Tips on Writing a Good Personal Statement

Writing a personal statement for dental school, or any other application, can be difficult because you have to sell yourself and your whole life story while being limited to a certain amount of words or characters. I remember staring at a blank Word document for an hour wondering how it could possibly be so hard for me to think of things to write about myself. I felt like SpongeBob writing about what not to do at a stoplight (time’s up SpongeBob…).

Eventually, however, I did finish my personal statement and afterwards I strangely enough felt as if it was one of the best papers I had written in my entire life. I can’t take all the credit for it however because I do have to give some credit to all the results that popped up in my typical Google search of: “how to write a good personal statement”.

After piecing together all the information I read online about writing personal statements I do believe I formed a good strategy to writing them, so I’ll share with you the same advice I give to anyone else who asks me about writing one.

1. You Have to Have an Opening Sentence That Catches the Reader’s Attention

Your opening sentence, in my opinion, is the most important sentence of your entire personal statement. Think about it for a second, the person reading your statement isn’t just going to read yours and yours alone. Chances the person could be reading hundreds of the exact same papers a day and if you start it off with as bland of a sentence as “I wanted to be a dentist after I got my braces off” then you are starting your statement the exact same way hundreds of other people are as well. You need an opening sentence that is out of the ordinary and makes the reader truly interested in reading the rest of your paper. For example, here’s the opening sentence of my personal statement:

“Most people when told that a conversation with a Rastafarian man selling seashells on a Jamaican beach was one of the defining moments that led me to realize dentistry was the right choice for me would probably think I was quoting a scene from a movie or making something up for fun.”

Now the reader is thinking to themselves, “now how does something like this make someone want to be a dentist?” Take your time and make sure your first sentence really stands out.

2. Tell a Couple Stories about Your Life

Who doesn’t love a good story? Also, by telling a story you’re showing how your experiences are what truly made you want to pursue this in life. Stories keep the reader entertained, and show them you actually have a personality and are not just typing like a robot. Make sure at the end of your story you relate how this experience made you a more knowledgeable person in this field. There always needs to be a moral to the story.

3. Passion Is Key

Ok, so maybe you are one of those people who just want to be a dentist or pharmacist or whatever to make money. Even if this is true you can’t make it obvious that’s all you want or you definitely will not get accepted. If you are truly passionate about what you are applying for then wonderful! Show off that passion, and make sure your reader knows it. Think about if you were in the reader’s shoes. If two people are exactly the same in every way besides the fact one person doesn’t really seem to care that much about your field of study and the other one is talking about how much they can’t wait to start working with patients which one would you accept?

4. Keep it Professional

Even if you’re telling a couple of funny stories or trying to catch the reader’s attention with an interesting opening sentence don’t write your personal statement like you’re talking to your best friend. Use more descriptive words, and make sure to check your grammar. Show that you are a passionate and fun person, but that you are also mature and a leader. A poorly written paper can destroy your chances even if the content itself is great. If you’re unsure about your paper’s readability have someone check it out who can give you valuable advice.

5. Have Fun With It!

Ok, maybe I am a bit biased on this one, but writing can be very fun especially when you’re basically writing a paper about how great you are. Also, how often do you get to talk about all your accomplishments and experiences in life? It’s like meeting someone you’ve never met before and they ask you to tell them all the interesting things about your life. So have a little fun with it, and be excited you get to show off who you are.

If you have any other advice or opinions feel free to share them in the comments below!

Good luck and I hope this made you smile!