Writing a Winning Personal Statement

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Writing a Winning
Personal Statement
for Pharmacy
Kathie Peterson, M.S.
Health Careers Center, U of M
What is the Personal Statement?
• Tells your story
• Presents your goals
• Reflects your aptitude, maturity, focus, and
compatibility with pharmacy
• Provides evidence of your writing skills
• A critical factor in the admissions process
Why Pharmacy?
The personal statement is an opportunity
to present you. Your statement should
address three questions:
1) Why have you chosen pharmacy?
2) How do you know this is the right
program/choice?
3) What do you have to offer the profession?
First Step: Research
• Self assessment
– Interests, personality, values, aptitude
• Trends in the discipline
– Readiness for the challenges of a career in
pharmacy
• What’s needed to be successful in
pharmacy?
– Fit with your life/career planning
Preparing to Write –
Personal Assessment
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How would I describe myself?
How would others describe me?
How did I become interested in this field?
What are my professional objectives?
What are my life goals and dreams?
Preparing to Write –
Academic Assessment
• How have my applied learning experiences
(e.g., work, volunteering, internship) contributed
to my professional objectives?
• How do my research and clinical experiences
relate to my goals?
• How do my academic choices reflect my
interests and prepare me for a career in
pharmacy?
• Ask:
How does this make me unique?
What makes this significant?
Preparing to Write –
Special Considerations
• Special circumstances
Examples: low grades, switching major, gaps in
enrollment, non-traditional status
• Reframe to focus on strengths and resilience
• Circumstance should be peripheral to the story
Framing the Statement
• Strategy #1:
– Background
– Academic Experiences
– Plans for Professional Study
• Strategy #2:
– Special emphasis
– Why is this a good fit for you?
• Strategy #3
– Weaving a story
– Themes
Structuring the Statement
• Can include:
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–
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–
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Relevant experience (academic, work-related)
Awards and honors
Membership in academic or related organizations
Writing or publishing experience
Internships or work experience that contribute to
your professional maturity
• But NOT a restatement of your resume
• Your personal statement provides a
framework for the supplemental application
essay questions
Guidelines for Writing
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Start early
Follow directions carefully
Be yourself
Be specific rather than vague – do not resort
to cliches
• Passion is a given – show, don’t tell
• Be coherent and concise
• Be positive, realistic, and professional
Guidelines for Writing
• Personal tone – link personal information to
professional interests and goals
• Vary your sentence structure and use
transitions
• Do not hide behind highly structured
language
• Assume admissions committee frame of
reference
• Revise, revise, revise
Examples
Before:
“I am a compilation of many years gained
from overcoming the relentless struggles of life.”
After:
“I was six years old, the eldest of six children
in the Bronx, when my father was murdered.”
Examples
Before:
“My recognition of the fact that we had finally
completed the research project was a deeply
satisfying moment that will forever linger in my
memory.”
After:
“Completing the research project at last gave me an
enduring sense of fulfillment.”
Examples
Before:
“If it were not for a strong support system which
instilled into me strong family values and morals, I
would not be where I am today.”
After:
“Although my grandmother and I didn’t have a car or
running water, we still lived far more comfortably than
did the other families I knew. I learned an important
lesson: My grandmother made the most of what little
she had, and she was known and respected for her
generosity. Even at that age, I recognized the value
she placed on maximizing her resources and helping
those around her.”
Final hints
• Consider consulting a style handbook
• Ask others to review your statement
– Examples: Faculty advisers, admitted students
– Use the “3 reader rule:”
• People who know you well and will be honest
• Someone who knows you a little bit (then
have a conversation)
• The very best writer/editor you know
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