Writing a Winning Personal Statement

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
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
• What’s needed to be successful in
– Fit with your life/career planning
Preparing to Write –
Personal Assessment
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
• 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:
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
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
• Do not hide behind highly structured
• Assume admissions committee frame of
• Revise, revise, revise
“I am a compilation of many years gained
from overcoming the relentless struggles of life.”
“I was six years old, the eldest of six children
in the Bronx, when my father was murdered.”
“My recognition of the fact that we had finally
completed the research project was a deeply
satisfying moment that will forever linger in my
“Completing the research project at last gave me an
enduring sense of fulfillment.”
“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.”
“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