Writing a personal statement Presented to nsslha october 10, 2011 By Linda Spencer Phd what is a personal statement?



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Writing a personal statement

  • Presented to NSSLHA October 10, 2011
  • By Linda Spencer PhD

What is a personal statement?

  • It is a chance to introduce an admissions committee to you
  • It is your opportunity to “sell yourself”
  • A general, comprehensive personal statement is the most common form used for graduate school for Communication Disorders
    • General statement allows maximum freedom in terms of what you write
  • Specific Response personal statement

Questions to ask yourself before you write your Personal Statement (taken from Purdue Online Writing Lab) http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/642/01/

  • What's special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story?
  • What details of your life (personal or family problems, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants?
  • When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? What insights have you gained?

Questions, cont

  • How have you learned about this field—through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field?
  • If you have worked a lot during your college years, what have you learned (leadership or managerial skills, for example), and how has that work contributed to your growth?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (great grades but mediocre LSAT or GRE scores, for example, or a distinct upward pattern to your GPA if it was only average in the beginning)?
  • Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life?

Questions, cont.

  • What personal characteristics (for example, integrity, compassion, and/or persistence) do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics?
  • What skills (for example, leadership, communicative, analytical) do you possess?
  • Why might you be a stronger candidate for graduate school—and more successful and effective in the profession or field than other applicants?
  • What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you?

Additional pieces of wisdom:(taken from Purdue Online Writing Lab) http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/642/01/

  • Answer the questions that are asked
  • If you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar.
  • Don't be tempted to use the same statement for all applications. It is important to answer each question being asked, and if slightly different answers are needed, you should write separate statements. In every case, be sure your answer fits the question being asked.

Also keep in mind

  • Tell a story
    • Think in terms of showing or demonstrating through concrete experience. One of the worst things you can do is to bore the admissions committee. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.
  • Be specific
    • Don't, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, engineer, or whatever should be logical, the result of specific experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as the logical conclusion to your story.
  • Find an angle
    • If you're like most people, your life story lacks drama, so figuring out a way to make it interesting becomes the big challenge. Finding an angle or a "hook" is vital.

Also…

  • Concentrate on your opening paragraph
    • The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It is here that you grab the reader's attention or lose it. This paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement.
  • Tell what you know
    • The middle section of your essay might detail your interest and experience in your particular field, as well as some of your knowledge of the field. Too many people graduate with little or no knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the profession or field they hope to enter. Be as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field and use the language professionals use in conveying this information. Refer to experiences (work, research, etc.), classes, conversations with people in the field, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of specific information about the career you want and why you're suited to it. Since you will have to select what you include in your statement, the choices you make are often an indication of your judgment.
  • Don't include some subjects
    • There are certain things best left out of personal statements. For example, references to experiences or accomplishments in high school or earlier are generally not a good idea. Don't mention potentially controversial subjects (for example, controversial religious or political issues).

Finally

  • Do some research, if needed
    • If a school wants to know why you're applying to it rather than another school, do some research to find out what sets your choice apart from other universities or programs. If the school setting would provide an important geographical or cultural change for you, this might be a factor to mention.
  • Write well and correctly
    • Be meticulous. Type and proofread your essay very carefully. Many admissions officers say that good written skills and command of correct use of language are important to them as they read these statements. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word limits.
  • Avoid clichés
    • A medical school applicant who writes that he is good at science and wants to help other people is not exactly expressing an original thought. Stay away from often-repeated or tired statements.

An example

  • I don’t like bullies but their behavior fascinates me—its origins, its perpetrators, and its controls. I can recall a time when the tragedy of bullying especially touched me. In a presentation during Black History Month at UW-Eau Claire my classmate LaSheena (a pseudonym) trembled visibly as she addressed the Chief of the Eau Claire Police Department. She could hardly force the words out: “Two policemen, young white men,” she began,” entered the library where I was studying for finals with my friends. They said they wanted to question me about a disturbance in my apartment complex. I told them I was on campus with my study group that night, but they took me by the arms and dragged me from the library in front of my friends and all the other students. They took me to the police station and held me there for three hours. When they finally determined that my alibi was true, they simply released me.” LaSheena shuddered, “I felt both violated and disgusted, and those feelings never let go for the rest of the week, finals week.”
  • As I listened to LaSheena that day, shock rolled through me. Law enforcement officials, persons dedicated to upholding the law and protecting citizens, had clearly bullied this student. How could this type of bullying--blatant racial profiling--occur in a city like Eau Claire, a town where I had never heard of or experienced any incidents of this sort? I’d read that police stop and search racial minorities more frequently that they do whites, but reflected that Eau Claire does not have a sizeable black population, certainly not one equivalent to its Hmong and Hispanic populations.

