Grad School Essay Writing
Your graduate school essays serve as the human dimension in your entire application. The essays hold your application together and truly show the adcom the one thing they want to know: WHO YOU ARE. It is for this reason that your graduate school admissions essays need to be authentic and exceptional.
The following resources will walk you through the process of creating a captivating, thoughtful, and well-written grad school personal statement or statement of purpose:
- From Example to Exemplary, free guide
- 6 Tips for Getting Started on Your Application Essays
- Get Started on Your Personal Statement with One Easy Technique
- 4 Statement of Purpose Must-Haves: What You Need to Start
- Admissions Tip: BE YOURSELF!
- Flaws Make You Real
- Personal Statement Tip: Less is More
- First Drafts of Personal Statements: Let Yourself Go
- The Miraculous 15-Minute Rough Draft
- The Art of the Opening Line
- 5 Elements to Telling an Attention-Grabbing Story
- 4 More Elements to Telling an Attention-Grabbing Story
- Writing a Lead that Pops
writing your essays
- 5 Fatal Flaws, a free guide
- Essays that Stick, a free webinar
- Stand Out! A Critical Goal for Your Application, a podcast episode
- 4 Pillars of a Splendid Statement of Purpose, a short video
- How to Practice for a Video Interview or Essay
- Generic-itis Prevention [Warning: If Untreated, Can Cause Rejection]
- How Can You Show Passion in Admissions?
- What is an Accomplishment?
- Resourceful Essay Recycling
- 10 Tips for Better Writing
- What 3 Essential Ingredients Must You Include in Your Statement of Purpose?
- Writing Your Masters of Engineering Statement of Purpose
- How to Tell a Tale in Your Personal Statement
- 3 Tips for Highlighting Your Strengths in Your Application Essays
- 4 Tips for Writing about Last Minute Extracurricular Activities
- What Should I Write About? Making a Difference
- Where’s the Poetry? The Secret Ingredient in Your Essays
- Writing Techniques From a Pro
- Can I Use Humor In My Application Essays?
Editing Your Essays
- How to Edit Your Application Essays, a podcast episode
- Epidemic Among Applicants!, a video
- Scale Back on Cliches
- Review Your Essays Like an Admissions Consultant: Use the Editing Funnel
- Common Grammatical Errors: How to Use “Leverage” & “Comprise” Properly
- Word Limit Tip
- How to Stay Within Essay Word Limits by Reducing Verbal Verbosity
- How to Manage Word Limits and Deadlines
- Bring Your Personal Statement to Life With Vivid, Active Verbs
- The Typo Typhoon
- 5-Step Checklist Before Submitting Your Applications
- Does Your Personal Statement Deliver?
«I got accepted to NYU! Thank you so much for your input, you played a big role in making this happen. I am so happy! This was my first choice and it always seemed like a distant dream to me! I am in disbelief to be honest. A service well worth the investment.»
Grad school essay quotes
Omar Khayyam («The Tent-Maker»)
The Rubaiyat (st. 32 (later ed.)), (FitzGerald’s translation)
Fritz R. S. Dressler
Matthew (ch. VI, v. 34)
Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)
Henry Ward Beecher
George Bernard Shaw
George W. Cecil (1891–1970)
Joseph Conrad, Preface to «A Personal Record»
Don Marquis, Breath, 1st verse
Robertson Davies, «On Seeing Plays»
Samuel Daniel, Musophilus (last lines)
Marshall McLuhan, The Medium Is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects , 1967
6 Tips for Writing a Killer Grad School Application Essay
As any graduate school admission officer will tell you, numbers don’t always tell the complete story. If that was the case, students would be admitted or denied solely on their numerical grades and test scores. Instead, graduate school applications usually require an essay component so that school officials can get a sense of a student’s personality, ideals, and commitment to their studies.
Depending on the type of program you wish to enter and the essay question itself, the writing portion of your application could be a chance to tout your achievements, offer a lighthearted glimpse into your personality and writing style, and/or explain what contributions you’d make as a student.
Don’t fret: you don’t have to write the great American novel to get into grad school. On the contrary, you probably have to share your thoughts in 500 words or less. Here are six ways to make those words count.
1. Don’t become a graduate school essay cliché
Grad school essays may require you to answer a specific question (i. e., Discuss a piece of literature that changed your life.); ask you for a general statement (Tell us about yourself.); or about your goals (What do you hope your graduate studies will help you achieve?). No matter the question, you don’t want to end up boring the admission committee with a clichéd response. They have already read thousands of submissions detailing how a traumatic childhood experience influenced your career goals or how a volunteer endeavor changed the way you see the world. Don’t write about lofty ideals or brag about academic triumphs either, just because you assume it’s what admission officers want to hear. Instead, write about something that’s honest, reveals your personality in some way, and makes you a standout applicant.
2. Follow the directions
Forget about the content of your essay for a second. The quickest way to blow it is to ignore the directions. If there is a suggested word count, aim to come as close to it as possible. If there is a direct question, answer it without veering off on a tangent. If you are asked to submit the essay as a single-spaced document in Comic Sans font (okay, probably not, but you never know), then so be it.
3. Keep it clean
You should have impeccable spelling, grammar, and punctuation throughout your essay, and avoid texting slang or vulgar language unless there is an absolutely compelling reason why it needs to be in your story. (Hint: there’s probably not.) If you’re sending in a hard copy, it should be on also be on crisp, white paper without fold marks, crumples, or pizza stains. If you’re e-mailing or attaching a file, be sure it’s named appropriately, and keep the formatting simple (or as directed).
4. Tell your story, in your words
Ditch the thesaurus. Admission folks will not be impressed by a litany of 14-syllable words or Shakespearean quotes, unless there is a reason why they tie into your story. Use conversational language and a consistent, friendly tone. Try reading your essay out loud to make sure it sounds natural. And this probably goes without saying, but it’s a good reminder anyway—never, ever plagiarize or lift words from another source in your personal essay. With the exception of a quote, which you’ll attribute appropriately, the words in your essay must come from your brain. Better yet, they should come from your heart. Try these brainstorming techniques to help get past writer’s block.
5. Take the Instagram approach
No, we’re not saying to use photos and hashtags in your essay. It’s just a modern way of telling you to “show, don’t tell” (remember that from creative writing 101?). In other words, be descriptive and detailed, use colorful metaphors, and avoid superlative terms. You want to try to take your reader to a place or time, and help him or her understand who you are and what makes you tick. Generalized statements like “attending BLANK University will help me achieve my dreams” or “BLANK made me the person I am today” are throwaway sentences.
6. Know your audience
You should never write a one-size-fits-all essay if you’re applying to multiple programs and schools. Even if the topics are similar, you still want to tailor your writing so that each university your applying to feels like you’re writing it for them. For instance, you might take a different approach for a small Christian university like Olivet Nazarene in Illinois as opposed to a large, urban public institution like New York University or a more specialized program like at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Now that you’re armed with these prose pointers, put them into practice and wow some grad school admission officers. Happy writing!
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