of the graduate program to which you are applying. Adapt and refine your statement to fit the program. This will make you stand out from other applicants who recycle the same personal statement with each application.
STEP 3: Personal Statement Critiques
Schedule an appointment with a Career Services counselor to have your personal statement reviewed.
Writing A Successful Rutgers Admission Essay
Admissions essays are not always necessary to get into colleges and universities; however they can significantly improve your chances of getting in. If you have lower scores on the ACT or the SAT, then submitting an essay alongside your application can be the deciding factor in your acceptance or denial to the school.
Understanding how to effectively craft a successful admissions essay, especially to a university such as Rutgers, is essential. These essays will highlight your critical thinking skills, set you apart as an individual, and convey your beliefs to the admissions board.
What is in a successful admission essay?
Understanding what a successful admissions essay is comprised of is the key to creating your own. These essays will include several elements with some of the most important including: proper tone, a story, perfect grammar, and personal qualities. Let’s discuss each of these below:
Tone – The tone of an essay is crucial. You want to maintain a formal demeanor; however being too stuffy can leave the entire paper dry and boring. Try including a small tidbit of humor, a light hearted story, or some funny quip.
Story – Instead of simply concentrating on how you are such an excellent candidate like the thousands of other students will be doing, why not include a story that makes you unique. Perhaps you endured some personal hardships that affected your grades, but made you a better person? Including these will allow the reader to relate to you, understand a bit more of who you are, and hopefully put you in the “yes” pile for admissions!
Personal qualities – Along with your story, you need to describe yourself. So what if you are not a straight A student, this does not mean that you are not an excellent candidate. Participating in sports, being involved in clubs, and organizing activities are vitally important for colleges and they definitely look for students with this potential and drive.
Grammar – You do not want to be describing yourself as some fantastic applicant while looking foolish on paper because you forgot to spell check. While spelling may be an easily rectified issue thanks to “Spell Check” features, you can bet that your essay will likely contain several more grammatical errors that your program did not catch. Double check for proper punctuation, then read the entire essay out loud to both yourself, and someone else. Reading out loud is a great way to help you identify various imperfections and also is a great way to get feedback.