How to Start Your Personal Statement to Get Your Reader's Attention

I'm David Sammartino editor-in-chief of

da editors improvers here to talk to you

about how to write an outstanding

personal statement today specifically I

want to talk about how to start your

personal statement there's nothing more

critical to the success of your personal

statement than the beginning it

establishes the tone the voice the style

and it seems that you're going to be

discussing in your personal statement

now it doesn't necessarily state all

those specifically but it lays the

foundation for those items in other

words it lays the foundation for your

attitude for your priorities and for who

you are as a candidate and the key to

this is the first sentence the first

sentence is what will serve as a

foundation for your personal statement

because everything your personal

statement will flow out of that first in

it the first sentence will leave it a

second second to the third etc so what

to avoid in the first sentence of the

personal statement do not use a quote do

not use a quote from somebody famous

like Nelson Mandela or George Washington

do not quote a professor or an attending

position do not quote anybody because a

quote at the beginning of our personal

statement indicates that you are

starting you're not starting at the

beginning of your story you're starting

somewhere else or you're taking the

focus away from what your personal

statement needs to be do not do it

the second thing to avoid which it can

be related is to avoid an overly

dramatic opening to your personal

statement or to avoid using flowery or

overly dramatic language in your

personal statement for example telling a

story that you're trying to embellish as

much as possible using add your adverbs

or adjectives if your story is worth

telling and if it's worth serving as the

beginning and foundation of your

personal statement then let the story

stand for itself but when you do so when

you start with a story make sure that

that story is relatable do not and I'm

not kidding do not start your personal

Cemal with how you survive a plane crash

now this comes from a personal statement

that I reviewed last year which is that

there was the candidate had actually

been in a plane crash and

survived the reason you don't want to do

that is because nobody can relate to

what it's like to be in a plane crash

and survive it's beyond relatable and

because it's beyond relatable it's

distracting once you've read that

somebody's has survived a plane crash

you can't think anything you can't think

any more about that person and so that's

a case where beginning the personal

statement in too strong of a manner is

going to throw your reader off not going

to engage the reader as much as you

would hope and I understand that

everybody wants to hook the reader or

start with a hook to the personal

statement but there is a sense in which

the hook can go too far so definitely

make sure that you avoid with that you

avoid that so if you're going to avoid

that if you're not going to start with a

quote if you're not going to start with

with an overly dramatic story or overly

dramatic language where do you start

well there's a rule of thumb that's

really easy to follow and I know that a

lot of people think about this rule of

thumb and they think well I'm not going

to do it because everybody else does it

well you don't have to reinvent the

wheel on this one if it works it works

and if it works for other people it can

also work for you just make it your own

and so what would that be first of all

don't think it doesn't matter why you

have an interest in the field or in a

career in the field that you're applying

for if you're applying for medicine or

internal medicine don't think it doesn't

matter why you're in you're interested

in that field and so think about where

did that interest come from and so

there's two ways of doing that first of

all taking the internal medicine as an

example when did you first become

interested in internal medicine well if

it was during your second year of

medical school that's probably not going

to serve well as the beginnings your

personal statement but if it was

something where it came in youth or came

from somewhere earlier on in your life

then it could serve well as as the

beginning of your personal statement and

I know there's some of you watching this

video and you're thinking well the

reason that I'm interested in internal

medicine is because my father is an

internist and I would go with them to


hospital to see his patients whatever

when growing up but everybody's family

member or parent isn't it is an

internist or a physician or that's the

reason that they want to go into it is

because of their parents I'm not going

to do it again don't reinvent the wheel

if that's your story then tell your

story if it was your parents then tell

it and tell it in a way that comes

across as your real story and so the

second is seeing that you can do with an

interest going back to my example of

being interested or learning you've

you're interested in internal medicine

and your second year medical school okay

maybe you don't want to start there but

think about what are the characteristics

that attracts you to internal medicine

you know what what is it that you find

unique about that field compared to

another field like family medicine or OB

gen or dermatology what have you and

think about where do those

characteristics come from or why is that

attractive you personally in other words

if you like solving problems and you

find that that internal medicine is a

perfect match of it now even though

that's a common reason for going into

internal medicine you have a way to make

that your own you could say for example

if this is true that when you were

growing up when you're five six seven

years old and your parents or family

members or friends would ask you what

you wanted for a Christmas present or a

birthday present you would always say

that you wanted a puzzle or you wanted

Legos because you love thinking about

problems and solving problems or you

wanted us to Doku book whatever that's a

way to make that story that would

otherwise be cliche your own and so

that's the main point of what I want to

present to you which is that whatever

your story is have confidence in it tell

your story don't bring in a quote where

your start talking about somebody else's

story or putting the focus on somebody

else keep the focus on you and that will

give you a great not only a great start

to your personal statement but an

engaging personal statement all the way

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