Episode 003 – Tips For Writing Your Personal Statement
A pivotal part of any application process is composing a personal statement (PS). This can be stressful as we’re not usually accustomed to writing about ourselves, but here are some tips which might help you plan and revise your PS draft.
- Use a cloud document service like Google Docs, Office 365, Pages, etc. This will keep your PS saved and easily accessible from anywhere to update on the fly.
- Sit down, concentrate, be honest and do some self reflection – why did you choose this career (medicine, PA, nursing, pharmacy, etc.)? Find out which milestones in your education and personal life led you to this decision, and decide on which one or two to make cornerstones of your PS.
- Don’t worry about starting your PS from start to finish. Just start writing phrases you think of, topics you want to include, brainstorming ideas… anything! Word processing makes it so easy to shift things around and omit others all together. 🙂
Besides revising the grammar, spelling, and syntax of a personal statement, ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I mentioned this material elsewhere in my application? Try to avoid reiterating facets of your primary application unless you plan to elaborate.
- Can any part of your PS be interpreted as presumptuous? Is the writer making claims he or she has no way of knowing. Appealing to your humility by acknowledging your ignorance will serve you well early on.
- Flowery language is overrated and doesn’t show your command of language. Focus on masterfully unraveling your story rather than big words.
- Does this contribute to the the overall theme? I’ve read personal statements reiterating disjointed/confusing activities which somehow magically lead the writer towards their career choice. Have a theme in mind and focus on how each sentence relates to said theme.
- Let personal friends, colleagues, professors, and family members read your PS. Aside from their opinion, ask them if the PS sounds like you or like a scripted composition. It’s your personal statement. Your voice better shine through!
I’ve found that shorter personal statements which focus on avoiding redundancy and are rooted in showing one’s path to their career choice (rather than merely telling) are more effective, and consequently, more memorable. In adhering to just the important details, applicants don’t have to worry about going beyond the allotted word limits either.