The Personal Statement


All program applications include essays, at least one of which is designed to better understand who you really are beyond your GPA and test score. The “personal statement” strikes fear in the hearts of students applying to medical, dental and physician assistant programs. Attend the workshops that will be offered each spring on preparing a personal statement. Look at examples of personal statements from successful applicants. Seek help from the Office of Personal and Career Development (OPCD) and the Writing Center. 

No one can tell you what to put in your personal statement. The whole point is that it is about you. It is your opportunity to communicate to the admissions committee what it is that sets you apart from the other applicants. Rather than a list of things that you have accomplished, it should show how you have reflected on the things that have had the greatest significance to you. 

Avoid clichés. Do not say that you have wanted to be a doctor since you were ten years old and you broke your arm.  Do not say that you want to help people. Do not say that you are kind and compassionate. You want to show, rather than tell, the admissions committee that you care.

The personal statement often takes the form of a story. You want to begin with something that catches the attention of the reader – perhaps a personal experience that moved you. What did you learn from this experience and how is it relevant to your career plans? Don’t just say that you are committed to service. What has motivated you to serve? Are there any hardships that you have overcome that have influenced your decision to pursue a career in the health professions? Do you have relevant talents or skills that you would like to highlight that might not be clear in your application?

Every spring The Health Professions Advising Program offers a workshop on writing a personal statement. This is an opportunity you should take advantage of!