Your personal statement can’t say enough about you, but then again it must. Keep it too short, and programs will think you’ve got something to hide or that you can’t be bothered to tell your story, either way giving them a sample based on your personal statement of how you might perform should they accept you to their programs. Go on for too long, and they’ll think you’ve decided to be verbose as a cover for having nothing to say or that you don’t know how to make a decision, either way, again, giving them a sample of how you might perform in their programs, based merely on a glance at your personal statement.
Personal Statement Samples, Samples and Samples
Looking at examples of personal statements can be a great way to get ideas for what to write in your own personal statement, but have you ever noticed that the more ideas you get from samples of personal statements, the harder it becomes to decide on just one idea to use? And have you ever noticed that the better the personal statement, the harder it is to align it with your personal background, experience and goals?
For example, here’s an example of a very good personal statement we helped our client—an international medical graduate (IMG) with a leave of absence—write for her application for medical residency in obstetrics and gynecology (she ended up matching to one of her top-choice programs): Sample Personal Statement—Medical Residency—Ob/Gyn—IMG with Leave of Absence. This was with our Personal Statement Consultation service.
And here’s another example of a very good personal statement we helped another client write, this time for medical fellowship in geriatric and palliative care: Sample Personal Statement—Medical Fellowship—Geriatric and Palliative Care. This was with our PS Revision & Critique service.
The Calico Personal Statement, a Crime of Copy and Paste
We see it all the time—words, phrases, or even entire sentences or paragraphs—copied from a sample personal statement, or a friend’s or colleague’s personal statement, and pasted, as if no one would ever notice, into someone else’s personal statement. But of course, we do notice, and it is very easy to notice, when an applicant has copied and pasted from someone else’s personal statement—like the brightly colored patches of a calico quilt. It is not just a crime of plagiarism, it is a crime against the applicant’s self-confidence in writing his or her own personal statement. And it is a crime against his or her ability to achieve his or her best personal statement.
We even once came across a personal statement that was wholly someone else’s and figured it out within just a few seconds of talking on the phone to the candidate. The personal statement, though a very good one, and written by someone else who had graduated the year before from his same program and had been accepted to the same fellowship our candidate was now applying for, simply wasn’t his. And it was easy to see.
Search Within, Not Without, to Find Your Best Personal Statement
The best personal statements—and this can be seen easily from the examples found on the Internet—are ones that are unique to the candidate not because of some fancy words he or she used, or some other gimmick, but because they are in the candidate’s own voice, from his or her own perspective, narrating his or her own unique story about the path that has brought him or her to be applying for the particular program, and, after the program is finished, where that path is headed.
Watch now: What Words to Use in Writing a Successful Personal Statement
The greatest challenge is often not the end or even the middle of the personal statement, but how to get started, and to do so in such a way as to grab the reader’s attention. Rather than copying ideas from sample personal statements, the best way to accomplish that is to leave the samples aside and reflect on what is your key starting point. And if you need help with that, no problem.
Watch now: How to Start Your Personal Statement to Get Your Reader’s Attention
Make Sure to Get Feedback, and Not Just From Your Mother
Mothers can be great—we can certainly attest to that!—but they’re not always the best at giving honest, forthright feedback to their children. Once you’ve got a draft of your personal statement written, make sure to get your personal statement evaluated, including feedback on any details that might be missing or ways your personal statement may not be coming across as you had intended. An example of such a service for personal statements is our Personal Statement Evaluation service. Take their feedback to heart, and keep getting their feedback and taking it to heart until you’ve arrived at your final, polished personal statement.