Nov 30, 2010
3
0
Status
Pre-Veterinary
Another nontrad joining the ranks here on SDN. I look forward to contributing and hopefully posting my successful stats at some point (hope to apply 2011 or 2012). I seem to have most of my ducks in a row regarding my prep for application so I have started working on my personal statement. I have gleaned much from the websites and multiple SDN threads on the topic. That said, I have submitted my first draft to a few folks for review and I've gotten wildly differing feedback. The reviewers are all professionals of one sort or another (some in vet and some not). Anyway, for those working on their personal statement and for those that had successful applications ...
1. How explicit were/are you in making you points?
I have tried to "show" rather than "tell" and some reviewers seem to get my point and others- well, my points seem to fly right over their heads.
2. Did/do you weigh feedback from those in vet med more heavily or look at all feedback equally?
Some feedback I've gotten from non vet med folks is that I need to express my interest in animals more strongly/directly. Again, learning from various resources I though that this is somewhat implied (via pursuing this career path and through my various animal experiences) but maybe it should be more explicitly stated???
I'm going to go out on a limb here and post my intro paragraph as it give some indication of my approach. Feedback and answers to above q's much appreciated.

My Intro:
My childhood memories were punctuated by the passion for medicine, intellectual rigors, and demanding schedule that define my father’s career as a physician. When he was 38, my father immigrated to the United States from Colombia to begin his medical residency. Now 80, he still practices emergency medicine, logging more than four decades in a career that didn’t officially get underway until middle age. I now find myself coming to medicine in much the same way that he did—later in life, through a great diversity of experiences, and with an enduring interest in the profession. And while I am proud to be following a similar path to veterinary medicine, my journey is it’s own unique story.
 

StartingoverVet

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You ask 10 people for opinions, you will get 10 different opinions. Really you are going to have to evaluate the advice and decide how to proceed. In the end, it is YOUR personal statement, not theirs.

My $0.02: Is this a personal statement or a story about your father? I can't really tell the difference. I would save the parallels to your father's journey for later in the PS (if at all) and concentrate on wowing the adcoms with what makes YOU special (unless of course you are applying to vet school along with your father... that would make you special).

I always remind people that the PS is a way to market yourself to the adcoms and if the best thing you have to market is your father then you are in trouble (unless he is donating a building to the school).
 
OP
Northwoods
Nov 30, 2010
3
0
Status
Pre-Veterinary
SOV- perhaps my post highlights the dangers of only revealing a piece of the puzzle. I appreciate the feedback and good reminders. A few clarifications (maybe it doesn't make a difference though) this is the only place in my statement that I mention my dad. The rest of the essay describes my successes and what I've learned and my enduring interest in vet med. However, this intro paragraph is a good example of what I was trying to say in my first post. I was trying to "show" how much my father has inspired me and that he left a big impression on me but if that is not clear right from the start I definitely need to rework how I express this.

My stats are good so far... I have a 3.9 gpa, a solid work background, and I'm working hard to round out my animal experiences. I've got large/small clinic experience, food animal (dairy goats), humane society and I'm doing a wildlife internship this summer. Also currently working with a prof on a research project. So I feel ok about most else, like many others, apparently, I'm finding the PS to be a bit of a challenge.
 

katryn

UTCVM c/o 2014!!!!
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I agree that for every person you ask you get an equal number of opinions.

I used a little bit of a mixed approach with my PS. The first sentence of each paragraph was a "show" them sentence, worded like a sentence from a story. But the rest of the paragraph was spent trying to relay how that particular experience either taught me something about myself, or changed my perspective of vet med. And that I think is the more important part of it. Even if you get different opinions of how you said it, you want the people reading your PS to all be getting the same general message of how those experiences affected you.

I wouldn't worry about explicitly stating that you like animals.... It is kind of assumed by the adcoms or you wouldn't be applying to vet school.

As far as the advice from vet's being better than others? *shrug* I only had 2-3 vet related people read my PS, so I had a lot more input from other sources. I don't know that the source made much difference with mine.

