graduate school admission essay editing

graduate school admission essay editing

Enhancing Your Graduate School Admission Essay

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1. Understanding the Importance of Your Admission Essay

The personal statement is the only component of the application over which you have complete control, so it is vitally important to take the time to work on your essay. At this juncture in your academic or professional career, you will most likely need to write at least one application essay and perhaps more and it is your ticket to an upper-division undergraduate, graduate school, or professional school. High stakes may lend themselves to feelings of trepidation and possibly writer’s block. Writing the essay provides an opportunity to learn about yourself, so take the time to brainstorm different ideas. Ideally, you will write an essay that demonstrates your analytical thinking and your future goals, showing the committee that you are a strong candidate for their program. Try to explain your application within the context of your plans post-graduation. If you know what you want to do or if you are just figuring it out, this is a chance to make a coherent narrative for your future. This could be an opportunity to explain aspects of your application such as bad grades or other possible weaknesses. If you can explain these issues now in a positive light, the committee may be more understanding. This can be a problematic thing to do so be careful, sometimes this section is best left alone. Saying too much on a negative can raise doubts in the committee. Write succinctly and efficiently as to why you are a great candidate for the program. If you have specific interests in their research or have a professor that you would like to work for, mentioned this in connection to your future career goals. One thing to avoid is making the essay a reiteration of the data on the application. This may be difficult given the amount of information that is likely to be on the application, but you still need to make new and creative arguments in the essay. Now is your chance to impress the committee and further help yourself. This is an extended writing that addresses a specific idea, and the ability to write an extended essay giving evidence for an idea is a valuable skill in many different professions, so you want to prove your worth with your writing.

Your admission essay (also known as a statement of purpose or personal statement) is your best opportunity to communicate who you are and why you should be admitted to graduate school. This essay is also an excellent opportunity to provide important context for data listed elsewhere in your application. The admission essay is not just a map of what you have done, but an indicator of what you are capable of doing. It’s very important when you write your admission essay, you be yourself and express your genuine thoughts. Admissions committees want to understand what makes you tick and what makes you an individual. This essay is your introduction to the committee and it is important for you to make sure a great first impression.

2. Crafting a Compelling Introduction

A good technique involves writing an “emotional” introduction, even if it is not to be included in the final draft. It can help you focus your ideas. Try to make your introduction engaging but not too overzealous. This can seem to achieve a sense of forced enthusiasm, which will be a turnoff to the reader.

The introduction is the most important part of your essay, and it has one purpose to fulfill above all others: to draw the reader in. Whether a reader goes on to read the body of the essay depends entirely on the introduction. Since the introduction is what helps to draw in the reader, it is important that the introduction be given a good deal of thought. Talking about it among your friends and family might be a good brainstorming technique, or if you have fellow students who are also writing essays, discuss it over with them and exchange ideas. This might sound silly, but if you cannot get yourself or someone else to be interested enough to read past the first few sentences, there’s a strong chance that the essay is really not worth reading to begin with.

The introduction to your essay is the first thing people will read, and often the only thing they read closely. How you craft your essay’s introduction will determine the first impression that you leave on the admissions officer. There are many ways to do this, but this document will focus on maximizing your inner creativity and method for engaging the reader.

3. Developing a Clear and Coherent Argument

Another strategy is to clearly define and separate the issue and resolution. One method of doing this is to use what is known as a ‘thesis-map’. This is a detailed plan of how the information is to be presented. It looks at the main issue and various different approaches and related issues, and breaks these down into introduction and development of the issue, then onto the resolution. Creating such a plan is a useful tool to check that all information is relevant to the issue.

Firstly, an argument should be structured to follow a logical sequence. That is, it should move from the presenting of a problem or issue, through to the discussion and development of this issue, then on to a resolution. A common problem with many essays is that they do not clearly express what the problem is, or indeed what the resolution is. If you are having trouble pinning down the problem, it can be useful to articulate this issue to a friend. It is likely that if the essay’s writer is unable to explain what the problem is, it will surface through their friend’s lack of understanding of the issue.

When formulating a clear and coherent argument, you should be thinking about the logical structure of your essay. It is important to make sure you have created a clear, easy to understand argument rather than a piece of writing which is a presentation of facts in paragraph form. There are a number of effective strategies that can be employed here.

