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Career Corner

Current Career Topics for Mount St. Mary's University Students

Keyword: grad school

     Every graduate school’s application process is different, but a common element among most of them is the submission of a personal statement.  The main purpose of a personal statement is to convince the admissions committee that you should be chosen.  Here are some tips so you can achieve that purpose!

     The topic for personal statements really depends on the school – some require you to give specific information while others allow the applicant to address a wide range of matters that interest them.  Some applications require one statement, while others require shorter responses to six or more questions.  But regardless of the structure required by each school, it is equally important to realize that the significance of the statement varies depending on the school field. 

     When determining your purpose in writing the personal statement, remember that the content you choose to incorporate should be presented in a way that will unify the whole statement.  You should strictly adhere to the purpose of your statement and always pay close attention to your audience.  Before you begin writing, analyze the questions or guidance statements for the essay so you know the exact guidelines and can completely and succinctly answer the questions proposed without including irrelevant material.

     Remember that personal statements should be both objective and self-revelatory.  Even though this is not a research paper, it should still be specific and organized in a cohesive way.  Personal statements are typically no longer than two pages unless directed otherwise by the school, meaning your statement has to be concise.  Be sure to catch your reader’s attention early on and form conclusions that explain the value and meaning of the experience you chose to write about.  When you have finished writing your statement, ask yourself the following question to put your essay to the ultimate test: Is this essay one that only I could write?  Your goal is to stand out from among the other applicants, and since this is a sort of interview, provide some insight into your personality through this statement. 

     One of the most common mistakes made when writing personal statements is that you simply write an expository essay on your background and experience.  Remember that a personal statement is not a resume.  Avoid the “what I did with my life” or the “I’ve always wanted to be a…” approaches.  You should not lecture the reader either – graduate committee members are not trying to learn about the field from applicants.  Instead, try to focus on one or two specific themes, incidents or points and be creative with this – they are more likely to remember a creative personal statement than a generic one, and remember to let your personality shine!

    If you ever need more assistance in writing your personal statement, see the Career Center for help.   

 

Just as there were several steps in preparing and applying for college, the same applies for graduate school. It is never too early to start preparing for graduate school, and the Career Center is here to help you at every step!

Similar to preparing for college, students interested in graduate school should start preparing during the fall and spring semesters of their junior year. Be sure to spend time researching various areas of interest, institutions, programs and national scholarships. Since graduate school is the next step in preparing for your future, be sure to take your time in analyzing the different options available. This is also the time to register and prepare for the appropriate graduate admissions tests since you will most likely take these tests during the summer or fall semester of your senior year. The test requirements are different for each school, so be sure to have an organized list of what each school requires.

The summer before your senior year is the prime time to complete the application essays and materials. And similar to visiting colleges, you should also try to visit those institutions that you are interested in, if at all possible. After all, you will attend the graduate school for a certain amount of years after graduating from the Mount, so you want to be sure that you feel comfortable with the campus' environment. But be aware that for medical, dental, osteopathy, podiatry or law school, you may need to register for the national application or the data assembly service. Again, it all depends on each individual school's requirements, which is why it is so important to have an organized and detailed list of the school's application process.

During the fall semester of your senior year, you should obtain letters of recommendation. These letters can come from a variety of people, such as teachers, employers or internship supervisors, but be sure to carefully select those who you have worked closely with and who are very familiar with your talents and skills. Now is the time to send in those applications on which you have worked so hard. But before you do, make sure that you include all of the necessary materials and actually check with all of the institutions before the deadline to make sure that your file is complete.

For more information, visit www.gradschools.com to view a list of schools by area, www.gre.com to learn about the graduate school assessment tests, and www.finaid.org to view a guide for financial aid. Remember that the Career Center is always there to help you create your future - whether you are an undergraduate, graduate student or alumni.

 
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