For the longest time in my journey it felt like things were at a stand still. I was doing things that related to grad school, but it felt like nothing was happening. I felt trapped. Now things are different. After my 6th revision of my personal statement, I finally have one that is perfect. It gives just enough info about me, my goals, and my experiences. My mentor loves it so I’m hoping that grad school love it as well.
I struggled with it a lot because I didn’t know how much of me and my story I should give. My initial draft was 1500 words, but I went into detail about what I’ve been through. I told my story. I was then told to revise it and cut it down. Cutting down my story felt horrible. I had finally gotten to a place where I could speak about some of the issues and then I had to remove them. So I reworked my personal statement and low and behold, it was the same length.
At this point, I was in distress. I knew it was too long but my brain wasn’t catching on. I’m an english major so I’m used to giving lots of detail and painting a picture with my words. I knew it was time to seek out some help. I posted in the Future Student Affairs Grads facebook group about my woes and two people in particular stood out with their advice. Both of them were Orientation Advisors my freshman year of college who continued on in the field. I found my niche. I sent them both a copy of what I had as well as a couple others (a new hall coordinator who recently graduated from Boston College and a friend of mine who is pretty awesome).
The responses and questions I got back were extremely helpful. I had been looking my personal statement so much that I lost my sense of what i was trying to say. Those extra eyes helped me to narrow things down and really be concise. One comment referred to my listing of my leadership and work experience. Initially I took that as future describe each organization I’ve work with, but after being asked what did I learn from those experiences, I knew what they meant. All of my experience can be found on my resume. What my personal statement needed was how those experiences impacted me. After making all the necessary changes and being very strict with my word choice, I cut down my personal statement by 500 words. This was a major accomplishment.
Now I’m at the fun part. Since my personal statement and resume are done, I just have to send them to my recommenders. I also have to send them my list of graduate schools. This lists is giving me trouble though. Every grad program I’m wanting to apply to has what I want, but people are constantly bringing up other schools that have never crossed my radar. Yesterday I was told to look into the University of Maryland and Indiana University. I asked my mentor about them, IU especially because he attended their program He said that what he didn’t like about IU was that there was less faculty mentorship. He also said that U of Maryland was more counseling based. Neither one of those things appeals to me. Mentors have played a huge part in my journey and I couldn’t apply to graduate school without one. The same applies for going through grad school. I don’t know how I’d get through it without a mentor. And counseling is not my thing.
I’m really excited about the next steps. I’ll be sending out info to my recommenders, sending my GRE scores out, and starting my applications. A couple of applications have additional statements attached to them, but that shouldn’t be too hard. My first set of applications are due December 15, a little over a month away. It’s scary because it’s the due date for two of my top 3 schools (UVM and UT). I’m really hoping to get interviews at each school. If I get interviews at 4 of the 6 schools I’m applying too, I’ll be extremely happy as long as my top 3 are included in those schools (especially UVM).
I’m glad I’m finally getting things done! 🙂