(By Digital Vision)
Give meaning to your personal experiences by describing what qualities and skills you gained or implemented because of particular experiences.
Captivate, characterize and convince. Whether you are applying for graduate school, scholarships or a specific major, those are the three main tasks you should accomplish in your personal statement.
Captivate your reader with an enticing storyline; characterize your identity and unique qualities; convince the audience of your strengths by using specific examples.
Crafting a persuasive personal statement requires creativity and attentive revisions, but by following the advice below, your story can make you a diamond amongst stones.
RELATED:Who reads your college applications anyway?
RELATED:What ‘The Big Bang Theory’ teaches us about grad school
Define who you are
Using a small number of words, you must answer this question: Why should the application committee be interested in you? Give meaning to your personal experiences by describing what qualities (integrity, compassion, perseverance) and skills (leadership, communication, analytical) you gained or implemented because of those experiences.
Use a personal thesis — your individual philosophy or values — as a guiding thread throughout your essay. Reflect on what is important to you.
Here are some other ideas to help you brainstorm:
• What unique traits, skills or experiences do you possess?
• Explain your short- and long-term goals. What have you done and what will you do to work toward those goals?
• Describe any obstacles that you have overcome (concerning family, finances, academics, disability).
• Professional experiences including work and internships.
• On-campus involvement including classes, clubs, events, volunteering, leadership and teamwork.
• Life experiences including interactions or conversations you’ve had with others that have changed or influence you.
• Why will studying this major, attending this program or receiving this scholarship make you better person/leader/student?
Use clear organization and smooth transitions
Make an outline before you start writing and after you finish your first draft. Below is a sample outline. Keep in mind that there are many possible variations.
• Hook: interesting experience that created or deepened your interest in your field of study
• Short and long-term goals
• Specific example of an internship experience (and what it demonstrates about your personality and your interest the field)
• Specific example of an on-campus organization experience
(and what it demonstrates about your personality and your interest the field)
• If applying to graduate school: specific details about your interest in the program (Do your research and find reasons why you’re attracted to the program; don’t brown nose by showering their program with compliments — show how it matches your interests)
• Purposeful conclusion
• Graduate or major program: state how you are a good match for their program and how your attendance will benefit their program
• Scholarships: state how you will use or benefit from this scholarship money
• Be passionate: “What have you learned about the field and yourself that reinforced your conviction that you’re well suited for this field?” (Some advice fromPurdue OWL.)
• Value quality over quantity: Your personal statement should not be a list of accomplishments or a recitation of your resume. Choose a few specific examples that demonstrate the qualities you want to convey.
• Tell a story: An example of an intriguing personal narrative comes from Vince Gotera of the University of Northern Iowa.
• Use words from the prompt: Background, goals, ambitions and so on. Your readers will be looking for these key words.
• Be sincere and confident, but don’t exaggerate or brag: “Choose me because I’m better than everyone else” is not a commendable description. Emphasize what makes you special and believe what you say.
• Let someone else read it: Visit your university writing center and ask friends, family or professors to provide feedback on your essay.
• Never complain or make excuses.
• Do not list high school achievements (unless you are a freshman).
• Avoid controversial topics, including religion and politics.
• Avoid cliches.
• Avoid using quotes: You only have a limited amount of words to express who you are; why would the committee want to read someone else’s words? Instead, restate the value that your favorite quote embodies in your own words, and add your own personal twist.
End with a powerful conclusion
Your conclusion functions as a bookend to the introduction, so try to incorporate elements from your personal thesis. Transition gracefully into your final statements, and end memorably with an emotional impact. Captivate, characterize and convince.
Diane Kollman is one of Uloop’s Student Writers from Ohio State University. For more college news, interviews and advice, check out Uloop.com.
Diane Kollman, Kansas State, Ohio State University, personal statement, the application, uloop, University of Northern Iowa, COLLEGE CHOICE
Here is my personal statement, I worked long and hard on this one and I hope you enjoy! I have a blog post up about personal statements, so head on over to that for advice, this is merely an example to get your mind flowing.
