Personal Statement: What To Include Part 2

Tuesday, May 10, 2016




Hello there! As I mentioned in my last post, I'm doing a series on how to write your personal statement. This second post will pick up where I left off last time and I'll wrap up by talking about some simple yet essential tips. In my next and last post of this series, I'll share some common mistakes that applicants should avoid making on their personal statements! So let's jump into it and finish talking about what to include in your personal statement.
Start Early

As I mentioned before, typing up an essay about yourself is not easy and not something you can do very last minute. It takes weeks of writing drafts, editing, and maybe even rewriting to get to the final product. You want to start early so you give yourself plenty of time to think it through and write your personal statement without feeling rushed or anxious about meeting a deadline. Creativity cannot be rushed.

Pick A Topic That Sets You Apart

Is your spouse a PA or any other medical professional? How about someone in your family? Did a specific healthcare experience ignite the fire in you to become a PA? Or maybe you loved your anatomy and physiology class (like I did) and want to keep learning more? Whatever your story is, make sure it's a part of your personal statement. When the reader is done with your PS, they should feel like they know your journey of wanting to become a PA.

Follow up

We've already talked about the fact that your opening needs to be a strong story that catches the reader's attention. But what is the significance of sharing that story? Once you start with a story, you need to follow up with how that's relevant. How did your grandmother's ailing health or any other experience specifically impact your decision of wanting to become a PA?

Teamwork

When you shadowed your PAs, did you notice the PA/doctor relationship? Hopefully you had a good experience and should talk about it in your personal statement. This shows that you understand the dynamics of the relationship between a PA and a doctor and how it benefits the patients the most. Talking about this in your PS reveals that you are knowledgeable about the profession and understand that becoming a part of the healthcare team as a PA is crucial.

Give Examples

You can tell the admissions committee that you're compassionate, flexible, have strong communication skills, or what have you all day long. But until you can include an example where you have demonstrated those qualities, you're simply throwing out words. You should take this opportunity to show the admissions committee that you posses the qualities that they're seeking in an applicant. These are the qualities that also make a good PA.

Jot Down Ideas

Whenever a thought pops into your head about including something on your PS, write it down somewhere. Sometimes I get an idea and then forget it by the time I sit down to write. Jotting down your random thoughts will help you remember to talk about all the things that come to your mind.

Writer's Block

We've all been there, haven't we? If you find yourself stuck writing your PS, take a break and walk away from it. Go and do something else, talk to someone to bounce off ideas, or forget about it altogether. Sometimes coming back to it with a fresh mind helps you move forward and continue writing. If not, I promise you'll at least find a thing or two that you'll want to adjust or rephrase.

Character Limit

Remember that you're only allowed 5000 characters on CASPA for your PS. Keep that in mind while you're writing so that you don't have to go back and shorten it. You want to make sure you include everything you want to say without running out of space. Be thorough but concise.

Paragraph Length

There's a lot to be said in your personal statement but let's remember that it's hard to follow along when you have to read long paragraphs. Same goes for run-on sentences. Be considerate of the admissions committee when you start writing. Don't make them dread reading another PS with really long paragraphs.

Revising and Proofreading

This is not optional! A poorly written narrative is not something you want to turn in. I strongly encourage you to have multiple people proofread your PS before you submit it. If you're still in undergrad while you're applying, you can contact the writing center or the career center at your university. They are used to reading and editing students' personal statements and can majorly help you out. If that's not an option, have your professors, friends, or family members proofread it for you.

Read it Out Loud

I always think reading things out loud help me get a sense of whether I'm headed in the right direction or not. Read your PS out loud and see if it really sounds like something you'd say. If not, rephrase it. Please please please don't feel like you need to write what everyone else is writing. Your personal statement should reflect who you really are and what you're really passionate about.

Reapplicants

If you're reapplying to PA school, first of all, keep up the hard work. I know how difficult the journey is and want to say you're so strong to keep pushing through. As far as your personal statement goes, you can keep the base of it. However, make sure you add in what you've done over the last year to add to your experiences and improve your application. If you haven't done so already, contact the programs you want to reapply to and see if they'll release information as to what you can do to better your chances of getting accepted this year.

Really try to dig deep when you're writing and be true to yourself. If you try to blend in the crowd that's exactly what will happen. With hundreds to sometimes thousands of applicants for a 50 (or less) seat class, the admissions committee has a huge pile of personal statements to read and applications to look at. Write from the heart, be honest, and let your passion and hard work pave the way for you.

I know the application process is grueling and it takes a lot out of you, but it's SO worth it in the end. Your personal statement takes you one step closer to getting an interview invitation so make the most of it! I hope this helps and let me know if you have any questions.

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