Post by The Art of Applying consultant Heidi Before doing anything else, read the instructions closely. The online application is going to prompt you for a general Statement of Purpose but you are instructed to submit this essay in its place instead of writing two different Statements. Don’t waste time writing a general statement of purpose when what they’re looking for is a very specific type of statement focused on policy.
Don’t waste time writing a general statement of purpose when what they’re looking for is a very specific type of statement focused on policy.
Now is the more difficult part—deciding what exactly to share with the admissions committee. This is your chance to distinguish yourself as a compelling candidate in ways not conveyed in your other materials. While Goldman indicates they don’t necessarily expect you to address all of their questions, you must address the why. Why Goldman? Why focus on public policy analysis and management? If this isn’t immediately obvious to you, do a bit of soul searching because it’s not only important to the admissions committee but should be important to you. You’re about to embark on a journey that costs a lot of time and money, so you want to want it. And they need to believe you want it.
Do a bit of soul searching, because it’s not only important to the admissions committee but should be important to you….They need to believe you want it.
The rest of your essay should flow from the why, or rather provide scaffolding for the why. Some questions to help shape your thinking are:
- What past experiences led you to this point?
- Did you work on a project that showcased for you the power of effective implementation of good public policy?
- Did you conduct research that opened your eyes to public policy mismanagement?
- Did a past job expose you to the impact of poor public policy on individuals or families?
Take a long look at your past and you might even dig deeper than what you present on your resume. What truly makes you passionate about this field? What you highlight in this essay should make clear what motivates you towards a public policy career, and show that you are a qualified candidate, but also provide insight into how you think and the conclusions you draw from your experiences.
What truly makes you passionate about this field?
While you might choose to focus more on the present or past, don’t ignore the future. Ultimately, the program wants students who are going to be successful in the field and being able to speak about what you’re going to do is an important start. Ideally, you want to demonstrate a path leading past to present to future, even if it’s not a straight line. If you are making the case for a dramatic career change, take care to draw connections between what you’ve experienced in the past and how it, along with admission to the Goldman program, will influence your success in the future.
Draw connections between what you’ve experienced in the past and how it, along with Goldman, will influence your success in the future.
Finally, don’t skimp on the details. One characteristic of quality writing is conciseness, but this doesn’t mean you can’t color in the picture you’re outlining of yourself as a candidate. 3-5 double-spaced pages is roughly 750 to 1250 words, so you have the space to make your case. When deciding what details to include, think about what they say about you or about an experience. A single application reviewer may be reading hundreds of these essays, so if yours reads like it could be written by any other candidate, you’ll easily be lost in the pile. Consider details that shed light on what was so powerful—positive or negative—about a past experience, or those that help the reader picture you in a particular setting. Past, present, and future: use these pages to show yourself to be the interesting, thoughtful, qualified Goldman future student that you are!
You have the space to make your case.