Continuing on to graduate school is a big decision to make. First, you should decide what subjext you wish to study and where. Listed below are links to sites to help you figure out what you want to get your degree in and where.
One thing that might turn you away from graduate school is the financial aspect. Fortunately, there are many different resources which can make graduate school more affordable. Loans, grants, scholarships, fellowships, assistantships and tuition reimbursement make graduate school affordable.
Starting Your Application
If you want to go on to graduate school, it is important to be well prepared when you are applying to programs. For a timetable on when to apply to Graduate school, view the Get Hired! Guide.
A Curriculum vitae (CV) is similar to a resume, but differs in that it includes areas of interest, grants received, publications and presentations, research projects and your references. View some of Career & Professional Development’s resume samples to see an example of a CV.
Another part of this process you will encounter is the personal statement section of your application. Your goal here is to write an authentic personal statement emphasizing your strengths, abilities and experiences with relevant examples to help you differentiate your qualifications. The Writing Center also has great tips and tricks on how to make your personal statement stand out.
Personal Statement Guidelines
The purpose of a personal statement is to help the graduate program, in which you are applying to, gain insight into your academics, research, and career goals. It also provides you with the opportunity to discuss what sets you apart from other applicants and to highlight additional qualifications beyond grades and test scores.
Essentially in this written essay, you are trying to “sell” yourself to a particular program by emphasizing your strengths, abilities, achievements and providing examples of relevant experiences.
General guidelines for writing a personal statement:
- Follow the directions
Some graduate programs may ask for a personal statement without providing any guidance in shaping your response. Other programs will tell you exactly how they want the essay structured and formatted, along with word count limits. Some may have specific questions that they want you to respond to.Make sure to follow the directions specified by each program you’re applying to. If there are no specifications, limit yourself to two pages and write about the most vital aspects of your experiences and qualifications. Be organized, concise, and clear.
Visit the graduate program website for information about faculty and their research, courses offered, current student profiles, and student support and professional development activities. This will help you learn more about the program objectives, what they may be looking for in a potential student, and if the program is a good fit for you.
- Be specific
Provide detailed examples of relevant experiences that helped you prepare for graduate school. Outline specific skills you gained from those experiences. Using brief anecdotes is a good way to make your points. You may mention extra-curricular achievements to illustrate additional dimensions of your qualifications.
Discuss your interest and knowledge particular to the program. Provide a detailed description of the types of topics and areas you wish to study, as well as outlining any specific research questions you have or research you wish to pursue while you are in graduate school. This will help to demonstrate how you are a good fit with the program and institution you are applying to.
- Be unique and authentic
Try to find an angle or story to capture your reader’s attention. If your statement is fresh and different, it may help to distinguish you and make yourself memorable.
Avoid clichés as, “Since I was a child, I have always wanted to be _________.” Or an applicant applying to a counseling program who writes that they want to be a counselor because their personal counselor helped them and now they want to do the same for others, is not exactly expressing an original thought.
- Revise and revise again
Proofread carefully! Make sure your essay is free of errors in spelling, mechanics, grammar, punctuations, and/or format. Any errors reflect your ability as a writer.
Always ask someone else, preferably a faculty member in your area to proofread your essay and provide feedback. Also, visit the Writing Center for more assistance.
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