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Personal Statement...where to start?


tenorcervantes
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Every time I sit in front of my computer to begin writing my personal statement I have no idea where to start! I have read countless blogs, articles, etc. that give helpful advice on what to cover in your personal statement, but it all seems too general--childhood experiences, work experience, research experience, intended field of study, etc. I don't know what to emphasize. In my head I know the time of research I want to do in grad school and what interests me, but I guess turning that into a reflective self-analysis is confusing to me. Any tips and tricks to getting the ball rolling when it comes to personal statements?

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The basic trick is not to write a reflective self-analysis. No analysis is needed in your personal statement; merely write what you want to study, why you want to study it (briefly if at all), and why you are prepared to study it. That's all that grad schools care for. In other words do not include childhood experiences or work history. Don't even try a cute or interesting essay form. Write something really easy. That will probably be best.

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The basic trick is not to write a reflective self-analysis. No analysis is needed in your personal statement; merely write what you want to study, why you want to study it (briefly if at all), and why you are prepared to study it. That's all that grad schools care for. In other words do not include childhood experiences or work history. Don't even try a cute or interesting essay form. Write something really easy. That will probably be best.

Really? Reflective and interesting is the route I thought I should take for a theological/divinity school application. If what you say is true, it is going to mean I start yet again, from absolute scratch this time. I was hoping my CV and application materials would be a good snapshot of more of the facts.

I'd love to see more feedback from others, particularly those who have recently gotten accepted by top M.Div programs.

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RE NervousN: If you are applying to a professional masters/doctoral program like an M.Div/D.Min or a first academic degree like an M.A.R I think reflective/interesting is the better route to go in which case you are fine. For Ph.D/Th.D programs however I think it is curcial to talk about one's research interests and academic qualifications.

The M.Div/MAR/D.Min is to divinity schools what the JD is to law schools. They take in alot of students and want diversity, hence reflective/interesting makes for a better PS. The Ph.D/Th.D is to Divinity what the LL.M/J.S.D is to Law. More selective and academically higher calibar, hence the PS should be more academically oriented.

Hope thats helps.

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The best advice I've heard from this forum, and this is from somebody who got in, was that the hardest part of the entire application process is bothering many busy people (largely profs) to read and re-read your SOP's. I'm going to do a good bit more of that this year, so wherever you start, don't go too far without getting some expert eyes on it.

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That's actually really good advice!! I'm going to be having a lot of my professors read my SOP, especially those that are alumni of the schools I'm applying to. I'm also having some of my grad schools friends check them out too, just for further review.

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