10 Graduate School Essay Tips

If you are trying to get into graduate school, you need to check out 10 graduate school essay tips. Your graduate school essay could mean the difference between receiving the big  "Congratulations" welcome package or the sad, skinny, rejection envelope.

  1. Start Early. Don't Leave your essay as the last part of your graduate application and write it the night before the application deadline. You will need to write it multiple times. You will also need to have it edited multiple times
  2. Focus on You. Many students write their graduate school essays about a professor or someone else they found influential. That is fine, but make the focus of the essay on how you were affected by them. You want the admissions committee to walk away from your essay feeling like they know you better and what makes you unique, not what makes your professor good at his or her job.
  3. Don't write about a traumatic event. While one of the purposes of the essay is to explain any extenuating circumstances which adversely affected your academic performance, you will want to tread lightly. If your best friend died and you had to take a term off, that is relevant, but always tie it back to how it somehow made you stronger. Don't end it with, "and now I take five kinds of anti-depressants and I think I can handle grad school."
  4. Don't Lie. Admissions officers have read thousands upon thousands of admissions essays. They will be able to tell when something is not genuine.
  5. Don't write about study abroad. [Insert Yawn]. Your study abroad experience is as about as scintillating to an admissions committee as every other hackneyed essay about "diversity" or "wanting to make a difference in the life of others." You might have gotten away with this sort of idealism in your Undergraduate Admissions essay, but you are supposed to be more interesting now.
  6. Don't use a conversational tone. While your essay might be of a personal nature, avoid using slang.
  7. Have your essay proofed. This graduate school essay tip is often overlooked. People tend to think that they can proofread their essay themselves and end up making careless mistakes. Have three people proof read your essay. The first person should be your friend. This friend should know you well. Ask this person if you are writing what you intended to convey. Have the second person be a professor (preferably in the field you are trying to get into). Have your professor evaluate your graduate school essay for focus, clarity and appropriateness, and grammar. Finally have someone from the English department edit you essay and correct formatting, punctuation, grammar, etc.
  8. Be funny. While it is important to take you graduate school essay seriously,  admissions committees do appreciate humor (especially the self-deprecating kind). Make sure your humor is appropriate. Don't make fun of the profession you are trying to enter. For example if you are applying to law school, don't make jokes about lawyers.
  9. Be Original.
  10. Forget about your essay. After you are satisfied with your essay, don't read it or think about it for a couple of days or weeks (if you have that much time). The go back and read it again and make sure it is as amazing as it was when you left it. If not, change it.

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