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Students without experience have no basis for an informed decision.
As a faculty member at ODU with a small army of undergraduate research assistants, I often find myself answering the same questions over and over again about graduate school. This week, I’d like to cover one of only two parts of a graduate school application that you have direct control over: your personal statement.
This sometimes called a “statement of research interests” or “entrance essay” or similar. You shouldn’t just dive into a personal statement, because it says several things about you, and you want to make sure those messages are on target.
Regarding the latter, graduate education is extremely costly.
The general attitude at graduate schools tends to be to support students in completing their degrees.
A graduate student and his/her advisor often have a close, in some sense intimate, relationship.
The committee will want to know, is this person stimulating, challenging and enjoyable to have around?Many graduate students are funded as research associates.Faculty will want to know, does this student have the requisite technical and creative research skills to be a meaningful collaborator?It may sound trite, but the essay is a place where you can help the committee to understand, “who you are”. In your essay, you provide a realistic, mature rationale for your “difficulties.” While the answer to this question varies from school to school and faculty member to faculty member, some general statements can be made. So, the committee will want to know, can you complete the writing requirements in a timely fashion?The committee is using the application to understand how you comport yourself. Obviously, this is more problematic for people who have difficulty writing.The process you used for making the decision to go to graduate school is relevant for two reasons: First, it is indicative of the kinds of processes that you will use in making other important decisions.Second, a carefully informed decision is more likely to be a correct decision.Nevertheless, some students do not complete their training.Often these are students who naively entered their training with very little understanding of the field.Contrary to popular belief, their intention is not to add to the torturesome, uncertain graduate application process.Most members of these committees can still vividly recall the anxiety associated with writing their psychology graduate school essay.