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Thread: Personal statement

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Personal statement

    I'm in the middle of writing my personal statement, but writing "not more than 500 words" to say everything is challenging lol. you are supposed to describe your background....how would you do this effectively? I'd like to say more about experience and plans for grad studies and career.....

    also, since it's only 500 words, it should be better to do double-space right? : )

  2. #2
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    I'm in the midst of writing my statements too. Basically for mine, I described some jobs that pertained to the planning field and how they made me want to become a planner (i.e. I worked as a land surveyor for an engineering firm one summer).

    Then I described some classes I took in undergrad that I could apply to planning (an environmental economics class). Also, I think it's important to talk about why you think you're a good fit at the school, what the program can do for you.

    Briefly describe your background and why you think you can succeed in grad school (i put something about taking classes, working 25 hours a week, and mentoring). Include something about what you are currently doing (in mine, I mentioned that I'm currently working abroad), and talk about what you want to do with your planning degree (I want to work at an international NGO, etc).

    Again, I'm not an expert (I just got out of undergrad in May). But I've had some time to work on mine, and I've talked with some people who just got their masters in Planning. Also, I think it's always a good idea to double space things like this.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally posted by aStoryTold View post
    I'm in the midst of writing my statements too. Basically for mine, I described some jobs that pertained to the planning field and how they made me want to become a planner (i.e. I worked as a land surveyor for an engineering firm one summer).

    Then I described some classes I took in undergrad that I could apply to planning (an environmental economics class). Also, I think it's important to talk about why you think you're a good fit at the school, what the program can do for you.

    Briefly describe your background and why you think you can succeed in grad school (i put something about taking classes, working 25 hours a week, and mentoring). Include something about what you are currently doing (in mine, I mentioned that I'm currently working abroad), and talk about what you want to do with your planning degree (I want to work at an international NGO, etc).

    Again, I'm not an expert (I just got out of undergrad in May). But I've had some time to work on mine, and I've talked with some people who just got their masters in Planning. Also, I think it's always a good idea to double space things like this.
    I think that you want to try to pull in all your diverse professional and academic experiences into a cohesive narrative.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    Word Limit

    How strict are the schools with their word limit?
    I tried to keep it concise, but it's still about 650 words while many schools want "not more than 500 words"

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus kalimotxo's avatar
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    Stick to the word limit. The personal statement is in one way an exercise proving that you can make a good case for something (in this case, yourself) in a limited amount of space. Pithiness is a virtue in grad school and the professional world; having a personal statement that is almost 25% longer than the specified guidelines is not a good way to start.
    Process and dismissal. Shelter and location. Everybody wants somewhere.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by krbxtigerz View post
    I tried to keep it concise, but it's still about 650 words while many schools want "not more than 500 words"
    It would be one thing to have 520 words, or 530, but 650 is way over as far as a percentage goes. You have to think about what is more important, writing how you want to write, or writing how they want you to write. In my undergraduate career, I can't tell how many times I've gotten good grades on papers or assignments that weren't exactly earth shattering because I followed directions, whereas I would see others produce good work, but it just wasn't exactly what the professor was asking for.

    Think of this more like writing a newspaper article than a typical paper, where being concise and making each sentence count is critical. Also, think from their perspective; if everybody overshot the word limit by 30%, they would have to essentially read 30% more statements. I'm sure that it is possible to effectively sell yourself in the manner they want to see in under 500 words. Also, keep in mind since most schools require resumes, that's where a lot of your past experience can be shown.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    yikes!

    This sucks....I guess I'll have to cut out the entire paragraph.......
    I think I'll have to have 500-word essay for schools with limit, and a longer version for other schools without such limit......I think Columbia and Penn has 500 words limit?
    MIT and UCLA don't......does know anyone know about NYU and Rutgers?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by krbxtigerz View post
    This sucks....I guess I'll have to cut out the entire paragraph.......
    I think I'll have to have 500-word essay for schools with limit, and a longer version for other schools without such limit......I think Columbia and Penn has 500 words limit?
    MIT and UCLA don't......does know anyone know about NYU and Rutgers?
    Remember, as a planner in the real world staff reports and other documents need to strait, to the point and get from point A to Point B. A personal statement, even though is an expression of one's self and potential, should be treated as such. Look at the amount of adjectives and other "fluff" your using. You would be surprised at how much of a statement you can make by looking at what you can cut out and effectively communicate yourself.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    thanks

    one general question...

    you are allowed to change what you want to study in grad school right? for ex., you originally wanted to focus on housing & community planning, but you change your mind to study international planning.

