Personal Statement for Graduate School Scholarship
The following section is an excerpt from the Yale
University Undergraduate career Services' publication entitled
Applying for Fellowships.
The personal statement presents an opportunity
for you to speak about yourself. Your essay should show that you
have ideas and opinions, are able to think logically, and can
express yourself clearly, with economy and elegance.
Clear writing is the result of clear thinking.
The first and most important task is to decide what you want to say.
This is a short essay. You must be highly selective. Consider
carefully what you wish to impress upon the reader. Remember the
nature of your audience. It is composed of people who are probably
as intelligent as you are, well educated, and vastly experienced in
this work. Do not try to fool or second guess your reader; you will
seem silly if you do. Do not write in a cute, coy, or gimmicky
style: selection committees have heard it all already. Do show that
you have thought deeply and broadly about what you have learned in
your academic career and what you hope to learn next.
When you have written a first draft, start the
work of refining, simplifying, and polishing. Do you say exactly
what you mean? Is any section, sentence, or word superfluous,
ambiguous, or awkward?
Are your verbs strong and active? Have you
removed unneeded qualifiers? Are you sure that each accomplishment
and interest you mention supports one of your main ideas? Do not
apologize. Do not misrepresent yourself. You are writing as an adult
who wishes to join the community of scholars and other
professionals. You must write as a peer and potential member of such
Correctness and style are vital. Neatness counts.
Check and check again your spelling, the agreement of verbs and
persons, syntax. Your thoroughness demonstrates that you have
learned and mastered this art and that your future teachers and
colleagues will not be troubled with sloppy thinking or writing.
Ask several individuals whose judgment you
respect to read and criticize a draft of your essay. Possible
reviewers include faculty members, writing tutors, and friends who
can assess how well your essay represents you.