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REU Personal Essay

  1. Jan 21, 2013 #1
    I was wondering if you guys could provide some input on my personal statement. The prompt is, in 400 words, to explain your interest in the program, how it fits in with your goals, the science questions that intrigue you, the areas in which you would like to conduct research, relevant academic, personal, and service background, special strengths you have, what you hope to gain from the program. I've never written one of these before so I'm not sure how relevant parts of this are. I'm thinking the diversity bit might be irrelevant but I don't really have a community service background. Also, what constitutes relevant personal background? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    I'm at 418 words and i'm not sure what to cut
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2013 #2
    It doesn't seem like there are many "I's" in there. To me intro reads like an essay for an English course, or a brief history of the field, rather than a personal essay. I may be wrong in giving you this advice, but I would word it in such a way that in conveys why YOU are interested in their program. How you think their program would benefit you, and how you could benefit their program. If you lack community service, talk about your desire to work with other people to tackle problems. Explain why you chose to apply to their program, and what specifically interests you. They don't need a brief history of the field. I also don't know if I would mention "I believe I would bring, as a Filipino, an underrepresented minority into physics." But I WOULD state that you are Fillipino and mention that one of the reasons you are interested in whatever it is they do there is because of <insert some story about being Fillipino and being the first on in your family to...>

    But that's just my two cents.
  4. Jan 22, 2013 #3
    Thanks for the input. I thought I's weren't supposed to be used in formal writing? (hence the limited usage)
  5. Jan 23, 2013 #4
    You might be correct there. But I don't know if a "personal" essay counts as formal in this case. That's just what I took away from reading it, perhaps someone else can chime in.
  6. Jan 23, 2013 #5


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    This is a situation where using the first person is important!

    The stigma of using the first person is scientific writing is overblown, in my opinion. There are of course situations where focus on yourself should be avoided (in the description of experimental methods in a journal article for instance). Yet, many of the well written scientific articles and reports I have seen are not afraid to use the first person where appropriate if it makes the science clearer or the paper easier to read.
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