PS. If that's the most you mention your dad in your PS, I'd say it's fine. I got the point. :laugh: But where you place it and if you keep it will ultimately depend on how it fits with the rest.
 

laitmanvet

c/o 2015 - now interning it
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Jan 7, 2010
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Agreed, everyone has something different to say. I've had a lot of different vetmed experiences and at first I tried to fit them all in to my PS...which didn't work out at all. People were confused as to my objectives for vet school and it came out as more of a reiteration of my resume. I ended up re-writing the whole thing. I suppose some people thought that because I was going to vet school I should write about my small animal clinical experiences...which aren't that extensive and isn't related to the field I want to enter in to. The most positive feedback I received was when I wrote about my experiences that directly related to what I want to pursue.
(One of my readers was my boss, who is an MD, and my other main reader was a DVM in research. I used their advice equally. When I got their feedback I asked them "why" they had a particular opinion, then made my own decision.)
My advice: write it as a story. You want to tell the interesting/fascinating/amazing story or YOU and why you want to be a vet and what has contributed to that decision. People will tell you "you have to include X type of experience" and "don't write about this/that." There's no magic formula...just make it relevant and interesting.
Oh and I like what you wrote above, but I would cut it down and not use it as the intro. Maybe the opening sentence to the ending paragraph. I had a personal story in the beginning too and I moved it to there.
I'm a non-trad as well and I found my PS difficult to write. I had a pretty diverse background of experiences but I found that sticking to a few things which really rounded me to who I am now and what really lead me to vetmed, worked best.
 

Whyevernot55

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It's been said, but every person will have different opinions. Worry most about pleasing yourself. I used 3 main readers - one my best friend, who knows me well enough to know when my writing "sounds" like me; one another person in vet med, who doesn't know ME that well but whose opinion I trust; and the last a good friend who also happens to be a published author and creative writing professor in college. No explanation needed there!

I ended up balancing the critiques to rework my PS into something that I feel is incredibly strong, is a good representation of my voice, and that I am happy with. Just because someone is in vet med doesn't mean they know anything about what the adcoms are going to like on that particular day, so be cautious about overvaluing opinions from certain groups.

Also, when next season rolls around, we generally have a thread for PS swaps - so people can share theirs and read others' PS to get feedback and a feel for what's being written.
 
Aug 31, 2010
116
0
Status
Pre-Veterinary
Non-trad, of sorts, here too. I had the benefit of an English professor for a mother, who taught me a lot about writing application style essays (unfortunately, she passed away before I decided to apply to vet school...I really missed her critiques this time around :( ).

Anyhow, on the "show, don't tell" point (a very good one!), I think you're stopping a little short of truly showing. Showing would be describing a memory that is punctuated by a "passion for medicine, intellectual rigors, and demanding schedule". 'Telling' would be mentioning that you have memories that are punctuated by passion for medicine, etc., as you do in your current intro. Try to think of a moment in time in which you experienced these things and describe the event.

As far as getting differing feedback, I tried to look for the commonalities between my readers. For instance, they all suggested different things to mention, but were all indicating I needed to do a better job of describing my understanding of the day-to-day work of vets. It's also very important to note if they are all confused by the same sentence/paragraph.

The best feedback I got was from people who have served on admissions committees before - all levels, really, not just vet. I got great feedback from a family friend who works in a college admissions office. The more piles of personal statements someone has read, the better sense they have of what makes a PS interesting/stand out from the stacks. I also got good feedback from a professor in my grad program who's been on the admissions committee a lot. You do, at some point, have to apply your own judgement as to what suggestions you'd like to take - that what makes it YOUR PS!

Good luck!
 

Bigcatlover

Iowa State class of 2015!
Jul 27, 2010
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Don't know if my advice counts much (have to wait to see if I get accepted:)), but I agree with the others about maybe moving the statement about your father to another part of the PS. I tried to focus a lot on the first sentence thinking if someone is skimming through hundreds of statements, the first sentence should really catch there attention, or at least the first paragraph. There seems like a possibility that some people may not bother reading the whole PS (don't know how likely that is) but just in case, I tried to kind of summarize why I was the best candidate in the first paragraph and use the rest of the PS to elaborate.
 

