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GREady: Get Ready for Graduate School

Do you want to attend graduate school? If the answer is yes, shift the gear in drive. This blog will help you 1) stay informed about graduate programs, 2) decide on graduate schools, 3) apply for graduate schools (including the GRE and personal statements), 4) prepare for interviews, 5) find funding and lots more. Although this site cannot guarantee a masters or doctoral position, it does promise that you will be a very competitive candidate for your desired program!

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Statement of Purpose Part I--Getting Mentally Prepared


You know it has been creeping up on you, the last thing on your graduate school application..yep, you guessed it…your statement of purpose. Most graduate school programs place the majority of their decision based off of your personal statement. A personal statement should state why you want to study this subject, why you need a graduate degree in it, why this particular program, any future plans…..and most of all state that you have PASSION for this type of research. However, it is difficult summing up everything in your heart and conveying it on paper.

First off, you need to make sure you understand the entirety of the personal statement prompt. Write it down in a separate sheet of paper and make a list of all the topics the program wants covered. Most personal statements use the same format so you can use it for multiple programs. That being said you must revise it somewhat to cater to that particular program, which shows that you have done your research and really understand what you want. Stick that list EVERYWHERE. Put it on your computer, your desk, your books, your notebook, your fridge, your phone…..this will prevent you from procrastinating and will force you to always be thinking about it. The best statements are those that have been thoroughly thought over and constructed over the time course of 3-4 weeks. No procrastinating!

Next you will need to brainstorm. Ask yourself these questions:

1) What first drew you to this field?
2) When did you know this is where you wanted to be? Was it gradual or was it just one moment…EUREKA!
3) Are you passionate about it? How? (this is REALLY important so give it ample thought)
4) Do you have any research experience? Shadowing experience?
5) Do you understand what graduate school will be like? This is also important. If the graduate school committee feels that you are not mentally prepared, it might decide to decline you as a candidate.
6) Do you need a graduate school degree, why?
7) What do you want to do with your graduate school degree?
8) Why this program? Also, if you find 1-3 faculty members’ research exciting, be sure to mention it. Furthermore, if you have an idea of what you would like to work on with them, state it.
9) Do you feel you will contribute significantly to the program and to the field at large? This is a major selling point, remember you want the program to want to be associated with you.
10) What makes you think this program is a perfect fit for you?

From here, take a few days to mull over these ideas. Although you are not actually writing anything down at this point, you are still thinking about it and mentally preparing yourself for this challenging task.

In part 2 of this series, I will go over the outline. Once you have an outline, writing the actual statement of purpose will be far easier and go more smoothly than first hacking in. All outlines have a basic format but you decide how to approach the issue at hand.

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