Go to navigation (press enter key)Menu

Becoming a Competitive Applicant

Consult with a Research Librarian. Vassar's Research Librarians can help you better articulate your vision in your personal statement or project description by directing you towards sources of information to strengthen your application. These sources may differ from what you use for course related research, so ask a librarian for assistance and ideas.  You could consult international newspapers to discover current issues of importance in the country where you want to go or explore organizations and people you could partner with there. An article from a law review or medical journal could provide the appropriate context for your opening statement.  At minimum, the more opportunities you have to describe your application's approach to someone, the better!

The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Writing Personal Statements Online This five-chapter handbook, available for free through Penn State’s e-Education Institute, provides students with detailed advice on weighing the grad school decision, generating detail for personal essays, and writing style.  The final two chapters discuss specific scholarships and other graduate school opportunities and include sample personal essays.  The book also includes an internal search engine and plenty of "Self-Study" boxes with recommended links where students can go for further instruction on particular topics.  This new handbook replaces my Writing Personal Statements and Scholarship Application Essays, formerly published by Cengage Learning.  

Style for Students Online This is an all-purpose style handbook for college students, especially those in technical fields, covering everything from comma usage to resume writing.  The print version of the handbook, also formerly published by Cengage Learning, is replaced by this free online version.  

The Graduate College at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Proposal Writing Resources

Word Count Limit Got You Down? Try These 6 Editing Tricks

Rhodes Scholars speak about writing the personal statement

Requesting Letters of Recommendation

How to Ask for Recommendation and how to supervise the faculty member writing it, Chronicle of Higher Education

Brown University: Asking for Recommendations

Yale University: Writing Letters of Recommendation

Grand Valley State University: Tips for Requesting Letters of Recommendation

Resources from Psychology Today

Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, she has put together the following articles that will be helpful to you:

Writing Personal Statements and Cover Letters

The Ultimate Guide to Recommendations

Interviews

Check out Engage Abroad! A blog written by Carol Madison Graham on cultural engagement. Featuring a post entitled:

Scholarship Interviews and the Leader Culture