Starting your personal statement can be HARD! You may have too many ideas, or NO ideas, AND no idea where to start. But I’m here to help you with that 🤷🏻♀️⬇️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀
1️⃣Let the questions and prompts help you.
The beauty of grad school essays is that they usually aren’t as open-ended or vague as undergrad personal statements. Usually there’s a story behind why you’re applying and you have goals for a career after grad school, and you have some experience to back up your qualifications. Let the prompt guide you.
Even if you HATE brainstorming and usually DON’T do it, do it for your essays. It gives you a roadmap so you don’t talk about things that are irrelevant and go off on a tangent. It’s easier than you think to talk about things that are adjacent to your topic but not directly relevant. ⠀
3️⃣Just write—writing is never perfect on the first try.
Let go of the expectations that it has to be perfect on the first draft. I wrote and rewrote my PhD personal statements so many times that the first draft and final draft ended up looking nothing alike. Sometimes you just need to write first, then organize & fine-tune later.
4️⃣You don’t have to start from the beginning.
After brainstorming, if there’s a part of your story that you’re most excited about, write about that first! Writing doesn’t have to be and isn’t always linear. Sometimes starting from what you’re most excited about will give you ideas for the other part and remind you why you’re excited for grad school (but not so excited for application season). ⠀
5️⃣Don’t be afraid to break the rules if the rules don’t even apply to you!
When writing my essay for PhD apps, I came across “advice” that told me not to talk about anything before my college years because it was too distant. BUT, in order to effectively tell MY story, I had to talk about my life from birth (and I was accepted).
Writer’s block is ugly & anxiety-inducing. But writer’s block is just that—a MENTAL block, and it comes from fear and avoidance.
Only you know your story. Don’t let fear scare you away from telling it.👊🏻 ⠀
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