Getting into grad school is getting tougher every year, as more and more applicants apply. And the competition for the best programs at the best schools is even more heated. So you want to do everything I your power to maximize your chances of being admitted. You’ve done your best at the undergraduate level, and hopefully you’ve attained a good score on an entrance exam, and you’ve got your recommendations in order. Now you’ve got to write a good essay to maximize your chances of getting into the program of your choice. Just as most aspiring doctors will have to write a medical school essay, most universities will ask you to write about why you want to attend grad school. What you want to communicate to the people reading your essay is just how strongly you desire to enter the field you’re hoping to study. They’re looking for passionate people who will give their all to their studies and will be an asset to the department and school while they attend and after graduation. The last person they want at their school is someone who’s applying for grad school just because they had no solid plans after graduating from college, and they’re unsure of what they should do next. So have some compelling reason, or a compelling story, about what first motivated you to consider this particular field, and how you’ve given the matter further thought since then. Avoid hackneyed phrases and clichés; be original, and put yourself in the shoes of the person reading your essay. Would your opening sentences grab their interest? Would you want to read all the way to the end? Because if your essay is boring, or sounds like a thousand other essays they’ve already read , you’re severely hurting your chances of acceptance. Make it unique, with your own story and your own voice.
Many grad school applications will ask you to write an essay about why you’re qualified to attend graduate school. Or they may ask you what it is that makes you an exceptional candidate. These are just two variations of the same thing-they want you to state your best case as to why you think you’re a good candidate for graduate school, and why they should pick you over many other applicants. Of course, they’ve got your academic record in front of them, so they know all about your GPA and your test scores. What they’re looking for is for you to demonstrate that you’ve got the skills necessary to tackle and do well at graduate school. Grad school is much more difficult than undergraduate college-not only is the work much more intense and challenging, but there’s lots more of it. Do you think you’re up to the challenge? If so, why? That’s your task in this particular essay, to show that you’re up to it, and that you’ll do more than just get through the program, but you’ll also do well. Think of a time in your life when you faced a difficult challenge. Maybe one that seemed insurmountable. But you went for it anyway, and you eventually succeeded. And it doesn’t have to be an academic challenge, necessarily, but that’s a good choice. If you were failing chemistry in high school, but buckled down and got a passing grade, can you resurrect the memory of what a struggle that was for you, and put it into words that convey how much work and study went into that? If so, that would make a great essay. So would any story that tells an interesting and compelling story about you overcoming obstacles and refusing to give up in order to accomplish a difficult, long term task or goal. If it moves you enough to write about it, there’s a good chance that the essay reader will also find it interesting.