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1 Some Tips for Personal Statements and Interviews Gene Bickers Vice Provost For Undergraduate Programs 46 th Annual Southland Pre-Health Conference January.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Some Tips for Personal Statements and Interviews Gene Bickers Vice Provost For Undergraduate Programs 46 th Annual Southland Pre-Health Conference January."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Some Tips for Personal Statements and Interviews Gene Bickers Vice Provost For Undergraduate Programs 46 th Annual Southland Pre-Health Conference January 29, 2012

2 2 SUMMARY Personal statements and interviews are ways to express to an Admissions Committee who you are – what makes you unique There are many resources at USC, on-line, and in print to help you get ready It pays to be prepared

3 SOME NUMBERS TO SET THE STAGE Total number of applicants to US medical schools (allopathic) in 2011: 43,919 Average number of applications per applicant: 13.9 Average total GPA of applicants: 3.53 Total number of matriculants: 19,230 Average total GPA of matriculants: 3.67 Number of applicants to USC Keck in 2011: 6,741 Number of matriculants to USC Keck: 178 (From aamc.org/data/facts/ )aamc.org/data/facts/ 3

4 There are two stages to the typical medical and dental application process, and each has an essay portion – PRIMARY Application submitted through AMCAS, AACOMAS, or AADSAS Includes a general personal statement Try to submit in summer before your final year if possible SECONDARY Requested by individual schools – you’ve cleared the first hurdle! Essays should be customized school-by-school to show why you’re a good fit 4 PERSONAL STATEMENT

5 Dr. Daniel R. Alonso Associate Dean for Admissions Cornell University Medical College “We look for some originality because nine out of ten essays leave you with a big yawn. ‘I like science, I like to help people and that's why I want to be a doctor.’ The common, uninteresting, and unoriginal statement is one that recounts the applicant's academic pursuits and basically repeats what is elsewhere in the application.” Tip: Tell the reader something that would not appear in a standard job resume. Explain why you love what you love. 5

6 6 Some Examples: “My family moved to Kathmandu, Nepal in 1995, where we spent a year together while my mother, an OB/GYN, taught modern surgical techniques to the local doctors for USAID. Kathmandu was where I was exposed to the true mortality and fragility of humans for the first time on a large scale…” “ ‘Nunca he visitado a un doctor en los Estados Unidos,’ she said. She was apprehensive; this was her first visit to an American doctor. Like many of the other patients at the Los Angeles Optometry Clinic in South Central Los Angeles, Ana only spoke Spanish. I met her in my third month with the clinic, while I was volunteering as an interpreter…”

7 7 John Herweg Chairman, Committee on Admissions Washington University School of Medicine “We are looking for a clear statement that indicates that the applicant can use the English language in a meaningful and effective fashion. We frankly look at spelling as well as typing (for errors both in grammar and composition).” Tip: Take your time preparing the statement – your composition and organization should be perfect. Get someone to help you edit.

8 (From Stewart, Mark Alan. Perfect Personal Statements. New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan, 1996.) 10. Do not incorporate technical language or very uncommon words 9. Do not submit supplemental materials unless they are requested 8. Do not use unconventional and gimmicky formats and packages 7. Do not use boring clichéd intros or conclusions 6. Do not remind the school of its rankings or tell them how good they are 5. Do not discuss your disadvantaged background unless you have a compelling and unique story that relates to it 4. Do not talk about money as a motivator 3. Do not preach to your reader 2. Do not complain about the circumstances in your life 1. Avoid repeating information found elsewhere on the application 8 TOP 10 PITFALLS

9 (From Stewart, Mark Alan. Perfect Personal Statements. New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan, On-line at owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/642/04 )owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/642/ Use conventional fonts, typeface, spacing, and margins 9. Proofread carefully for grammar, syntax, punctuation, and style 8. Evaluate experiences, rather than describe them 7. Focus on the affirmative in the personal statement 6. Address the school's unique features that interest you 5. Get creative and imaginative in the opening remarks 4. Be yourself, not the ‘ideal’ applicant 3. Provide the reader with insight into what drives you 2. Try to tell the reader something no other applicant will be able to say 1. Strive for depth rather than breadth. Narrow focus to a few key ideas 9 TOP 10 RULES

10 This is the last stage of the admissions process – you’ve now cleared both written application hurdles Interviews are conducted by admissions staff, physicians, and medical students Decisions are usually communicated soon after the interview Decisions can be immediate acceptance, placement on a waiting list, or non-acceptance The main question for the committee is whether you as a person would be a good fit for the curriculum and organization of their school 10 ADMISSIONS INTERVIEW

11 11 Some Interview Resources from Outside USC colorado.edu/aac/PreMed_interviewquestions.pdf University of Colorado Career Services (100 possible interviewer questions and 31 applicant questions) udel.edu/CSC/pdfs/MedSchoolInterviews.pdf University of Delaware Career Services (a primer on how to succeed in the interview) careercenter.umich.edu/students/interviewing/index.html University of Michigan Career Center (a step-by-step guide on how to prepare)

12 (By Scott Parazynski, Stanford University Premedical Association) 10. Prepare yourself 9. Be yourself 8. Be clear and concise 7. Be enthusiastic and confident 6. Don’t monopolize the conversation 5. Be prompt and dress accordingly 4. Don’t be pushy about scheduling 3. Take a tour 2. Try to relax 1. Don’t leave home without your American Express Card 12 TOP 10 GOLDEN RULES OF INTERVIEWING

13 GOOD LUCK ON YOUR APPLICATIONS! Gene Bickers Office of Undergraduate Programs GFS 227 undergrad.usc.edu Ken Geller Office of Pre-Health Advisement FIG 107 dornsife.usc.edu/pre-health 13


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