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One of the programs I'm applying to doesn't even mention a personal statement, but I have one written for other programs that do require it. Should I submit it anyway under the document upload section, or just leave it out?

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You can certainly ask the program if they'd be OK with you sending a statement of purpose (or anything else they didn’t ask for) in addition to the rest of the application. If so, then go ahead. But in general, you shouldn't provide information that isn't requested for by the program in question. Information not asked might may not be considered, and may hurt your application.

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  • Thanks! I needed clarification on a personal statement though, not a statement of purpose (I accidentally used the wrong tag). I probably won't include more information than they ask for, as the personal statement is written more about my experiences with different cultures and how they influenced me intellectually.
    – maggiew
    Dec 15, 2017 at 6:29
  • The same advice still applies (the two are similar, if not entirely isomorphic).
    – aeismail
    Dec 15, 2017 at 6:50
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The statement of purpose or also known as motivation letter is more concerned with what the candidate intends on achieving in the program, how she or he intends to apply the acquired knowledge in their career field of choice, their future vision and goals, etc. Thus, it is rather more formal and precise. Whereas, the personal statement refers more to the candidate's past history and how their own personal experiences have led them to choose said program. For example, I always loved ponies since I was a child. I have fond memories with my parents taking me to ride ponies so I now want to study pony medicine...lol. I think the latter serves to gauge more if the candidate will have the right chemistry in the program and the former to conclude whether the candidate understands the programs objectives and if their objectives match. And also to judge if the candidate can contribute to research or societal contributions in a way that reflects nicely on the school. That being said submitting a personal statement could without being requested to do so could be harmful. They could simply not like your personality. It's extra information to be judged against.

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