Personal Essays Graduate Applications

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The student applying for the Teach for America program, which recruits recent college graduates to teach for two years in underprivileged urban and rural public schools, knows that she must convince readers of her suitability to such a demanding commitment, and she has just two short essays with which to do so.

She successfully achieves this through examples related to service mission work that she completed in Ecuador before entering college.

For the sample from materials sciences, directed at an internal fellowship, the one-page essay has an especially difficult task: The writer must persuade those who already know him (and thus know both his strengths and limitations) that he is worthy of internal funds to help him continue his graduate education.

He attempts this by first citing the specific goal of his research group, followed by a brief summary of the literature related to this topic, then ending with a summary of his own research and lab experience.

An additional challenge is to use military experience and vocabulary in a way that is not obscure nor off-putting to academic selection committee members.

To address these challenges, this writer intertwines his literacy in matters both military and academic, keeping focus on applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), his chosen field of graduate study.

As a graduate student taking fiction writing workshops many moons ago, I recall what was most motivating to me as a creative writer.

It wasn’t the reading of published or award-winning work, and it wasn’t the classroom critique given on high from the professor nor the scribble from my classmates on my manuscripts.

Later paragraphs cite three undergraduate research experiences and her interest in the linked sciences of disease: immunology, biochemistry, genetics, and pathology.

This sample essay immerses us in detail about medieval literature throughout, eventually citing several Irish medieval manuscripts.

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