Personal statement for graduate school
June 16, 2012 2:02 PM Subscribe
Applying for graduate school (PhD) in applied maths. Questions about personal statement. Relevant details within.
posted by dragonfruit to education (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in maths this year, and I am applying for PhD programs in applied maths next year (aiming for enrollment the year afterwards). My circumstances are as follows:
- I actually had not planned on going to graduate school so soon, and in the beginning of my senior year, I accepted a job as a computer programmer (for after graduation). This is the job I'm working at now, it's entry-level and pretty un-noteworthy in terms of the technical skills used/required.
- However, the last semester of senior year I ended up working on an applied maths project with a professor that I (somewhat unexpectedly) greatly enjoyed. I just found the work very interesting and challenging in the right ways. This is what is prompting me to apply for graduate schools. The project itself was pretty simple (nothing groundbreaking or anything, no papers etc.) and my work was above average but not stellar. The professor has agreed to write a letter of recommendation for me. (I'm guessing it will be solid, but not spectacular).
- My undergraduate grades were average but upward-trending. I started off freshman year with C's and B's, mainly due to the adjustment to college level classes. My grades steadily improved to B+'s/A-'s sophomore year and A-'s/A's junior and senior year. (One exception of B+ the last semester of senior year.) This is partly because I got used to the rigor of college level classes and partly because I started taking less theoretical maths classes and more applications based maths classes. Unfortunately, I took some core classes (linear algebra notably) early on, so my grades in those classes feel like big black marks against me. I also neglected to take a pde/ode class due to repeated scheduling conflicts, which several of the programs that I'm considering applying to recommends in an undergraduate curriculum.
- I'm not sure what specific subarea I'd want to study in graduate school. I've always leaned more toward applied maths incorporating a strong computer science component, and I think I might like biostatistics or large data-set analysis as well. I know graduate schools like applicants to mention specific areas they'd be interested in and professors they'd like to work with, but these are still pretty unset plans as far as I'm concerned.
My question is: which of the circumstances above (grades/weird timeline/uncertainty of area of study) should be mentioned in the personal statement? Also looking for advice on making my personal statement a coherent whole (or does it have to be?).
Any additional advice both with the personal statement and the application in general is greatly welcomed. Please also feel free to message me privately.
Thanks in advance.