Preparing for Grad School Admissions Essays: The Top Questions

 


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Graduate school admissions essays always involve similar questions. The questions generally fall into seven basic categories. Most schools allow you to choose between several questions so that you can easily write an honest essay that is relevant both to your past and to your future.

Most schools will ask you to write two or three essays for admission. Many times you'll need to write an essay for the school and another essay or two for the specific program or department to which you are applying. Different schools will often have overlapping questions which can help you write the essays more quickly. The following are real questions from different graduate schools and programs that fit into each of the major categories.

Career Plans

Schools want to understand what you expect to gain from their program and where you plan to go. Your future career plans and steps reflect on the training they provide, so they want to be sure that you're worth taking a chance on. Common questions include the following:

What are your long-term career goals? Where do you see yourself in your career 10 years from now? How will our program benefit your career?

Academic Interests

In addition to making sure that you'll become a good example of a student who comes out of their program, schools also want to know where your interests lie. So they ask the following questions: What would you like to study? Which classes do you think will most benefit your career? What makes you the most excited when you consider entering our program? Describe your academic interests. Which professors in the department would you like to work with?

Research Background

Some programs are very much research-oriented, so those schools need to know what experience you have in conducting research. Be honest as you answer these questions: Discuss your research experiences. How confident are you in your ability to conduct research? Explain. What areas or specific topics would you like to research during your time in the program?

Academic Goals

Your academic objectives are important as well since a school may or may not be able to meet them successfully. Why do you want to attend graduate school? Explain how graduate school will contribute to your career goals. What do you plan to do with your degree?

Practical Experience

Some schools such as psychology programs or social work programs, rely a lot on clinical and field experience. Describe your clinical and other hands-on experiences. How have these experiences shaped your career goals? List your clinical experiences and explain your greatest challenges and how you overcame them.

Academic Background and Awards

What have you done that makes you stand out academically? Remember schools want the best students to join their programs. Discuss your academic background and achievements. What awards, if any, have you won? Where have you made the most significant impact?

Autobiographies and Personal Experience

Schools also want to know about you - who you are, your opinions, your feelings about school and life. Often, they'll ask you to tell them about your past personal experiences that apply to your future career goals. What personal experiences have contributed to your desire to go to graduate school or to join this specific program? Describe your life up to now: family, friends, home, school, work, and particularly those experiences most relevant to your interests in this field. What is your approach to life? What is your philosophy of education (insert your field here)? How has your personal life created that philosophy?

Take a look at more industry related articles by Amber Smith at CareersandEducation.com . Amber Smith is a frequent contributor with articles pertaining to Distance Learning and Career Advice .

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