So, tell me about yourself.

You don’t just get that question during job interviews; graduate school admissions committees want to know, too. Your one-page personal statement is your introduction to the committee, so you should take the time to carefully construct your essay. Some say that you should review your essay at least three times after your first draft, taking at least one day between each revision.

If the program to which you’re applying does not provide a thesis, you will want to define your own before writing your first draft. Then, as you outline your essay, be sure to include an introduction; a full body summarizing your educational background, personal experiences that have prepared you for graduate school, and reasons why you should be accepted; and a conclusion restating the key points from the body of your essay.

As you write your personal statement, you may find it necessary to explain certain things like a low GPA. Admissions committees appreciate your honesty, so state your reasons and do so briefly. Do not dwell on the reasons or make excuses. You can stem from these reasons into an explanation of how this experience made you a better and stronger candidate for graduate school. Finally, when explaining why you should be accepted to the program, explain how the work you will put into graduate school will benefit the program. It’s not a question of how the program can benefit you, but how you will ultimately impact your classmates, faculty and school.

In the end, your personal statement should be an accurate reflection of you. Admissions committees appreciate upbeat and positive essays from applicants who state their academic goals with purpose and clarity. If you run into a writer’s block, ask a trusted friend to review your essay and provide feedback. Above all, stay true to yourself. Don’t write what you think the admissions committee wants to hear.

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