The best way to approach your personal statement for graduate school is to imagine that you have five minutes with someone from the admissions committee. How would you go about making the best case for yourself while holding the listener's interest? What would you include and omit in your story? Figuring out the answer to these questions is critical to successfully preparing an effective statement.
To arrive at these answers, you should begin by asking yourself two specific questions:
- Why have I chosen to attend graduate school for this specific field, and why did I choose to apply to this particular school's program?
- What are my qualifications for admission?
The answers will not necessarily come easily to you, but this exercise will have great practical benefit in readying you to write an outstanding personal statement. By answering each question thoroughly, you will have given much thought to yourself, your experiences, and your goals, thereby laying the groundwork for formulating an interesting and persuasive presentation of your own personal story.
As the founder of Essay Edge, the Net's largest admissions essay prep company, I have seen firsthand the difference a well-written application essay can make. Through its free online admissions essay help course and 300 Harvard-educated editors, Essay Edge helps tens of thousands of student each year improve their essays and gain admission to graduate schools ranging from Harvard to State U.
Having personally edited over 2,000 admissions essays myself for Essay Edge, I have written this article to help you avoid the most common essay flaws. If you remember nothing else about this article, remember this: Be Interesting. Be Concise.
Why Do I Want To Attend Graduate School?
Graduate school is a serious commitment, and it may have been your goal for a long time. Describing your early exposure to a field can offer effective insight into your core objectives. Watch out, however, that you do not your point in such a cliched, prepackaged way as to make your reader cringe. For example, you should not start your essay, "I have always wanted to." or "I have always known that _______ was my calling." Instead, you should discuss specific events that led to your interest in the field.
Traditional or online graduate school is, of course, a means to an end, and admissions committees prefer students who know where they're going and to what use they'll put their education (though the occasional soul-searcher, who may exhibit exceptional raw potential, is welcomed). For many people, the long-term goal is to work in academia, and to differentiate yourself in such cases, you can stress more specific objectives such as your research interests.
Note: Read the instructions carefully. Sometimes schools will ask for a statement of purpose describing your specific research interests in lieu of, or in addition to, a personal statement that emphasizes your character and qualities. For these types of essays, you can assume that a faculty member will be reading your statement, but it should still be accessible enough for a non-specialist to understand. Remember that such essays should also still aim to engage the reader in a way that conveys your own enthusiasm for the subject matter.
Avoid mistakes like discussing the school's rank or prestige, or simply offering generic praise. Instead, mention faculty members by name and indicate some knowledge of their work. Consider contacting faculty members first and discussing their current research projects and your interest in studying under them. Then refer to these contacts in your essay.
Why Am I Qualified For Grad School?
The way to prove your qualification is not to list attributes you believe you possess but to discuss concrete experiences that show your abilities and qualities. As always, details are paramount. The rest of your application has already summarized your accomplishments and your activities. Show the reader what you did in concrete terms, and again, highlight your active roles.
The experiences that demonstrate your qualification are not necessarily distinct from those that explain your motivation. You shouldn't plan on dividing the essay into two separate sections for each, but rather organize the structure by topic and extrapolate insights as they develop. It's important that you think of the essay as an integrated whole, not as a checklist of questions you must answer.
Focus on research experience, since research will be your main job for the duration of your studies. Be specific about what you did. If you worked for a year under a professor, you might consider emphasizing one particular project and exploring that in depth. The experience does not have to have been a major undertaking: Any practical experience can be used as long as you demonstrate your enthusiasm and aptitude for the field of study.
Remember to keep the discussion personal. Do not get bogged down in minute details and jargon. Ultimately, the focus of the story should remain on you and your growth or success.
Step 1: Prepare Essay Responses and Resume
All applicants must complete this step! We cannot overemphasize the importance for including your full legal name on ALL essays and documents.
- Essay 1: Goal Statement Essay: Prepare a well-crafted essay (300-500 words) that communicates to the Admissions Committee your goals as a DNP prepared nurse-midwife or nurse practitioner. Use one or more of the DNP Essentials to help articulate your goals: http://www.aacn.nche.edu/dnp/Essentials.pdf
- Essay 2: Graduate education is rigorous. From the experience of Frontier doctoral students, full-time study requires a commitment of 25-30 hours a week. This will require adjustments to your current work and family life. It is important that you take time to consider how you will integrate graduate school into your current situation. Please write a well-crafted statement (200-300 words) about how you plan to fit the rigors and time commitment of graduate education into your life situation of work and family.
- Resume: Please prepare a resume that follows the example found here: Example Resume
Step 2: Complete Application Packet
Please include ALL of the following in the packet:
- Three (3) Professional References: Arrange for three professional references. Give or send the Professional Reference Evaluation Document to your three professional references. Have them return the forms to you in a sealed envelope. PLEASE do not open the envelopes. Please do not send more than 3 references.
- Transcripts: Request official transcripts from all institutions of higher learning previously attended to be sent to you in sealed envelopes. PLEASE do not open the envelopes—doing so will result in your transcripts becoming unofficial which will delay your application process.
- Resume: Please prepare a resume that follows the example found here: Example Resume
- Goal Statement Essay
- Time Management Statement Essay
- Copy of RN License, current state ARNP Licensure and Certification
Please pay close attention to the following:
- We cannot accept incomplete application packets, including three (3) references and all official transcripts from previous schools
- You must be a registered nurse with a current, active license in the United States with no encumbrances
- Please always utilize your legal name, as it appears on your Social Security Card, to align with federal guidelines
- Check each document to ensure that your legal name is used on each (e.g. resume, references, etc.)
- All application packets must be received in-house by the published deadline date. Items that have been postmarked by the deadline date and received afterwards will not meet the deadline requirement.
If you are a streamline applicant (current FNU MSN student) entering the Post-Master’s DNP in the term following graduation from the MSN program, you only need to include one reference from a FNU faculty member in your program of study.
Note: You do not need to submit transcripts or evidence of statistics as we have this information on file. You will take the Advanced Practice Certification in the first term of the Post-Master’s DNP.
Complete and send the packet to:
Frontier Nursing University
PO Box 528
195 School Street
Hyden, KY 41749
Step 3: Complete online application
Click here to complete the New Student Application Form. Once you submit the application, you will see a prompt for online payment options and will then submit your application payment. This will be the last step of the online application.