University Puget Sound Essay

There are two main types of essays you may be asked to write. One is a personal statement; the other is a proposal or statement of intent.

  1. A personal statement should be a narrative giving a picture of you as an individual. It should deal with your personal history, family background, influences on intellectual development, the educational and cultural opportunities (or lack of them) to which you have been exposed, and the ways in which these experiences have affected you. Include your special interests and abilities, career plans, and life goals, etc. It should not be a recording of facts already listed on the application or an elaboration of your statement of proposed study.
  2. A proposal or statement of intent (or study) can be a number of things. It could be an explanation of why you should receive funding to study or it could be a detailed account of what you plan to do with the money.
  3. Some scholarships have you combine your academic proposal inside the framework of a personal reflection.

General Advice

  • Think of your application as a whole with each part supplementing and supporting every other part. The selection committee will be looking for clarity, conviction, clear and organized thinking, and effective communication.
  • Consider your audience. Write for an intelligent non-specialist. Make sure the terminology will be understandable to someone outside your field. The tone should be neither too academic nor too personal. Aim for economy, enthusiasm, and directness; eloquence is welcome, but not at the expense of substance or honesty.
  • Make sure all information is accurate and that you can discuss in some detail anything you mention.
  • Do not pad, but do not be falsely modest either. Just be yourself and give the selection committee an opportunity to get to know you.
  • Plan to experiment and try completely different versions
  • Show your work to a number of readers whose comments you respect. Consult especially your department advisor and ask your readers to tell you what questions your essays raise that you might not have considered.
  • Revise until you are happy that you have made these highly restrictive forms into effective reflections of who you are and what you want to do.
  • Keep to word limits and all other guidelines.
  • Proofread.

Personal Statement

  • Personal statements are short. Identify 3-4 points you want to develop and let other aspects of your application present the other important information. Use your personal statement to say what others could not say.
  • Personal statements are read quickly and often in bulk. Yours should be a pleasure to read. It should start fast, quickly taking the reader into the heart of your discussion.
  • Maintain focus and establish a consistent story line. Consider one or two anecdotes that can help you focus and give a human face to your discussion.
  • Use this discussion to present a compelling snapshot of who you are and what contributions you want to make, and to indicate what your priorities are and the kinds of intelligence and passion you bring to your work.
  • You may also want to weave in some mention of any skills or resources that may particularly recommend you. Remember that this can be done through sharing an experience that shows a number of the qualities you want to convey rather than telling them.
  • Start writing drafts. Experiment until you find a way for your paragraphs to flow together.

Questions to consider in getting started on your personal statement:

  • What ideas, books, courses, events have had a profound impact on you? How so?
  • To what extent do your current commitments reflect your most strongly-held values?
  • What errors or regrets have taught you something important about yourself?
  • When does time disappear for you? What does this tell you about your passions, your values?
  • When have you changed? Consider yourself before and after; what does this change mean?

Academic/Project Proposal-Common Elements

  • A description of your course of study or project; topic(s), research focus, degree goals, methodology, itinerary, and budget.
  • Why you have chosen this course of study (at this particular institution, in this particular country/location), or why you want to undertake this project in this particular setting.
  • Evidence that your plans are consistent with your preparation, academic qualifications, and long-range goals.
  • Why you are choosing a new area of study, or what makes your project particularly timely.

Combined Statements

  • This statement combines elements of the academic proposal within the framework of a personal reflection.
  • It should not force an unrealistic unity.
  • It should balance both components together effectively. The balance of these two aspects will vary according to what best represents you and your goals. Do not forget to make use of your campus resources - the Fellowships office, Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching, faculty advisors and mentors.

Supplemental Application Essay


We do not read the OTCAS personal statement. The only essay we do read is the required supplemental essay outlined below.

 All applicants must compose an essay that addresses in an integrative way the topics listed below. The essay should have its own organization and not simply consist of answering the requested elements in the order listed.  The purpose of this essay is for you to share with the faculty, in a reflective way, why you feel you would be a good occupational therapist and why you feel you are a good “fit” for our program.  The essay must be electronically submitted via the questions section in OTCAS. You must embed** your name in the file name for association with your application file. The essay must be typed, double-spaced, use 12-point font, and be no more than 1800 words. The applicant’s name must appear on the cover page of the document along with a precise essay word count. Title this document: “Reasons for Pursuing Occupational Therapy Study at Puget Sound.”

  1. In your own words, tell us what occupational therapy is and how occupational therapists use occupation to improve the lives of clients. Be specific. Demonstrate depth and breadth of your understanding of the field.
  2. Tell us how your education, work, volunteer experiences, and other personal experiences and goals have prepared you for graduate education in the field of occupational therapy. Discuss how your personal qualifications fit the demands of the profession.
  3. Describe an observation you made of a specific, challenging work situation encountered by an occupational therapist and the steps taken by the occupational therapist to resolve the situation. Describe how this experience helped you understand more about occupational therapy.
  4. Describe in detail how you have overcome adversity in your personal life, work, or school. Use a specific example to illustrate your critical thinking and problem-solving. Reflect on what you learned about yourself from that situation and how that could inform your work as a graduate student and future occupational therapist.
  5. The University of Puget Sound School of Occupational Therapy values achieving a workforce that supports a diversity of experiences and identity characteristics (such as disability, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, language spoken, nation of origin, race, religion/spiritual tradition, sex, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic class). Write about how you personally would support and contribute to the achievement of the goal of a diverse occupational therapy workforce. To do so, tell us about:
    1. your own demographic characteristics and/or
    2. your own cross-cultural or interracial experiences and values and/or
    3. your own understanding of the need for a diverse health care workforce.
  6. Relate why you are interested in attending the School of Occupational Therapy at the University of Puget Sound. Be specific.

Submit your essay

via the questions section in OTCAS

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