  10. #10
    NYU personal statement requirement is 2 to 3 pages, double-spaced

  11. #11
    If you're talking about changing your specialization, within planning, from housing and community development to international planning then I'm sure this could be done, so long as you decide early on and then work with your adviser/department head. However, if you are accepted into the planning program I think you would have a very difficult time switching to Landscape Architecture or Urban Design, for example.

  12. #12

    reply

    Would you please tell how you have related Land surveying to planning?
    be grateful to explain

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally posted by maniarianir View post
    Would you please tell how you have related Land surveying to planning?
    be grateful to explain
    Sure, I surveyed land for development for both private and public sector projects. Sometimes the land was completely undeveloped, sometimes there was already some infrastructure in place (i.e. surveying land tracts for a clubhouse in a neighborhood that already had roads, some utilities, etc, in place).

    It doesn't exactly go hand in hand with planning (as it's much farther down the developmental line then planning the area out), but I just mentioned that it was the beginning of my interest in the field (which it was).

  14. #14
    Thanks a lot for your reply.
    Maybe we can be in contact with each other.
    what about sending each other the SOP and comment about that.

    this is my e-mail:
    sharifigeomatic@gmail.com

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    personal statement for Cornell

    did anybody find the guideline about Cornell's requirement for personal statement?
    I don't think I saw it on their website.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    any help?

    hopefully it's like 2-3 pages lol

  17. #17

    for cornell

    1 to 2 page statement, full name and proposed field of study at the top of each page.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    thanks!

    Quote Originally posted by thebiggestdreamer View post
    1 to 2 page statement, full name and proposed field of study at the top of each page.
    can it be 2 pages, single-space?

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    2 essays for U. of Michigan?

    what's the deal here?
    they want you to submit 1) statement of purpose and 2) personal statement? -_-

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by krbxtigerz View post
    can it be 2 pages, single-space?
    bump. does anyone know? what did you do? i can fit it all in 2 single spaced pages, but definitely not double spaced.

  21. #21
    i've no clue. i think i'll just go with single-spaced, since I don't think I can make my statement shorter than that. i've also never seen a school specifically ask for double-spaced, so...

  22. #22
    Quote Originally posted by gfg12 View post
    bump. does anyone know? what did you do? i can fit it all in 2 single spaced pages, but definitely not double spaced.
    It's the word-count that matters, not the spacing. It doesn't take longer to read 500 double-spaced words than 500 single-spaced words.

  23. #23
    none of my places ask for a word count... thank goodness haha 500 words would kill me, it's so little space in which to tell a story.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by thebiggestdreamer View post
    none of my places ask for a word count... thank goodness haha 500 words would kill me, it's so little space in which to tell a story.

    Not to sound like a stalker, but I think I remember you posting the schools to which you're applying. Your list included (among others) Harvard and Penn, both of which have word maxima (Harvard: 1000, Penn:500). Has your list changed? (It's really none of my business!)

    I know it sounds bizarre, but I remember your username!

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by thebiggestdreamer View post
    none of my places ask for a word count... thank goodness haha 500 words would kill me, it's so little space in which to tell a story.
    Quote Originally posted by warderjack View post
    It would be one thing to have 520 words, or 530, but 650 is way over as far as a percentage goes. You have to think about what is more important, writing how you want to write, or writing how they want you to write. In my undergraduate career, I can't tell how many times I've gotten good grades on papers or assignments that weren't exactly earth shattering because I followed directions, whereas I would see others produce good work, but it just wasn't exactly what the professor was asking for.

    Think of this more like writing a newspaper article than a typical paper, where being concise and making each sentence count is critical. Also, think from their perspective; if everybody overshot the word limit by 30%, they would have to essentially read 30% more statements. I'm sure that it is possible to effectively sell yourself in the manner they want to see in under 500 words. Also, keep in mind since most schools require resumes, that's where a lot of your past experience can be shown.

    Conversely, what happens if your statement is perhaps "too short"? For example, I applied to a school that had a limit of 1000 words and my essay was barely 700 words. I realize a limit in no way requires one to write that amount, but I'm worried that I did not take full advantage of the essay.

    Insecurities, I know. But did anyone else feel this way ever?

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