Effective Personal Statements for Committee Evaluation

Keep in Mind...

This is the opportunity for you to tell “your story”.   Why to you want to be a clinician?   What is your burning desire?   What fueled that fire ?

List your abilities/ skills and how you have demonstrated them throughout your life
  ( i.e., work great under pressure, gifted with understanding children and their bodies, capable of managing multiple tasks, etc.)

List your personality traits
(i.e., outgoing, loyal, hard-working, honest, etc.)

List some major influences and/or mentors you have had throughout your life

List some short term and long term goals as they relate to your story

Questions to ask yourself as you sit down to write:

What is unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about my life story?

What details of my life (personal or family situations, history, people or events) have shaped or influenced my goals?

What might help the Committee better understand me or help set me apart from other applicants?

When did I become interested in this field?  What have I learned about it (and myself) that has further stimulated my interest and reinforced my conviction that I am well suited for this field?

How have I learned about this field — through research, classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field?

If I have worked a lot during my college years, what have I learned (leadership or managerial skills for example)?  How has that work contributed to my growth?

Are there any gaps or discrepancies in my academic record that should be explained, such as great grades but mediocre MCAT or GRE scores or a distinct upward pattern to your GPA, if it was only average in the beginning?
Have I had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (i.e., economic, familial, or physical) in my life?

What personal characteristics (i.e., integrity, compassion, persistence) do I possess that would improve my prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document these characteristics?

What skills (i.e., leadership, communicative, analytical) do I possess?

Why might I be a stronger candidate for Professional school — and more successful and effective in the profession or field than other applicants?

What are the most compelling reasons I can give for the Admissions Committee to be interested in me?

Make an Outline

Make sure to create an outline that has the following: Introduction, Body (Supporting Paragraphs), and Conclusion.

The Final Draft: Principles for writing

Unifying theme is key.
  Organize your essay around the theme, rather than merely listing your accomplishments.

Give good examples and explanations.   Do not just provide lists; explain how and why an experience or person had an effect on you. These details show your passion, enthusiasm and dedication far more effectively.

Help your reader understand how the information is important. Demonstrate your potential and preparedness for this type of advanced study, with sound and concise reasons.

Respond to the Question(s) listed on the application .   Follow instructions carefully.

Cover your bases.   Make sure that you have called attention to your successes and relevant experience and explain any discrepancies in your record.

Refrain from duplicate information.   There is no need to add information to your personal statement that is listed elsewhere in your application, resume, etc.

Be specific and brief.   Say what you mean and mean what you say.   This is a case of less is more!   Committees value sustenance and do not value flowery words or excessive ramblings.  

Use “I” and speak from the First-person.   It is YOUR personal statement.

Avoid clichés.  Do not put “you are a good science Student and that you enjoy helping people”. This is a given if you are applying for admission to a Pre-Health Profession.

Cover any questionable/controversial subjects.  If there are stories and comments about your life and past that need to be explained, do so thoroughly, concisely and move on.   Indicate what you have learned from the event and how you could handle/avoid the circumstance differently in the future. 
Check and double-check your word/character requirements.   Most applications for professional schools have a word or character limit for the personal statements.   Be sure you have not exceeded that limit.

For more help with writing your personal statement, make an appointment with the
ETSU Writing & Communication Center.