March 8, 2015

Powerful Personal Statements: Part 3 - Pre-writing exercises

Lyn Jutronich

Since you’re a pre-med and are most likely dying for some tangible steps for getting started on your personal statement for medical school, let’s move on to some pre-writing tips.

  1. If you haven’t already, start a journal. Write about any memorable experiences you have, in ANY activity. This will help you get more comfortable writing and writing about yourself in general, and will be fodder for your application. It can be an old-school spiral notebook, a diary with a lock and key, or a Word document on your computer. You can write in it every day or just whenever. (We recommend you check out Evernote.)
  2. I also recommend reading several examples of personal statements before you actually start writing anything as well. You can buy books, or simply look for examples online. Caveat – the essays that get published tend to be from the super applicants, and typical sentences include:
    After receiving a perfect score on the MCAT, I cured cancer. I then worked with orphans in the inner city, once rushing into a burning orphanage in order to save the blind infants trapped inside."

    So...don’t let these essays get you down. Yes, there are applicants out there who have done amazing feats, but most likely if you are reading this article, you will have your own maybe-not-as-spectacular-but-just-as-valid stories to tell on why you want to be a doctor, and why you’d be a good one.
  3. The way we do it at Passport Admissions is that we have our students write 50 Reasons they want to be a doctor.

I know what you're thinking, "50? I have a hard time thinking of 5!"  But that's the point, isn't it?  You haven't yet pushed yourself to think about all the reasons you want to be a doctor.  And that's exactly why you're having a hard time coming up with anything but cliches.

By having to write 50, you will exhaust the generic reasons.  Then you'll have to find more.

So get started!  I've given you the first few crappy reasons to help you get started below...

1. I want to help people.
2. I was really sick, and my doctor saved the day.
3. The human body is fascinating.

The longer you go, the more specific you get.  And by reason 33 or 42, you will probably come up with something that's pretty darn good.

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