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Anyone have any wisdom on STARTING personal statements? I have no idea where to begin. Of course, I've done some research and viewed samples but I just don't know where to start. Help?

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Every time I've had to write one I'm fairly certain they all started with a simple introduction followed immediately by a succinct "I am interested in X for X purpose" or something very close to that. I've never been turned down for anything, acceptance to a school, a scholarship or fellowship, or a job interview that has required a personal statement. Literally never. That might have something to do with other aspects of "me", but MAYBE, just MAYBE, it's because my personal statements start in just that manner! 

Take that for what you will, I'm not sure why people think a personal statement should start with something that is going to be quoted for centuries to come. Make it succinct, make it flow, answer whatever questions X organization has asked you answer in an intelligent and complete fashion. I'm not sure there's more to it. 

Edited by UnawareInGeneral
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Reading examples is a great idea. Also take a look at personal statement prompts of schools you are interested in, if you can find them.

I kept a running document of ANY ideas I had for my personal statement on my computer. It was like a brain dump of bullet points of experiences I wanted to highlight, themes for the essay, and actual language I used in mine. I found it really helpful to have this so I could sort through my ideas. It also helped keep me from becoming overwhelmed by the task because I was worried I would forget good ideas I had or had too many ideas to voice.

You will most likely go through many drafts before writing your final essay, so don't be afraid to get something down on paper. Even if you don't like what you've written, at least you've gotten it out of your system and you can start on another draft!

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Start with a brain storm. 

Some things to help: 

-why you are interested in the profession

-experience you have in the profession

-why the specific school you are applying to interests you

-your professional and personal goals

-how the school will help you receive your goals


after brainstorming, start to piece together the information into an essay.

Once you have a solid draft, I would suggest handing it over to a professor, SLP, or experienced writer to look over it. 


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I would say that after applying twice, the mistake I made on the first one was not listing my professional goals enough and what I Had to offer the schools. It was more of a fluff story, which is great but I think it needed to be more professional. 

That was my downfall. Speech Student300 had a great response and outline you could follow. 

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I would focus on writing from the heart instead of what would make you sound like an ideal candidate. I feel like committees see right through that. When you write from your heart i think it is easier for the thoughts to flow. When you are done go back and make it sound more professional and make sure you hit the key points the other poster said in some form of fashion. Its all about making sure your passion has a rationale instead of saying "i want to work with/im good at working with/i love...". Speak from the heart and filter out the bs. It may be a process, but you can do it! 

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I found a questionnaire online, that asked a bunch of questions that would be relevant to writing your personal statements. I answered all questions in detail to sort of prep myself and get my brain working. Then I just started writing a statement geared toward each school. Questions were: Why do you want to go? What can you bring to the program? What has prepared you for grad school? What experiences have shaped your interests? etc. 

My general advice would be to focus on what you can bring to the program, and show that you are competent to complete the program, rather than just "why you want in". 

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I asked my professor who is on a graduate admission committee what they like to see and she responded with this:

  • Have at least 2-3 people read your personal statement to check if it has correct grammar, good flow, and addresses all parts of the prompt the university gives you.
  • Do not try too hard to impress! Be honest, authentic, and not too braggy.
  • They've seen a million and one personal statements talking about how the applicant wants to help people. This is okay, but more importantly, it is good to connect your personal strengths and interests to speech language pathology. They want to see that you understand the field you're about to go into.
  • Don't mix up your schools! Make sure that you don't have the name of another school in your personal statement because this is definitely an application killer. You should include why you're interested in that particular school/program.
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The break down of my personal statement:

  • A personal story (relating to CSD, of course)
  • My background history (family struggles)
  • My motivation (stemming off of the two listed above)
  • What I want to study/focus on in grad school and why
  • Why I believe that particular school was the right fit for me
  • What I want to do with my SLP degree/how I can benefit the field

Hope that helps! Good luck.


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