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Too many stories for PS?

Jan 15, 2020
  1. Pre-Medical
Hey everyone. I graduated college in 2011 and my journey to medicine took me through public health first. I'm having quite a time trying to consolidate what I want to say into a personal statement. The first one was too "public health"-y, and now, after several more drafts, I'm just frustrated. I have lots of experiences and stories I could tell, but the advice I keep getting is conflicting. I tried to write chronologically and the ideas didn't fit together well, and then I tried to write the ideas, but then another reader commented that the chronology was weird. I'm not sure how to express that this has been a long, winding road to medicine. Any help or ideas on how to start over or cobble together lots of different stories would be great. I appreciate the help!
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Full Member
5+ Year Member
May 13, 2015
  1. Pre-Medical
The problem with having a lot of experiences, especially different ones, is that it will end up being a rehash of your CV.

You could mention all of them in your intro, but focus on 2-3 of the most emotionally important ones for the rest of the essay.

You also want to hone in on who you're presenting yourself as. Avoid coming off as though you're just throwing everything to the wall to see what sticks. You'll have space in secondaries to bring up more experiences.
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Full Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2014
  1. Medical Student
This is a really common problem to have and one that I struggled with as well. As someone who used to score personal statements for a reputable national service org with a 10% acceptance rate I recommend:
1. Put your thesis at the beginning of your essay. As a non traditional with a lot of experiences you don’t need your “a ha” moment at the end but rather at the beginning to orient and guide your reader through your experiences.
2. No intro “grab your attention” paragraph. You have too many experiences to fit in to waste characters doing this.
3. Write chronologically. It isn’t elegant and won’t lead to a publishable piece of writing but it makes it really easy for your reader, who doesn’t know your life story, to follow and understand. Remember that your reader is able to understand your story and want to know more is the most important thing.
4. Plan on your reader spending no more than 5 minutes reading your personal statement. Thesis at the beginning and writing chronologically pays dividends here.
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