How to Write Strong, Purposeful Personal Statements

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Interested in applying to graduate school? If so, you're probably on a collision course with those wondrous (and perhaps terrifying) personal statements and other admissions essays. If you're like me, the thought of writing essays and being judged on my accomplishments caused a few heart palpitations. It's not easy to communicate your abilities in writing, to do so in an engaging way, and to convey a clear sense of purpose. And perhaps you are wondering, 'What is my purpose anyway'?

Take comfort in the fact that there is an art and a science to writing admissions essays in a way that effectively communicates who you are and where you’re headed. Both the art and science can be learned, and the process itself can help you better understand yourself and your future interests.

In this 90-minute class, you will:

  • Get a primer on the most important aspects of writing strong admissions essays
  • Identify the 2-3 key themes you want to communicate in your essays
  • Look at your ‘applicant profile’ and figure out how you can defy easy categorization by an admissions reader
  • Learn how to use narratives to communicate action, intent and a record of accomplishment
  • Look at case studies of sample essays (before and after revision) to apply our knowledge of what admissions committees are looking for
  • And the hardest part...think about what is it that you actually want to do with your life and how you communicate a strong sense of purpose and direction. We’ll review some tips for identifying your passions and communicating those in writing.

Note: For those interested, a follow-up class may be offered on identifying your professional purpose.

  • How to Write Strong, Purposeful Personal Statements


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Erik Yazdani


Erik Yazdani is a former technology professional who developed an interest in the topic of motivation.  He completed his MBA at MIT Sloan while also receiving a joint Masters of Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. While at MIT, Erik was selected to be a leadership and organizational behavior researcher at the MIT Leadership Center and was a teaching assistant for leadership guru Ronald Heifetz at the Kennedy School of Government. His work focused on understanding the factors that prevent organizational change, why organizations and individuals often avoid addressing their most intractable problems and how to better motivate people. After graduate school, Erik taught psychology and physics in the New York City public schools. During that time he also developed an Adaptive Leadership Workshop for educators based on the leadership principles of Ron Heifetz.  

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