START OF PERSONAL STATEMENT
“I need a crash cart in room 17 now!” I yelled as I witnessed a respiratory arrest patient go into ventricular tachycardia. With no crash cart present, I looked to Dr. “C” and said, “Thump?” He gave me a nod, I slammed my fist into the woman’s chest; no rhythm change. The crash cart arrived and within a matter of seconds, the patient was intubated and defibrillator pads placed. With her oxygen status improving, we needed to shock her heart back into a sinus rhythm. With one shock, she became pulseless. I jumped onto the bed and began compressions as the bed was wheeled to room 23, a larger trauma room. The husband had been escorted to family waiting.
“It has been two minutes since the last round of epi,” the scribe told Dr. C as we were performing CPR. “Stop CPR and check for a pulse,” Dr. C said. “No pulse,” I announced. By this time we had been performing life saving measures for about an hour. We were instructed to continue as Dr. C and the social worker went to get the husband. As the husband entered the room he had a look of disbelief on his face as we were performing CPR on his wife. As he sat down and witnessed his wife lying there, Dr. C went and discussed the measures being taken to save his wife’s life. After a long discussion the husband decided to stop all efforts. His chair was then pulled up to her bedside, and the man held her hand and told us of their life together as her heart rate slowly dropped. After the man told us of when they met, about their three kids, and various other aspects of the woman’s character, her heart stopped. The frail elderly man then stood up, kissed her on the forehead, and said “I love you.” He began to walk around the room to hug and thank each one of us for what we had done. Why did he thank us? His wife just died and he is shaking our hands?
This experience strengthened two of my three main reasons for pursuing a career as a physician. The first of which is the service that can be provided by medicine. In the above situation we were able to provide service for this man by giving his wife a chance at continuing life. He thanked us even though his wife passed away. He must have felt as though we served him in some way, even though the circumstances were less than desired. This emotional experience, created an intoxicating feeling that I believe is because of the service that medicine provides. I have never experienced this feeling in any other aspect of my life. I love to provide the kind of service that generates these emotions and feelings in people. Events like this one are truly life changing.
My second reason for seeking a career as a physician is the science of medicine. The story above and many other situations where physiology and pathophysiology are being explained is something I love to observe and do. My developing medical knowledge has given me the opportunity to explain things to family, friends, and patients. The human body and how it functions never ceases to amaze me. My time in biochemistry has only made me more curious. Simply put, the science of medicine fascinates me, and I want to learn as much as I possibly can, and also be able to effectively communicate that knowledge.
I believe that there are positives and negatives within the current healthcare system. This leads to my third reason for becoming a physician. All of my experiences in critical care, education, medical and non-medical volunteering has made me realize that something has to be done to address the cost and delivery methods of healthcare. In the current system, costs are astronomical and patients are being forgotten. Although human lifespan is increasing, I believe that the quality of life is not. This is why I majored in human nutrition at Southern Utah University, and why I want to be a physician. Creating high quality cost effective care is an essential part of the growing healthcare field, and I believe it starts with primary care. By becoming a physician and applying my current knowledge and ideas with the future knowledge I will obtain through education, experience, and training I believe that I will have a positive impact on both my patients and the evolving healthcare environment.
I have thought long and hard about my reasoning to become a physician. This is a decision I have not taken lightly. I cannot wait to provide the service, understand the science, and deliver cost effective quality care for my future patients.
This personal statement is mine, I took a very long time on this one! I drafted it at least ten times and had many people and professors look it over. It answers the things I believe need to be answered in a personal statement.
Tell them Why you want to be a doctor… and don’t just say to help people! Expound upon that, maybe you do like helping people, but honestly I can mow my neighbors lawn and help them… so give a story and or legitimate reasons why!
Tell a story and grab their attention! I was told that my personal statement was very attention grabbing! Think about it… how many personal statements do admission committees read? Get their attention! At the same time be genuine in your purpose… don’t make it up!
Here is an awesome resource when it comes to advice and personal statements!
Leave questions and comments in the blog section!