Musings of a Veterinarian

Writing a Great Personal Statement

June 07, 2009 By: Dr. K Category: Opinion, Veterinary School

Your personal statement is the single most important part of your veterinary school application. It can make or break your application. A bad personal statement will offset the best GPA and beaming extracurricular activities. Check out the tips below for writing a great personal statement.

1. Avoid Clichés

Clichés will sink your chances at acceptance to veterinary school. A personal statement focused on your love of animals and wanting to help injured pets will leave admissions committees saying, “So what?” Every applicant to veterinary school loves animals. This will not set you apart and will not show the committee you have a grasp of the breadth of veterinary medicine.

Other clichés to avoid: James Herriot memories and  “I’ve wanted to be a vet ever since my dog was sick when I was 5….”

2. Be Creative

Autobiographical personal statements mentioning a timeline of personal accomplishments are boring and boring applications result in rejections. Tell a story or focus on an aspect of your life that does not involve veterinary medicine. Then tie that story or activity into veterinary medicine.

Ex: “Playing basketball is an integral part of my life. When I was 17, my team played in the State Championships. The game went into double overtime and my star teammate left the game with an injury in the 4th quarter…. The clock was down to 2 seconds and I knew I had to take the shot if we were to win. Time froze as I felt the ball leave my fingertips. I could see the fans waving and frantically shouting as the ball inched toward the net. As I stood there, the weight of the entire season crushed down on me. Swoosh!  That victory and my experience in varsity athletics have taught me perserverance, team playership, and interpersonal skills which I will use as a veterinarian.”

3. Turn a Negative Into a Positive

Grades got you down? Turn them around. Take the class you received a “C” in and turn it into a story about persevering through adversity and a “never-give-up” attitude.  You can attribute personal growth and maturity to working through difficult times.

4. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!

Spelling or grammatical gaffes are inexcusable. Fierce competition leads admissions committees to sometimes resort to arbitrary and often unfair reasons for denying acceptance. You have months to edit your personal statement. Make it perfect.

5. Be Honest

This one seems obvious, but never lie or exaggerate on your personal statement. If you are lucky enough to land an interview you could be unlucky enough to be asked tough questions about your statement. It is a lot easier to defend an honest statement than a dishonest one.

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