Most graduate schools require prospective students to submit a career goal statement as part of the application process. This statement allows students the opportunity to convince admission officers of their graduate study readiness and motivation. Goal statements often provide a fuller view of students than transcripts and test scores. Unfortunately, personal and career goal statements are often the most time-consuming part of graduate school applications. The general guidelines for goal statements are similar; however, each school has its own procedures for applicants to follow.
Review the goal statement instructions for each of your potential graduate schools. Pay careful attention to the specific questions asked by different schools. Note the due dates for each school and schedule enough time to work through several drafts of your statement.
Find an angle to shape your statement. Your focus should be engaging enough to stand out from the many other essays that admission officers are reading. Since many students have difficulty with this part of the goal statement, spend ample time finding the perfect angle.
Create an outline that addresses each of the questions put forward in the application. List all examples and experiences that have influenced your career choice. Although you may not include all of this information into your career goal statement, it is useful to have this information readily available.
Write an introductory paragraph that will grab the reader’s attention. Start with a catchy opening or personal experience example. Connect your opening with the graduate program you are applying to. Explain how it contributes to your future career goals. Be specific and address the program you are applying to and the career you hope to enter. Write in the first person.
Organize and write the middle and bulk of your essay. Explain how your undergraduate studies and personal experience relate to your graduate school choice and potential career. Highlight your strengths and qualifications. Make sure that each paragraph is focused and smoothly transitions to the next. Each paragraph should relate directly to your overall theme. Like your introduction, this should be written in the first person.
Write a conclusion that leaves a strong impression on readers. Your conclusion should not merely summarize your career goal statement. Instead, it should strengthen and widen your essay’s established theme and focus.
Review your completed goal statement carefully. Check for grammatical mistakes, style inconsistencies, spelling errors and coherence. Make sure each point emphasizes your chosen career goals. Ask your professors, academic advisers, writing tutors and peers to read your statement and provide feedback. Revisit it and make changes as needed.
Things You Will Need
- Word processing program
- Collegiate dictionary
- dictionary image by Ben Higham from Fotolia.com