Hello, I'm in the process of applying to grad school in Astrophysics. I graduated last December from a top-tier Physics program and am wondering what exactly I should stick in my personal statement/statement of purpose/whatever the heck a given university calls it. My undergraduate experience was pretty unremarkable; for the school I went to, I had pretty average grades (maybe a touch below average) with some grades lower and some higher. I don't really know how to make myself stand out in that regard. Also, I know that grad schools are big on undergraduate research. I had one undergraduate research experience which I believe taught me quite a bit; however, it ended terribly for a variety of reasons and I ended up quitting the job. I'm pretty sure I have no hope of getting a Letter of Recommendation from this professor, so I'm wondering if I should even mention the experience at all in my statement. Finally, I'd like to get an idea of the logistics of the personal statement. Essentially, I'm wondering how long it should be, what sort of things should I address, etc. I've seen some samples online that mention extracurricular activities; is it a good idea to mention such things? Also, should I name-drop specific faculty in the department whose research intrigues me? I have a fair idea that I'd like to pursue the study of Galactic Formation and Dynamics; should I mention this? Any tips/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.