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Does SDN overlook the Personal Statement?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by ADeadLois, Dec 18, 2005.

  1. ADeadLois

    ADeadLois Senior Member
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    Long-time reader, first-time poster.

    Although I find the SDN website to be very helpful for the medical school application process, it doesn't seem like there is much discussion about the importance of the Personal Statement. I say this because I've talked to professors/doctors at several medical schools (Northwestern, UConn for ex.) who are on or have been on the admissions board. They all said that the Personal Statement is one of the most important things they look at in an applicants profile. All else being equal, the applicant with the stronger PS will get the acceptance. One of the docs even said that sometimes an applicant with lower "stats" (GPA and MCAT) and a very strong PS is favored over an applicant with better stats but a bland or generic PS.

    Obviously, I can't say that this is true for ALL medical schools (NU and UConn seem to be more progressive in their application process). But it seems that the importance of the PS is disportionate to its discussion on SDN. Just my two cents.

    Anyone else agree?
     
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  3. MarzMD

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    I completely agree. There are too many "what are my chances" threads where people include their stats. That is only 1 facet of your application. I think the personal statement is a very important part of the application, but it is sort of hard to give people advice on it without actually reading one of their drafts. I know for a fact that a good essay can get someone an interview with below average stats.
     
  4. silas2642

    silas2642 silas2642
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    Seconded, thirded, whatever, but I totally agree. There have been many a applicant with high stats that have been rejected from medical school because of a blah personal statement. I think that the ps is one of the most important parts of the person's application.

    SDN tends to overlook it because many people don't want to post their ps because it may be taken and plagiarized and it's too much trouble to talk about. Plus, most of us tend to be ridiculously obsessed with numbers.

    High stats+SDNers--> :love:
     
  5. jammin06

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    I agree with this to some degree... Yes, there is a blanket obsession with stats and objective elements to admissions processes, but i think a large degree of that is the intrinsic "quantifiability" of those. It's hard to say who has or what makes a better PS.

    It's interesting to see the threads during the spring months and into June/July when everyone is working on AMCAS and trying to hammer out a solid PS. I know there was a huge thread a while back regarding people who were willing to read and comment on someone's PS. I'm sure there'll be one started up in March-April.
     
  6. ADeadLois

    ADeadLois Senior Member
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    Yeah, I think I'm more inclined to agree with your latter statement. Most on SDN seem to be numbers obsessed, probably because it's an easier way to gauge one's status. But I think it's dangerous to think and focus solely on GPA/MCAT numbers, and to a lesser extent racking up one's CV with clinical and research experiences. I feel that the importance of the more personal/subjective areas of one's application (PS, interview candor, non-medical experiences) tend to get obscured in the process.
     
  7. BaylorGuy

    BaylorGuy Enter witty comment here
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    To the OP, i agree with you and the others....IMHO, the PS is extra important, perhaps more important than some other ECs. Unless you have stellar ECs that set you far apart from all the other applicants (I.E. former astronaut, head of state, Pro-Bowler, etc.), your PS is going to distinguish you from all other "normal" traditional medical school applicants.

    I think SDN does a good job with the PS...there are a lot of people here who like helping others out with their PS (grammar checking, ideas, editing, etc.). However, SDN follows a circular pathway. Right now in the application process, you aren't going to find many people wanting to edit or post their PS...Why? because its interview season and not PS season. Wait a couple of months...I say April/May and some of the people who just took the MCAT will perhaps start wanting people to edit their PS. Good luck
     
  8. ADeadLois

    ADeadLois Senior Member
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    I've only been following the forums since the late summer, so I haven't seen much of those PS threads. I like the idea of peer PS editing on SDN.
     
  9. MoosePilot

    MoosePilot Y Bombardier
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    PS is very important and that comes out on SDN, but not usually in December :laugh:

    However, your PS is a combination of content and writing. No matter how well written, if you can't present evidence of your interest in medicine, your outstanding writing isn't going to win you an acceptance. So you need to have the facts to back up your interest, then your PS needs to lay out the evidence.
     
  10. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Sort of. It's all important, and that's why some of the threads that periodically pop up focusing on whether MCAT is more important than GPA and vice versa are sort of silly. A bad (or even gramatically awkward) PS can certainly tank your chances and a great one can bolster it significantly. However I have been told by admissions types that they tend to see variations on the same dozen or so essay themes literally thousands of times each year, so it may be that very few people actually distinguish themselves in the PS and that there is limited variability in the pack, thus making the PS a nonfactor. And a great PS without great everything else isn't going to get you very far either.
     
  11. gujuDoc

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    If you were posting at the beginning of the application cycle, you'll see that SDN was very much into the personal statement by offerring a thread where people could sign on if they wanted to help edit and help others with the personal statement. There was also a lot of discussion at that time. But to be able to have that looked at, you need to get past the numbers stage first. So I don't think people are de-emphasizing anything. I think people were discussing it quite a lot when that time was appropriate, where a higher percentage of people were thinking about those things.

    There've been threads about personal statement tips and what not before as well.
     
  12. ADeadLois

    ADeadLois Senior Member
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    Ok, that's good. Like I said, I've only been reading since the summer.
     
  13. theunderdog

    theunderdog Medical Student (Slave)
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    you just need a decent personal statement.

    STATS are the main thing....

    my friend wrote his PS in 30 freaking minutes. so far, he has 6 acceptances..

    my other friend has typos in her PS!!! but she has gotten into prestigious schools like uchicago pritzker, pitt, and yale... and i read her PS! it's ordinary!

    no joke!

    i think the PS is overrated. mine was actually pretty good, and it has landed me some interviews, but otherwise, it's not the drawing factor.
     
