Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Personal Statement

I was seriously dreading (and procrastinating) this part of my application, but it didn’t turn out to be as bad as I thought. Most schools ask you to write around 300-500 words describing the following based on your current plans:
  • Long term professional and academic goals
  • What you want to do after your grad work (e.g. more schooling or a specific position)
  • Your specialized interests
  • Your preferred age group for clientele
  • Why you want to do all this jazz
  • Your strengths and weaknesses (possibly)
  • How attending such and such university will help you achieve your goals
  • Any other relevant information that may affect your admission or graduate study

    Some departments may request additional information, such as your interest (or existing relationship) with a certain professor/lab, desire to be considered for specific fellowships, etc.
    Consider this your opportunity to sell yourself to prospective schools through your ability to write clearly, concisely, and grammatically. It’s also a place to show what’s so great about you, how you’ve worked to get to where you are, or to explain away some extenuating circumstances. Keep in mind that many schools discourage including anecdotal evidence, too much talk about why your grades aren't great, or flowery prose about “always wanting to help people”. I found this part the most challenging given the philanthropic aspect of speech pathology, but there are ways to structure that idea into a more powerful statement.

    My biggest regret with this section of my application was pushing it until the last minute, thus depriving myself of the opportunity for more editing and proofreading. Do yourself a favor and have several people read your statement, including peers, professors, and/or professionals through writing or career services.

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