In my quest to write the perfect grad school "reflective essay" I have come across some helpful hints in order to convey your thoughts without offending the reader.
1. No matter how many articles your read that say be honest, DON'T! Now i'm not saying make up a bunch of stuff to make yourself look good, but your have to be concious of the fact that you are not the only person applying to this program and they are looking for above average reasoning for why you deserve to be admitted. Honesty without finesse is like a hot dog without without the condiments..just wrong.
2. Say what you mean, but you don't necessarily have to mean what you say - confused? you should be. Admission essays are about guess work. You are guessing what the person reading it wants to hear. Why you? or in many more words: What do you have to offer? What makes you more qualified than someone else? What yould make you a necessary addition to the university? What are you planning to do with your degree? As a future alumni, what plans do you have for your future that is appealing to the school?
Remember, you can always change your mind after your in the school. You DO NOT have to decide what you are absolutely going to do after graduating right now. If your like me, than maybe your too young to even know. I'm 23 years old, and I don't have any more idea now that when I finished undergrad 2 years ago. It's ok to just have an interest and go for it (crossing your fingers the whole way)!
Now I have heard the argument that this is a waste of money, but from a philosophical point of view..is education ever a waste of money? I think that learning about something that you actually enjoy is worth every penny..going to school for something that you don't even like solely for the purpose of scoring a high-paying job that your going to slave away at for years and bitch about to your friends EVERY TIME YOU GET THE OPPORTUNITY is a waste of money in my book.
3. Get your point across while emphasizing your amazingness without writing a short novel is always the best plan. As hard as this is for some, you must keep in mind once again..you are not the only applicant! Remember the mission is not to shock and awe, it's to convince someone to take a chance on you. The essay is an opportunity to convince a university that you are more than just test scores and grades, this of course will be backed up by your fabulous recommendations.
On a final note..the school (yes, just one) I am applying to has a rolling deadline..so I will be sending my application in next week..cross your fingers for me!