Writing a Personal Statement

Many applications will include a personal essay, in which you describe "where you're coming from" – your interests, why you want to obtain a graduate degree, career goals, and so on. To personalize your application, you may wish to state your motivations for wanting to do graduate work and describe any particularly formative experiences (for example, an undergraduate research project) that led you to decide to enter graduate school. The essay should be of reasonable length, commonly one or two pages; do not write an autobiography that continues for many pages. People screening these essays may have hundreds to read, and long essays are not generally well-received.

Also, check your spelling and grammar carefully. An essay that is full of grammatical and spelling errors can automatically doom your application because such an essay denotes carelessness and a lack of commitment to doing things well. Identify faculty members with whom you would consider working in your essay. This will help route your application to appropriate faculty members who will be reading through applicant files. Be sure to contact the individuals to whom you refer in your essay.

Use the following resources to help you write your personal statement:

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Student Advising Office: (765) 494-1771, Fax: (765) 496-3015 • Science IT, (765) 494-4488

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