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Foreign Policy Analysis
#GradSchool101 – Personal Statements and Recommendations

#GradSchool101 – Personal Statements and Recommendations


The personal statement is really a great vehicle
for students to be able to tell their story to the admissions committee, and should be
seen as a way for them to be able to stand out from the rest of the application pack. I would definitely make sure its not cliche.
A lot of personal statements are almost like a biography talking about you were born here
and where you went to school, we can see that on the resume. So I would definitely recommend
whether it is coming across as story for your personal statement, talking about a specific
situation that made you push yourself into this new industry. In fact sometimes when I read applications,
I look forward to those personal statements because there are some great stories about
what experiences led them to where they are now. You don’t get that everyday and it gives
us a really good insight as to who you are as a person and potentially what you hope
to do with your life. Its very important for applicants to tailor
their personal statements to the school because its a way for the admissions officers to make
sure that their admitting the right person. What were looking for is that you’ve done
your research. That you know what our school is about, and that the school is a school
and a program that can help you achieve your goals and not just because its a recognizable
name. Tell them exactly what is it about this specific
school that really interests you. Is it their particular concentration areas? Is it the
specific facility? Or is it particular research centers that they have in house? These are
the type of specific answers that admissions committees are hoping to get from a student’s
personal statement. It takes a lot of time and a lot of thought
to make it very specific to the program. I have a colleague that had done, you know,
graduate admissions advising with students and as a minimum she suggests that people
spend at least three months writing their personal statements. Recommendations are a very important part
of the application process because its a way for people that know you and you have a relationship
with to be on your side and be another advocate for you to get into the program. So you want
to make sure that these people like you. You want to make sure that you’re not just getting
a recommendation because they are the dean of your school or the president of your school
or a higher up in a certain industry or organization. You want to make sure that you really have
a relationship with them and it doesn’t matter how, lets say low level within the industry
they are or organization, as long as you feel that they would put a strong recommendation
forward. One of the best recommendations that we received at the school was from a Dunkin
Donuts supervisor and that may sound crazy to some people, we aren’t a Dunkin Donuts
university or anything but it was a great way to show his characteristics that we wouldn’t
normally be able to see in a recommendation. They were able to talk about their work ethic,
and how they were great with people and communicated during conflicts you know, its Monday morning
in New York and you’re trying to get your coffee it can be a little crazy, so they were
able to do conflict resolution. While most schools do not require recommendation
letters from academic references, the admissions committee always appreciates hearing from
a colleague in the field because academic references are able to speak to your academic
abilities and classroom performance in a way that perhaps an internship or work supervisor
might not. And you as an applicant have the ability to
sit down or contact your recommenders again and bring them up to speed on what you’ve
been doing with your life since you were last in touch with them and share your reasons
for wanting to do this and you know your particular strengths and weaknesses and if they are listening
properly and do you think that its a good fit, then you are going to have a very strong
letter of recommendation as a result of that. Its very important to give your recommenders
I would say ideally at least a one month turnaround from the time that you request the letters
from them to the time that they deliver them to you. The reason being that A, your recommenders
are likely very busy people, second of all, writing these letters takes a lot more time
particularly if they are sincere and well thought out, and I think that at the end of
the day you are asking your recommenders a favor. You are asking them to help you, and
certainly in any kind of context when you are seeking someones help you never want to
rush them.

5 comments on “#GradSchool101 – Personal Statements and Recommendations

  1. Hold on!…did she say spend 3months writing your personal statement?
    Then most people I think will be doomed🤷🏿‍♂️

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