While bullying in the form of racial profiling constituted LaSheena’s experience, I knew the behavior came in many forms. The word “bully” conjures up images of the tough kid in the schoolyard, but new communication media have enabled a new monster, the adolescent cyberbully. The research Dr. Justin Patchin and I are currently undertaking explores the role(s) of law enforcement in preventing and responding to this new e-bully. Using data from 509 school resource officers (SRO) from across the United States, our research evaluates how important SROs believe it is for law enforcement to respond in several cyberbullying scenarios. We hypothesized that the female SROs, SROs who have children under age 18, and SROs who earned a four year degree or higher will report a greater law enforcement responsibility than their counterparts. Results, however, largely failed to uncover statistically significant differences between SROs based on these characteristics. Few standardized approaches to combating cyberbullying exist; only Arkansas, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Oregon have enacted legislation. On September 25, 2010 I presented our findings at the annual Midwestern Criminal Justice Association Conference in Chicago, Illinois. Furthermore, in November 2010 I will present our findings at the 18th National McNair Research Conference sponsored by the MidAmerican Association of Educational Opportunity Programs and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

  • While bullying in the form of racial profiling constituted LaSheena’s experience, I knew the behavior came in many forms. The word “bully” conjures up images of the tough kid in the schoolyard, but new communication media have enabled a new monster, the adolescent cyberbully. The research Dr. Justin Patchin and I are currently undertaking explores the role(s) of law enforcement in preventing and responding to this new e-bully. Using data from 509 school resource officers (SRO) from across the United States, our research evaluates how important SROs believe it is for law enforcement to respond in several cyberbullying scenarios. We hypothesized that the female SROs, SROs who have children under age 18, and SROs who earned a four year degree or higher will report a greater law enforcement responsibility than their counterparts. Results, however, largely failed to uncover statistically significant differences between SROs based on these characteristics. Few standardized approaches to combating cyberbullying exist; only Arkansas, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Oregon have enacted legislation. On September 25, 2010 I presented our findings at the annual Midwestern Criminal Justice Association Conference in Chicago, Illinois. Furthermore, in November 2010 I will present our findings at the 18th National McNair Research Conference sponsored by the MidAmerican Association of Educational Opportunity Programs and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
  • In addition to the research on cyberbullying with Dr. Patchin, I have conducted independent projects on other forms of bullying. For example, I analyzed some of the origins of racial profiling in the United States, and how these impact the measures that federal agencies and two state governments (WI and MN) have adopted to reduce police officers’ racial profiling. I also explored disparities in the steps of case processing, a subtle way of bullying juveniles charged with delinquency: more specifically, I compared case processing steps of African American juveniles with those of white youths in the U. S. juvenile justice system. Finally, in a third study I compared and assessed three models for integrating male domestic abusers back into the community. In additional to research in the area of criminal justice, I want to add another dimension to my background via an internship in the Eau Claire Police Department or the City of Altoona's Department of Investigation in the spring of 2011. A placement with the Crime Scene Unit, Special Operations Section, or Tactical Response Team particularly interests me. Applications for these opportunities are currently underway, and I anticipate confirming the internship site in December

Since 2008 I have tutored introductory Criminal Justice and Political Science courses to students in UWEC’s Student Support Services Program. I anticipate serving as Dr. Patchin’s teaching assistant in Survey of Criminal Justice in spring 2011. I am also currently mentoring a freshmen college student in the Student Support Services program. In addition to college students, I have also mentored high school students through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s Early Identification Program. In EIP I prepared juniors for the ACT exam, assisted their college selection and applications for college and student aid. I led college tours, after- school study groups, and also coached inter-EIP basketball.

  • Since 2008 I have tutored introductory Criminal Justice and Political Science courses to students in UWEC’s Student Support Services Program. I anticipate serving as Dr. Patchin’s teaching assistant in Survey of Criminal Justice in spring 2011. I am also currently mentoring a freshmen college student in the Student Support Services program. In addition to college students, I have also mentored high school students through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s Early Identification Program. In EIP I prepared juniors for the ACT exam, assisted their college selection and applications for college and student aid. I led college tours, after- school study groups, and also coached inter-EIP basketball.
  • As I look to a graduate program, I want to assist the research of faculty members and can offer competency with a number of data collection and analysis instruments (Excel, ANOVA, SPSS 17.0, and Qualtrics), as well as a background in basic chemistry. I have tutored or TAed college students from mainstream and ESL populations, and could offer translating skills in Hmong. I seek graduate training that allows me to explore crime and deviance within the context of the life span, social justice and inequality among recent immigrants to the United States, deviant behaviors within ethnic U.S. populations, and criminal justice methodology. I agree wholeheartedly with the vision of criminal justice scholars Leslie W. Wilkins and Ken Pease, that "the greater society's tolerance of inequality, the more extreme the scale of punishment utilized." But I would add an afterword of my own: the greater the tolerance of inequality, the more extreme the forms of bullying.

Some more well-written statements

  • http://www.uwec.edu/mcnair/Elf/Haupthaus.htm
  • Also, if you need help organizing your thoughts, be sure to seek that help! Teachers, writing center, etc.
  • Have someone proof your work as well!


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