Beware of Sample
Writing a graduate school application
can be intimidating. It's not easy to know the best
approach, format, or style. That's where reading sample
personal statements can help. But be careful. While the
samples may look great, don't let the drama of these
samples overtake your own story.
A study conducted by members of the Universities and
Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), the organization
that handles undergraduate applications to universities
and colleges in the U.K., found numerous plagiarized
personal stories in the applications they reviewed.
Whether it was a retelling of a burning-building story
or a description of the crystalline moment in an
applicant decided his life's calling was to become a
doctor, these plagiarized stories were easily detected.
Despite your honest intentions, if you read too many
sample personal statements, you may unintentionally end
up plagiarizing your own story. Reading too many sample
statements of purpose can make it difficult to approach
yours with a fresh perspective. The cadence and style of
the samples will creep into your mind. Before you know
it, yours will end up sounding like all the others.
Copying material from a sample essay is not only wrong,
but it's stupid because if admissions committees pick up
even a whiff of plagiarism, your application will end up
in the reject pile. And it is so easy for admissions
officers to detect, especially when multiple applicants
use the same plagiarized story. Remember, truth and
honesty have a feel like nothing else.
While it doesn't hurt to read a couple of sample essays
to help you get your creative juices flowing, keep it at
that. Your personal statement is one of your best tools
to make the admissions committee remember you. It's your
chance to introduce yourself as a unique individual. If
you're serious about getting into graduate school, make
the most of the platform that a personal statement