The Graduate School Essay

You’ve written numerous essays at Calvin, and graduate school involves even more writing. To kick it all off, you'll write an essay for your application into graduate school.

The essay (personal statement, letter of intent, statement of purpose) allows you to express your skills, abilities and aspirations. Graduate school admissions committees will be looking at your essay to determine why you want to continue your education and why you are interested in their program. They'll also assess the strength of your writing skills. The pointers listed below will help keep your essay fresh and flattering.

  • Include information (experiences, skills, abilities, events, etc.) that are unique to you. What have you done or been through that sets you apart from everyone else? Write about that. What are you capable of and how will those abilities help you succeed in graduate school? Be sure the experiences and abilities you highlight relate to the major themes in your essay and that it ties in with your intended program.
  • Follow the requirements, but you also want the essay to show your own personality and style.
  • Explain why you are interested in the field. Describe your passion for the subject and how it developed. Also, explain your goals for after graduate school and how you plan to use your education to help you get there.
  • Use proper grammar and punctuation. Check to make sure your essay flows and relates to your main goal at hand (either the requirements/questions from the question or, if the question was open ended, selling yourself to the school).
  • Don't be the only who reads over your essay. Bring it by our office to be read by a career counselor or stop by the rhetoric center or a professor in your department. Make sure your essay is flawless before you send it in.

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