Sample Personal Statement for Neuroscience/Neurobiology
Why human beings are capable of thoughts and emotions? Why human beings can learn and retain memory? How it came that human beings can perceive and perform movements? Those are some of my early curiosities that initiated my interest in neuroscience and neurobiology. Now those initial curiosities of mine have grown into a passion which has convinced me that only by developing myself into a neuroscientist will it be possible for me to explore the underlying mysteries behind those questions.
I have received very stringent training and education on basic medical science at the Medical Center of Fudan University (former Shanghai Medical University), a famous Chinese educational institution. I have made excellent achievements on almost every basic program, which ca be testified by the information in my academic record. Through 4-year painstaking efforts made in my study, I have managed to maintain the top ranking in my class in the course of the whole undergraduate program, every year receiving scholarship especially issued by the university to students with academic excellence.
My undergraduate program is a process whereby I have deepened my interest and understanding of neuroscience. By learning anatomy, histology, embryology, and physiology in the first half of my program and neurobiology in the second half of my program, I acquired a systematic and comprehensive knowledge not only about the advanced mental faculties of the human brain but also about the mysteries of the human brain in other aspects. These include the relationship and the interaction between the central nervous system and other systems of the human body such as the endocrine system, the immunological system and the circulation system. Furthermore, as far as the brain itself is concerned, it has an amazing structure. The cortex alone is divided into a multiplicity of cellular layers, each consisting of different cells, with extensive fiber connections not only between different layers but also between individual cells inside a given layer. How did such a sophisticated structure come into being? It perplexes me a great deal, triggering my deep reflections. On the other hand, the substances that are responsible for transmitting information among various media neurons inside the brain are also complicated. These substances can either be the classic nervous communication media, the neural peptide, smaller molecules of chemical substances, etc. Moreover, the diseases caused by the pathological changes have always remained the most difficult problems in the medical science. As I assimilate knowledge in those areas gradually, my mind becomes enriched and my interest reinforced.
I have been clearly aware that to be a student of neuroscience, doing theoretical study and coursework is one thing, the development of practical abilities is another thing. In addition, neuroscience is more an applied subject than a theoretical one. With this realization, I have made conscious efforts to participate in research projects. When a sophomore, on account of my outstanding performance in course work and my strong enthusiasm for experiments, I was accepted by my advisor Prof. Wang Haijie into his research team in which, under the guidance of Prof. Wan, I worked together with his graduate students on the research of the lymph transfer of the glutinous molecule in the tumor. This experience permitted me to undertake labwork earlier than most of my classmates. In addition to the in-class studies, I prefer group discussions with the teachers and classmates so as to strengthen whatever I have learnt from books and, through brainstorming, to extend perspectives of knowledge about the advanced aspects of the science. I usually argue with my classmates on the controversial and interesting issues, such as the mental base for human passion and ideological evolution, genetic solution for mental disorders, etc. we usually form a sort of academic salon to discuss on the issues to our interest. I once organized a group discussion on the latest achievements made by recent Nobel winners in medicine and biology, and during the discussion, I myself hosted a debate on the subject of the functions of NO on cerebral vessel. I also collaborated with a classmate of mine and participated in a multi-functional experiment design launched by our department, for which we received fairly positive comments from departmental academic panel. Participating in those and other similar academic activities significantly increased my sense of joy of doing research work and enabled me to discover my rich research potential. I have come to believe that academic research will be the most appropriate career for my future.
In addition to the academic activities, I have been very active also in social activities. I have been a Red Cross member all the way ever since I was a primary school student, and I have been a regular volunteer to the local hospitals. I often take part in providing free medical services to residents in the local communities. I was a social worker for one year in a neighboring pediatric hospital. In the second half of 2001, I interned at the ZhongShan Hospital, one of the largest general hospitals in China. By having extensive contacts with patients and gaining broad understanding of the clinical medical practices, I have further reinforced my determination to engage in research in the field of biomedicine for the rest of my life.
Driven by my interest, I have chosen to undertake my internship for my graduation project in the neuro-biological laboratory of the University, which is also a national key lab. My job is to research on the estrogen impacts on cholinergic nerve. The research aims to find out the relation between the estrogen of the menopaused aged women and senile dementia, explore the possibility of prevention of senile dementia by estrogen addition to the aged women, and to observe the estrogen impacts on NOS. Thanks to the solid theoretical foundation and intensified experimental capabilities, I have carried out the experiment fairly smoothly so far, and it is very likely that this is going to be the subject of my graduation thesis. I have also attended some of the academic activities like weekly seminar and journal club which are largely open to graduate students. All of those involvements have quite fully prepared me for performing more advanced research in the future.
Years of specialized education have enabled me to know much more about the most critical sections of neuro-biology, in which there exist quite many significant issues that need to be addressed carefully. Research on these issues, such as re-generation of the damaged cerebral vessel cell, prevention of neurotic diseases and the causes of neurotic system retrogress, etc., is extremely meaningful not only for the purpose of theoretical improvement, but also for a clinical practice. As a result of combination of neuro-biology with cognitive sciences and information technologies, artificial intelligence is to be widely applicable in the future. To research on all these challenging issues has been so alluring that I become devoted in using all that I have learnt in order to find a solution. To attend to these issues properly, I feel desperately desirous to pursue a more advanced program to enhance my capabilities comprehensively. The universities in America, famous for their advanced facilities and stringent academic styles, are therefore identified as my best choice for this purpose.
