Last Words of Advice on Preparing Your Application
I recently asked Sarah, our Student Assistant, to write up some last words of advice to those of you putting the finishing touches on your applications. The biggest thing that we want you to walk away with is the idea that the application is many parts to a whole. Therefore, each piece should tell part of a cohesive story as to who you are. The personal statement is probably the best way to pull everything together for us. This is what Sarah had to say (and I’d second all of her advice!):
Ask two new people to read over your personal statement. First, find someone who has applied and been accepted to the program. Then ask another person, whom you respect, but is not a close friend. This close to the admissions deadline, you should not look for friends. You want critical, objective readers who will give their honest opinion.
The Admissions Office looks first and foremost for strong personal statements. Your personal statement – condensed to only 600 words – is your best opportunity to demonstrate why you should be accepted to the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Standardized test scores, such as the GRE, GMAT, or LSAT are all second tiered to your essay. Moreover, these numbers have been generated from past studies. F&ES looks to the future. To prepare a strong personal statement, try to include the following:
Start with your story. My story touched on my studies and agricultural work in Kiribati and China. The story should be concise. If you choose to describe past environmental experience, make sure that the story has a point! Use it to set up a framework for why you need to come to Yale.
How does your story turn into a professional goal? Articulate your goals as clearly as possible. This is a graduate school, but it is intended to harbor professional skills. The beauty of this program is that you have flexibility to design your own Master’s program. That said, you will need to maintain a clear goal of your expectations for the program – otherwise, you’ll get lost in opportunities! Use your personal statement to show that your career goals are focused – that you have put a lot of thought into shaping your ideas and that these ideas are steadfast.
Next, what steps have you taken so far to reach this goal? Write about those classes, that internship, the research abroad, that you’ve already done. Include a few sentences that your resume does not cover.
Finally – and most importantly – show how your path to this career goal is missing one link: Yale F&ES. Why do you need to attend Yale in order to fulfill your goals? Which classes will you take that will help you develop the critical skills for professional development? Which professors have researched and taught the topic that you need?
Make sure there are no typos, misplaced modifiers, or subject-verb disagreements. Use language that is formal (don’t use contractions – save them for blogs!). Remember that you are writing to faculty.