Often we think we should immediately excel at things we try. We’ve probably seen other people make it look easy so we assume there can’t be that much to it. We believe this especially about non-physical activities. We can see the value of training when it comes to swimming across the English Channel or deadlifting 800 pounds. When it comes to more brain-centric activities, we tend to think with a little research we can probably get the job done.
Unfortunately, writing a personal statement for your application to Physician Assistant programs takes skills many people do not frequently access.
This does not mean you’re doomed to write a mediocre essay. It simply means you need to recalibrate your expectations, and consider doing some exercises to work your writing muscles.
Prewriting: the necessary training
Why take the time to invest in any pre-workout training? Why not just make sure you’ve got your spelling under control and tell the schools what they want to hear? The personal statement essay isn’t weighted any more heavily than your GPA, coursework, or patient care hours. So why worry too much about it?
Just as you’d never imagine just grab a bar with 400 pounds of weights on either end and be able to immediately lift it above your head, you can’t expect that you’ll write a fantastic personal statement without doing some work in advance.
Here’s the thing: the personal statement essay is your one opportunity (until you secure that interview) to distinguish yourself by sharing your unique story.
Someone else may have credentials that are competitive with yours. If your personal statement clearly articulates an understanding of the values and specific attributes of the PA field, as well as articulating significant moments that have compelled you to pursue the PA profession, you have the opportunity to separate yourself from other applicants. You have a chance to make your application jump out from the pile on the reviewer’s desk.
That said, there’s definitely a limit to the extremes to which you can go to get the attention of a reviewer. A juicy romance novel this is not. There are certain themes and points your essay should include. Miss these and and you’ll miss out when compared to someone else who has similar background or experience. It is easy to let the desire to stand out override your common sense, and suddenly you’re over-dramatizing or exaggerating things. Admissions teams can easily sniff this out, and not in a good way. In a smelly way.
Why take time to Prewrite?
In the coming weeks, we’ll talk more about specific prewriting strategies you can try. Here are some of the reasons you should incorporate prewriting into your personal statement preparations.
- Prewriting helps you organize your thoughts when you’re overwhelmed and staring at a blank page.
- It can streamline your process, since you’ll invest the time up-front, instead of inefficiently sprinkling that time (or more) throughout the writing process, which can lead to many prodigiously reproducing bunny trails.
- It allows you to consider the different topics you might want to use in your essay, so you can come up with brilliant ideas and choose from all of them, rather than just going with your first idea only to discover later that you’ve got a better one. If you get all those ideas in front of you before you begin writing, you’ll know you’ve pinpointed the right one to use for your personal statement essay.
- Not enough to convince you? Here’s a list of more great reasons to prewrite.
It’s worth it to spend time thoroughly preparing your personal statement. Include prewriting and research in your attack strategy, and then put your essay through a rigorous revision process. You’ll sleep better once you’ve submitted your application, knowing that you did everything you could to present your information, and yourself, in the best way possible.
Check back soon to read more about prewriting and creating an amazing Personal Statement.
Need help writing your Personal Statement? PA Trek Coaching has services available for you, whether that’s a full coaching package or just help editing your essay. Check out our Services page to find out more!