katryn

UTCVM c/o 2014!!!!
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Anyhow, on the "show, don't tell" point (a very good one!), I think you're stopping a little short of truly showing. Showing would be describing a memory that is punctuated by a "passion for medicine, intellectual rigors, and demanding schedule". 'Telling' would be mentioning that you have memories that are punctuated by passion for medicine, etc., as you do in your current intro. Try to think of a moment in time in which you experienced these things and describe the event.
I agree that "showing" is really important, but I feel the need to scream "be careful!". It's really easy to just describe the events that happened to you without really saying how they affected you. This got me rejected twice. (Literally, the only thing that changed between app 1+2 and app 3 was my PS and the number of hours, not diversity, of my experience). For example: My interviewers were much more interested in discussing HOW working with crappy clients changed my outlook than the story about how some crappy client yelled at me about a certain issue.
 

turquoisewolves

c/o 2015
Jan 9, 2010
149
0
Status
Pre-Veterinary
It's really easy to just describe the events that happened to you without really saying how they affected you.
I second that!
This was the problem with my 1st application....retrospect reveals it was just an inflated resume re-stating events that were already listed on the application with no personal connection. 2nd application's PS was just a nightmare really going to far off in the other extreme in that in trying to "show" too much it was too difficult to interrupt and was easily misunderstood.....
NOW hopefully, after having many wonderful people on SDN help me.....I think this 3rd PS that is in the process of being evaluated by admissions as we speak has a good balance to it...easy to read quickly with more emotion andpersonality.
But we shall see how it all turns out here soon.
GOOD LUCK:luck:.....its great to be starting so early. I always procrastinated until the summer of application time.
 
OP
Northwoods
Nov 30, 2010
3
0
Status
Pre-Veterinary
NOW hopefully, after having many wonderful people on SDN help me...
Feel much the same already.

Nothing like hearing it straight from those who've been there done that. Really useful advice and feedback posted here. I feel like I am looking at my PS with fresh eyes. Thanks for all of the specifics- they are most helpful.
 

Jakesmom

Ohio State CVM c/o 2015!!
Dec 6, 2009
125
0
Cleveland, Ohio
Status
Veterinary Student
For me, I didn't have many people in my life to bounce ideas off, so I turned to sdn for help. I wrote PS #1 and had 3 different people on here read it and give me some feedback. My first draft was centered around the event that sent me on my path towards vet medicine but I wrote way too much about the event rather than how it impacted me. They gave some really great advice and I changed my PS considerably. I agree with what others wrote about everyone having different opinions. In the end, I took a little of this and a little of that and tried to create a cohesive essay. I did have one final person do a read through before sending it off. My mom's best friend has a daughter who is a vet. I've known my mom's friend my whole life, so I asked her to read through it since she knows me well and has some ideas about what vet school is about. I've got an interview so I must have done something right:D
 

sumstorm

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Just some more suggestions; avoid a resume style narrative..... those things should be in the application, this should be about how you made those decisions and how the experiences impacted you. (Not saying you have done this, just that it is what a lot of folks do.) Also, you need the adcom to visualize you both as a successful student that will progress into a successful vet. They need to know what is unique about you, what differentiates you from all the other students. Finally, as a non-trad, you will have to answer more about 'why?' than a trad student. Why now? Why not 5 years ago? or 5 years from now? what triggered the move? And the answers will vary. One person's answer may be that they were lured away by another talent, another's may be a relatively recent discovery of a passion for animals or science (perhaps lack of early exposure), another's may be that their experiences in their owther career keep moving towards vet med.

I like the dad comparison, but I think you may need to winnow that down. Or maybe distribute it. I think it is too much emphasis on someone else. 3.5 sentences on dad vs 1.5 sentences on you. I see multiple points in it: childhood experience with medical life, respect/admiration for a dr dad, age/non-trad, immigration, life-long/extent/duration of practice, and then finally your own journey. I personally think that may be distracting about your point, and focuses on your father's journey too much...and may make someone ask 'why is she so focused on her dad's career, and on human medicine, but applying to vet med?' And that could certainly be a result of reading a clip vs an entire statement.

I agree with others; there is no reason to talk about how much you love animals, but you will have to be sure someone can visualize you in the profession (dealing with clients, medicine, animals, etc)