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Completing the Graduate School Essay

Mar 5, 2008
When you are working on your application for graduate school, you will inevitably reach this area: the Graduate School Personal Essay. This summary is an influential and powerful statement that may hold more influence than test scores or previous education.

A concise and eloquent statement tells the admissions staff many things about you. This is your opportunity to highlight all your positive qualities. Are you attempting to further your career to help others? To open opportunities for communities or other areas that are currently in need? Are you determined? Ambitious? Would your drive match the demands of graduate school?

When you have developed your strongest points, briefly elaborate on them using real-life examples. Be certain to include any information on experience as it relates to this goal. The essay can also be used to explain difficulties found in your transcripts.

You should approach this essay in drafts. Pre-write and brain storm on creative ways to set yourself apart through the essay. There are several standard areas you should discuss in your paper. Why does the school fit you? What does their program offer that no other programs do? Where do you want your career to go? What is your previous experience in the field? Do you have any research or dedicated experience?

What is your history of career related experience? Have you taken coursework already related to the field? What was it?

Ideally, you want a well-written and clear essay. You want to prove your aptitude and ability to communicate with the faculty and your peers. Don't fill up the pages with half-negatives (i.e. might, possibly, would like to, have thought of, etc). Be determined and deliberate on your goals. This does not set your future in stone so you shouldn't tell the faculty you may want to do this today, and possibly change to that tomorrow. Indecision does not appear professional on paper.

The accepted essay lengths vary by institution, but you should expect a length between one and two pages. This will give you ample room to make your statement and elaborate, without going overboard. A length restriction ensures that your work will be concise and poignant without being wordy and long-winded.

One good element to really elaborate is how you first gained an interest in the field you are pursuing. Your essay will be autobiographical and you should expect to promote yourself. Give an insight into what inspires you and what you believe are the rewards of your efforts.

When you complete your essay, you will need to edit and polish. You may consult with any standard grammar guide for assistance. Watch your punctuation and usage throughout the essay. Can you shorten a phrase? Would the sentence appear with more action instead of adverbs? Are your modifiers limited or are they scattered through your work? There are also reference books devoted solely to the process of writing the Graduate School Essay. They can provide much greater aide and offer insight you may not find online.

Your graduate school essay will be a challenge to write. You will have a predetermined length, your essay will require focus, and your material must show both your ability as well as your determination. If you utilize the advice of others, study relevant articles and books, and learn when you should give yourself a break, the chore of authoring this essay doesn't have to be grueling. Pace yourself and your graduate essay will far simpler than you expect.
About the Author
Michael Fleischner is the Managing Director of EssayEdge.com and an Internet marketing expert. He has appeared on major media including the TODAY Show, Bloomberg Radio, and more. For help with your graduate personal statement, MBA essay, or AMCAS essay visit http://www.essayedge.com
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