Can you Ctrl+H?


Quick question…. In your statement of purpose, if you were to ‘find and replace’ (Ctrl+H) the university’s name, say, “University of XYZ”, with another university you are applying to “University of ABC”, would it still make sense?

If your answer is ‘Yes’, you need to fix this.

Applicant reviewers have just glazed over your statement and are making a second pot of coffee. Instead, give the reviewers something to wake up about in your application… Only write specifics about this particular program – exactly what you know and exactly why this interests you. Most applicants write about the ‘rigorous scholarship’ at University Y, or the ‘academic excellence’ at Z University. Do not do this … you are wasting valuable space in your statement.

Take the clinical psychology program I work in … we have a specific theoretical orientation that focuses on psychodynamic, community psychology, and cultural competence. We also have a training model that focuses on practice experience during the learning process (rather than coursework before practice). These are just a few areas the applicant could focus on in their statement … and these specifics would not fit every other program. It would show the reader that you’ve done your homework, and that you are really interested in their specific program (and not just sending out a ton of generic applications).

This is just as important when you are writing about yourself. Is there anything in your statement about you or your experience that anyone in that applicant pool can say about themselves or their experience? If so, delete it. For example, are you applying to a grad program in molecular biology and interested in the mechanisms of cell structure? I hope so! Applying for a grad program in social psychology and interested in interpersonal behavior? Weird, if you are not. Applying to a social work program and interested in social justice/social welfare/want to help people? OMG, you and everyone else in that applicant pool!

All applicant reviewers assume you are interested in the basics of the field – otherwise you would not/should not be applying to their program. Save the space on your statement for real specifics about you – experiences and achievements – things that other applicants cannot say.

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