I figured I would write about some of the components of the Admissions process since it’s about that time of year. I can only speak from experience, as well as from the advice from friends and colleagues who are on our Admissions Committee.
- The Personal Statement is probably where Admissions will spend the most time. Yes, you have stats, extracurriculars, MCAT, LORs. Those get your application considered. And for most students, these stats will be the about the same. So in your application, devote the most time to this to ensure you stand out.
- Spelling and grammar count! One flaw, probably not a big deal. But two or three mistakes, then Admissions is probably asking if you spent time crafting your personal statement, which is a red flag. If you have any friends in the English department, or who just like to write, get them to critique your statement. It doesn’t matter if they have no background in the sciences or medicine.
- Get a doctor to read your statement. They have been through the process and can give you some direct feedback.
- This is your story. What defines you? If you have something unique to share (you’re a unicyclist), now is the time. If you feel like you’re background isn’t unique, it’s all about how you portray it. Do you like research? Embrace it! Were you a MCAT tutor? Talk about why those experiences have been meaningful for you.
- Not every personal statement needs to demonstrate adversity. If you have some hardship to share, and you feel comfortable doing so, then share it. But don’t feel obligated, particularly if it comes off as generic. Admissions can sense what is sincere and what is not.
- “Why” is greater than “what.” Talk about why you those activities, why you are applying. Your “what” (those experiences that bring you to the table) are important only in that context. Your list of extracurriculars will showcase your “what.” Personally, it’s better to read about 1 or 2 major experiences than hearing about all the experiences you’ve had.
- Read your statement aloud to catch any errors. Also, read it starting with the last sentence. See if each sentence makes sense standing alone.