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Friday, July 25, 2008

Writing a Personal Statement for Dental School

I have personally been through the process of applying to dental schools for an advanced standing program and I know how it feels when it comes to writing a personal statement especially when you have no clue what to write and what exactly they are looking for. When I was in need, somebody helped me and now its my turn to help others. Before I start, the following views are based on the advices/guidance I was given and from my own personal experience in this journey so far but you are the best judge for yourself.

The personal statement is one of the most important aspects of one's application which unfortunately is overlooked by prospective candidates. They are just worried about hitting the deck with scores above 90. A strong and very well written personal statement can make the all the difference. It is your first introduction to the admissions committee that also demonstrates your writing abilities.They are very experienced and they can actually make out a lot about you without actually seeing you just by reading what reflects from it.

A good personal statement should address why or how you became interested in dentistry, your past achievements and your vision of your future goals.You can mention what you can contribute to a given program if you are selected (this is also a potential interview question).

Why you ? Highlight aspects of your life that set you apart from other international dental graduates. Perhaps you have a unique cultural background that
broadens your perspective.Try to emphasize something about yourself that makes you a little different than the “average” applicant (achievements academically, in sports, any research experience, observership or dental assisting experience,any volunteer experience may not only be in dentistry but for any social cause), this will help you to “stand out from the crowd”. Admissions committees will read hundreds of personal statements; you should write in a way that attracts their attention and keeps them interested in what you have to say.

The personal statement should also allude to your professional aspirations. Be as specific as possible without making up goals. If you have a desire to do research,specialize in a particular area, focus on prevention and public health, or become a general practitioner, say what your professional career ideally would entail. You are not locking yourself into a particular career path by doing this. Everyone realizes that goals can change remarkably over the course of time, but being specific gives an idea about how focused you are.Be professional in your choice of words.

It wont be a bad idea to write a general sop which you can send to all the schools.In case you are very particular about some school then you can modify it a little bit to highlight the attributes that particular school is looking for in you. For instance some schools desire the candidates to have leadership qualities. For such schools write something that shows your leadership abilities, if you ever lead a group etc.You may also like to mention why did you come to US or why you selected this school over others.Find out some key points about that particular program and mention them in you sop. This shows that you are really interested in their program and that you actually did your homework.

Represent yourself accurately and positively.Don't be modest about your strengths and avoid mentioning weaker aspects of your application, such as poor TOEFL or NDBE scores.If there happen to be irregularities in your academic record or any other points which might need explanation, you can write about that but keep it brief and try to keep the main focus of your essay on the positive aspects.

Like any other essay a clear introduction, a body and a conclusion are a must. Make sure it is proofread, spell-checked, and grammatically correct.

You can take professional help also. There are agencies that charge you and write a SOP for you but I feel you are the best person to write about yourself. In case someone is writing for you just make sure you know whats written in your sop and review it before going for an interview. They may pick up few questions from it and ask you to elaborate.

Last piece of advice is that please do not make it too long.Be very precise and clear. With hundreds of students applying to these schools each term no one has the time or the patience to read all the junk. A good personal statement according to me is the one which is just about a page long and yet contains all that shows you as a bright and promising candidate. Some schools also mention that the personal statement be written in particular font size. Check for the requirements and modify accordingly.

All the very Best..!!!!


missdentistry said...

Hey sumit!

Thanks for wonderful post! I want sure about SOP.Your post gave me an insight! hope u write more about ur experience at tufts!

By the way, I am Brindha. I am also an Indian dentist residing at boston currently!

Anonymous said...

It's great post; very helpful. I wish there are more people like you to guide others.

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