Been sitting on this all summer, but after a year-long process I'm happy to announce that I'll be attending Columbia U. for graduate school. My first semester will begin next month and I am a little nervous. But I do hope to come out of my experience at Columbia with a more structured and sophisticated approach to disappointing my parents.
... since I broke the news a couple months ago I've been overwhelmed by the questions coming from people I don't even know asking for my advice. Was there anything that I've done differently to get in?
I don't think there's a definitive answer to that question. However, I can say that apart from my recommendation letters my statement of purpose may have been the most important factor in distinguishing my candidacy.
So for those of you who are going through applications for grad school, I'd like to offer you some advice on how to write a solid statement of purpose. ♡.
1. OPEN WITH A STRONG HOOK
Remember that you're going to be reviewed by actual people. They're probably going through the motions with other applicants, so you've got to make a connection with them that's written in human language.
My first paragraph involved a conflict and solution scenario based on a technical oversight that I had at work. I basically said, Hey – this crazy shit happened and this was how I resolved the issue using concepts: A,B, and C
. But I took the risk of throwing a joke in there so I can only assume that at least somebody at the decision table must've been shook.
2. ADDRESS YOUR SHORTCOMINGS
My freshman year of college was messy. I was 16 and overwhelmed and I barely went to my Intro to Anthropology
class. So I got a D.
I couldn't ignore this problem so I mentioned the difficulties I had balancing my social and academic life at the time. But I kept it brief.
If you think your credentials are going to be an issue, then emphasize on how you've changed. And you can do that by showing real, proven results of your road to success. Reference any notable improvements that you've made since and you should be good.
3. BE SPECIFIC AND CONCISE
When it comes to explaining why you think you'd be a good fit for your program of interest, you can't afford to beat around the bush. Don't be vague. And don't just put a string of adjectives together for the word count. Saying that you'd like to go to Starfleet Academy because it's an 'amazing school'
with 'a lot of great opportunities'
sounds uninspiring. And lazy.
Which courses offered in the curriculum interest you the most? How do you plan to apply yourself, if accepted? Are there any professors you care to work with? These are some questions you can address in your paper, and you can do so successfully by proving that you actually give a damn.
4. DON'T SOUND ARROGANT
If you only care to describe your list of accomplishments and how you think you're so
smart and above it, then why the hell are you applying to grad school?
You ought to convey a willingness to learn. Let the admissions committee know that – yes, ok, you're not a dummy
– but you still have room for growth and the program you wish to attend has the tools available for your advancement. Let them know how you intend to contribute to your field of study and that you are capable of completing the workload successfully
5. WRITE SEVERAL DRAFTS
This should go without saying. Leave no grammatical errors in your statement of purpose. Proofread it, have someone look it over. And never, ever settle on your first draft.
Keep editing. Keep writing. Do whatever it takes to make that thing look sharp.
♡. ASK FOR HELP!
Contact an advisor. Speak with someone who's been through it all. Get a feel for what you're getting yourself into. The resources available out there are plenty, so don't shy away from help.
+ Hnnn dassit. Hope that covered enough to be somewhat useful ye. ;]