Below is a pdf link to personal statements and application essays representing strong efforts by students applying for both undergraduate and graduate opportunities. These ten essays have one thing in common: They were all written by students under the constraint of the essay being 1-2 pages due to the target program’s explicit instructions. In such circumstances, writers must attend carefully to the essay prompt (sometimes as simple as “Write a one-page summary of your reasons for wanting to pursue graduate study”) and recognize that evaluators tend to judge these essays on the same fundamental principles, as follows:
- First, you are typically expected to provide a window into your personal motivations, offer a summary of your field, your research, or your background, set some long-term goals, and note specific interest in the program to which you are applying.
- Second, you are expected to provide some personal detail and to communicate effectively and efficiently. Failure to do so can greatly limit your chances of acceptance.
Good writers accomplish these tasks by immediately establishing each paragraph’s topic and maintaining paragraph unity, by using concrete, personal examples to demonstrate their points, and by not prolonging the ending of the essay needlessly. Also, good writers study the target opportunity as carefully as they can, seeking to become an “insider,” perhaps even communicating with a professor they would like to work with at the target program, and tailoring the material accordingly so that evaluators can gauge the sincerity of their interest
Overview of Short Essay Samples
Geological Sciences Samples
In the pdf link below, the first two one-page statements written by students in the geological sciences are interesting to compare to each other. Despite their different areas of research specialization within the same field, both writers demonstrate a good deal of scientific fluency and kinship with their target programs.
Geography Student Sample
The short essay by a geography student applying to an internship program opens with the writer admitting that she previously had a limited view of geography, then describing how a course changed her way of thinking so that she came to understand geography as a “balance of physical, social, and cultural studies.” Despite her limited experience, she shows that she has aspirations of joining the Peace Corps or obtaining a law degree, and her final paragraph links her interests directly to the internship program to which she is applying.
Materials Sciences Student Sample
For the sample from materials sciences, directed at an internal fellowship, the one-page essay has an especially difficult task: The writer must persuade those who already know him (and thus know both his strengths and limitations) that he is worthy of internal funds to help him continue his graduate education. He attempts this by first citing the specific goal of his research group, followed by a brief summary of the literature related to this topic, then ending with a summary of his own research and lab experience.
Teach for America Student Sample
The student applying for the Teach for America program, which recruits recent college graduates to teach for two years in underprivileged urban and rural public schools, knows that she must convince readers of her suitability to such a demanding commitment, and she has just two short essays with which to do so. She successfully achieves this through examples related to service mission work that she completed in Ecuador before entering college.
Neuroscience Student Sample
The sample essay by a neuroscience student opens with narrative technique, telling an affecting story about working in a lab at the University of Pittsburgh. Thus we are introduced to one of the motivating forces behind her interest in neuroscience. Later paragraphs cite three undergraduate research experiences and her interest in the linked sciences of disease: immunology, biochemistry, genetics, and pathology.
Medieval Literature Student Sample
This sample essay immerses us in detail about medieval literature throughout, eventually citing several Irish medieval manuscripts. With these examples and others, we are convinced that this student truly does see medieval literature as a “passion,” as she claims in her first sentence. Later, the writer repeatedly cites two professors and “mentors” whom she has already met, noting how they have shaped her highly specific academic goals, and tying her almost headlong approach directly to the National University of Ireland at Maynooth, where she will have flexibility in designing her own program.
Beinecke Scholarship Student Sample
The Beinecke Scholarship essay is written by a junior faced with stiff competition from a program that awards $34,000 towards senior year and graduate school. This student takes an interesting theme-based approach and projects forward toward graduate school with confidence. This writer’s sense of self-definition is particularly strong, and her personal story compelling. Having witnessed repeated instances of injustice in her own life, the writer describes in her final paragraphs how these experiences have led to her proposed senior thesis research and her goal of becoming a policy analyst for the government’s Department of Education.
Online Education Student Sample
Written during a height of US involvement in Iraq, this essay manages the intriguing challenge of how a member of the military can make an effective case for on-line graduate study. The obvious need here, especially for an Air Force pilot of seven years, is to keep the focus on academic interests rather than, say, battle successes and the number of missions flown. An additional challenge is to use military experience and vocabulary in a way that is not obscure nor off-putting to academic selection committee members. To address these challenges, this writer intertwines his literacy in matters both military and academic, keeping focus on applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), his chosen field of graduate study.
Engineer Applying to a Master’s Program Sample
This example shows that even for an engineer with years of experience in the field, the fundamentals of personal essay writing remain the same. This statement opens with the engineer describing a formative experience—visiting a meat packaging plant as a teenager—that influenced the writer to work in the health and safety field. Now, as the writer prepares to advance his education while remaining a full-time safety engineer, he proves that he is capable by detailing examples that show his record of personal and professional success. Especially noteworthy is his partnering with a government agency to help protect workers from dust exposures, and he ties his extensive work experience directly to his goal of becoming a Certified Industrial Hygienist.
Click here to download a pdf of ten short essay samples.
In the article below we provide you a sample of acknowledgement for bachelor or undergraduate thesis. We believe you may find it useful when writing your own acknowledgement page. Feel free to use this statement. We intentionally erased the names, so you can put ones that suits you.
First and foremost, I have to thank my research supervisors, [Ms Name Surname], [Mr Name Surname] and [Ms Name Surname]. Without their assistance and dedicated involvement in every step throughout the process, this paper would have never been accomplished. I would like to thank you very much for your support and understanding over these past four years.
I would also like to show gratitude to my committee, including [Ms Name Surname], [Ms Name Surname], [Ms Name Surname], [Mr. Name Surname] and [Ms Name Surname]. [Ms Name Surname]was my first-year [subject] professor at [Name ]University. Her teaching style and enthusiasm for the topic made a strong impression on me and I have always carried positive memories of her classes with me. I discussed early versions of the [Name of the subject] with [Mr. Name Surname]. She raised many precious points in our discussion and I hope that I have managed to address several of them here. Eve though I have not had the opportunity to work with [Mr. Name Surname], [Mr. Name Surname], or [Ms Name Surname], previously, the impact of their work on my own study is obvious throughout this dissertation.
In March 2012, I went to [Name] University for several weeks to study with [Ms Name Surname]. My time at [Name] University has been highly productive and working with [Ms Surname] was an extraordinary experience. Much of the analysis presented in Section III is owed to my time at [Name of the University]. [Mr Name Surname] at the [Name] University kindly assisted me with the statistical analysis in this dissertation and was very patient with my knowledge gaps in the area. I must also thank two colleagues at the Department of [Name], [Name Surname] and [Name Surname], for giving me the retreat to have this thesis rushed to the printer.
Getting through my dissertation required more than academic support, and I have many, many people to thank for listening to and, at times, having to tolerate me over the past three years. I cannot begin to express my gratitude and appreciation for their friendship. [Name Surname], Name Surname], [Name Surname] and [Name Surname] have been unwavering in their personal and professional support during the time I spent at the University. For many memorable evenings out and in, I must thank everyone above as well as [Name Surname], [Name Surname] and [Name Surname]. I would also like to thank [Name Surname] who opened both her home and heart to me when I first arrived in the city.
Most importantly, none of this could have happened without my family. My grandmother, who offered her encouragement through phone calls and letters every week – despite my own limited devotion to correspondence. With her own brand of humor, [Name Surname] has been kind and supportive to me over the last several years. To my parents and my sister– it would be an understatement to say that, as a family, we have experienced some ups and downs in the past three years. Every time I was ready to quit, you did not let me and I am forever grateful. This dissertation stands as a testament to your unconditional love and encouragement.