FSP – A site run by a professor in science. I started reading her blog a few days back and some of the articles are interesting.
She has written about Graduate School Admission essays with an example.
I am always impressed when I read a well-written, focused statement that has interesting content. These students are at an advantage not only for admission but also for recruiting scholarships.
An applicant can be admitted to graduate school with an unsophisticated statement, but obviously it’s preferable to have a good statement.
I’m sure that the requirements for a good statement vary from place to place, but here are a few basic things that I’d like to see (or not see) in an application statement, especially for a Ph.D. program:
1. What do you want to do in graduate school? You do not have to be intensely focused on a narrow topic at the time of application. There is time to figure that out once you start your graduate program.
Even so, if your statement gives faculty the impression that you are applying because you don’t really know what else to do and maybe you’ll give grad school a try…that’s not good.
Present yourself as a serious student with sincere interest in the general field of study for which you are applying. This part of your statement should have content based on your experiences thus far.
2. Do not discuss your childhood. Most faculty don’t care about your childhood chemistry set or your shell collection or even the telescope your great-aunt set out in a field one summer night to show you the immensity of the universe.
Do not describe a walk on the beach with your dad when you were 5. Do not mention your favorite teacher in 4th grade, not even if she let you watch a cocoon being built.
Do not talk about how awesome it was the first time you read Isaac Asimov or Carl Sagan or even Richard Feynman.
3. What are some significant academic or work experiences you have had that are relevant to your application for graduate school in Science?
Relevant items here would be research experiences and rigorous classes.