This article answers a rather intimidating question- how to write a personal statement for dental school. Writing a personal statement may seem like an overly involved and complicated process but don’t you worry, this article simplifies it.
Before we get to the hows of writing a personal statement, it is important for you to understand what a personal statement is and why you need to write one.
A personal statement is a summary of who you are. It is a collection of all your achievements, your strengths, and your weaknesses. It is a piece of writing that illustrates you as a student, as an active member of society and most importantly as a human. A personal statement is what entices colleges and universities to consider you as a prospective student.
Applying to dental school can be a daunting process, comprising of many steps. One of those steps is writing an exceptional personal statement.
Your personal statement is essentially a reflection of your personality. It is an invitation for the admission officials at your dream schools to know you better. Educational institutions are often looking for students with unique stories and your personal statement in how you tell your story. If you can make your personal statement stand out, it would mean that you could make yourself stand out for the admissions board. There would a be significantly higher chance for you to be called for an interview or moving on to the next part. Suffice to say, your personal statement is very, very important.
The goal of a personal statement is to get the admissions staff interested in you as a person.
Now that you know why you need to write a personal statement and how important it is, it is finally time to move on to the part where we tell you how to write a personal statement for dental school.
According to the ADEA guidelines, your personal statement for dental school must be a one-page essay that cannot exceed 4,500 characters. This includes spaces, numbers, punctuation, letters, etc. The ADEA also outlines some of the things they want you to mention in your personal statement.
Based on the points that you are expected to include in your personal statement, here is how you can structure your final essay-
Now that you know what the broad categories of required information for your personal statement are, it’s time to brainstorm. List down all the relevant information under each of the broad topics. Include everything you can think of, the best and most relevant points can be shortlisted later. A good way to brainstorm is by writing down 5 relevant pieces of information.
For example- List 5 reasons you want to study dentistry. Then list 5 of the strengths that would make you a great dentist. List 5 interesting life events that can be related to dental school.
While lists and mindmaps are a great way to brainstorm, here are a few exercises to help jog your memories and organize your thoughts and information.
Start from your childhood and move from grade to grade to note down every relevant significant event which may have led to your firm decision of going to dental school. Include any good moments, and hardships or obstacles you may have to overcome, anything profound that helped shape you. Make your entries as detailed as possible. Include your feelings and opinions about the events as you note them down.
Now accomplishments don’t only mean the ones that you have something to show for. A certificate or a medal doesn’t necessarily count as an accomplishment. And the admission committee is usually more concerned about what you have been doing since college than what you have done in high school. Therefore write down all your accomplishments. Or whatever you count as accomplishments, no matter how small they are. Of course the accomplishments that resulted in public acknowledgment, certificates, and medals are also important so note them down too.
Being able to make a connection between an unexpected skill and how it will make you a better dentist will help your personal statement be unique and make you a memorable candidate. You can start by listing down the skills that helped you achieve the accomplishments you have listed prior. Once you have listed all the relevant skills figure out how they would help you make a good dentist. Then sort out the skills that would help you become the most competent dentist possible.
Personality traits are vastly different from the skillset. But at the same time, they are not all that different. Personality traits such as trustworthiness, sense of responsibility, good bedside manners can all be a big part of you being a good dentist. Portray them as such.
There is a purpose for putting “reasons for wanting to study dentistry” is on top of the list of broad topics. You need to set a narrative of a thousand moments or just one defining moment where you decided that you wanted to go to dental school. The more details you include about that narrative the better. Include feelings and nitty-gritty details to convince the admission officers that- yes! This is what you want and you are absolutely sure of it.
Now reflect back to all points you noted during your brainstorming session. Pick out the points under each broad topic category that is most relevant to the narrative you trying to build.
The next step is to present your narrative in a well put-together, cohesive package. However, remember how we mentioned that a personal statement tells your story? The most important part of a story, besides its climax, is the introduction. If the beginning of your personal statement is bland, the admission office will be less inclined to read the rest of it.
The admission officers will be reading thousands of applications and all the applicants will be stating why they want to go to dental school. Instead, pick out a point- a skill, and event, an experience that is uniquely you in the introduction and then build off of that. Make the admissions officers interested in you, in your story. Make them interested enough to read the rest of your statement and accept your overall application.
Use the experience that you describe to tell a story of personal progress, particularly towards your commitment to dentistry.
Write, review, then write it again. Write it in different formats to see which one stands out the most. Give yourself at least six months to write your essay. I know this may seem like a long time, but between the brainstorming session and the multiple drafts, six months may feel inadequate at times.
Structure your personal statement in a way that makes it easy to follow and understand for your readers. A good way to do this would be to embrace the 5-point essay format:
The admission officers will lose interest in your writing if they keep on having to refer to a dictionary to understand the meaning of certain words. So use common words. For example- instead of writing arduous, write difficult.
Of course, you want to go to dental school because you love science and would like to help people but so do the thousands of other applicants. Write about unique reasons that made you want to pursue dentistry as your profession.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help boost up your personal statement.
A good personal statement is one page 4500 character essay that vividly describes you as a person and student highlighting why you are the perfect candidate for dental school. It is concise, engaging, and to the point. A personal statement builds a personal connection between you and the admission officer. So make sure your personal statement is all of that. Most importantly make sure to make your personal statement stand out. Do not forget to read samples to get a better idea of how to write a personal statement for dental school.