Graduate School Personal Statements
The graduate school personal statement or statement of purpose 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 and statements of purpose 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).
She works with people online via Zoom and via email / Google Docs.
Lauren specializes in working with people applying to business school and to healthcare programs:
- physician assistant
- occupational therapy
- physical therapy
- 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).
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 deep experience with this book, 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.