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6 tips for crafting your unique statement of purpose

How do you write an essay that makes your application stand out?

Author: Max Shu Teasdale

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When applying for a Master of Education (M.Ed.) or teaching program, one of the most dreaded steps is writing a statement of purpose, aka personal statement or application essay. How do you write an essay that makes your application stand out?

Here are six tips to help you create a connection with the grad program of your dreams.

1. Give yourself time to think, write and review

A great statement of purpose can make or break your acceptance to a competitive program, so don’t rush the process. And don’t wait until the last minute to get started.

Create a reverse schedule for yourself to make sure every step in your application process—including writing your statement of purpose—is accounted for in advance of the submission deadline.

This will ensure that you have the creative energy saved up to write a compelling essay.

Before you hit Submit, ask someone you trust—a professor, advisor or mentor—to review your draft. A fresh set of eyes can verify that you strike the right balance and use the right words. The more open you are to feedback, the stronger your statement will be.

Check out Certificationmap.com’s advice for more.

2. Put yourself in the admissions officer’s shoes

Remember that admissions officers are people, too. Imagine them sitting for hours (days!) behind a desk reviewing hundreds of applications each year. “We are looking for the human being behind the roster of activities and grades,” says an Oberlin College admissions officer. In other words, tell a story. Think about building a personal connection using your statement of purpose.

“Know that I read almost 800 applications a year, so I want something that stands out. Take a chance,” advises a University of Rochester admissions counselor. “Tell me something nobody else knows about you, or tell me something in a way that is really going to paint a picture of who you are.”

And from the Office of Undergraduate Admission at Stanford University: “We want to hear your individual voice in your writing. Write essays that reflect who you are; use specific, concrete details and write in a natural style.”

For even more admissions officer tips, check out this personal statement advice from Kibin.

3. Tailor the story to your life stage

The reason you want to go into teaching may differ if you’re a college student, current educator or considering the profession at another stage in your life.

College students (and other applicants as well) should emphasize their “dedication and commitment to education” and share relevant professional experiences since they are applying for a professional degree program.

Teachers, on the other hand, should be specific about what has inspired them in the classroom and explain how an advanced degree will help them to make a greater impact in the future.

Career changers should try to make linkages between the program and their professional experiences to demonstrate how they will perform during the program and in the field.

Read CertificationMap.com’s post for advice divvied up into three categories: tips for everyone, current educators and career changers.

4. Be creative—up to a point

When crafting your statement of purpose, it’s better to be “substantive and direct” rather than “creative or flashy,” reminds Princeton Review. Make sure unique details that set you apart from other candidates are also relevant to the program you’re applying for.

In your personal statement, show why you care about teaching and education and provide background and your experience that supports your passion. Also, provide examples of being a hard worker and someone who will be “committed for the long haul.”

5. Address what the program is asking for

Make sure you’re following application instructions to the letter, another tip from Princeton Review. Double-check what the program is asking for, which formats they’re requesting, and where the word count limit is set.

While this does mean that one statement won’t fit all, you can still leverage your core story when applying to multiple programs. Just be thoughtful as to how you’re telling it.

6. Get personalized advice from a teacher

Finally, give your statement of purpose the expert attention it deserves. If you’re looking for someone who knows their way around a successful essay, connect with a teacher through TEACH.org.

Define your story, get feedback and feel confident that you’re putting your best foot forward. Check out our Talk to a Teacher program. Sign up takes five minutes, and it’s totally free.

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