  14. gujuDoc

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    To add to the above quoted, I don't think you could have a great PS if you don't have the great EC's and numbers to back up your PS, since a lot of your PS is based on personal experiences and what not.

    In other words, read Moose's post. It was probably the truest of all things said.
     
  15. SeventhSon

    SeventhSon SIMMER DOWN
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    I always wonder whenever someone is venting about their stats and lack of interviews/acceptances whether or not they have a poorly-written or just plain unspectacular personal statement.

    Basically, a personal statement to someone reading it gets to the bottom line of whether the committee offers you an interview: "Would I want to meet this person?" It is supposed to let people understand how you think and how/what you've felt. If they don't think "I would liek to meet/talk with this person" after reading the PS they arent going to invite you for an interview, unless your stats/ECs are ridiculously provocative by themselves.

    It's really hard to think your personal statement is holding your app back until you read some really spectacular PS's, which I have read. (I think my PS is good but nothing spectacular could be said about me).

    That being said, I think the PS doesnt have a lot of emphasis on this board for 2 reasons:

    1) your personal statement is about YOU, and your experiences and your feelings about them, and something so visceral is not often shared and it is not easy to give someone advice about how to express that which is visceral.

    2) all things being said and done, the PS is something that, as long as you get respectable people to give you suggestions and you take it seriously, the PS isn't going to hold you back hugely. The fact is that certain GPA and MCAT are needed to get your foot in the door, and it is only after that fact that the personal statement determines who gets interviews.... but given that schools get thousands of apps and there is only so much reviewing that can be done, the GPA and MCAT are the first ways to gauge your desirability and the PS only resolves you within each "numbers bracket"

    my 2c.
     
  16. ADeadLois

    ADeadLois Senior Member
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    Thanks, that's a good analysis. I think it definitely depends on the school, and maybe the individual admissions officer. I could see the more progressive schools (Northwestern, Michigan St.) looking highly upon the PS, but more traditional (Ivy league) leaning more towards the stats.
     
  17. robh

    robh Senior Member
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    I agree with Law2doc on this one. I think it is crazy to consider the 5000 or so characters of your PS equal in importance to four plus years of academic work as measured by your gpa and your performance on the MCAT, which is likely very predictive of how you will perform on board exams. I'm not saying that you can blow off the PS. We're applying to medical school. EVERYTHING is important, but there are degrees.

    To put it another way, you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? I want to be a billionaire, but do I have what it takes to make a billion dollars? A PS is talk. It's essentially a statement of what you want and why you want it. If you come off as an illiterate or have some wacky reason for wanting to go to medical school, you're in trouble. Otherwise, I think it is merely necessary to not screw up the PS. Grades, MCAT, LOR's, clinical experience, and EC's are all more important than the PS. These measure what you have done, not just what you say. I think a good PS is pretty easy when the rest of your application is solid. That is my contrarian view.
     
  18. Orthodoc40

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    Yup. SDN posts show a ridiculous emphasis on everything numbers. Numbers, numbers, numbers - all I read here is people talking about their numbers, someone else's numbers, and what some school's numbers are. Its pretty pathetic. Then these people just can't figure out how they, or their friend, didn't get into some school or other, because they "had the right numbers"! Or how someone DID get in, even though they "didn't have the numbers".

    Wake up folks. There are more than enough applicants capable of "getting the right numbers". What sets you apart isn't your numbers. Its your personal statement, your letters of recommendation, your experiences, and everything that makes you unique and that can't be quantified.
     
  19. nicholasblonde

    nicholasblonde Senior Member
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    Yeah PS is way important...but it's usually discussed ad nauseum on SD right around application time...if you are evaluating SD's coverage of PS based on the info currently being discussed on the site, you are getting an inaccurate portrayal.

    As for the stats/what are my chances threads--yeah, the people on those threads probably discount the value of the PS...but it is somewhat reckless to post your PS on a public website, and it is such a subjective thing that it's not really a readily accessible/quickly understandable element of someone's application...so people don't talk about it as much....it's a heck of a lot easier to just say really fast: 34/3.97...what are my chances at these schools? The underlying assumption is that the individual has a PS which will have a "neutral or positive" effect on their overall application...I will agree this is not always the case.

    Maybe, in future MCAT+GPA+What are my chances? threads, we could start adding the disclaimer "Assuming 0/+ PS, you have a good chance of getting into XXXX School of Medicine"---oh wait...our generation only has time to read Yes or No, and we ignore the fine print.
     
  20. DrBowtie

    DrBowtie Final Countdown
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    I just think there hasn't been talk about the PS lately since it isn't really the pre-application season. Once it hits March/April you will see a greater emphasis.

    Plus it is hard to judge a PS so no one ever counts it as a pos or neg. Just like everyone here has "good letters".
     
  21. ADeadLois

    ADeadLois Senior Member
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    I agree. Here's an interesting anecdote:

    I worked in a hospital last summer, and got a chance to talk with a bunch of residents, fellows, and attendings. I worked with two in particular more closely, and I talked with them about the application process. One doc said that the PS was very important, and can really make or break your application regardless of your scores. The other doc said that the PS is meaningless, and all you need to do is memorize textbooks and MCAT info and you're all set (although this guy was also an elitist tool and a jerk). Clearly, there is very little homogenity on the matter.
     

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