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Thread: Looking for advice on admission with not very strong personal statement

  1. #1
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    Looking for advice on admission with not very strong personal statement

    Currently a non-matriculated student at a pretty decent planning school. Looking to enter as a full time student. Just submitted my application. I took the application process as a formality. Deadline was approaching and i have a demanding part time job so i didn't put to much effort into the personal statement.

    Searching through some threads, im beginning to realize not spending to much time on the personal statement, might have been a bad idea. While writing it, I assumed it would never get more then a glance, if any look at all. I just dont see how an admissions board actually has the time to go through 300+ personal statements and 900+ letters of recommendation. (If anyone knows admissions boards do in fact go through these documents in excess, please refrain from telling me)

    My question is, should I be concerned that my personal statement was not very good? If so, is there anything at this point I can do?

    Grades - Very Good
    LOR's - Very Good
    Personal Statement - Not Very Good
    GRE Scores - Not to bad but not good. Don't see what the point of standardized testing is.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Well I just got into Rutgers with just over a 3.0 in my undergrad in Poli Sci and my 1230 GRE scores. I don't know what anyone wrote on my recommendations.

    I'd post up my Personal Statement, but I'm not sure I should. I odn't know how Universities feel about it, or whatever. If other people respond saying that no one cares then I'll post mine up. Mine might have sucked too, which is why I'm offering it to you. If I got in with a bad one (assuming it's bad) then it would make you feel more confident.

  3. #3
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Understand that no one piece of the pie will get you in or get you thrown out. It is a whole picture type thing. I would bet that your personal statement isn't as bad as you think. I am sure each department looks at things differently, but I don't think they will let a good candidate go because you didn't give enough time to the personal statement.

    Good luck. Once we can get the search going again, I will link to some other questions that are similar to try and get you some better answers. Glad to have you.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TheUrbanRiot View post
    Currently a non-matriculated student at a pretty decent planning school. Looking to enter as a full time student. Just submitted my application. I took the application process as a formality. Deadline was approaching and i have a demanding part time job so i didn't put to much effort into the personal statement.

    Searching through some threads, im beginning to realize not spending to much time on the personal statement, might have been a bad idea. While writing it, I assumed it would never get more then a glance, if any look at all. I just dont see how an admissions board actually has the time to go through 300+ personal statements and 900+ letters of recommendation. (If anyone knows admissions boards do in fact go through these documents in excess, please refrain from telling me)

    My question is, should I be concerned that my personal statement was not very good? If so, is there anything at this point I can do?

    Grades - Very Good
    LOR's - Very Good
    Personal Statement - Not Very Good
    GRE Scores - Not to bad but not good. Don't see what the point of standardized testing is.
    It is that time of year again for these questions. Surely if you don't get in there, your Plan Bs will work

    Keep calm and Chive On.

  5. #5
    I severed on the admissions committee for my MSP program.

    Should I be concerned that my personal statement was not very good? That’s really a moot point at this stage.

    If so, is there anything at this point I can do? You can always send a friendly email to the admissions coordinator. These emails tend to end up in the admissions file and thus could provide additional insight to the committee about your interests in the program.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Some humor. The following personal statement, written allegedly by a majority native English speaker in the UK, was widely circulated among med school admission officers in the UK and US a few years ago.. and got itself rated as the worst personal statement ever:

    "I want to be a doctor because I am interested in science and I enjoy helping people. I know this because I am always trying to look for ways to help other, whether it is in the supermarket or the airport. I think medicine is a very challenging career, but the hard work pays off, literally! I explored other healthcare option, but medicine was right for me, because the joy of diagnosis and treatment intrigues me."

    [several paragraphs worth of utter drivel]

    "I feel medicine is right for me because of all the good attributes I possess and I know this because I have read tomorrows doctor and good medical practice and I fit into the right criteria. I also enjoy reading medical journals and websites such as BBC - Health, Science Daily: News & Articles in Science, Health, Environment & Technology and others. From this I have gained a very good interest in the effects of smoking leading to TB. I feel I am very confident in this area and will be able to challenge professor at your school! Overall I am right to be a doctor and am looking forward to start my studies this year! Thank you for reading this Very Personal Statement (for yours and my eyes only!) and hope to please you at the interview and around the lecture theatres and hospitals in a city near you!"

    Another famous personal statement leaked by a grad school was one from a law school applicant which opened with "I wish to become a lawyer because I am personally revolted by abortion and I want to devote my life to ending it." Unfortunately, the applicant wasn't trying for admission to a religiously affiliated university...

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    I'm going to just post up my statement. If you think it's bad then you can use it as something to laugh at since I got into where I wanted to go. If it's good then it's good. Perhaps future applicants can take pointers if it is good.

