This is a tricky topic to write about for a single reason… they need to be PERSONAL! I do know, however, that this is the most difficult part of the application process and something that almost every applicant struggles with. I absolutely waited until the last minute to write mine even after being told over and over not to do so. So guess what I am going to tell you? DON’T DO IT!! I learned the hard way, also. I had emergency surgery 2 weeks before my applications were due and had not even started on a rough draft for my personal statement. Trying to make-up school work, catch up with missed material, and learn new things all while trying to stay afloat with my VMCAS was ridiculously stressful. You never know when or if this will happen to you, and it will at the very worst time. It did to me, it could happen to you too! Had I given my personal statement some thought earlier, and even began to jot down some ideas, I may not have been so overwhelmed and stressed, and it would have made writing it a heck of a lot easier! In my opinion, this might be the most important thing to stay on top of, and the most important part of the VMCAS to “do well” on.
When an interview or admissions committee is first going through your application folder, this is the VERY first thing that is going to catch their eye per se. If your personal statement is weak and does not show your characteristics that are going to make you a fantastic veterinarian, your strengths, and why you are THE best candidate for their veterinary program, they will put you to the back of the stack. Some schools dont offer in person interviews, and this is the only chance to really show them all you’ve got anyway. Give them real life examples of why you are the best, show them characteristics of why you are going to be a good veterinarian and how you are the best candidate to make it all four years through their rigorous courses of veterinary school. That is what they want to hear. They know that every single person that applies to their program loves animals, so save your breath and don’t say it. Tell them what drives you to want to make veterinary medicine a better field, why do you want to help animals, what about veterinary medicine just makes you so addicted that you know there is absolutely nothing else in this world that you are meant to do? These are things that they want to know in your personal statement. You have to make yourself stand out from those hundreds of other candidates that are applying against you each year. Set yourself apart from the crowd by demonstrating your strengths, what you are capable of, the things you have done, what it is you have to offer that others don’t.
When starting your personal statement, you need to make sure that you are starting with something that catches your readers attention. We have all taken English for at least 12 years, I know you all know how to do this! You can do this by telling a story that may have confirmed your choice in veterinary medicine, anything really. But you MUST hook the readers attention in the first paragraph, as this is critical to the rest of your personal statement. A lot of people write about their experiences and how this is has shaped their desire for a career in veterinary medicine. This is an excellent way to start, but since this is a very generic template, you need to spice it up and make it your own. What was something special that you did or saw that someone else may not have that really confirmed your desire to be a veterinarian? Was it something a client said to you? Was it a special case you dealt with all summer? Is it your desire to be an “unusual veterinarian”? Whatever it is, you must back-up your claims with support to prove to your reader that you are indeed meant to be a veterinarian!
I think the reason most of us have such a hard time with personal statements is because we all love animals. Obviously this is not enough to get us into veterinary school, if you love science and the way the body works, write about it. If you want to be a surgeon and are literally obsessed with splenectomy’s and orthopedic surgeries then write about how time in the OR has matured you. If you have worked in the busiest ER clinic in the nation, write about how you work well under stress and how this is a huge asset to you and is a characteristic of all successful veterinarians AND will help you be successful throughout your four years of veterinary school. These are the types of things that the admissions committee wants you to prove in your personal statement and then wants you to turn around and back it up again in your interview.
I would be happy to discuss personal statements with anyone personally! I would be happy to review them with you and talk about experiences/situations that might be appropriate for you to write about. You can either comment to the left side of this post or right below the post, or send me an email at email@example.com. I would prefer generic questions to be asked in the form of a comment on this blog but please feel free to email me about anything you may have questions about! I hope you find this useful, and maybe this will help you gather an idea of what you personally would like to write your personal statement on! Best of luck!