I have a few specific questions I have come accross while re-drafting my personal statement for a PhD application.
Because the application is for a specialised academic subject, I have made it very much concerned with my intellectual experience, interests, methodologies, etc (ie as opposed to too much focus on 'life changing experiences' etc). I am trying to make myself sound like a good scholar.
But, I was wondering:
1. Should I mention specific people whose books influenced me, even if they dont teach at the school I am applying to, but are leaders in their field, to show I have read widely?
2. What are opinions on using quotes in an essay like this (ie from books by the above mentioned scholars). Nothing long, just a short and snappy thing that sums up the way I look at my field, or an opinion I dispute.
3. Should I be very specific about the research I would like to do for my PhD, or broad?
4. Should I mention prizes/scholarships Ive won in the personal statement, even though they will also be listed in the application?
Thanks for the help
It sounds like you've done some good thinking about your personal statement. The thing to keep foremost in mind when writing it is that you want to show the admissions committee why they should choose you over another candidate. You want to give them as many compelling reasons as you can. Demonstrating that you have read widely on the subject and are familiar with the work of leading professionals in the field is certainly one way to show your interest and commitment. If you can work in a snappy quote in a way that seems natural and not contrived, I think that's a great idea. Anything positive that makes you unique or particularly impressive, including your prizes and scholarships, would also be good. As far as your research, if you know specifically what direction you want your research to go, that will show the committee that you are focused and dedicated to pursuing your goals. Be as specific as you can about what those goals are, too. Statements which only talk in vague terms about generalities (e.g., "I would make an excellent chemical engineer because I find the subject interesting") are going to bore the reader. Including concrete examples in a lively, personal style will engage the reader and make you stand out.
So, in short, I'd answer your questions this way: 1) yes; 2) good idea; 3) specific; 4) yes. :-))
I hope this helps!