Students will apply to more than one graduate school. Typically students apply to about seven programs. Students should consider writing their statement of purpose and leaving room in the statement to personalize it for each of the institutions where it is to be sent. Students should look up the webpage for the department, look at the research areas and the faculty, and comment on some aspect of that webpage.
For students applying to business, law, medical or graduate school, the application essay is more commonly referred to as the "personal statement" or "statement of purpose".
Writing Your Statement of Purpose | Graduate School
Be specific about your interest and knowledge particular to this program: Have you read an article by one or more faculty member? Has your advisor specifically directed you to this program? Do you have other ties to this program and/or school? Pick out the pertinent facts about your academic and professional interests that make you a good fit with the program and institution to which you are applying. (A statement of purpose is not a place to list everything you have done.) Mention extra-curricular achievements to illustrate additional dimensions of your personality. Demonstrate curiosity, creativity, enthusiasm for learning, a capacity for teamwork, ability to think independently, and pride in your work. Using brief anecdotes is a good way to make your points. Explain (briefly) any incongruity in your application material; GRE scores or a low semester grade. Stay within the page limit specified by the graduate program. If there are no specifications, limit yourself to two pages. Be succinct and clear.