======= Date Modified 14 26 2009 15:26:27 =======
Is it best to focus on previous experience/MA/MSc and how this training has equipped me to do a PhD, or is it best to focus on the importance of my topic, or why I want to go to this university?
Any advice on what makes a successful personal statement?
I think you should also throw in a sentence about being tenacious, determined, have ability to work hard etc, that sort of thing. It could help to let the committee know that you know you're in for the long haul, that it's going to be hard, but that you can overcome obstacles in this long process.
Assuming you've spelled out the importance of your research elsewhere (in your proposal/case for support), I'd focus on selling your ability and commitment... I wasn't asked for a 'personal statement' as such, but in the 'any relevant info' of my studentship application form I basically put my PhD in a long-term context (explaining why I'd wanted to return to study after 10 years working, summarising my MA marks, spelling out that I saw my PhD as the start of a new career to which I was 100% committed - 'having given up a successful career to pursue a lifelong ambition, bla bla bla...', suggesting some of the transferrable skills I was bringing with me...)
Of course it all depends what people are looking for - and I'm basing my advice on one successful application to one uni - but I'd say you basically need to explain what it is about YOU in particular that makes you worth investing in.
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