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Personal Statement vs.

Statement of Purpose
Whats the Difference? Is there one? 10
by Ryan Hickey Graduate School, How to Get In Tags: graduate school, personal statement,
statement of purpose

As you work to complete your graduate school applications, your program will likely ask for a
personal statement, a statement of purpose, or even both. The program might give you detailed
instructions on what should be included in the statement or leave you to figure it out on your own
with an enigmatic Include a Personal Statement/Statement of Purpose.

If you are applying to multiple graduate programs, you might be wondering if you can use the
same general content regardless of whether the program asks for a personal statement or a
statement of purpose. The good news is there is significant crossover between to the two, but
there are subtle differences. Shaping the essay the right way can greatly enhance the essays
effectiveness by providing the admissions officers with the information that they want to know
about you.

Here are some hints on how to submit the right essay to your graduate program:

1. Program only asks for a personal statement.

A personal statement gives you more leeway than a statement of purpose. However, this can also
be more challenging in that you need to show your readiness for a graduate program both in
terms of skills and character. The majority of the essay needs to be about your passion for your
chosen field and why you have chosen to apply to a particular program. If you have space left
over in the essay, you may want to write about an experience not directly related to your field,
such as volunteer service. Even so, end the passage with a clear statement about how that
experience has better prepared you for graduate studies.

2. Program only asks for a statement of purpose.

A statement of purpose should have a sharper focus than a personal statement. It should show
that you have a strong sense of, well, purpose in applying to the program. In your statement of
purpose, place the emphasis on all of the reasons that you are applying to graduate school. You
may want to write about experiences directly related to the graduate program and go into detail
about why you are choosing a specific program. Information about particular classes, professors
whose work you admire or whose work aligns with your own research goals, and other factors
like location of the school or internship opportunities should be included. Avoid writing about
anything not directly related to the program. For example, if you are applying to a program in
Materials Science, dont start the essay with an anecdote about running a marathon or spend a
paragraph writing about your experience volunteering at a homeless shelter.
3. Program asks for both a personal statement and a statement of purpose.

Seeing the request for both a personal statement and a statement of purpose can instill dread in
the hearts of applicants. If this is the case, write your statement of purpose first to write about
your research skills and experience, internships, and reasons for choosing the program. In your
personal statement, you can go more into detail about the path you took to choosing your field,
significant experiences not directly related to your field, and other aspects of your life that
demonstrate your character and potential.

What is a Letter of Intent? Applying to College


written by: Regina Woodardedited by: Donna Cosmatoupdated: 8/6/2013

Writing a letter of intent for university entrance is a requirement when applying to some colleges and
universities. Like a business cover letter, this letter of intent not only announces your interest in the
college and their programs but also allows them to get to know you.

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by DNSUnlocker

You've finally decided on a few choice colleges, and now you're getting your transcripts together in order
to prove your academic worth. However, one of your choices wants a letter of intent. Some colleges and
universities may ask their potential students to not only send in their transcripts for consideration but also
an essay stating why you're going to make the best Wildcat, Hurricane, or Blue Devil ever.

How do you write a letter of intent?

What Is a Letter of Intent?

A letter of intent for university entrance is a sales pitch. Think of it as a school cover letter that you send
along with your transcript to tell a university or college you are interested in their school, their particular
program, or athletic sports department. Just as you write a cover letter for an employment opportunity to
send with your resume, a letter of intent gives a potential school a little more information than they may
glean by just looking at your transcripts.

While your transcripts might speak of your academic merits or show that you have taken all the necessary
required classes and tests in order to get into college, they don't really say anything about you as a
student. Transcripts don't mention that you are the star quarterback of the football team, you are the lead
trumpet in several ensembles, or that you volunteer your time as a computer programmer. This is the
purpose of the letter of intent.

What Should Be Included?


As mentioned, the letter of intent is a sales pitch; you're selling yourself to a
school to make them believe that you will be an asset to the department for which you apply.

For instance, if you have an interest in the University of Texas' music department, you would want to
highlight all of your musical achievements. If you are the lead player of the section, or you have been
chosen for several solos, you should mention that, as well as any local, regional, or national performance
contests that you've been involved in.

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The same is true if you're interested in a particular athletic department. As an example, if you are the star
forward of your high school's basketball team, and you want to try for the same position with the Arizona
Wildcats, mention how you may have helped the team achieve regional or national tournament success.

Writing Tips

Even though you are discussing yourself, a letter of intent for university entrance should be written in a
professional and business like manner. You should first introduce yourself, with your first and last name,
the high school you attend, and why you are writing. Mention how you heard about the university or
college and why the school or department is of particular interest to you.
As mentioned earlier, if your interest is in the physics department, mention why this particular physics
department captured your interest. Are there opportunities to do a lot of the type of research that you
enjoy? Is the program involved with cutting edge technology in physics that you find fascinating? Perhaps
it is the only department that has the type of physics that you are involved in; whatever the reason is,
make sure to include that information.

Politely request that they respond and always include your phone number or email address. Sign your
name and proofread it carefully before sending it so that it is error free. Research to find the exact name
of the person who needs to read your letter, which is usually the head or director of the department or
program. This information should be available either through the department listings or by doing a
name/subject search through the school's directory or online listing.

Writing a letter of intent does not need to be stressful. Just focus on why you
want to go to a particular school, and why they held your interest in the first place. The key thing to
remember when writing the letter is to be honest and to be yourself. If the school sees that your academic
grades match what they are looking for and that your interest is sincere, they'll notify you of their interest.