Clichés to Avoid in the Personal Statement

studying for school

During our recent MedSchoolCoach webinar, “Establishing Your Brand: How to be Unique When Applying to Medical School”, Dr. Mehta, CEO of MedSchoolCoach, spoke with Dr. Marinelli, MedSchoolCoach Director of Advising, about the personal statement if she thought there were any clichés applicants tend to use and ultimately, hinder their chances of being accepted. Read more below and avoid these mistakes!

Dr. Mehta:  Here’s a question, Dr. Marinelli. Are there any clichés to avoid in the personal statement?

Dr. Marinelli:  I think there are; I think a few of them are going to be extrinsic experiences that now looking back as you apply to medical school, you think would convince an admissions committee that you want to go into medicine but in actuality, they didn’t have as big of an impact on you than you may have thought. So, the best example I can think of is somebody saying, “I wanted to be a doctor since I was 5. When I was 5, I broke my ankle and I went to the doctor and he treated me so nicely that ever since then I thought that I want to go into medicine.” And maybe that is your real reason, but we do see that quite often as a cliché in personal statements, and you don’t need to find this reason or this epiphany in your life that really transformed you and made you decide to go into medicine. You can tell your own story even if it’s something along the lines of “I went to college. I explored several options, and then I decided science was great and I started volunteering, getting into community service and then ultimately clinical service, and I found I really liked it and that’s what my path is.” Just be honest. You don’t have to have some, again, defining moment in your life where you decided to be a doctor. Not everybody is going to have that and I think that’s probably the most common cliché that I see.

The Personal Statement: How Early Should You Start?

typing on laptop with coffee

During our recent MedSchoolCoach webinar, “Establishing Your Brand: How to be Unique When Applying to Medical School”, Dr. Mehta, CEO of MedSchoolCoach, spoke with Dr. Katzen, MedSchoolCoach Master Advisor and previous admissions committee member at GWU, about the recommended timeline for personal statements. Read more below about when to get started with your personal statement!

Dr. Mehta:  How early do you usually recommend your applicants get started on the personal statement, Dr. Katzen?

Dr. Katzen:  You know, each individual writes differently. Some can write fairly spontaneously and some need to think about it for a while. The primary application is quite an endeavor to undertake and I certainly think that the personal statement is one of the more challenging parts. I’d like to see people who know they’re going to apply begin to work on it in December. By the end of January, or beginning of February, they should have a completed the essay and be at the point where they can give it to several people to read and give their opinions on. With this timeline, they can begin to think about revising it and prepare other parts of the application before it becomes live in the beginning of May.

I think some people do have the ability to sit down and write, but I think most people need to think about it, maybe need to create an outline, start with bullet points and just consider the points that Dr. Marinelli made a little while ago, which is what it is you’re going to get across about yourself in the application. You have to realize it has to have a flow and there has to be a connection from the beginning to the end.

So, it’s probably one of the more difficult essays that you will encounter. I’m one that likes to do things in advance, so I advise people to get started on it by December or January if they know they’re going to be applying in May or June.

Want some tips on writing a personal statement that will make you stand out? Check out “Applying to Med School: The Importance of a Personal Statement”.