The problem is that most candidates, for some reason, do not read the prompt. They answer a different question in their personal statement essays, which could be phrased: “What makes us such a great school for you?” The response to this is easily offered because it is so well-known – the great reputation, the classes in X that will give you great analytical skills and the classes in Y that will make you think “out of the box.” But this is a response to the wrong prompt.
How Your Personal Statement Essays Can Focus on the “Fit”
The word to pay attention to in this personal statement prompt is the word “fit,” and to identify the school’s advantages in terms of how they specifically dovetail with your current path in a given direction. Another useful approach in personal statement essays is to offer a summary introduction that identifies no more than three primary reasons for the ideal fit, and to then use the next three paragraphs to flesh these three reasons out. As an example, if you point to a specific professional or academic situation and say, “in that situation, what I needed for greater success was mastery of a certain process,” you can then point to specific training in that process at the target program.
Most important of all, do not make your personal statement all about your needs. In your personal statement essays there are many approaches to use – you can talk about the curriculum, the facilities, the faculty, the location, and a host of other factors – but again – where is the “fit”? What are they looking for? This is a perspective overlooked by many candidates that often presents good material for development. If you can point to the school’s mission statement or to recent press releases and say that it is clear (always offering an example) that you are just the kind of student they are looking for, you can advance your candidacy in your personal statement essays by focusing on their needs as much as on your own.