I got into Stanford, Berkeley, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and all the others I applied to! Here's my Essay.

This isn't constructive criticism. My background explains some things in my resume that may bring up red flags, like going to three undergraduate institutions. Also explains why I got into this field to begin with, I think that's important for them to know.

I don't mean to make this a tit-for-tat, but you don't say why you went to three undergrad institutions, just that you did. As another user said, you don't say that what the Portland congress did, other than 'inspire' you. Saying why you're passionate about an academic topic in an admission essay will not get you in, but excluding it won't keep you out. You could have parsed this (and the second mention of it later in the application to): "Spending a decade of my childhood in X, where inadequate rainfall and misuse of available water resources meant frequent water rationing, has motivated me to pursue an academic career in hydrology." The real estate given on a statement of purpose is a scarce commodity and each section should have a strong, clear, and important meaning in the context of the proposal. That might be a reason why your formatting looks so interesting to people: you're sacrificing word space for lines, big fonts, and your contact information. In terms of efficacy your intro lines are useless; the reader doesn't need to know that its a statement of purpose (your heading does it), nor do they need to be reminded why they are reading it. Filler like the last two sentences in the application could instead be used to tell more about yourself and the specific resources on campus you would like to use. More stuff I'm seeing reading it closely is that in your readiness section you give zero indication of the specific research techniques that you used, and the skills that you learned. That will be super important to keep in mind for a future phd application.

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