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Career Exploration and Success
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Career Exploration and Success
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Authoring your Value: Personal Statement

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To assist you in writing your personal statement for graduate school applications, Career Exploration and Success has prepared this three-step worksheet and guidelines.

STEP 1: Find Inspiration for your Personal Statement

Review these questions to form the content of your personal statement:

  • How did your pre-college journey influence your decision to pursue graduate school? Consider high school courses, teachers, special programs, student organizations, and community or volunteer service.
  • How has your time at Rutgers influenced your decision?  Reflect on college courses, inspiring professors, academic interests, research endeavors, special programs, and student organizations. Think about the interesting path you followed to choose your major.
  • How have your work experiences influenced your decision? Delve into internships, externships, part-time jobs, summer jobs, and volunteer or community service positions that have influenced your ambition.
  • Who has had the most influence on your decision to pursue graduate study? Explore how family members, teachers, professors, friends, supervisors, coaches, and mentors have impacted your graduate school plans. 
  • What significant experiences have had the most influence on your decision? Consider family, academic, work, extracurricular, and athletic experiences. Think about happy, sad, powerful, or other memorable moments.
  • What personally drives you to want to pursue graduate study? Consider your personal skills, interests, and values that drive your educational dreams.

STEP 2: Develop a Compelling Personal Statement

  • Develop a simple outline of your statement prior to writing. It can be three or four main points in the order you plan to present them.  
  • Highlight your strengths and what sets you apart from other applicants. 
  • Explain your weaknesses in a positive light. Instead of referring to them as weaknesses, frame them as areas for improvement or growth.
  • Share captivating stories about what makes you special. In this way, the admissions staff will remember you. The story can be happy or sad. The more emotion you include into your statement, the more you will stand out. 
  • Tailor your statement to the specific orientation and philosophy of the graduate program to which you are applying. This will make you stand out from other applicants who recycle the same personal statement with each application.

STEP 3: Get Feedback on your Personal Statement