This nontrad student is applying again and is not sure how to go about rewriting the personal statement with a lack of experiences. Here’s my advice on how to approach this!
Questions answered here on the podcast are taken directly from the Nontrad Premed Forum over at premedforums.com. Please go ahead and register for an account, ask your question, and have fun with the community.
Also, please be sure to check out all our other podcasts on Meded Media as we try to bring you as many resources as you need on this journey.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[01:05] The MCAT Minute
How do you know you’re ready to take the MCAT?
The danger of not registering earlier is that when the test dates get filled up, you might have to register for an earlier test date than you wanted it to be. That’s why you need to register as soon as you can and just reschedule it if you need to later. This could be scary for some students.
At the end of the day, nobody ever truly feels ready to take the MCAT. And so you need to take your practice tests. Sign up for a free account over at Blueprint MCAT and get a free full-length test, which we’re also covering on The MCAT Podcast. You also get access to a half-length diagnostic. Whether or not you’re ready, trust your gut, trust your prep, and schedule that test.
[02:38] OldPreMeds Question of the Week
“How do I change my personal statement when I don’t have any new stories?
Hello. I am likely going to be a re-applicant. I am wondering how I change my personal statement and application as a whole in a way that is meaningful.
During Covid, I haven’t really had a chance to do anything but take master level courses, a very small amount of research, and volunteer at a food bank. So I don’t really have any new stories to add to my PS.
I applied to four schools this year and got two interviews and was waitlisted at both places. I would have for sure got into one of the schools but they require a medical clearance that I cannot get right now. The only thing that I see hindering my application is that I applied a little late. I submitted June 26 but wasn’t verified until Aug 6.”
[03:34] Expect a Slow Verification Process
Applying on June 26 is not late. The question is why was there a huge delay and just with COVID, the AAMC had huge problems with transcripts and other things. And so, the verification process was really long during COVID. Hopefully, that gets cleared up. But in general, the AAMC is slow with verification of applications. Again, June 26 is not super late so don’t be worried about that.
[04:18] Lack of Clinical Experiences
The bigger question here is that if you don’t have a lot of experiences, how are you supposed to rewrite your personal statement, your activity descriptions, etc.?
If you haven’t really done much in the last year, that’s going to be a challenge to reapply. Especially during this last application cycle, the 20-21 application cycle, and potentially even moving forward the 21-22 application cycle, students are finding very limited opportunities to get more experiences that will lead to more stories, more impact, more exposure, and more experiences to put on an application.'Don't just list your job duties, you should try to tell stories as much as possible. That narrative really helps cement in the mind of the reviewer, who you are and the impact you had on life.'Click To Tweet
[05:46] How to Change Your Personal Statement, Activities, Etc. as a Reapplicant
There are things you need to be careful of as well. If you have a nuanced job and you put in the “job title” for the experience and somebody doesn’t look at that because they know exactly what that is. You may need to spend a sentence to clarify exactly what that role is and jump into your narrative.
And going back to the heart of the question, just do as much as you can to write. Don’t just copy and paste your personal statements word for word. Find a different structure.
In writing a personal statement, the question you’re answering is, why do you want to be a physician.
Maybe in your original personal statement, you started with the seed and then some watering events. The seed is something I’ve talked about in The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Personal Statement. That seed is what led to you wanting to explore medicine. And then what watered that seed would be the experiences around patients that really solidified in your mind that you want to be a physician.
Maybe this time, you can start with a watering event first and rearrange it a little bit and add some transitions to make it logical. Or maybe for your experience descriptions, tweak the stories a little bit. Again, don’t just copy and paste word for word.
You don’t want to be the student who doesn’t have anything new so you’re just going to use everything – the same personal statements and extracurricular activity descriptions, the same secondaries.“Change as much as you can.”Click To Tweet
And if there’s not much to change, such as your honors, awards, and recognitions, don’t worry about those small things.
But things like your impact, the narratives, and how you’ve grown as a person should potentially have changed even if you haven’t had new experiences. Because you have still grown as a person in terms of how you see the world, how COVID has impacted you, and your aspirations for your future life.
Be very aspirational in terms of what you want to do and what you’re going to do with the education that the school is going to give you because of the experiences.
With the pandemic and everything else that has happened, you are looking at life through a new set of lenses. You can now reflect differently on each of the experiences. Maybe the story itself doesn’t change much, but again, change as much as possible. The reflection potentially changes because you are a different person now and you think about things a little bit differently.“Being a reapplicant isn't a scarlet letter that everyone thinks it is. Just try to adjust as much as possible with the application.”Click To Tweet
Whether in your primary application, secondary application, and even interviews, tweak your answers a little bit. Try to come at it from a different angle. Even in your letters of recommendations, try to update or change as much as possible.
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