Links of the week – tips for writing statements of intent

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – grad application time.

This is one of the times of year that I, and many others, are working on grad applications. In the past I’ve always worked on such applications without consulting outside help, doing things that way that make sense to me. This time I’m taking a different approach by trying to read as many grad advice blogs and articles as I can in order to craft the best possible grad application.

With that in mind, this week’s edition of ‘links of the week’ is centered around some of the best advice I’ve encountered for writing great statements of intent. These statements can be tricky, given that you’re expected to write something compelling about yourself and your research interested without sounding too arrogant or too modest. Writing a great statement of intent is an exercise in balance – balancing your experience, your interests with the goals of the program you’re applying for.

Let’s see how five different authors recommend writing a great statement of intent.

1. 10 tips for writing a grad school personal statement – I love the first tip from this list: “just get started.” While I may not be following this rule myself (I’m currently writing about writing a letter of intent rather than actually writing one), but this is a crucial step in any writing process. I hate to fall back on cliches but a journey of a thousand miles really does start with a single step. Even if you end up not using a single word of your first draft, the simple act of writing will help to clarify your thoughts, making your final product stronger.

2. Writing your statement of purpose – The advice from this article reflects the Delphic aphorism “know thyself.” Knowing who you are, what you’re applying for, and why you’re applying is critical for writing a great statement of intent. Speaking from personal experience, I can always tell when I’m trying to talk (or write) around something and I know that if I can tell, other people can too. Having a clear idea about why you’re applying for a specific grad program will help your statement of intent sound more confident, making you sound more competent.

3. Are you ready for grad school applications? – This article stresses the importance of doing your research ahead of time to make sure that the program you’re applying for is right for you. I learned the hard way that not doing you’re research is a good way to make yourself miserable at grad school – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

4. Making your personal statement for grad school a winner – Something that I’ve been guilty of in the past is trying to guess what admissions committees are looking for in an applicant and trying to make my personal statement reflect that fictional ideal. This article stresses that personal statements are supposed to be personal - something that reflects you. This doesn’t mean that you should open about your deepest fantasies or love of Doctor Who, but rather it means that personal statements should be an authentic reflection of the personal writing it. If you write a statement that reflects who you are and the admission committee doesn’t select it, then the program probably wasn’t a good fit for you in the first place.

5. tweet reference – One of my twitter contacts brought this site to my attention last week. Tweet reference allows your twitter followers to write 140 character references about you. While this service won’t replace traditional letters of reference any time soon, it may make an interesting addition to an application package. Even though this link doesn’t relate directly to this week’s topic, I’m considering incorporating tweet reference into my grad school application.

Well that wraps up another edition of links of the week. Join us for an busy week on the site. This Friday will mark the penultimate episode of ivrytwr video season 1 as we explore the Uljin Aquarium, home to the world’s saddest seal. While I’m sad the end of season 1 will mark the end of our exploration of the museums of Korea, I’m excited for what I have planned for season 2 of ivrytwr video.

In addition to the video look for posts and hopefully some more holiday-themed content this week. To those of you busy working on grad applications, I wish you the best of luck. To everyone else I hope you have a fantastic week.


Ryan Hunt

twitter: @Ryan__Hunt



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