Although a personal statement and an admissions essay very well could contain much of the same content, they differ from each other in style and form. It is important to realize these differences when constructing one or the other, or ever both.
Graduate School Admissions Essay Main Features
When writing an admissions essay, a student is usually given a list of prompts to choose from. You can usually make up your own as well if you wish. The goal of a graduate school admissions essay is to explain several different things:
- Why did you choose this particular school? This means that each school you apply to may require a slightly different essay.
- What do you expect or look forward to if you are accepted into this school?
- What is unique about you? What makes you more qualified to be accepted than someone else?
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These can be achieved in a myriad of ways. You can use personal experiences, academic accomplishments, research that you have done, and many more topics to describe these main points. This is where it gets confusing. These same things that you can implement into your admissions essay can also be used in your personal statement. However, it is all about formatting and tone here. An admissions essay should be very matter-of-fact and very practical, while a personal statement can have a bit more feeling and personal investment.
Graduate School Personal Statement Key Peculiarities
Here is a list of the main goals of a graduate school personal statement for you to compare with the list above:
- Why did you choose this particular field?
- What events or experiences in your life have lead you to this point?
- What do you hope to do with your career upon graduation? (this is the main focus of the letter of intent, so if this is a requirement of your application, don’t mention it too much here in the personal statement)
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So, you can see from this list that the personal statement is just that; personal. If you have the choice between the graduate school personal statement and the graduate school application essay and you are very passionate about your chosen field, I would choose the personal statement every time. If you have to write both, which is not likely, make sure that they compliment each other and work together. The ultimate goal of both is the same, to get you accepted. But pay attention to the minor differences between the two, and your reviewer will definitely be impressed.
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