The Personal Statement: Sample Questions

The following are examples of some types of questions that may be asked on college or scholarship applications. Be sure to get the specific topics and guidelines from the institution(s) you are applying to.

  1. Please state your specific interests with respect to which you are applying. Your intended area of specialization, career objectives, and research interests and experience are of particular interest. You may also wish to include a brief statement of your general reasons for undertaking graduate work. Please give a brief occupational resume if any significant period has elapsed since you were last enrolled in an academic institution.

  2. Please write an essay, approximately 2 to 4 typewritten pages, addressing (1) educational background, (2) research experiences, (3) major area(s) of interest, (4) immediate and long-term goals, and (5) unusual life experiences which might make traditional criteria (e.g., test scores, grade averages) less indicative of academic promise. Please use this page and other sheets as necessary.

  3. Applicant's Statement: In a maximum of 600 words, write a personal statement discussing your interests, life experiences, goals and social commitment. Do not exceed the maximum length: LONGER STATEMENTS WILL NOT BE READ.

  4. Briefly state your educational objectives and career goals. Do not hesitate to indicate if your plans are tentative. Please include relevant biographical information and, if your recent experience has been other than academic, describe it briefly indicating the relation it bears upon your decision to apply to the Graduate Faculty. Attach an additional sheet if more space is needed.

  5. Since more than scholastic aptitude alone is involved in admission to the Graduate School, it will be most helpful if you write about yourself (not more than two pages, typed, if possible): what you would consider your special qualifications to be, over and above those called for on the previous pages of the application; your experience relative to the area of proposed study outside the classroom and what it has meant to you, what you propose to do with your advanced degree, professionally, and for society at large; in short, speak as your own best advocate.

  6. There is evidence to suggest that there is a correlation between success in graduate study and such qualities as deep interest in your field, persistence, ambition, self-discipline, and independence. Please describe any such accomplishments or experiences that would be pertinent to your goals for graduate study.

  7. Because this program gives special consideration to factors that contribute to educational disadvantage, please include a statement outlining the educational, cultural, and personal factors in your background that you feel warrant special consideration.

  8. In evaluating your application it is most important that we have your own sense of goals, both specific and general, and of your background. Please address the following topics and attach your responses to this form. (As a rough guideline a total length of 1,000 words will probably be sufficient. You may append additional materials such as research papers if you wish).

    1. Describe your long-term goals, the routes by which you hope to achieve them, and your reasons for setting these objective.

    2. Describe your specific research interests and your reasons for selecting this institution as a place to pursue them.

    3. Describe and explain your background, and indicate how it has led to your goals and interests. Be sure to note any special skills or experiences that you feel are relevant.

    4. Evaluate your own potential for graduate study and research. What do you regard as your major strengths and weaknesses?

  9. The personal statement. Applicants are required to write a personal statement, no more than six pages in length. Use this statement as your opportunity to portray the person that you feel yourself to be--the person who sometimes gets lost behind the welter of scores, grades, dates and professional affiliations. Tell us about the significant life experiences and models that have shaped your career choice, the subjective meaning or impact of your clinical experiences thus far, your special interests in the field, and your personal goals as a practitioner, researcher and scholar. In addition, feel free to tell us anything that you want us to know about (e.g. leisure time pursuits, hobbies, travel). We favor prospective clinicians who had varied and significant life experiences both within and outside academia; accordingly, we would be interested in knowing what went on in your life during any periods appearing as blank spaces in your academic transcript. You might wish to include a discussion of "the road no taken" --that is, other interests and abilities which you might have considered as a career.

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