I'm finally joining the party now that I've come up for air after taking the GRE, writing my SOP, and polishing my writing samples. Some of my answers to the survey:
Program: MA in Art History
Schools Applying To: Williams College, University of Texas at Austin, Tulane, University of Oregon
Interests: Modern and Contemporary Latin America
Undergraduate Major: English
Experience: Tons of experience, just not in the professional art world; my work background is in scholarly publishing.
Concerns: I have them (my age, non art historical background, the popularity of my interests, yada yada), but weirdly for me, I am pretty calm. Just getting to the end of this process of applying feels like I'm summiting the mountain. From the beginning of summer until now, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride as far as my confidence levels have gone. Just glad to be out of the darkest of the dark times: studying for the GRE quantitative. This was when I was most questioning the point of everything. (I'd underestimated the 25 years between now and my last math class, and realized that yeah, 12 years of primary school covers a lot of ground math-wise.)
Hints and tips: If you're still working on the SOP or your writing samples, try the writing center if your school has one. I took my sample and lucked out with an advisor who happens to be a rhetoric and writing major. Her attentiveness to syntax, lack of art knowledge, and rigorous questioning of what I actually meant when I said this or that really helped me to clarify and develop my paper. I wish I had gone to her sooner instead of staying in my echo chamber, getting very used to how my draft sounded. If you don't have time to do this, a shortcut is to take my advisor's advice and read your writing aloud. This is so helpful. I knew this before we met, but it had felt like extra work (and I just don't want to hear the sound of my voice that much). Even better, have someone you know read your writing to you. This will make any part that's unclear, too dense, or overly academic jump out at you.
Another SOP tip: I found this essay to be quite helpful, particularly the bit about prewriting: https://honors.uiowa.edu/sites/honors.uiowa.edu/files/wysiwyg_uploads/Personal Statement Invitation to Frustration.pdf
My other hint is don't forget to order those transcripts! I've screwed myself in the past with this step, and I feel like I almost waited too long again this time. (The community college where I took dual enrollment courses so many eons ago in high school only does mailed transcripts).