Writing personal statements

In this season of applications, both for national fellowships and graduate school, I recently came across two helpful articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  They each echo part of our advising ethos here at USC, and point to the value of what we call engaging in the process.

The first, “Leave Dr. Seuss Out of It,” reiterates the importance of speaking in your own words, of focusing on your story and avoiding writing sentences and essays that any other applicant could write.  You MUST be specific in your writing.  There is limited time and space to make your case, and while we all enjoy a good story, these essays are usually not the place for them.

The second, “Helping Students to Tell Their Stories,” echoes our suggestion of being careful to consider the fit of a particular award or graduate program.  Think about what you want to do in the short and slightly-longer term future.  How will this opportunity get you there?  And why should you be the one to whom the granting body awards this opportunity?

Our office stands ready to help you tackle these questions, and make your fellowship applications (and hopefully your future graduate school applications, where they follow) as strong as possible.  Make an appointment to talk with us today!

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