Medical schools like WUSOM are forever looking to enroll communicative, empathetic, and bright people. Never underestimate the prowess of a medical school personal statement to leave a positive, strong impression on the admissions committee. A personal statement is simply an essay written by an applicant for the purpose of soliciting admissions in a college or university. An admission in a medical university is not a piece of cake. You need to sell yourself through an essay and prove why you are a great asset to the school and demonstrate your devotion to the field and your commitment to staying rooted to the spot even when the going gets tough.
However, things can take a southward turn if you are not aware of exactly how to go about it. Before you apply to a Caribbean medical school, here are a few insights you need to learn about writing a compelling personal statement that puts you in the limelight:
Choosing a Topic
This is where you get to incorporate your unique panache into your application. Why not start by telling the admissions committee how and why you decided to pursue a career in medicine and what inspired you to walk the path. Did some extracurricular activity alter your frame of mind? Was it some incidental event at school that left its footprints on your mind? Was your love for science reaffirmed after an exhilarating summer lab job?
Capitalize on riveting anecdotes and hooking vignettes to weave an interesting narration, which is fun to read. However refrain from sounding too articulate as you are dealing at large with a scientific community, not a group of historians, writers, poets, and musicians. On the other hand, don’t sound too run-of-the-mill and boring, Nobody wants to go ahead with an essay starting with, “I want to become a doctor because…”
While brainstorming, jot down all the classes that you have taken, any volunteer projects or community works that you were involved in, your hobbies, and similar experiences. Think about things that you did outside of classroom, which are a testament to your skills. Remember a moment in your life when you faced a dilemma? You can explain your decision in that instant. How you react to situations can speak volumes about the kind of person that you are.
However, before you run rampant with your narrations, remember that your personal statement should highlight only the interesting aspects of your journey—not your entire life story. Pick a theme, and support it with specific examples. Instead of running on about your unique qualities (such as organizations skills, empathy, and compassion), prove yourself through the stories that you tell. Don’t just talk. Prove your mettle through real-life experiences. Ideally, use your personal statement to demonstrate your academic abilities, past achievements and how passionately you want to be part of a medical school.
Avoid being too sentimental/emotional. Don’t make the evaluator of your personal statement shed a tear or two after skimming through a tragic breakup you had to contend with or a horrific accident your parents were involved in. Choose a topic you can center your statement around without resorting to cliché or melodrama. In addition, since you don’t know who will be reading your essay, it’s best to steer clear of religion or politics. Even if you have to mention something controversial, keep your tone neutral and avoid sounding too judgmental or preachy. Avoid topics that get people on edge.
Writing the Statement
For starters, use active voice and a language devoid of any ambiguity. Be natural with your tone but don’t be too casual. However, while a coherent and well-written application is indispensable, be careful not to stick to overly complicated jargon throughout your essay. Don’t use a thesaurus to make your personal statement more grandiose than need be. Use language that is easy to come across and not leave the evaluator scratching his head. In addition, you need to steer clear of commonly used clichés, such as “it goes without saying”, “as luck would have it”, “go the extra mile”, “a thirst for knowledge”, or “a clean slate”. Any phrase that sounds trite or overused makes your essay looks shoddy and poor.
Consider your audience while writing. Bear in mind that you are addressing a number of seasoned professionals who have years of experience dealing with statements like the one you will submit. While wanting to help people, your aspiration to make a difference, and your love of science may be your sincere passions, this is also something a lot of students are going to include in their personal statements. Medical school admissions are not finalized by a single person but a panel of board members. So think of this aspect while writing. In addition, another tricky aspect is to tell everyone how well suited you are to the field without sounding conceited and boastful. Avoid making grand statements, such as “I know I’ll make a great doctor”, or “my quick decision-making prowess makes me a far better candidate”.
Another dilemma that students have to deal with is that different medical schools have varying ideals when it comes to structuring a personal statement, and the skills that they are looking for. This makes it an ordeal for students looking to apply to myriad schools with a single statement. It can be a tough nut to crack for students to work out whether they meet all the criteria set by different universities. In such a case, students should align their statements with the highest threshold set by any of the universities. This will ensure that it meets all the criteria set by other institutions. Additionally you can play the game of phrasing one thing in a number of ways to appeal to different universities.
Remember that you don’t have much time to grab the attention of people reading your statement. You have to sell whatever you have written and the initial paragraph or two can well decide your fate. Your statement will be skimmed through unless you manage to capture the evaluators’ attention right away with a mind-blowing opening. Even if what you are going to say might sound common, introduce your own personal perspective and voice to the statement to make it flavorful. Furthermore applicants often take on an accusatory tone when writing about their inadequacies. For instance, you may feel a need to justify that “D” in chemistry. Never make excuses until you feel that a situation merits some sort of mention.
Instead of going on about your skills and qualities in a vague manner, capitalize on concrete actions to augment their credibility. Instead of praising your stellar moral code, write actual incidences where acting on principle worked to your advantage. However, be honest in your statements and don’t go overboard. Everything you write can be verified or cross-checked and your chances will dwindle down the drain if you are not able to prove what you have penned down.
Submitting your Personal Statement
Be certain that you completely understand the purpose of your personal statement/essay. Regardless of whether you are preparing to submit it to a Caribbean medical school or one in mainland USA, med schools look for some specific things. So don’t beat about the bush and make your statement unnecessarily long. Include proven achievements, explain how your thinking is critical and analytical, and include enough evidence that you will be a good student for their institution.
Follow the instructions to the letter vehemently. Each school has its own requirements and you need to abide by them. A little deviation can prove fatal for your application. Ignoring a single instruction or requirement can portray you as a careless and immature candidate.
Be sure not to exceed the word count so that your statement doesn’t give the impression of a long, boring story. Formatting is also vital as you must follow the guidelines of the specific school you are applying for. Once you are done scribbling away the personal statement, the next step is the interview, so start preparing for it right away.