Writing a personal statement does not have to be rocket science; however, if you're not careful, you could easily jeopardize your personal essay and compromise your chances of getting accepted in the school you prefer. If you think you can write about anything in your personal essay, you better think again and think hard. Not everything you might want to share will make the right impact, and failing to comply with essay rules and guidelines could cost you your acceptance. Here are some of the more common ways for you to mess up your personal statement and some tips on what you can do to keep yourself from doing so.
Engage the Reader from the Start. When it comes to your application, all the information you submit is already set in stone__ except the personal statement. This is your chance to get your program's attention, especially if you feel that your MCAT scores or GPA may be lacking. You want your reader to be interested from the very start of the essay. Admission committee members are often short on time and may be more likely to gloss over your essay if it has a generic, flat, or boring beginning. One way to begin an essay is with a personal vignette__ a quick snapshot of a moment in your life that relates to your decision to apply to medical school. Consider the following two opening statements: a) I've always known that I want to be a doctor. Since my first encounter with death, I've recognized that it is my responsibility to help people. b) The lights flashed, and the sirens wailed as I watched the ambulances cart my next_door neighbor to the hospital. I was ten years old, and it was my first encounter with death. Do you see how the second example engages the reader's attention right away? It is a snapshot rather than a factual statement, which immediately catches the reader's interest. Personal vignettes are not the only way to start your essay, but they are easy to shape into engaging opening statements.