Understand your audience and the purpose of your essay. A graduate admission committee generally consists of professors in the specific program to which you are applying and sometimes some students who are currently enrolled in the program. Your essays will be read in context with the rest of your application, but they are really your opportunity to set yourself above your fellow applicants. Understand that what the committee is looking for may vary based on your field of study. (For example, applicants to a literature program will find their style and diction much more closely examined than the average applicant to a physics program.)

Planning to attend grad school? Check out this example of a Graduate School Application Essay.
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Many Ohio Wesleyan students go on to high-profile graduate and professional schools. Here is a small sample of the many model application essays written by these students. As these examples illustrate, your essay should begin with an engaging first sentence.

"From Working Poor to Elite Scholar"

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Your grad school application essay is also an opportunity to explain anything in your academic record that might raise an eyebrow among the admission committee, like a semester of poor grades, time off in your schooling, or a less-than-perfect GRE score. For example, if you worked part or full time to help fund your undergrad education, that lends some important context to your experience and achievements; maybe your undergrad GPA isn’t quite as high as it might’ve been otherwise, but graduate admission counselors will likely appreciate your hard work and dedication.