    Throughout my entire life I have always been a person with many interests. As far back as I can remember these included history, science, the environment, and designing things. Ever since I became a young adult, this healthy thirst for knowledge has only back fired on me. It has made it very difficult to figure what I want to do in life. This was especially problematic when you realize that this was the point in time that most people are setting up their careers.

    Enter urban planning. Urban planning was a field I had no idea existed until one of my former colleagues decided that she was going into that field. After exhaustive research, I found my calling. What urban planning is, and the available concentrations in the field really spoke to me. I knew instantly that there was nothing out there that could compete with urban planning in my heart.

    There has always been always a desire within me to go into a field where I can make a positive impact in the lives of people. I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey (a fact that to this day puts a frightened face on many of the people that I tell) and because of that I grew up exposed to all the negatives of urban life. I grew up around murder, drugs, and gang warfare. I wanted to make the world better because despite all its negatives, Newark has a lot of good people who need help. But how was I to do it?

    Originally, my intent was to get an MPA and do non-profit work. Eventually, I would make my own non-profit and I would help that way. However, even when that was my plan, it was still too vague. Urban planning allowed me in some way, shape, or form to incorporate all the things that interest me in life. Even more than that, it allowed me to do so while being able to help people. I can find no fault in urban planning.

    Growing up in Newark also gives certain insight that others might not have. Sure, you can visit places and read books on planning to understand good planning versus bad planning, but how many people can say they spent the first twenty three years of their life living in an area where they are surrounded and constantly exposed to poor planning decisions? School is often a lot of theory, but I have constantly witnessed ideas that are terrible in practice despite initially seeming like good ideas. In a field like urban planning where so much is contingent on making things that function in the real world, practice is superior to theory.

    My intent is to get a degree in Urban Planning with a concentration in Environmental Planning. After that I would become a planner at some level of government with a focus on sustainability, and do side work as a freelance environmental and energy efficiency consultant. My previous position gave me much experience in sustainability, the environment, and energy efficiency and that is where I want to take myself. Ideally, I would be working in either a local government where I could have real interaction with the people I would be working for, or perhaps working overseas doing environmental planning for a developing country. If not, I know some planners take the non-profit route. I would not be opposed to such a career decision. So long as I can make things better for people in some way, my job will be fulfilling regardless of where it is, or how much it pays.

    Many people seem to think that the only concern when it comes to improving urban areas is economics. That is not the case, and that is because everything is so connected. In an urban area environmental and energy issues are health and economic issues. This is most notable today with rapidly increasing asthma issues in urban areas due to pollution on the negative side, and green jobs to uplift urban areas on the positive side. The point is everything is connected. By getting involved in urban planning and the environment, and getting to work on using those skills to improve urban cities one can knock over many dominos. My goal is to knock over as many as I can, and improve lives for as many people as possible.

    How does the Bloustein School play into all of this? There are many reasons that I find the Bloustein School at the top of my list. However, despite all of that one reason shines above all possible reasons. The Bloustein School has a phenomenal program. After speaking with some people familiar with the program and people who are graduates of the program the consensus was that Bloustein was “the place to study planning”. Of all the schools I looked over when doing my initial research into urban planning programs the curriculum at Bloustein was the one that made me sure that this was what I wanted to study. The program carries five different concentrations and each in a subject that either I have familiarity with or a heavy interest in. At this point I should apologize, for what may seem like brown nosing, but in full honesty the program at Bloustein was what inspired me to urban planning unlike any other calling I have felt in my life.

    Now, on to more reasons that Bloustein is where I want to study. The fact is Bloustein is located right in the middle of New Jersey. Now, many love to make fun of the Garden State, but the truth is New Jersey is a very important state. Those people who look down on New Jersey really miss out on all that it offers. New Jersey constantly has lots of large projects that involve construction, transport, the environment, real estate and more. It is also loaded with many urban centers such as Newark, New Brunswick, Trenton, Atlantic City, Camden, Jersey City, Elizabeth and more. For many of us who grew up in the North Jersey area dominated by Newark, Jersey City, and Elizabeth, there was no concept that New Jersey actually has farms and rural areas. That is just to give you an idea of just how urban New Jersey is. Just from the planning perspective that creates so many things to do.

    If you want to discuss proximity to urban centers, New Jersey is a bridge away from the largest city in the United States (New York City) and another bridge from the fifth largest (Philadelphia). That also opens the door to many planning opportunities and neither city is that far from the location of the Bloustein School. So besides the jobs and internships I could find in New Jersey, I could just as easily find them in Philadelphia or New York. With such large cities and a variety of places in between there is no telling the kind of opportunities that the area could provide in the planning field. Couple this with Bloustein’s awesome program and the sky is the limit.

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