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Advice for Grad School Personal Statement

  1. Aug 25, 2008 #1


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    Hi everyone,

    I am applying to grad schools this fall and I am planning a personal statement. I was hoping I could get someones advice on writing this statement. Here is my basic outline for the statement so far:

    1.Explain that I want to do Condensed Matter Experiment in grad school and what made me decide that this field is for me. (Also do this in a witty and neat way that grabs attention.)

    2.Show that I have researched the departments I am applying to by selecting several research groups that I see myself being part of and making a positive contribution based off of my previous research experience and interests.

    My question is if #2 above is the correct approach for the statement. I know I am supposed to briefly give them a picture of who I am and what my interests are, but I also think that the second point above shows that I am really interested in the school and have actually researched their department. I think it also shows that I have an idea of what I am getting myself into and that I am a directed individual with reasonable goals.

    Is this a good idea, or will I seem over ambitious?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 25, 2008 #2


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    Yes, #2 is a good idea. Not only do you want to convince them that you're a good student / researcher, but also that you'll fit well with their group and do research that aligns with them. You want to show that you're interested in the particular work done by these groups, not just in the field in general.
  4. Aug 25, 2008 #3


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    Thanks for the reply!

    Now, should I avoid pointing out obvious things in my statement? For instance, my GPA is good and is a plus for my application, but it is in black and white on my transcript. Should I avoid mentioning that I have a great GPA and other stuff that is obvious from other parts of my application and focus on things that aren't neccessarily apparant or should I try to sum up my application a little bit?
  5. Aug 25, 2008 #4
    You absolutely should not mention things in your transcript unless there's a glaring problem that needs addressed. Having a great GPA is awesome and will help you out. Talking about your GPA when it is great comes off kind of arrogant, it is, after all, merely a number.
  6. Aug 26, 2008 #5
    Don't be redundant with anything else in your application package; They don't need to see it twice. As I recall, my statement was only about 4 paragraphs and it went generally like this:

    [Anecdote about the impetus for me being interested in the area I'm applying to]

    [Overview of my undergrad research experience]

    [Reasons why school X provides superior resources]

    [Concluding remarks with a couple short examples of what I find cool about this area making some use of the area's nomenclature]

    My statement turned out to be memorable. When I got on campus one of the profs actually remembered seeing my statement while on the admissions committee 8 months prior.
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