1. PF Contest - Win "Conquering the Physics GRE" book! Click Here to Enter
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Tacky SoP introduction?

  1. Dec 17, 2008 #1
    Hey all,

    So i'm beginning my personal statement with an explanation as to why I received such bad marks in my first couple years, as well as why I chose the field I will pursue. Tell me if these first few lines is interesting or falls flat and tacky.

    Uncertainty can be terrifying. Where will I end up, where am I headed, what path should I choose; these are all overwhelming questions. Who knew that something as small as h could derail someone’s life, but that is precisely what happened in my first couple years of undergraduate study. My parents fell into debt, divorced, my mom fell ill, ....

    I appreciate any criticism! Thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 17, 2008 #2

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    I wouldn't open with an excuse. I'd open with what you are applying for, why you are applying for it, and why you are a good match.
  4. Dec 17, 2008 #3
    NEVER try and excuse your bad points. ONLY write about your good qualities. And spin those bad qualities.

    "I got bad grades because I was exploded by a car bomb one day" = "Even though I had to put my own guts back in my body when a car bomb exploded one day, I managed to pass all of my classes that quarter/semester."

    You are basically explaining to them why you would be good for their school and any specific projects you are applying to. You need to tell them how they would benefit from having you.

    Also you have to explain your interests, career goals, and past research experience, yadda yadda. But basically leave it positive.
  5. Dec 17, 2008 #4
    I shouldn't include this even if it explains my bad grades, shows its in the past, and won't occur again?

    Also, I was sorta asking specifically about the "something as small as h" part. Is that tacky?
  6. Dec 17, 2008 #5
    What the **** is h? I thought you were just using it as a variable, i.e. "something as small as [insert here]"

    You mean Planck's constant? Wayyyy too tacky. A good rule of the thumb is, if it's a joke that is about or uses math or science, then it is a BAD joke. We might chuckle at "Two neutrinos walk through a bar.", but that just means we're nerds. :D
  7. Dec 17, 2008 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I, too, would caution you against such a paragraph in your personal statement.
    When you say you are “beginning [your] personal statement” with this explanation, do you mean that this is your introductory paragraph or just one of the early body paragraphs? If this is your introduction then I think you are getting off to a very bad start with whoever is reading it.

    I presume you are trying to reference Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, with h being Planck’s constant. Personally, I would not include this either, unless you are 10^-10 meters tall and your problems really were the result of inherently imprecise measurements of electron position and momenta.
  8. Dec 17, 2008 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    It's a little flowery in my opinion. Remember, you're not writing a newspaper column. It's a formal personal statement.

    If you really feel it's necessary to include an explanation of poor grades, I think it's fine to do so, but I wouldn't start out with it. Start with why you're interested in the program you're applying to and what you hope to get out of it. Then move into what you can bring to the department - any work or research experience, relevant skills, teaching experience, etc. Talk about aspects of undergrad that you enjoyed or things you are particularly proud of. Then you can mention obstacles that you've overcome and add in some unique personal information.
  9. Dec 18, 2008 #8
    thanks guys :) re-did my whole essay
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Threads - Tacky introduction Date
Introduction into Calculus Jan 5, 2017
Introduction and a question Jul 25, 2016
Introduction to QM - help Jun 26, 2016
Courses What should I review for an introduction Probability Course Jun 18, 2016