I arrived at Dr. Viveros' office unaware of the revelatory journey that was before me. I confidently provided Joy with a draft of my doctoral research statement and graduate application essay that I revised previous to working with her. I was at ease; and with only a month to go before the deadline, I was certain that I would obtain her stamp of approval—that my doctoral graduate application essays were excellent, and ready for submission. Instead, Joy looked at me squarely and said, "You have a lot of work to do." I was terrified. Joy took a great deal of time to show me examples of other amazingly written fellowship essays and explain that I needed to anatomize my experience to convey how my personal, academic, professional experiences have compelled me to pursue my research goals. She encouraged me to reflect more on my personal narrative and synthesize how my past experience have informed and prepared me for my future work as a social work researcher and scholar.
Although it might seem like it simply involves luck, getting into graduate school involves more than just having your name randomly drawn out of a pile. Admissions officers are looking to distinguish candidates in any way possible. As more highly qualified candidates are applying to graduate school every year, the process of selecting students often goes beyond comparing test scores and grades to using more subjective measures like the graduate school application essay.
Graduate School Application Essays - Manchester University
Case 1: A student applies to graduate school simply because he’s not sure what else to do with his life. As he naively writes in his personal statement when defining his long-term goals: “I’m open to limitless possibilities!”
Case 2: A student plagiarizes material in a graduate application essay, reasoning that the same rules of citation that applied in college papers are not relevant, and that no one would bother checking her source anyway.
Case 3: A 4.0 student competes for and wins a national scholarship, attends graduate school for one semester, then drops out. He relishes the spirit of competition in winning the scholarship, but finds graduate school to be more unfriendly and less fulfilling than he expects.