Every bit of achievement in neuro-biological research and practice, I firmly believe, will greatly change the way and the quality of our life. I long to contribute all that I have to help create a better life for you and for me in the nearest future.
Below is a pdf link to personal statements and application essays representing strong efforts by students applying for both undergraduate and graduate opportunities. These ten essays have one thing in common: They were all written by students under the constraint of the essay being 1-2 pages due to the target program’s explicit instructions. In such circumstances, writers must attend carefully to the essay prompt (sometimes as simple as “Write a one-page summary of your reasons for wanting to pursue graduate study”) and recognize that evaluators tend to judge these essays on the same fundamental principles, as follows:
- First, you are typically expected to provide a window into your personal motivations, offer a summary of your field, your research, or your background, set some long-term goals, and note specific interest in the program to which you are applying.
- Second, you are expected to provide some personal detail and to communicate effectively and efficiently. Failure to do so can greatly limit your chances of acceptance.
Good writers accomplish these tasks by immediately establishing each paragraph’s topic and maintaining paragraph unity, by using concrete, personal examples to demonstrate their points, and by not prolonging the ending of the essay needlessly. Also, good writers study the target opportunity as carefully as they can, seeking to become an “insider,” perhaps even communicating with a professor they would like to work with at the target program, and tailoring the material accordingly so that evaluators can gauge the sincerity of their interest
Overview of Short Essay Samples
Geological Sciences Samples
In the pdf link below, the first two one-page statements written by students in the geological sciences are interesting to compare to each other. Despite their different areas of research specialization within the same field, both writers demonstrate a good deal of scientific fluency and kinship with their target programs.
Geography Student Sample
The short essay by a geography student applying to an internship program opens with the writer admitting that she previously had a limited view of geography, then describing how a course changed her way of thinking so that she came to understand geography as a “balance of physical, social, and cultural studies.” Despite her limited experience, she shows that she has aspirations of joining the Peace Corps or obtaining a law degree, and her final paragraph links her interests directly to the internship program to which she is applying.
Materials Sciences Student Sample
For the sample from materials sciences, directed at an internal fellowship, the one-page essay has an especially difficult task: The writer must persuade those who already know him (and thus know both his strengths and limitations) that he is worthy of internal funds to help him continue his graduate education. He attempts this by first citing the specific goal of his research group, followed by a brief summary of the literature related to this topic, then ending with a summary of his own research and lab experience.
Teach for America Student Sample
The student applying for the Teach for America program, which recruits recent college graduates to teach for two years in underprivileged urban and rural public schools, knows that she must convince readers of her suitability to such a demanding commitment, and she has just two short essays with which to do so. She successfully achieves this through examples related to service mission work that she completed in Ecuador before entering college.
Neuroscience Student Sample
The sample essay by a neuroscience student opens with narrative technique, telling an affecting story about working in a lab at the University of Pittsburgh. Thus we are introduced to one of the motivating forces behind her interest in neuroscience. Later paragraphs cite three undergraduate research experiences and her interest in the linked sciences of disease: immunology, biochemistry, genetics, and pathology.
Medieval Literature Student Sample
This sample essay immerses us in detail about medieval literature throughout, eventually citing several Irish medieval manuscripts. With these examples and others, we are convinced that this student truly does see medieval literature as a “passion,” as she claims in her first sentence. Later, the writer repeatedly cites two professors and “mentors” whom she has already met, noting how they have shaped her highly specific academic goals, and tying her almost headlong approach directly to the National University of Ireland at Maynooth, where she will have flexibility in designing her own program.
Beinecke Scholarship Student Sample
The Beinecke Scholarship essay is written by a junior faced with stiff competition from a program that awards $34,000 towards senior year and graduate school. This student takes an interesting theme-based approach and projects forward toward graduate school with confidence. This writer’s sense of self-definition is particularly strong, and her personal story compelling. Having witnessed repeated instances of injustice in her own life, the writer describes in her final paragraphs how these experiences have led to her proposed senior thesis research and her goal of becoming a policy analyst for the government’s Department of Education.
Online Education Student Sample
Written during a height of US involvement in Iraq, this essay manages the intriguing challenge of how a member of the military can make an effective case for on-line graduate study. The obvious need here, especially for an Air Force pilot of seven years, is to keep the focus on academic interests rather than, say, battle successes and the number of missions flown. An additional challenge is to use military experience and vocabulary in a way that is not obscure nor off-putting to academic selection committee members. To address these challenges, this writer intertwines his literacy in matters both military and academic, keeping focus on applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), his chosen field of graduate study.
Engineer Applying to a Master’s Program Sample
This example shows that even for an engineer with years of experience in the field, the fundamentals of personal essay writing remain the same. This statement opens with the engineer describing a formative experience—visiting a meat packaging plant as a teenager—that influenced the writer to work in the health and safety field. Now, as the writer prepares to advance his education while remaining a full-time safety engineer, he proves that he is capable by detailing examples that show his record of personal and professional success. Especially noteworthy is his partnering with a government agency to help protect workers from dust exposures, and he ties his extensive work experience directly to his goal of becoming a Certified Industrial Hygienist.
Click here to download a pdf of ten short essay samples.