What did the UCSF admissions director mean by this?

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I don't know if I can say the name of the individual or post the link of the video on which they said it (if a moderator can confirm it's ok, I'll post it).

But here is what they said (direct quote):

"Some people think, well, this is the way I'm going to stand out. So I'm going to write a very creative personal statement, or I'm going to write a very unusual personal statement. And some people hit the mark with that, but most people who try that miss the mark, and we're more inclined to wonder about the stability of that person. So I advise not to take a big risk, there are very few students who are going to get into medical school because of what they wrote in their personal statement, but there are several who are going to miss medical school because of what they wrote in their personal statement"

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Seems pretty obvious. Don't try to go over the top and be more creative than you actually are in your personal statement. You come off as a crazy person. He recommends playing it safe and letting the whole of your app do the talking.
 
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Seems pretty obvious. Don't try to go over the top and be more creative than you actually are in your personal statement. You come off as a crazy person. He recommends playing it safe and letting the whole of your app do the talking.

I was moreso trying to get one of the ADCOMS here to elaborate what is meant by "unusual" or "creative" in this context
 
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I've seen a handful of "creative" personal statements, that read more like an adventure novel with the author as the main character, or they try to be funny. They're almost universally bad. Like really bad. I see the personal statement as an opportunity to prove you are not crazy and have a genuine passion for medicine, rather than an opportunity to stand out.
 
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I've seen a handle of "creative" personal statements, that read more like an adventure novel with the author as the main character, or they try to be funny. They're almost universally bad. Like really bad. I see the personal statement as an opportunity to prove you are not crazy and have a genuine passion for medicine, rather than an opportunity to stand out.

How can you make sure that an attempt to use your professional experiences on the personal statement doesn't end up coming off as re-stating your resume?
 
Based on my own numerous spectacular failed attempts to write an outstanding personal statement last cycle (and pages of urelentingly honest feedback from folks here on SDN), my impression is that the personal statement is meant to be more of a summary of why you are (and should be) pursuing medicine, as illustrated by the evidence in your app. It is not meant to be evidence in and of itself.

I'm not sure if that's what the director was talking about, but it's at least related and I think it might be another way of saying the same thing.
 
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I don't know if I can say the name of the individual or post the link of the video on which they said it (if a moderator can confirm it's ok, I'll post it).

But here is what they said (direct quote):

"Some people think, well, this is the way I'm going to stand out. So I'm going to write a very creative personal statement, or I'm going to write a very unusual personal statement. And some people hit the mark with that, but most people who try that miss the mark, and we're more inclined to wonder about the stability of that person. So I advise not to take a big risk, there are very few students who are going to get into medical school because of what they wrote in their personal statement, but there are several who are going to miss medical school because of what they wrote in their personal statement"

Looks like @Med Ed nailed it

I did the math this year and ~1% of the personal statements I read this year were memorable in a positive light. ~7% were memorable in a negative light. The remaining 92% were basically groups of words.

When writing your personal statement, the goal for most of you is not to be in the 1%. It's to avoid the 7%. In other words, shoot for the top 93%.

Here's a useful tip for landing in that coveted middle: don't try and set a mood with the first sentence.

"The thin, mewling cries echoed down the hallway."
"The moist, stagnant air curdled inside my nostrils."
"The gray old man coughed half-chewed dandelion stems onto my sleeve."
"The clown shoes slid grotesquely across the gym floor."


Look, you probably aren't Hemingway. Or even Faulkner. Unless you have won collegiate-level prizes for your fiction I suggest you stick to the road more traveled.

Next up, let's discuss tired analogies. I do not want to hear about how the marathon you ran is a metaphor for your premedical journey. I do not want to hear about how the mountain you climbed is a metaphor for your premedical journey. I do not want to hear about how your intramural water polo victory is a metaphor for your premedical journey. Just describing the actual journey will be fine.

Lastly (although I suspect this thread will invoke more advice), I know it can be challenging to get reliable feedback from others regarding your personal statement. Whatever you produce, some may like it, some may dislike it, and it can naturally be tough deciding who to listen to. Really, you should only be asking three questions of your reviewers:

1. Is my personal statement clear and logical?
2. Are there any typos?
3. Does this piece of writing make me sound crazy?

#3 is the most important. Forays in creative writing often end badly in this realm.
 
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I was moreso trying to get one of the ADCOMS here to elaborate what is meant by "unusual" or "creative" in this context

Okay personal statement (condensed): When I was twelve my aunt Sally had a heart attack while choking on a rib at the family reunion. After watching throngs of doctors save her life I decided I wanted to be one of the people who saves lives and makes the world a better place.

Not okay personal statement (condensed): As I stood on the shore of the purple lake of sadness I could feel neither a beginning or end to the void that rips at my soul. What is it to be? What is it to not be? After discovering my passion for Shakespeare I felt alive, immortal. Then I discovered a new passion, even more passionate than the last passion. The human body. I was fascinated by its intricacies. And that's how I learned what happens when you break a toe.
 
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Okay personal statement (condensed): When I was twelve my aunt Sally had a heart attack while choking on a rib at the family reunion. After watching throngs of doctors save her life I decided I wanted to be one of the people who saves lives and makes the world a better place.

