By Christopher Nelson, freelance multimedia journalist
As the end of the year approaches journalism students across the country find themselves studying for and taking final exams, and of course completing incisive multimedia reporting projects. For some the next challenge will be applying to graduate school.
The application process can be daunting, and perhaps the part, which makes applicants most nervous is the challenge of writing a personal statement. We asked faculty, staff, and alumni at some of the nation’s most respected j-schools for tips, tricks, and tidbits on crafting a winning personal statement, and making your overall application stand out.
1) Think about what you’re going to say.
What you’re asked to discuss as a part of your journalism school personal statement varies. Sometimes there is a very specific prompt or question, or other times you’re given more freedom and flexibility. Experts stressed the importance of paying attention to detail, and answering the question.
2) Go into the writing process committed to being yourself, and showcasing your best self.
“A bad piece of advice for life, but a great piece of advice for this process is you have to be less humble. We want to know why you’re great!” said Maximo A. Patino, Director of Recruitment & Diversity, The Newhouse School, Syracuse University.
“Be up front about your flaws because they know what they are,” said Sia Nyorkor, Multimedia Reporter, KWCH-TV and 2009 graduate, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. “So many times you have to turn it into a positive.”
3) Be mindful of the importance of telling a good story.
“Write your truth. Be honest, be compelling, make me want to know you and accept you,” said Yvonne Latty, Director of the Reporting New York and Reporting the Nation, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York University.
“We’re looking for storytellers, so tell us your story,” added Patino.
4) Particularize each and every statement for the school to which you are applying.
“Write to me. Don’t send me a generic statement that you can send to other schools. Research my program, NYU Journalism, what we do and who teaches here. Do your research,” said Latty.
5) Remember to showcase those skills, which will make you a great journalist.
Once you’re done writing your statement, “read it over carefully, have others read it, and copy-edit,” said Latty.
Beyond your record on paper, it’s also important to show yourself as aggressive, a go-getter.
“Make sure you three-dimensionalize this process beyond your transcript, and beyond your GRE score,” said Patino. “Now more than ever before folks in admissions office, we’re looking at the application even more holistically.”
The end goal is to put a face to the story, your story.
“I want to know you. I want to forget that I am reading a statement and just see you,” said Latty.