Statement of Career Objectives
(Also known as: Statement of Purpose, Student Statement, Admissions Essay)
The personal statement is your opportunity to communicate to the admissions committee exactly what makes you stand out from the other applicants and why you are the “right fit” for the program. The more competitive the program, the larger the pool of applicants with equally strong credentials; which makes the personal statement very important, if not the deciding factor, in the selection process. Therefore, it is important to devote ample time to writing your statement.
Remember your statement should catch the attention of the reader from the first line.
There are two general approaches for writing your personal statement.
The first one is the chronological approach, which is the most common one (which does not necessarily mean the best!). Avoid describing everything from your childhood very thoroughly. We advise to use no more than one paragraph to write about your childhood and school years unless something extraordinary happened that ties directly to your potential studies. Do not use generalities. You should be as exact as possible in your descriptions.
Additionally, you should write about your research interests and, if possible, previous projects or experience which have stimulated your thinking and helped crystalize your desire to pursue graduate study in your chosen field. It is appropriate to write about the seminars, conferences or internships which you have attended. Try to articulate how these activities have assisted you in your development as a scholar. It is not necessary to discuss your previous institutions or faculty unless there is something truly extraordinary which happened that is not likely to be visible to the scientific or professional community.
The second approach is thematic. In this case the statement is organized around one or two key ideas, and usually it relates to your research field or your major interest. The statement might provide chronology, or you might site your childhood experiences in the middle of your statement to prove some point, and write about your current research in the very beginning. The point is that your key idea should shine through the structure of the statement.
There are more ways to organize your statement; however, the two above are the most common. You should choose a style that will tell your story in the best way. The ultimate goal is to sell yourself to the graduate program and persuade them you will be a positive and welcome addition to their program.