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Showing content with the highest reputation since 03/21/2019 in Blog Entries

  1. 2 points
    Hey everyone, I wanted to start my blog off with a basic intro to the statement of purpose and the steps you can take to start your first draft. I'm an admissions reader and former writing consultant and love helping folks write better essays. By no means am I a writing expert, but I've read 1000s of personal statements/ SOPs and worked with dozens, if not hundreds, of clients on their college essays and applications and I just like helping folks craft better essays for their college applications. So, here we go! The statement of purpose, or what I like to refer to as the cover letter essay because of its similar structure, is generally used for graduate school applications and focuses much more on describing the skills, experiences and education that has prepared you for the program you’re applying to than a personal statement for undergrad would--mostly because when entering grad school you usually have a much better grasp on what your career path will be. Its main purpose concentrates less on developing a story-like narrative about your personal attributes and more on explicitly communicating the qualities that make you a perfect candidate for the particular field of study you're applying to. Ideally, the statement of purpose should convey your genuine interest in and enthusiasm for the program of study you’re pursuing, and what you have done in the past to nurture that passion. There are many topics you can choose for your SOP, but ultimately colleges want to see you answer 3 questions: why you, why us, and why now. Here are 4 steps to get you started on answering those questions and drafting your statement of purpose. 1. Start off your statement of purpose by describing your motivations for applying to the particular grad school program and how earning a grad degree fits in with your broader academic and personal goals. 2. Next, you should communicate the subjects you’ve studied, previous jobs you’ve held, and relevant skills and certifications you’ve obtained that prepare you for the curriculum or program of study. This is the part where you really get to brag on yourself in discussing your relevant qualifications and unique skill set that ideally prepare you for success in the field you’ve chosen. 3. Follow that up by communicating your interest in attending the particular university you’re applying to. It’s important to articulate why you’re choosing X school or Y program at every level of education. As an example, you might state your interest in working with Prof. Baker, who is an expert in 18th-century archeological preservation techniques - the only one in the field. Admissions officers and committee members want to know that you did your research and have a compelling and personal reason for wanting to attend their institution. In this section, be sure to also include statements about what you can bring to the university’s campus and how you will contribute to the prevailing culture of the college. 4. Lastly, don’t forget to include in your statement what attributes and traits make you special because, yes, it matters to admissions committees what kind of person you are and student you will be. As an example, you could focus on describing the parts of your personality that demonstrate your ability to learn and think as well as your desire to collaborate and communicate effectively as a student-scholar. Colleges want to know that you possess the traits that will contribute to both your growth and the betterment of the university community. One of the important things to remember is that the best way to communicate your traits is to use an anecdote or experience from your past, that shows rather than tells what makes you a top candidate. No matter what, remember to be authentic and your uniqueness will shine through in your statement of purpose. Otherwise, follow these 4 steps and you’ll be on your way to writing an effective statement of purpose.
  2. 1 point

    PhD - The First Year

    So - as I attempt to procrastinate my way into ignoring very real assignment commitments, I figured I'd write a post on "what happens next." As you may (or may not know) I applied to 6 programs, was accepted 3, and ended up attending my first choice program. I applied to 4 PhD Programs, a DPA program, and a DBA program. I got into 2 PhD programs and the DBA programs. Of course I've gone back to see what the other programs look like. One PhD program gets 30-40 applications and accepts 4 with hopes of getting 2. The year prior to my application they accepted only and were looking for faculty. No specific details. The other PhD only took in 4 students against a usual class of 10-12. Suddenly I don't feel so badly. I considered the DPA to be a sure thing - still not sure what went wrong there. So - now that I've reflected on my defeats - where is it all at? I ended up with a summer entry - taking a summer course in my specialization (3 credits). For the fall I took two courses, one in the program main curriculum (3 credits) and another in my specialization (3 credits), along with a research residency (1 credit). The result - All A's (including an A+ - I didn't even know these existed!). For 2017 I'm in my residency year, which requires that I do one 9 credit semester and an 18 credit year. I took the 9 credits in the spring (which is now and the work I'm currently avoiding). One course has concluded (I needed a 62 on the final paper to get an A - so I should be ok there). The second course, which I'm working now (I need to submit two papers tonight, one is half written, the other is a short research report - I'm taking "short" to heart). This course has given almost nothing in terms of feedback, so I really don't know where I stand. The third the professor (who is also my program planning chair) went out early in the semester with medical issues. I don't know when or if she'll return, so this could complicate things. The sub in professor has been fantastic and I'm chugging along quite nicely. That paper is due in about 5 days. I will start it right after I finish these two. Am I happy I went into the program? Yes. Do I regret it? Also, yet. It has been an overwhelming amount of work, but I can see and feel my growth as an academic. This is part of the life/career plan - so I'm fortunate to be moving forward and accomplishing the goals I've set for myself. For the rest of this year I'll be taking an independent study this summer to work on a paper that can lead to publication as well as a conference (which will be 3 credits and falls into the professional development section). In the fall I'll take another specialization course and another core curriculum. In terms of progress I'm currently planning to sit for prelims at the 3 year mark and have set aside another year and a half for dissertation. This would put me out at about 4.5 years, well below average (from what I've read) and well before my 40th birthday (my goal). I'm just hoping I can sustain momentum and clear prelims without too much a challenge. To all of you just starting - I wish you the very best. Dig in, dig deep, and keep moving forward. Good luck to you all.
  3. 1 point

    One was Enough

    After being on this site for a while, I realized that applying to just one school made me one of the few, the proud, the...naive? I felt confident about me decision until I logged on here and realized people were applying to 4..5..14!? schools. And I started thinking I might have screwed myself. But then the news came -- I was accepted! To say I was elated would be an understatement. To keep what could be a long story short: No, I don't advise just applying to one school even though it worked out to me, it's always nice to have a backup plan. But if just one school gets your blood flowing, you think it'd be a fantastic fit, and you realistically think you could get in, go for it! Don't let other people psych you out. You know you better than anyone else and this is your process and yours alone. One was enough for me and I couldn't be happier with that decision.
  4. -4 points
    Most people who think that the GRE is stupid and useless also have low GRE scores. Like it or not you need good GRE (or GMAT)scores to get into a good program, because like it or not, people with good GRE scores tend (I say tend) to have natural academic abilities far beyond those of mortal men. The GRE is designed to be hard to do really well on (read 85%-90%+) without intuition, insight and reasoning skills - not just grade school math and vocabulary skills. For the not-so-lucky end of the gene pool, there's another reason the GRE is useful to ad comms. Because you can do well on the GRE by working hard to prepare for it. So, low GRE scores mean either 1) you are not naturally gifted or 2) you didn't work hard enough at passing it and might not work hard enough in grad school. (What,you think comps don't require the same level of dedication?) So you say "I worked really, really hard and I still got a 130Q". You might want to lower your sights(and your sites), head for the chat room, and complain about how useless the GRE is.


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