Here's the low-down:
Even though you might think veterinary schools are after the perfect 4.0 GPA , they also look at your personal statements to evaluate who you are as a person. They want to know who you are and what makes you tick in a mere 4500 characters (including spaces), 1 and a half pages, single spaced. Up for the challenge?
Back in high school, I had the world's most amazing yearbook adviser. There are so many acronyms that will forever haunt me. K.I.S.S. is one of them. It stands for "Keep it simple, stupid." With personal statements, keep it simple and to the point especially with 4500 characters (that's like 32 Twitter statuses). Show them who you are. Brevity will be key.
Snapp also recommended that you should work on your personal statement 6 months before you apply. Yeah, that's right. Six months in advance. Work on it between those awkward one hour gaps between classes or even when you're riding the Unitrans. If you're anything like me and have wonderful epiphanies in the middle of the night, keep a notebook by your bed or send a text to yourself. Writing about yourself will not be the difficult part, it will be the editing process. Take your personal statement to whomever you can. Ask faculty advisors, peers, family members, HPA advisors or anyone to read over it for consistency and if it truly reflects about who you are. If you want perfection, it will take 6 months. The tortoise wins the race, right?
When I applied for colleges, I had a killer GPA, an awful SAT score (which everyone claimed this is what got you into schools, LIES), but I think my personal statements are truly what made me stand out to college admissions boards. I wrote one of many versions of my essays about becoming a mother at age 10. I didn't elaborate that they were actually 2-week-old bottle baby kittens until later on. Use humor to keep them captivated. If I started off with, "I've done this, this and this and this is why you should accept me," then it probably would have been thrown out. I told my story through an experience that tested my strengths and weaknesses. Bottle babies will do that to anyone. It also allowed me to share my goals in life and the passion I had for animals. In another essay, I wrote about myself through stories I was assigned for my yearbook. I told how each person and each situation challenged me and some of the skills I learned from it and how it related to college. I hoped to show assets that might set me aside from another person with the same GPA and same SAT score. Likewise, it will show who you are as a person to vet school admissions. Granted, it's another league, but personal statements really reflect who you are.
The best way to start is brainstorming. Find a relationship between your passions and connect them. Also be sure to describe how those disciplines will help you in vet school. I know people who have written about making tamales in the kitchen with their grandmother to life and who they are as a person. There was also one girl who was accepted recently into Ivy Leagues for her essay on Costco. Snapp gave the example of theater and vet school, "Situations may arise on stage and you have to improvise can be similar to how in a vet clinic a situation may arise and you have to adapt to the situation accordingly."
Dr. Mitloehner talked to us recently about how one of his professors told him to break through the wall, because he knew every inch of the room. Writing a personal statement is probably one of those situations. When you're done writing, ask yourself questions like does this make me look like I'm a good communicator or have good leadership skills. TELL YOUR STORY and BE CREATIVE.
Make sure to also write your essay in active tense. Passive tense is such a bore. Another good tip is to bring exciting verbs and attention grabbers like, "He moves like smoke." Who is this person and why does he move like smoke? What is that referring to? That makes me want to read more. Use the thesaurus and other resources to your advantage.
Last but not least, do not bring academics into a personal statement. They already know your GPA, GRE score and essentially any number you could probably throw in. They don't care. At all. They want you to be as authentic and genuine as possible.
Spend those 6 months scrutinizing every single word. Make sure it answers and accurately shows who you are as a person even though its about tamale making with your grandmother or your love of Costco. Write about your diverse backgrounds and how those experiences relate to veterinary medicine. Make it into a story. It could be the ultimate reason as to why you're admitted.
Other useful facts
• UCD alumni can still visit HPA even after 10 years. So if you need help with the application process later on in life, you can still contact HPA after you've graduated for advice.
• You can schedule an advising appointment with Barbara, Joanne or Katie on the HPA website. THEY ARE WONDERFUL RESOURCES SO GO SEE THEM.
• Here is also HPA's link to personal statement website.
• You can also ask me any questions. I love to write anything and everything.
• Below is the powerpoint slide show from last night's workshop.
PSSD Publicity Coordinator 2015 - 2016