Writing Your Personal Statement
The information below provides basic guidelines for writing successful personal statements. The most important suggestion is making sure to obtain critical feedback about your essay from people whose judgment you trust. Ask your Advisement dean to review your application and personal statement before you submit it. The Pre-Health Advisement dean also has literature containing sample personal statements along with detailed suggestions, guidelines, and ideas for writing your personal statement. Hofstra has an excellent writing center that will also assist you in editing and revising you personal statement (www.hofstra.edu/academics/colleges/hclas/writing/wrtctr).
Suggestions for Writing Successful Personal Statements
Your personal statement is an opportunity to write about your particular talents, any experiences that have led you to choose a career in a medical field and the elements of your personality that make you perfect for a particular medical career. Your personal statement should demonstrate that you understand the nature of the demands of a particular career and can recognize personal attributes that would lead to success in that career. Your statement should prove to the admissions committee that you have these qualities. Demonstrating that you have a particular quality does not mean that you merely say so in your personal statement. You must prove this by writing about your accomplishments, obstacles you have overcome, experiences that have shaped your career decisions.
Your personal statement should provide information that is not found elsewhere in the application. Do not reiterate your many honors and awards. Write about your accomplishments in a way that demonstrates a particular strength or personality trait that you think is important. Depending on your academic history, irregularities in your record or below-average grades may need to be explained in the personal statement.
Allow the essay to convey your personality. You want your reader to think you are an interesting person and that you are easy to communicate with.
Often the hardest part of writing a personal essay is getting started. A good way to begin a personal statement is with a personal anecdote or description of an experience that conveys something unique about you and demonstrates one or more of the qualities you want to highlight. The anecdote can be about an experience and how you handled it in a way that demonstrates your unique talents and qualifications for a career in medicine. If you played on a high school or college sports team you can, for example, emphasize discipline and teamwork. If you devote time to a hobby you are passionate about, write about focus and organization. If there was a defining moment when you knew a career was right for you, or if there were special moments in your volunteer work, then write about it and be sure to highlight your leadership, compassion, and dedication to your service in the field. Write about an encounter with disease or injury that shaped your decision, or write about an encounter with a particular health professional who influenced your decision.
Continue your statement with the ways you have prepared yourself for your chosen career. Describe your clinical experience and community service activities. Point out how you have challenged yourself academically. Use examples that demonstrate your strengths and the qualities you want to emphasize. You should also address any significant weaknesses in your application, giving an explanation not excuses.
Five rather standard topics that pre-medical students write about are:
- Their motivation for the particular medical career they have chosen
- The influence of family/friends
- The influence of experiences
- The influence of extracurricular activities/work/volunteer services
- Long term goals
When writing about any of these topics, use concrete examples from your life to support your statements.In the final section of the essay write about your general career goals, how you perceive the profession and what you believe you will contribute to it. Don't forget to tie this to your overall theme.
- Start early and think about your future career often.
- Choose a unifying theme for your essay and stick to it.
- Consider who the readers of your application are.
- Read before you write:
- Follow the directions supplied in terms of expected content of the essay and length.
- Be meticulous about checking for spelling and grammatical errors.