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When writing your personal statement, it can be difficult to write about what’s happening in your personal and professional life at this time. However, discussing your current situation is an opportunity to show the admissions committee why you’re ideally prepared for graduate study at the moment and why now is the perfect time for you to pursue a graduate program. In this article, we’ll outline some tips for writing about the present in your graduate school personal statement so that you paint a vivid picture of yourself for the admissions officers.
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Be clear about why you are applying to graduate school now
It is common for applicants to focus their personal statements exclusively on past accomplishments and future goals. These things definitely should be included in your graduate essay. However, the admissions officers will actually be most interest in your current situation. The reason for this is that you are applying to graduate school now. Why?
The admissions officers will look for a clear and focused answer to this question. Have you reached a juncture in your career where you need further education to progress? What are the specific gaps in your background that you are seeking to fill during the program? Can you mention particular classes, professors, or other aspects of the program that will address these gaps? Help the admissions officers see that their program is a solid stepping stone between where you are now and where you want to be.
Speak to why you want to join the program
You can also think about it in terms of speaking to why this particular program appeals to you, given your past and future. What about this program makes it an ideal fit for you at this time? In order to accomplish this, you’ll need to take a strong inventory of where you are now. While you may have had a strong idea of why you wanted to go to graduate school, having a detailed accounting of this in your personal statement will boost the essay’s level of persuasiveness. It will show the admissions officers that you have thoroughly researched their program and that you are an applicant with the ability to reflect meaningfully and think critically.
Mention your current work situation
Additionally, use your personal statement to tell the reader about any current projects or undertakings that will further enhance your qualifications for graduate study. This is particularly applicable if you are currently finishing up undergraduate studies or some other job/research project. Let the reader know what you’re working on and how it will further increase your knowledge base or experience level. Be specific and tell the admissions officers what skills you are gaining in your current projects and make direct connections between those and the skills needed to make a contribution in the classroom or to research groups.
If relevant, discuss your family life
Graduate school admissions officers will expect that you are living a full life and understand that you may need to take care of not only professional but also personal obligations during your studies. Especially if you will need to relocate with family, you might want to include a sentence that states that your family members are supportive. Whether you write about the campus itself or the larger community or city where the school is located, let the admissions officers see that your family life will enhance your ability to succeed in their program.
Use a positive tone throughout
In your graduate school personal statement, you’ll want to show the admissions officers why you want to join the program. However, one of the biggest mistakes that we see in graduate admissions essays is taking a negative tone about the applicant’s current situation. Never criticize your current field, employer, or co-workers. Instead, focus on how the program will bridge the gaps in your knowledge and experience to prepare you to take the next steps in your career trajectory.