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What Makes a Successful Personal Statement for Graduate School

90 seconds will seal the fate of your personal statement for graduate school. So, how do you win over faculty members? Discover it in this blog.
A student being interviewed when applying to graduate school

Source: Freepik

Writing a personal statement is stressful. Some students sit long hours in front of their screens, polishing their essays out of imperfections. Yet, the reality is that admission officers spend less than 90 seconds reading your statement. So, how do you keep them hooked and secure a spot in your dream university? 

What does it take to write a successful personal statement? Is it crisp writing or a long list of achievements? Or should you impress your readers with distinct life experiences? Sit back and read closely because we have the perfect recipe for your personal statement.

Why Personal Statement Is Crucial When Applying to Graduate School?

It’s the first impression you make on college officials. Although you might be a great and hardworking student, people on the other side of the desk don’t know you personally. And your statement is one of the only things by which they will judge you.

Apart from that, your school application tells admission officers about your ambitions, career trajectory, and, last but not least, about your personality. This information ultimately contributes to a decision on whether you will land an in-person interview or not. Additionally, your mail is one of many in their inbox. Thus, you must stand out from the crowd of similar applications. You must be memorable (in a good way) and impress the reader. Let’s see how it’s done.

What Makes for an Excellent Example of a Personal Statement for Graduate School?

Life Experiences

Your real-life knowledge and unique pathway make you special. Put to display your strengths and tell about challenges you’ve overcome. These might be some relatable everyday hardships or, on the contrary, unexpected situations where you found a creative solution.

Just don’t write dull and blurry stories with no tangible meaning. The goal here is to give a reader the necessary context about yourself and show that it will come in handy during your studies.

Test Score and Academic Results

Keep this part short and sweet. If you have good test scores or other measurable academic achievements, you are more than welcome to mention them. Remember that the better your SAT score is, the more ‘prestigious’ doors will open in front of you. In case you’re confused about your SAT score and how it affects your admission, read our previous article.

Career Goals

The admission officers don’t want to enroll indifferent people who wander off after graduation with no clear plan in mind. The career paragraph is a prime time to boast your strategic thinking and dedication to the particular field. Here is a pro tip to improve the way you package your ideas:

“ I see myself working as a senior C++ developer at XYZ. “

“ I want to work in the field of software development because I excel in IT and want to bring value by means corresponding with my natural talents.”

Although the first example seems more straightforward, it’s also extremely narrow-minded. Nowadays, trends change in the brink of an eye. That’s why universities primarily want to build a foundation for learning, not only some specific skills. And it’s not to mention that the second option provides reasoning for why you have chosen this path. If you have moral or ethical reasons to pursue your craft, that’s even better!

Reference to a Faculty Member 

Let’s unwrap this point by learning a popular blunder that just keeps happening. The phrase “I want to study at your university because it’s in Ivy League” sounds like an obvious thing to say, yet it’s a terrible mistake. Think about it from the university’s perspective. There are eight Ivy League universities. So, by writing to Harvard that you picked them because they’re in the Ivy League, you don’t actually provide a valid reason why you want to join. In other words, you don’t say how they differ from Princeton or Yale.

And here, the reference to a faculty member comes into play. When you refer to a particular professor and say you’re eager to study there because of him, you earn yourself some “social credit” points.

‘Good Fit’ Paragraph

When applying to graduate school, remember that it’s not only about you. The university’s officials must also reach their objectives. Search for scholarships and opportunities that match your skills. Make sure you align with the university’s values and vice versa. You must show that you are fit for the program.

Format of a Personal Statement for Graduate School

General Recommendations

Each university has its specific guidelines on how your work should look like. Be sure to study such formalities and comply with them. Otherwise, you might be rejected for the most foolish reason possible. Outside of that, you must present clean and error-free writing. Mistakes can result in immediate rejection, especially in the first few paragraphs. It won’t harm to double-check if you’re not 100% confident in your wording.

Academic and Professional

Your school application text must reflect your persona well while complying with the formal writing style. Avoid being too friendly with readers; remember, this isn’t just a regular essay.

Clear and Concise

While the paper must sound academic and professional, you’d never want to overload the reader with complex terminology or messed-up plot twists. Remember to communicate your experience and value directly. More isn’t always better, and this is the rule you should keep in mind when crafting your personal statement for graduate school.

Far too often, we see harmful online advice about how you can “lengthen” your statement with unnecessary fillers. These include: “as I have previously mentioned,” “in accordance with my previous findings, “in my humble opinion,” etc. Avoid these empty phrases at all costs. They don’t make you or your text sound better or more professional. If you have nothing more to say, just keep it short but meaningful. The main point is to convey your message.

Things to Avoid When Writing a Personal Statement 

There are plenty of common mistakes you should avoid, such as not repeating yourself or bringing up irrelevant information. Still, the worst and one of the most widespread blunders common lately is the usage of AI to help out with the application. Never do this. ChatGPT is a huge no-no, the biggest red flag out there. If detected, you will face immediate rejection.

With GPT-craze raging at full force, we recommend you don’t leave it to chance and always check your work with AI-checkers, even if it was entirely human-written. That’s because there have already been instances when AI-detection solutions falsely identified genuine human works as AI-assisted. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 

FAQ: Personal Statement for Graduate School

We know you might still have some questions. That’s why we’ve covered some of the most common doubts below.

Is Statement of Purpose the Same as School Personal Statement?

They are similar but not identical. SOP tends to be more formal, focused mainly on your academics. If you want to know how to nail a statement of purpose, let us know in the comments.

Is Your School Application Important for Graduate School Personnel?

Yes. It’s the first impression you make and can determine whether you are a good fit for the university.

Do We Help Graduate School Applicants Make a Strong Personal Statement?

Although we will NOT do your work instead of you, you can always ask us for advice and read our blog section to gather more information.

How Will a Statement for Graduate School Affect the Application Process?

There are no specific guidelines. But an excellent statement will make graduate school personnel want to meet you, while a bad one might simply eliminate you from the admission race.


Wrapping up, we wish you the best of luck with your personal statement for graduate school. Don’t be shy. Tell the world how great you are! Pay attention to the details and reinforce your claims with facts and real-life examples. With our advice and a bit of dedication, you will succeed!



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