January 31, 2024

5 Tips for Writing Personal Statements on Grad School Apps

Deciding where you want to go to grad school is a long process. Once you’ve finally narrowed down your options to a few top choices, what remains is likely the hardest step of all: crafting your applications. The centerpiece of each application is the personal statement. This is where you specify why you’re interested in a particular program and highlight what makes you an ideal candidate.

Whereas each program will have requirements for what kind of information to include and the length of the personal statement, there are a few things you should always do.

1. Start Writing Something

Facing a blank document is always daunting, but you’ll never get anywhere unless you start writing. Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike you, schedule time in your calendar and don’t make any excuses.

2. Be Professional, But Keep It Personal

It’s important to strike just the right tone in a personal statement. As a graduate student, you are a professional — but it’s important to avoid your application feeling too dry. Make sure the person reading your personal statement gains a better idea of who you are. Mention details from your life that the admissions team won’t find in your transcript (or resume, if you’re including one). For instance, you could talk about what led to your interest in the field, the challenges you’ve overcome, and the qualities that make you unique.

3. Grab Attention from the Start

Start your personal statement with something compelling. You want the reader to instantly feel interested in what you have to say and avoid seeing your application as just another one of many. A story about yourself that explains your passion for the program is ideal.

4. Talk About What the Program Means to You

There are likely many similar programs at other universities — you need to make it clear why you’re interested in this particular program. Your reasons could include things you like about the university, why you want to study with certain faculty members, and the topics you’ll be learning about or research you’ll be participating in.

5. Ask Others to Help with Proofreading

Even if you read your personal statement over several times, there may be mistakes you overlook or areas you could improve. Ask your friends, your academic advisor, or the staff in the writing center on campus to check your personal statement for errors and provide suggestions for improvements.

Once you’ve been accepted to a graduate program, you’ll need to start thinking about where you’ll live. Grad students don’t live on campus and they often prefer to share apartments with just a couple other people or even have an apartment to themselves. You can find apartments and rooms to rent near Carleton University at the Revalie. We have one-bedroom apartments as well as rooms in two-, three-, and four-bedroom suites. Plus, you’ll have access to a variety of amenities that will help you be successful at grad school, including our studio for film and audio recording, multiple study areas, onsite parking, and smart parcel lockers. Contact us for information about leases.

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