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How 'personal' should a personal statement be?

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Enoko

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Awkward headline, and a topic probably asked before, but I can't help but notice how people seem to have a HUGE difference in what they think a PS needs.

My brother (went to med school 8 years ago) showed me his old PS and it was really just personal facts. Like an autobiography almost. "...my parents moved to Chicago when I was 6, I had always liked living in the city... I learned a lot from my father, himself a physician working most of the day..."

Its like reading a Jane Austin novel, its not dramatic or showy, but it just flows buttery smooth. It lacks specifics, but you really get an idea for this person's life. The application and transcripts tell you what the person did.
This essay is purely personal, which kinda makes sense for a personal statement.

Now I look at my PS. Its very anecdotal and weaves around key points of my resume. It's like most other personal statements I proofread for people. Kinda showy, kinds like reminding them of things I put down on my activity's page. It's like I'm saying:
"Hey! Hey! See that? I mentioned the Red Cross! (remember how I put that down on my activities section?) Oh and look at that, I have a story about talking to a patient! Wow, look how knowledgeable and experienced with medical field I am! Oh and look, I brought up the fact that I volunteered for 2 years. I'm so awesome!"

But at the same time, that's kind of expected. I feel if you don't reinforce your volunteering and activities you will seem inexperienced. It might seem like you only volunteered to "check it off the list" so to speak, if you really cared about the volunteering you would talk about it or at least mention it in the PS. And besides, what Adcom is going to care that you moved to Chicago when you were 6.

So does one strive for being Personal and Jane Austin smooth... or does one "sell themself", even if you come across as kinda arrogant.
 

Jimmy270

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Well from what I understand(which isnt much to be honest) the idea behind the PS is the get the Adcom's to want to meet you in person. So I think the best thing to do would be to look at your PS and ask yourself "how much would I want to meet this person" or "would I be willing to turn others down in order to meet this person"
In short you need something that sticks out and I think coming from a family of physicians would be one of those things that help you stand out. But hopefully its not the only thing.

hope I helped and good luck :)
 

TexasMDtobe

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Maybe I don't get what you mean, but wouldn't it be best to both sell yourself AND write in a personal and smooth manner? For mine, I used a 4-part structure: clinical anecdote, personal history/development/motivation, different clinical anecdote, concluding pitch/argument. So long as you use compelling transitions I think both goals can be accomplished.

Also, it might not be the most effective route to blatantly reiterate your already-listed activities. Referencing my own again, I took my clinical/volunteering experiences and turned them into the two anecdotes by approaching them from a different and more personal angle, meaning I discussed my feelings about the experience and how those impressions motivated me to pursue medicine. In this way I reminded the adcom of my accomplishments while simultaneously providing insight into my mode of thought.

The adcom may not really care about your moving to Chicago when you were 6 (as you said) but relating such personal details might help the adcom construct a mental image of you as a person that they can identify with and want to work with in the future.

Put yourself out there, so to speak, and your honesty will pay off with an interview.
 

flip26

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A good PS is not a condensed auto biography.

It also should not rehash your activities listed elsewhere in the AMCAS.

A good PS will hook the reader, make him think "I need to meet this person."
 

noshie

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It was really hard fitting my personal statement on one page... There’s so much I wanted to write about. Ultimately I did write about something very personal, my battle with obesity. I have had mixed reviews about it. A few docs told me it was amazing because it was so personal, but one told me that it was kind of depressing. Well, of course a personal story like that is going to be depressing...

I wrote a very philosophical personal statement the first time I applied, looking back on it I don’t think that my personality showed through the way I wanted it to.

My personal statement 2 years ago was more biographical, and I hated it more than anything I have ever written. My advice is they can gather that stuff everywhere else on your application, don’t waste that space on reiterating what you have already told them, use it to let them see your personality. A very personal story will intrigue them more than bs about your activities...
 

familyaerospace

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As someone who was on the readers list, I will tell you the best statements I read spoke from the heart and were very smooth. I hated those who just rehashed what was already likely going to be listed in their ECs. It almost never flowed.
 

Cyradis

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I'd say take a balance - don't rehash the ECs and use your personal voice but don't make it an autobiography.

I've reviewed P.S. for admission to my undergrad program - obviously a different ball game but a few principles apply I'm sure. Let's just say overly philosophical answers, even when well-written, are incredibly boring to read.

Personal accounts/personal stories that make me feel like I sort of know the person make a huge difference.
 

werd

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try to avoid talking about things in your resume. talk about what makes you tick, what got you to where you are today, and who you are. noone wants to read, "then when i was xxx i got to work in so-in-so's lab and see about yyy... enriched... realized... so many... determined... med school... zzz." personally, when i see someone's resume in their ps, i skim til that part's over. hope this helps.
 
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