Personal Essay

Follow the tips below to write your essay to accompany your application for graduate admission. Students may also visit the KSU Writing Commons for assistance with writing and proofing their essay.

Free Writing
  • Free write for 10-30 minutes on each of your initial, main topics
  • Review your list of main topics and supporting content
Preliminary Organization
  • Choose the ideas you will use, desired length, importance of ideas, and specific application instructions
  • Put your ideas in a rough sequence with specific examples and/or details to help you avoid generalizations
Writing, Organizing & Editing
  • Write a draft essay and don't worry too much about organization at this point
  • Read your essay out loud. Are you addressing your audience? Is your message clear? Does the essay reflect your intent?
  • Edit and rewrite to avoid wordiness, generalizations, passive voice and clich√©
  • Ensure your grammar and spelling are perfect
  • Have a friend or advisor read your essay and provide feedback
  • Make final revisions, have someone help you proofread carefully, and you are on your way!

Goal Statement

Use the suggestions below to write an effective goal statement. Keep in mind that admission committees want to know more about you as a person. Be sure to answer the questions asked and avoid canned answers.

Academic Experience

Don't be repetitive by describing a project you already documented elsewhere. Talk about what you learned from the experience and how this has inspired your interest in further research. This may also be the place to mention any personal qualities you feel would make you a good researcher, but be sure to back up these statements with specific examples documenting your skills in these areas.

Research Interests

This is most appropriate for individuals applying to a research program. Be as specific as possible and point out how this particular program fits with your research interests.

Co-Curricular Experiences

This is often important in business and law, where leadership qualities are given priority. Again, don't just describe experiences; show how these experiences relate to your goals and what they have taught you about your skills in these areas. Look for any experience which sets you apart from the crowd; for example, conducting a science project, serving as an officer of a student organization, leading an intramural or varsity team as a captain.

Career Goals

Indicate how you plan to use your graduate training. You don't need to have your life mapped out in detail, but be able to delineate some general goals. Admissions committees are interested in knowing that you have thought about what you want to do with your life, and that a graduate education fits in with these plans. Whenever possible, point out how your goals are congruent with the training you will receive in that particular program.

Personal Attributes and Special Circumstances

This is the place to mention anything special or unique about yourself ( i.e. minority or non-traditional student status) and any special circumstances (i.e. reasons for a low GPA in a particular semester). The important point to remember is to explain yourself in a non-defensive, non-apologetic manner.