Graduate School Personal Statements Online Advising
The graduate school personal statement can seem like the most daunting and difficult part of your application.
Silver lining, though: a well-written essay can:
- Wake up a bored admissions committee (most essays they'll read are extremely similar)
- Convey your real personality and make you come alive to your readers
- Depict your experiences in movie-like clarity and detail
- Show your best qualities and values
- Help the reader see why you and their program are such a great fit
Simply put, the essay is not a to-do; it's a powerful tool to help you get accepted!
Lauren Hammond is our grad school essay expert and has been helping people write their graduate school personal statements for several years. Whether you just want some feedback on a draft, or you're staring at a blank Word doc and don't know where to begin, she is happy to help!
Contact Lauren directly at 951-395-4646 (phone or text), or send us an email.
She works with people online via Zoom and via email / Google Docs.
Lauren specializes in working with people applying to healthcare programs:
- physician assistant
- occupational therapy
- physical therapy
- PsyD / PhD in psychology
- speech-language pathology
She is, of course, happy to work with people applying to any type of graduate program.
Lauren: I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Literature and Writing, with a concentration in Writing, at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) and my Master’s Degree in English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University (SDSU). I am currently a fourth-year PhD student in English at the University of California Riverside (UCR).
I have been a writing consultant for over six years now, and I've helped people with research writing, thesis/dissertation projects, rhetorical and literary analyses, writing in the humanities, grammar/sentence mechanics, and more.
For Vince Kotchian Test Prep, I specialize in assisting clients throughout their graduate school application process, which includes personal statement and research proposal writing. My one-on-one sessions are designed to help my clients think about their specific goals, timeline, significance, and broader impacts of their prospective research.
When it comes to personal statement writing, I show my clients how to create a coherent narrative about who they are as a researcher to help them persuade their reviewers that they are a qualified candidate who fulfills the funding agency’s mission, and briefly outlines their career goals. I help students develop their narratives by drawing on personal history, family background, and intellectual development as well as their educational, leadership, and cultural experiences to describe the motivations that drive their research goals and other professional endeavors.
I love hanging out in San Diego during my downtime! My favorite activities are snorkeling and playing volleyball at the beach, cruising the fun hiking trails, and making my way through all of the local eateries. When I am not at the beach or in the classroom, I am usually napping and cuddling with my dog, Lego.
Working with Lauren is $145 per hour or $675 for a package purchase of 5 hours. You can reach her at 951-395-4646 (phone or text), or by sending us an email.
Love For Lauren
"Very happy to have worked with Vince on my GRE prep and Lauren on my personal essay writing. Both were integral to my success in getting accepted to my ideal grad school. Vince had a very straightforward and understandable approach toward taking the test which helped remove the test anxiety I definitely would have otherwise felt. I knew exactly what was coming weeks before I sat down to take it and managed to score about 10-15 points higher than I would have without his help. Lauren was equally helpful in editing my essay - both on the finer details as well as big picture ideas and concepts. I wholeheartedly believe their assistance throughout the GRE and grad school application process is what pushed me over the edge and got me accepted into my ideal program at my ideal school. 5 stars, no question."
- Clifford Grant (see review on Google Maps)
"I worked with Lauren Hammond on my personal statement and she was amazing!! I spent a couple months working with her and it was one of the best decisions that I feel elevated my grad school applications. I came into the first meeting with a draft essay that was basically my resume and was all over the place. Lauren helped me nail down my story and what I am passionate about. I ended up writing an amazing personal statement with great feedback from Lauren that I felt really showed readers who I am. She was super flexible with the times we met and I ended up getting into my TOP choice schools (Johns Hopkins, Brown, etc). I would definitely work with her again!"
- Aster M. (see review on Google Maps)
"I had about 6 sessions with Lauren Hammond to go over my personal statements for PhD/PsyD Clinical Psychology applications. I had different goals for each of my statements (e.g., trim, content development, brainstorm ideas), and she tailored each session to meet my needs. An hour might seem short, but she was very productive and sometimes went over two short statements in one session. She was also available via text for any brief questions or concerns. I am very happy with her service and recommend it to anyone who wants to craft a stand-out personal statement. I thought my writing skills were already good, but the final product, including her revisions, turned out even better than I expected."
- Fiona Wang (see review on Google Maps)
"Lauren Hammond was so incredibly helpful with my personal statements for grad school. I really needed help with organization, staying focused on a coherent narrative and content-building, which she was phenomenal with. She's also a really sweet person and a pleasure to work with! Can't recommend her enough."
- Mira Park (see review on Google Maps)
"As I was applying to PhD programs, I was struggling to write my personal statements. I searched online for hours to try and find something or someone that looked worth spending the money on and I came across Lauren Hammond at Vince Kotchian Test Prep. I was only planning on doing maybe one session to help get me started but Lauren was SO good that I continued working with her for weeks. She gave such valuable feedback and felt like she truly cared about making my work the best it can be. I even recommended her to my other colleagues who were applying to grad school and they felt the same way. I currently have 3 interviews for grad school and I couldn't have gotten those without her help!"
- Mikayla Haas (see review on Google Maps)
"Lauren Hammond was amazing. She provided me with thoughtful feedback that structured and strengthened my graduate school application essays. She was great at asking questions to push me to be a better writer. You can tell she genuinely cares about her students and wants to see you succeed. Additionally she is flexible in scheduling and will make deadlines work with your timeline. I was accepted into my top school choice and appreciate Lauren for her help in the process. If you or someone you know is looking for an essay tutor for graduate applications, Lauren is definitely the best!"
- Renee Begin (see review on Google Maps)
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should I spend writing my personal statement?
We generally recommend about 4-8 weeks - 6 weeks is a good sweet spot. It takes time to come up with ideas and get those ideas onto paper in a compelling form.
Where can I find some good examples of personal statements?
Other than Google, I really like the sample admissions essays in Graduate Admissions Essays by Donald Asher. If you're a DIY kind of person, Asher's advice for the entire graduate admissions process is very good.
Note: The above links are Amazon affiliate links and I earn a commission if you purchase things through them. However, any commission I earn comes at no additional cost to you, and you pay nothing extra. My recommendation is based on extensive experience using this book's advice with dozens of people over the years, and I recommend it because it's helpful and useful, not because of the small commission I receive if you choose to buy it.
How can I make my personal statement stand out?
MOST personal statements are BORING! Not because the person writing them is boring, but perhaps because:
- Their focus is too broad. They try to cover everything they've done, and nothing ends up standing out.
- They're impersonal. It's a personal statement - the reader needs to get a sense of who you are and what you're actually like - not some sanitized "professional" version of you.
- They're too safe. Ironically, a statement that takes no risks can be the riskiest thing you can do. We're not applying to a program with the intent of blending in with all the other applicants!
Granted, the above things can be overdone, or done wrong. But most statements make no impact, so it's worth thinking about how yours actually can.
For more personal statement tips, check out Vince's video: 7 Ways to Write a Crappy Graduate School Personal Statement.