Suchin Gururangan

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I am a PhD candidate at the University of Washington. I do research in natural language processing and machine learning. I was supported by the 2022 Bloomberg PhD Fellowship, and was previously a visiting researcher at Meta AI and a predoctoral resident at AI2.

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1 September 2020

Personal Statement Advice

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I’m writing this post because I was inspired by Nelson Liu, who made his personal research statement public. The information needed to get into the ivory tower is not that accessible, and it’s awesome that there are people out there trying to change this. This is my attempt to follow in their footsteps! Hope this is useful to anyone applying to PhD programs in the USA.

My personal research statement can be found here.

Disclaimer: I do NLP research and only applied to research programs in NLP. However, in a previous life, I applied to Neuroscience PhD programs, and these pieces of advice would have really helped my application back then. So I think they are pretty generalizable.

The two most important aspects to your graduate application are your recommendation letters and personal statement. My advisor, Noah Smith, has great advice on recommendation letters here, so you should check that out.

Here are a few things I learned throughout the process of writing the statement. I tried to highlight points that you can refer to my personal statement to understand further.

Anyway, there’s probably a lot more stuff I could mention; I’ll update this post if I think of anything else. Feel free to reach out on Twitter if you have any specific questions.

Last thing I’ll mention is that there are a number of cool programs to get feedback on your application. I’d point you to the UW PAMS program where current UW CSE students are providing application guidance to prospective applicants.

Hope this helps, and good luck!

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