Writing the Statement of Purpose for Graduate School. Student Academic Success Center 111 South Hall (530)

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1 Writing the Statement of Purpose for Graduate School Student Academic Success Center 111 South Hall (530)

2 What is a Statement of Purpose? The central aim: Clearly discuss the reasons you are interested in attending a specific graduate program Illustrate your reasons by demonstrating that you have had experiences which have prepared you for graduate school Show the admissions committee that you have potential for success in graduate school

3 Nuts and Bolts Well-organized Concise Free of grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors Original and interesting Typically 3-4 pages, typed and double spaced

4 Keep in Mind... There is no one right way to write an essay Remember your audience experts in the field Establish your voice Confident, straightforward Do not make excuses Answer the question Turn weaknesses into strengths May serve as a writing sample

5 Organization How did you become interested in the field? What kind of activities or experiences have contributed to your preparation for or understanding of this field? What is your career objective? What are your research interests? Matching statement

6 How Did You Become Interested In the Field? When and how did you originally become interested in this field? Specific example or experience What have you since learned about your field or yourself that stimulates your interest in graduate study? Motivation to pursue a graduate degree Convince the committee that you are well-suited to the field. Genesis and evolution of your research interests Show that graduate school is the next logical step

7 What Activities or Experiences Have Contributed To Your Preparation for or Understanding of the Field? Typically the longest section Discuss relevant experience Research project, internship, summer job, volunteer experience If several, discuss how they are related to each other What did you do? What did you learn? What skills, abilities, values did you gain and/or develop Relate back to graduate school and future goals What sets you apart from other applicants?

8 What is Your Career Objective? Degree Master s or Ph.D. Career Sub-discipline Professor Industry Private Practice Public Service Other?

9 What Are Your Research Interests? State topics of interest to you What you plan to accomplish while in graduate school Don t confine yourself too narrowly But don t appear to have so many interests as to be unfocused Do not state an interest too broadly or too narrowly Make clear how your research interests parallel those of the faculty

10 Matching Statement Explain why admittance to a program is necessary Why you need this program Find out specifics about each graduate program from websites Write different matching statements for each program Name a research area, institute, faculty member(s), or special program Shows you have researched the institution Highlight institutional fit The better the match, the higher the chance of being admitted

11 End Result The reader should be able to: Ascertain the origin of your interest in a field of study See the growth of that interest over a period of time Clearly see that graduate school is your next logical step

12 Difficult Circumstances Fold into the body of the paper OR Add an addendum (depending on the situtation) Turn negatives into positives

13 Getting Help Be sure to get several perspectives/responses to your drafts Statement of purpose critiques Pre-Graduate Advising, 111 South Hall, (530) Help with writing skills Learning Skills Center, 2205 Dutton Hall, (530) Books How to Write a Winning Personal Statement by Richard Stelzer Graduate Admission Essays, What Works, What Doest and Why by Donald Asher

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