Perfecting the personal essay can be the hardest part of the application process. It requires a lot of thought, some introspection and accurately describes who you are and where you want to go. We’ve broken down the key elements of a winning admissions essay to get you started.
Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm.
It can be hard to get motivated to start this process, but take a few minutes right now and jot down why you’re interested in this degree. What brought you to this page? Just start writing for at least 5 minutes. Set a timer. We’ll be here when you come back.
Did you find that you started writing a lot more than you thought you would? Walk away and come back in an hour or so—or even tomorrow! Repeat the process until you feel comfortable that the ideas you’ve written down accurately reflect you as an applicant. What are your values and passions? How can you demonstrate your leadership potential?
Focus on a topic.
You may be feeling overwhelmed with all the wonderful ideas you’ve jotted down. How do you focus on just one topic or idea? Start by ranking each idea, with the highest rank being the idea that resonates the most to you. That will be your main topic.
Now look at the other ideas and decide how each one supports your main topic. Each idea may be a few words, a few sentences or even a whole paragraph. Rank these supporting ideas in order of importance. Congratulations! You’ve just created your outline.
The first draft.
It’s time to take your outline down the path to a finished essay. Starting with your one supporting idea, organize your ideas into sentences. Then into paragraphs. Don’t worry about grammar or sentence structure or what an admissions office would want to read—you’ll handle that later. Just start writing. This essay is about you, so make sure what you’re writing reflects who you are.
When you’ve written everything you can think of about that main topic, start with the next idea, and then the next. You’re almost there.
The second, third, fourth drafts.
Read through your first draft with a closer eye. Does it say what you want to say? Could you reword a sentence to better convey your aspirations? But a word of warning: A thesaurus is not always your best friend. Using bigger or more obscure words in lieu of a simple one doesn’t always make you sound smarter. For example, “I love to learn” can easily turn into “I adore to absorb” when you overuse a Thesaurus.
Once you feel fairly confident with your essay, it’s always a good idea to have a fresh pair of eyes read it over. Find someone who can take read your essay to spot any inconsistencies, unformed thoughts, misspellings, etc. This could be a former English professor, a family member who has terrific writing and editing skills, or a professional proofreader. You can find many of the latter online.
Time to submit
Congratulations! You’ve crafted your perfect admissions essay. All that left between you and pursuing your education is the Submit button. Good luck!
I am applying for public health school and would love any feedback you can offer. The requirements of the essay are: 1-reason for interest in public health 2-reason for interest in concentration area 3-reason for interest in school 4-career goals
People have a habit of avoiding the things that scare them the most. I was no exception to this, my fear haunted me day and night but I refused to acknowledge it. It was early one morning when I finally decided to face what I had been running from: the scale. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and refused to look down. This moment of shame and anxiety were all too familiar to me. Two hundred and three. The number the red lights flashed, the number I couldn't stop repeating in my head, and the number that led me to turn my life around.
I was just getting ready to begin my junior year of college when I finally was forced to acknowledge the harsh reality that I was obese. For countless years I was in denial, so I turned to food to distract and comfort me. It wasn't until I enrolled in a nutrition course that fall semester that I began to understand that food did not have to be my enemy. I learned about portion sizes, nutrients and different food preparation techniques. I finished the course and was eager to apply the knowledge I gained to my life. It was a long journey, and debatably one of the hardest challenges I have endured. One hundred and fifty. The number the red lights flashed, and the number that developed my interest in public health.
As a Health Promotion major, I have had an interest in preventative healthcare for some time. In my studies I have had the opportunity to be exposed to a wide variety of health related courses. I have been able to develop a deep understanding of topics ranging from psychology to exercise testing and nutrition based. The message I have taken from all of my courses as an undergraduate is that everyone is different. The wonderful thing about our country today is the level of diversity we share amongst us. The skills I have been taught in the classroom have shown me how to adjust approaches to people that accommodate the uniqueness of diverse populations.
I had not fully appreciated the information I have been taught until I saw how I could use it in the real world. In my work with Systems Unlimited, Inc. and the Johnson County Public Health Department I was able to apply the principles of community and behavioral health. I was able to work on a personal level with handicapped adults to develop and accomplish health-related goals. Using behavioral theory techniques I have studied in psychology courses I altered activities to fit their needs, and was able to help them reach their goals. I have also had the chance to work with worksite employees, vending companies and business administration teams. This allowed me to pair my knowledge of nutrition with my social skills to work to make changes that affected people on a community level. These experiences were challenging learning opportunities that salified my interest in public health even further.
In regards to public health, I have developed a particular interest in community and behavioral health. My personal experience of weight loss showed me how providing people with knowledge can help them make a positive health change. I hope to empower people to lead healthy lifestyles with the knowledge I have learned. To be able to excel in this area of interest I have chosen to complete a psychology minor in addition to my health promotion program. The theoretical applications I have studied in my psychology courses paired with the heavily science-based courses of my health promotion program have given me a well-rounded perception of this particular field. The multi-dimensional understanding of community and behavioral health that I have attained in the classroom would make the greatest contribution if used in this area of interest.
For my future career I see myself working to educate individuals on the topics of nutrition and physical activity, particularly low-income persons. I am drawn to community and behavioral health because of the ability to translate what I learn in the classroom to positively affect the lives of people in my community. Earning my masters of public health will give me a comprehensive understanding of research that I would be able to share with others who are not fortunate enough to earn the same education. Later in my career I would like to transition from education to policy-focused work. Having the background of what problems people are facing and how it is affecting them will allow me to adequately formulate and enforce policies that will be of benefit to the public. I have confidence that your capstone project and practicum requirements will enable me to design, implement and evaluate educational programs in the field. The hands-on experience I would be able to gain from your school will be advantageous in launching my career and enhancing my psychological and scientific backgrounds.
The collaboration of campuses your school offers is unique and will provide a large range of academic opportunities many other schools can not offer. The location of your school is also of interest to me. Research has shown that this area has seen a recent abnormal increase in childhood poverty rates. The geographical landscape would allow for intervention programs that several other states do not have. The utilization of the land and distinctive scholastic approach your school has to offer will be a great benefit in my future career. I feel the graduate studies will be a great extension to my academic interests, and I would be privileged to be able to continue my studies at your institution.