Personal Statement Faux Pas
For the last few years I have wanted to post my personal statement on here to give you all an idea of what is expected. I was pretty successful with mine so it is frustrating that so far I have been unable to locate it on the labyrinth that is my hard drive. At some point I will have to stop looking and finally accept that it is gone forever, lost to that place where half of my socks seem to hide and where my car keys seem to vacation. This acceptance may have to wait a while though as I refuse to give up so easily, especially when the document in question caused so much anguish. In the mean time you are just going to have to settle for my personal statement posts and bear in mind some of my no-nos. I get send a lot of personal statements so think I have a pretty good grasp of what elements are being overused and where things can go wrong.
For some reason there seems to be a trend at the moment of people using quotes as the opening to their personal statement. I don’t know where this has come from but I suspect it’s a career advisors favourite go-to. To a point I can understand why people are doing this, it’s the easy way out and your opening line is written for you so you, essentially side-stepping the hardest part of writing your personal statement. The only problem is that it’s a REALLY bad idea. Sometimes the quote doesn’t even seem to be relevant! As much as anything this is a huge waste of characters that you could be using to sell yourself.
Everyone struggles to start their personal statement and the whole staring at a blank page bit is a rite of passage for any self-respecting vet applicant but a good place to start is by thinking about why you are applying and where that started. Despite the cliché you’d be surprised how often I read personal statements that, plus or minus a few words, basically say that they want to do veterinary medicine because they just love animals. No offense to anyone who has used this, or is planning to use this, but you could do better and the universities know it. There is always more to it than that so elaborate. Give yourself an angle! Being totally honest, if the only reason you have is because you love animals, you won’t survive the course! Don’t just talk about the animal stuff. Yes, we’ve all done work experience and yes, it has pretty much taken over our lives by the time we apply but there is more to you than that. There has to be! The universities aren’t just looking for people with all the experience and the grades, they want all the other stuff: the music, the drama, the sport. Just whatever it is you do to help you relax.
Do not lie!! I have seen people twist the truth, exaggerate and even make up entire experiences to try and bulk up their application but remember, if I can spot any ‘creative writing’, it will be blaringly obvious to the universities and could actually ruin your chances at any subsequent applications. Even if you don’t get caught at the first hurdle, you will stumble at the second. A large part of an interview will spent talking about things that are written in your personal statement so if you’ve stretched the truth, even only a little bit, you will be caught out in no time. By now you ought to be quite a long way through your personal statement so make sure you have a critical look at it and check it doesn’t fall into any of these traps.