1. Knowing your strengths – How can you be of value or how can you contribute? Begin
by looking at your good experiences for evidence of your strengths and then ask those
who know you best for their thoughts. Don’t overlook the value of a true friend’s honest
assessment of your strengths. Many people find they have hidden strengths that are only
obvious to their close friends and family.
2. Knowing your audience – Research the program(s) and organization(s) to which you are
applying through online searches, reading catalog / program descriptions, and emailing
for more information. Talk with professors, graduate students, advisers, and colleagues
met during internships.
3. Making a good case for the “match” between you and the program or organization to
which you are applying.
4. Telling a story that demonstrates your strengths with examples and that sets you
apart from others and shows how you can contribute. Avoid just writing a first-person
essay where each paragraph is a direct response to the points you are being asked to
address. Avoid starting every sentence with “I” or “I want.”