4. Showcasing Your Unique Qualities and Experiences

It is hard to encompass all aspects of your personality, experiences, and leadership roles into a measly one to two-page essay. As hard as it is, try to integrate experiences that display your unique qualities and diverse experiences. But how do you know which ones to talk about? A crucial part of a successful grad school essay is the selection of experiences. Many people will have similar experiences, but the way one portrays an experience makes it different from the next person. Provide detailed examples of situations that you have encountered that have allowed you to grow and have increased your passion in the field. This also shows evidence that you are able to handle any given situation in the field. Each person will have a different reason for wanting to advance their career with a grad school degree. What is your motivation? What have you been doing that reflects this? It may be beneficial to briefly share this with the reader. Remember important events in your life and experiences that have changed your outlook on the world or how it increased your interest in the field of study for grad school. All of these scenarios, if positively impacting, can help to increase your chances in the admission process. Although this is a chance to immerse important experiences into the mind of the reader, do not waste unnecessary amounts of space. Lengthy affiliations or job descriptions will be better understood through a resume. With any example given, tie back to how this has prepared you or led you to the step of applying to grad school. How have these experiences led to your readiness or the change in path to the grad school level? Always remember to only provide data that is relevant to your goal. Writing about said personal experiences may be hard for some. The most important focus should include the significance of this experience and how it has changed you or led you to this moment. For some, this task may be a bit too daunting, resulting in vague descriptions of the experience and how it impacted one’s life. If necessary, have someone read your personal experiences and ask them what they perceive from reading it. An outside observer can provide useful feedback. Always reread your stories and experiences and ask yourself how the reader would truly interpret this and how it reflects upon your endeavors to further your education. Now, it is not the end of the world if you do not have too many experiences to write about in your essay. Qualities, especially unique ones, can also make a lasting impression on the reader. Your goal is to remain in their mind after they have read your essay and made their decision. What personal attributes have made you different from others and have helped you succeed in your endeavors? Whether you are showing evidence of leadership, effective communication skills, or a specific talent, all of these qualities can make a lasting impression. If your essay does not contain these examples but has left the impression of a motivated, passionate, and uniquely skilled individual, then you have done your job.

5. Polishing Your Essay to Perfection

Nothing is worse than starting from scratch. This could imply that the work done before is not acceptable. Let us clarify: it is always acceptable to start over, especially if the original was not so successful in the first place. So beginning a whole new draft is never a bad thing. Seemingly minor revisions can greatly affect your tone and meaning. Admissions officers are not only evaluating what you say, but how you say it. Oftentimes, it is not the content that an essay lacks, but a clear and concise exposition of the content. The best way to achieve this, of course, is by rewriting. Unfortunately, rewriting is an incredibly difficult process for many people. People tend to write best in what they know, and a significant amount of effort may be required in order to successfully realize a new idea and then express it. It is imperative that you leave enough time for the rewriting process. Whether it is planning extra time into the schedule of writing your first draft or saving up to rewrite an essay next year, rewriting is an unavoidable necessity. Anyone can tell you how important the all-important final draft is, but few teach you how to get there. If you struggle to rewrite, simply start by rereading what you have written. Thus, you can initiate the process by making small changes to what is already there. After you have reviewed your essay, begin to seek input from a variety of sources. More often than not, a fresh set of eyes will catch an issue that you have overlooked. Finally, remember to avoid clichéd statements and overused phrases. This is an easy and accurate way to inject some clarity into your work. Reading your essay out loud will always help you to catch mistakes, as will having someone else read your essay to you. This is an effective way to ensure that your work contains a natural flow and that it is easy to comprehend. An effective essay will come across as easy to read; an effective reader will read a confusing essay and more often than not forget what was read. This is something that you want to avoid. Always make sure to make many copies of your work. This way, you can be more confident and aggressive in your editing. Some people are resistant to make dramatic changes in the original copy of a work, but remember it will always be preserved by simply saving another version. Oftentimes, the difference between an essay that receives some attention or none at all is its form. A clean, neatly finished copy will demonstrate to an officer that you are dedicated to producing the best work possible. Always choose a font that is easy to read, such as Times New Roman or Arial, and always stick to the font size; in most cases, this will be size 12. Make sure you pay the closest attention to the little things, for any slight error can rapidly detract from your overall quality. Always ensure that you are following the instructions set forth by the committee with respect to length and substance of an essay. Failure to do so will put you at a clear disadvantage. A final tip is to never procrastinate. Starting early is essential in producing an essay that can be viewed as adequate. High-quality work needs time to develop, and the sooner you get started, the more options you will have to make the best possible final product. With that said, the following is a more comprehensive and useful checklist.

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