One of the most important parts of the application to postbac programs is your personal statement. This piece of writing allows the admissions committee to get to know you – to hear your voice – and learn more about the obstacles you have overcome to pursue your educational goals.
3 attributes of a successful postbac personal statement
There are three important ways that you can make your personal statement resonate with your reader:
By sharing how your interest in medicine developed, whether it was through an unusual sequence of events or took years for you to find your career path, the more honest you are about your experiences, the better. Writing what you think the admissions committee would like to hear will appear generic and will not help you shine as the unique individual that you are. Tell your story!
Taking the time to think through the events of your life can help you see with more clarity what you would like to tell the admissions committee through your personal statement. This is your chance to evaluate how your life experiences have made you the person that you are today. Using old journals or photo albums can help facilitate this process and allow you to remember those moments that shaped the motivations that govern your values and life goals.
By creating an outline and following it as you write your essay, you will be adding structure to it. Those essays that are well written are more likely to attract the attention of a reader who can become an advocate on your behalf during the admissions process. Submitting a strong and well-structured piece of writing can make an enormous difference in how your application is viewed.
Writing about yourself in your postbac application essay
One of the most common mistakes that students make in writing personal statements is that they write about other people or events and not about themselves. Often it can be challenging to write about ourselves – especially in an application – in which we know that we will be judged or evaluated as an applicant in competition with others. Below I have listed a few steps that can help you excel in this challenging rhetorical position.
- Recognize that you are a unique individual and that there is no one else in the world like you. You’re an original!
- Congratulate yourself for arriving at this point in your life – you are on your way to medical school.
- Decide what unique qualities or talents you have that you would like a selection committee to know about you.
- Be sure to introduce yourself in the first paragraph of your essay. Be present!
- Include examples of the ways you have actively helped or interacted with others to improve their health outcomes. Show, don’t tell!
- Highlight your talents and skills throughout the essay.
- Check to see that, after reading the essay, you are pleased with how well the essay represents you and reveals your individuality and values.
It can be intimidating to write about yourself. By using these tips, you can ensure that you represent yourself well throughout your essay and that you remain front and center. If your aunt or grandma wants to apply to medical school, let them write their own essay! Take your time and have others provide feedback as you write your essay. Even the strongest writers struggle when faced with writing about themselves. But take heart! Tell your story as only you can tell it.
You now know all of the elements of a winning postbac essay. Now it’s time to turn to the pros to ensure that you take all of these ingredients and put them together successfully to create a compelling, slam-dunk postbac essay. Check out our Postbac Application Package and work one-on-one with an expert admissions coach who will guide you through the entire postbac admissions process.
Alicia McNease Nimonkar worked for 5 years as the Student Advisor & Director at the UC Davis School of Medicine's postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and other health professional programs. She has served Accepted's clients since 2012 with roughly a 90% success rate. She has a Master of Arts in Composition and Rhetoric as well as Literature. Want Alicia to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
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• How Can a Postbac Program Help You?
• Johns Hopkins Postbac Programs: An Interview with the Director, a podcast episode