The Essay and Personal Statement
It is never too early for you to begin working on your essay. It is a good idea to keep a journal of ideas, activities, and experiences from which you can draw when you begin writing the essay. Record thoughts about your motivations, describe a particularly inspirational event, and/or record thoughts about your health care experiences. Two to three months before you submit your application, begin constructing the essay. Create some structure and think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. Put the essay aside, then come back to it a week later. Find its strengths and weaknesses, and make adjustments. If you repeat this process each week, by the time you need to submit the essay, you should be very comfortable about its ability to portray you accurately to the admissions committee.
Don’t get rid of your earlier notes and drafts. Most schools will ask you to write 1 – 5 additional essays when you submit your secondary application. The notes might provide good resource material for those essays (which is important since you will typically only have two weeks in which to write them).
- Thoroughly review instructions for application to each school. You must be sure to include the information they request inthe expected format.
- Remember that the essay is intended to be autobiographical. Write about yourself; don’t try to educate the admissions committee about what defines the medical, dental, etc. field.
- Discuss how you know that medicine, etc. is the correct career choice for you. ("I’ve wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember" and "I want to help people" are not adequate explanations for why you have chosen a career in the health professions. Be prepared to back up these answers with concrete examples from your life.)
- Identify your strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Use examples from your life to illustrate your strengths (e.g. strong interpersonal skills, maturity, integrity, diversity) and to truthfully assess your weaknesses. Your examples may be medically relevant, but more likely they will come from other areas of your life.
- Explain how your experiences, strengths, etc. will make you a better health care professional and an asset to the medical profession.
- Highlight aspects of your life that make you unique from the hundreds to thousands of other applicants whose statements the committee members will also be reading.
- Briefly address any obvious deviations from your normal academic performance which could be viewed negatively by an admissions committee. Do not, however, attempt to make excuses for that lower performance.
- Do not repeat information that is contained elsewhere in your application unless it is something unique that deserves special attention or amplification. You have limited space for your essay, so don't waste any of it.
- Make sure the essay is well written, grammatically correct, and accurately spelled. You do not want to make an unprofessional impression on the admissions committee.
Most importantly - engage readers from the IPPHS and faculty at Albion College!