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About the Personal Achievements/Contributions Statement

Posted: Sun Nov 06, 2011 2:12 am
by huyichen
Hi guys, so I am completing the application for UCSB, and they ask me to write a Personal Achievements/Contributions Statement, however, I feel I have nothing to say, since I have never experienced anything like examples they give. So what should be talked about in this kind of essay except examples they give?

Here is what on their application:
Personal Achievements/Contributions Statement
UC Santa Barbara is interested in a diverse and inclusive graduate student population. Please describe any aspects of your personal background, accomplishments, or achievements that you feel are important in evaluating your application for graduate study. For example, please describe if you have experienced economic challenges in achieving higher education, such as being financially responsible for family members or dependents, having to work significant hours during undergraduate schooling or coming from a family background of limited income. Please describe if you have any unusual or varied life experiences that might contribute to the diversity of the graduate group, such as fluency in other languages, experience living in bicultural communities, academic research interests focusing on cultural, societal, or educational problems as they affect underserved segments of society, or evidence of an intention to use the graduate degree toward serving disadvantaged individuals or populations.

Re: About the Personal Achievements/Contributions Statement

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 12:03 am
by bfollinprm
Talk about a hobby, a summer abroad, an REU, extended interaction with minority groups (tutoring, extra-curriculars), or any service activities you may have been a part of (through SPS, for instance). Any time some factor in your life prevented you from doing something you wanted to do physics or academics related is fair game as well.

Re: About the Personal Achievements/Contributions Statement

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:54 am
by SPat
All the UCs have that on their application. I procrastinated big time on that one, and ended up having to write it in the one-hour break between conference talks on the day of the deadline - I dug up my undergrad admissions essay and added some fluff to it. And I still got in.

Granted mine was an extreme case and you shouldnt slack off that bad, but from what I've heard, unless your background is sufficiently different from the average PhD Physics applicant, that essay won't make much difference, and you shouldn't sweat it too much. (Although who knows, a crappy essay could've been the reason I din't get a fancy fellowship...)

Re: About the Personal Achievements/Contributions Statement

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 10:58 am
by bfollinprm
As a matter of fact, the UC's do have fellowships that rely on your answer to that question. Though if you don't have a good topic already, chances are you won't get those fellowships, and that probably this essay doesn't really matter. The UC graduate schools require a question like this, but I have to imagine that physics departments tend to weight its importance rather low.

That doesn't change the fact that you have to write it, though. If you're having trouble with getting something on page, use it as a forum to talk about your research skills (talk about the maturation and change of perspective doing research caused), or as a place to explain away a weakness in your application.