Not okay personal statement (condensed): As I stood on the shore of the purple lake of sadness I could feel neither a beginning or end to the void that rips at my soul. What is it to be? What is it to not be? After discovering my passion for Shakespeare I felt alive, immortal. Then I discovered a new passion, even more passionate than the last passion. The human body. I was fascinated by its intricacies. And that's how I learned what happens when you break a toe.
I like the second one
 
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Appreciate the re-post, when you do in the future, can you include the link to the post? Sometimes people want more context for the quote, or sometimes you just want to save the original link...

If you click on the little up arrow next to a persons name in a quoted post, it directs you to the original thread. ;)
 
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The personal statements I remember longest are the most cringe-worthy ones. In my (limited) experience, people who write bad PS's make one (or more) of three mistakes:

1) They try to write beyond their ability
It would be great if Hollywood screenwriters could learn this lesson: you can't write characters who are smarter than you are. This goes for personal statements, too.

2) They go for shock value
This usually takes the form of disgusting and/or graphic descriptions. I deal with blood and guts for a living, and some people's PS's still gross me out. Their descriptive powers are impressive in the same way as a fourth-grader's ability to belch the entire alphabet. If I can't read your PS while I eat my lunch, guess which activity I'll choose? I'll give you two guesses, first one doesn't count.

3) They try to force absurd parallels to medicine
You don't watch zombie movies to marvel at the mysteries of life, you watch them to get scared and grossed out. You don't like basketball because of the artistry of the musculoskeletal system in motion, you like it because watching enormous graceful giants pull off incredible feats of athleticism is exhilarating. Write your real reasons for going into medicine, not some pseudointellectual nonsense that's supposed to convince me you're the second coming of Socrates.
 
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@HomeSkool 's got it.

with regard to shock value:
Beyond blood & guts, there are other kinds of shock.... I had one applicant recently who used a "derogatory, offensive, ethnic slur" (Wiktionary's description of the phrase) to describe the applicant's personal ethnicity. I'm still trying to process that.
 
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The personal statements I remember longest are the most cringe-worthy ones. In my (limited) experience, people who write bad PS's make one (or more) of three mistakes:

1) They try to write beyond their ability
It would be great if Hollywood screenwriters could learn this lesson: you can't write characters who are smarter than you are. This goes for personal statements, too.

2) They go for shock value
This usually takes the form of disgusting and/or graphic descriptions. I deal with blood and guts for a living, and some people's PS's still gross me out. Their descriptive powers are impressive in the same way as a fourth-grader's ability to belch the entire alphabet. If I can't read your PS while I eat my lunch, guess which activity I'll choose? I'll give you two guesses, first one doesn't count.

3) They try to force absurd parallels to medicine
You don't watch zombie movies to marvel at the mysteries of life, you watch them to get scared and grossed out. You don't like basketball because of the artistry of the musculoskeletal system in motion, you like it because watching enormous graceful giants pull off incredible feats of athleticism is exhilarating. Write your real reasons for going into medicine, not some pseudointellectual nonsense that's supposed to convince me you're the second coming of Socrates.
Lol, unfortunately, See the Dunning-Kruger effect for why point #1 will fall on deaf ears for those who would benefit most

edit: also, as a phil major, I know I'm the second coming of Socrates, don't u tell me otherwise Mr. HomeSkool.

Actually, come to think of it, I'm a fan of Epictetus and Epicurus. I'm the second coming of their hypothetical child:bookworm:
 
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I had one applicant recently who used a "derogatory, offensive, ethnic slur" (Wiktionary's description of the phrase) to describe the applicant's personal ethnicity. I'm still trying to process that.
:wideyed: The most mind-boggling thing isn't that they wrote it. It's that they revised and edited and still thought it was a good idea.

Epictetus and Epicurus.
Gesundheit!
 
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3) They try to force absurd parallels to medicine
You don't watch zombie movies to marvel at the mysteries of life, you watch them to get scared and grossed out. You don't like basketball because of the artistry of the musculoskeletal system in motion, you like it because watching enormous graceful giants pull off incredible feats of athleticism is exhilarating. Write your real reasons for going into medicine, not some pseudointellectual nonsense that's supposed to convince me you're the second coming of Socrates.

Do people actually say that hahahaha I can only imagine "I admire elegance and artistry of Michael Jordans gastrocnemius and quadriceps flexing while he soars through the air like a Peregrine falcon honing in on its prey."
 
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Do people actually say that hahahaha I can only imagine "I admire elegance and artistry of Michael Jordans gastrocnemius and quadriceps flexing while he soars through the air like a Peregrine falcon honing in on its prey."
I triple dog dare you to start your PS with that sentence.
 
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Do people actually say that hahahaha I can only imagine "I admire elegance and artistry of Michael Jordans gastrocnemius and quadriceps flexing while he soars through the air like a Peregrine falcon honing in on its prey."

that's something Stephen A. Smith would write in his PS if he were applying to medical school
 
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that's something Stephen A. Smith would write in his PS if he were applying to medical school
Stephen A Smith: I love Michael Jordan. I've known Michael Jordan for 25 years. Michael Jordan's wife and my wife bake cookies together on Sundays. Michael Jordan's kids and my kids are best friends. BUT BELIEVE ME WHEN I TELL YOU THAT LEBRON IS THE BEST BASKETBALL PLAYER OF ALL TIME. MICHAEL JORDAN SHOULD BE HONORED THE CLEAN THE COURT THAT LEBRON PLAYS ON. HE IS GARBAGE AT BASKETBALL AND AN EMBARRASSMENT TO HIS FAMILY.
 
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