to planning for graduate study list
The most difficult items in the application are Personal Statement and Statement of Graduate Plans. Put forward your strengths confidently and emphasize the academic experience and intellectual development that has led you to want to attend graduate school. Include special intellectual achievements, honors, or learning experiences which influenced your intellectual development, e.g. study abroad, a tutorial, an advanced theory course in your field, research projects, departmental and college honors theses. Stress your classical or modern foreign language skills if that is a strong point in your record and if the graduate program requires that you pass language exams. Job experience and extracurricular activities, even athletics, may be relevant in describing the other responsibilities you carried while pursuing your academic work as an undergraduate. The statement should emphasize your academic experience, intellectual development, and future career plans (even in a broad sense if you can not be specific at this time). Begin work on the essay portion of the application early, either in the summer before senior year or early that fall before the academic work (the last grades you will report to graduate school!) piles up.
Ask a faculty mentor or mentors (perhaps your referees) to read over the draft of your essay and make suggestions. Don't ask a faculty member to read the essay until you have worked seriously on it yourself. Writing this essay is an important personal experience in coming to know what you want to do for your career. The more you put into it, the more you will learn about yourself and your goals. Furthermore, you want your faculty mentors to read your best effort on this essay. It is one means for them to get to know you better.
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