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explanation statement vs personal statement

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by remi4301, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. remi4301

    remi4301 Michigan 2018! 2+ Year Member

    Jul 16, 2012
    So I'm trying to figure out if I should put this stuff in my personal statement or explanation statement, what do you guys think?
    I had a really bad time in undergrad (which was over 10 yrs ago now). There were several things going against me. I had to work while taking full course loads, my parents went through a difficult divorce that I was thrown in the middle of, and I was diagnosed with ADHD, and prescribed way too high of a dosage of medication and developed severe anxiety which I didn't recognize until years later when I quit the meds and my eyes were opened up. Now being off medication I'm rocking my post-bacc work.
    I may have to have some of it in my personal statement because there isn't a lot of room in the explanation statement.
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  3. bbeventer

    bbeventer Illinois 2016 5+ Year Member

    Sep 27, 2010
    You want to use the personal statement to highlight your strengths and what you can bring to vet med. If you can turn this into "over coming adversity" or something along those lines, I guess, but it should not be the main focus of your PS.

    I know there is a debate about using the explanation statement and not, but I always caution people to think carefully if they do. You don't want to sound like you are making a bunch of excuses for your poor performance, because lets face it, most of us have experienced some kind of adversity in our academic career.
  4. that redhead

    that redhead Veterinarian 7+ Year Member

    Feb 26, 2010
    I would use the explanation area, not the PS, to explain poor grades. I had bad grades through undergrad and chose to focus my PS on what strengths I had and why I wanted to go to vet school and wrote a very concise explanation statement giving the reason for my poor grades and why I thought I had changed.

    As bbeventer said, most applicants have had some sort of obstacle(s) on their path. Some are a lot more serious, some less so, but the key is to describe the obstacles in a way that shows you have overcome them and have become a stronger candidate because of them. Be very, very careful not to turn it into a string of excuses or to turn the blame away from yourself - not that everything is your fault, but you'd rather own the experiences than appear to make it look like someone else's fault.

    And I think the explanation statement is 3,000 characters? That should be more than enough to briefly describe your issues, how you dealt with them and how you're doing so much better now that you've gotten past them.
  5. LetItSnow

    LetItSnow Skipping the light fandango Veterinarian 7+ Year Member

    Jan 13, 2011
    Plymouth, MN, USA
    If it were me, I would keep my personal statement as nearly 100% 'positive' as I could. The PS is a place to sell all the great parts about your story that I'm sure you have, not explain why all the reasons to not accept you should be ignored. If you have some explaining today, like failing out of school or something, put in in the explanation section. And STILL make it positive. I've used this illustration before, so the regulars are sick of hearing it, but when I 'explained' my failing out of college I wrote one or two sentences talking about what happened (and only the facts, no excuses) and a paragraph talking about improvement since then.

    Second comment.... there's a whole lot of "but it's not my fault" in between the lines of your post. There wasn't one single bit of "my grades are my responsibility" in there: instead you blame it on having to work, your parents, and improper med dosing. Don't forget that at any time you could have stepped out of college to get your life in order and go back; but you didn't. So your grades are 100% on your back. Take responsibility for that and show the applications people how much you've improved since then. They won't react well to reading an application that says "yeah, I had these problems, but look - none of it was MY fault." Ya know?
  6. remi4301

    remi4301 Michigan 2018! 2+ Year Member

    Jul 16, 2012
    Thanks everyone! Yeah, there were a lot of things completely out of my control, but I lacked the maturity to know how to handle the situations. Looking back I want to kick myself because if I were in the same situations now I would handle them very differently. So, explain some of the things that were going on, but focus on how I handle things now. Is this more of the vibe I should go for? Like for anxiety, I do yoga and meditation, also, I just have a different outlook now, also, stopped the meds. As far as the divorce, I've learned to place healthy emotional boundaries with people through several years of counseling. I've also learned a lot about healthy expectations and completely unrealistic ones. I am completely responsible for my actions and decisions and I now have the tools I need to make good decisions.
    I absolutely want to paint the picture of the person I am now, not who I was 10 years ago.
    I really appreciate the feedback. It's very helpful to have outside perspective. I definitely don't want to sound like "oh poor me".
  7. StartingoverVet

    StartingoverVet Flight Instructor for hire Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 7+ Year Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Neither here nor there.
    The only reason I would include bad grades in the PS is as an example of how AWESOME you were in overcoming your ________.

    You mention negative things to show how great you are now.

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