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REU Essay

  1. Jan 21, 2009 #1
    I'm currently applying to a few reu's and all of them ask for a personnel statement. Most ask for a statement of purpose (why i want to go to an reu) and my goals for the future.

    My question is what is exactly i should concentrate on. Should I concentrate on why i want to go reu's in general or should i address why i am interested in each reu's specific research.

    When asked about my mathematical background, should i focus on my prior math knowledge or what?

    Any guidance is appreciated. I have a lot to say, but i'm not sure what they're looking for.

    Thanks in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2009 #2
    I would perhaps start with a short sentence or two about why you are interested in REU's in general... but then quickly move on to address the specific research groups that you might be interested in... and how that fits into your career goals. Be sure to try to mention two or three groups that do related work -- maybe two that do experimental work and one that does theory in your field of interest or visa-versa (depending on what you're interested in...). Sometimes that call for REU applications notes what professors might be sponsoring students (which should help you write this).

    If you are interested in theory, it might be useful to include on your CV/resume what programming experience you have... if you're looking at experimental work you may want to discuss any spreadsheet analysis you've done in lab courses and any experience with statistical analysis of data as well as experience in practical labwork (equipment, electronics, chemical processing etc...).

    With regards to your math experiece, note your coursework, as well as perhaps any self-stuff you've done (including possible statistical analysis of data...)

    This is based on gut instinct... I've been on graduate selection committees but I've never been involved in the selection of REU students (although I went through the process as an undergrad, and as a graduate students I have worked with a few). I'm sure others on the forums will have more advice.

    Good luck! Where are you applying?
  4. Jan 21, 2009 #3
    I don't mean to hijack your thread, so feel free to tell me to start a new one if you like, but how long are your statements? I'm also working on writing some of them and most applications don't have a word limit. Right now I'm staying at around 500 words, but all I keep hearing is to not make them too long and I'm beginning to worry that 500 is too much.
  5. Jan 22, 2009 #4
    first of all i would like to thank you for your help. thats exactly was i was looking for.

    for the applications that just ask for a statement of purpose (some i am applying for ask for more) i am trying to limit mine to about a page (which would make 500 words a bit too long, but not absurd). the reason i am doing this is because 2 of the programs actually specify this length and i've just done the same for the others.
    if the length isn't specified, i don't think 500 words is out of the question.
  6. Jan 22, 2009 #5


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    I agree. If they do not specify a length limit for your REU personal statement, about 500 words / 1 single-spaced page is a good limit to set for yourself in my opinion.
  7. Jan 22, 2009 #6


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    The one I wrote for last summer was 600 words, and I got in somewhere.
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