Friday, May 25, 2012

Personal Statement

My work-process so far seems to consist of:

Day 1
  1. Staring and thinking ~ 1 hour
  2. Writing one paragraph ~30 minutes
  3. Deleting
  4. Writing the same paragraph with different words
  5. Deleting
  6. Writing a completely new paragraph
  7. Deleting
  8. Rage quit + sleep. 
Day 2 + 3 
  1. Claw eyes out from allergy-induced dry, itchy eyes exacerbated by road construction outside
  2. Repeat steps from Day 1
Day 4

Day 6 
  1. Buying Barron's Essays That Will Get You into Medical School.  The Kindle edition was $10.
I found this book to be a more informative and thorough guide, even if reading other people's essays kind of deflated my self-esteem further. I was able to finish reading it in two days (over the weekend). I only did a few of the creative writing exercises though, and went straight towards the outline. The outline helps - I can see a progression of where my thoughts are going and can use it to keep myself from going too off topic. It also helped me to establish a direction, and clearly states the themes I ought to hit to make a solid essay. This is probably my third draft ever, although the first one was written in undergrad and was terrible. This draft, when completed, will probably exceed the 5,300 character limit, which is a relief because then I can focus on cutting things out rather than scrambling to put things in.

Now, I'm trying to decide whether to mention my research internship at all in my essay. Honestly, I didn't get as much out of the experience as I should/could have at the time, and I'm kicking myself for it now. I really liked the work, because I got to do surgery, but I had a lot of trouble with the concepts. At this point, I can understand the gist from re-reading the publications for projects I participated in, but cannot explain things from memory (and yes, I have practiced). My PI was part of the Anesthesiology department and a lot of his research focused on electrophysiology and pain response. I understood the veryveryvery basics, but there were times when I would do the work, read the paper, and have no clue how the work I did translated into a result on paper. It seemed really, really specialized. I don't know why, but the biochem/cell biology papers I read for my upper division cell bio classes were easier to follow. Maybe the writing style of those authors was just more straight forward? Or the research itself was more straightforward?

At any rate, I'm not passionate about research, but I that there's a possibility that I might find a topic of study that I could be interested in. I'm debating whether I want to be forthright and put that into my PS. I've been honest about all the other themes in my essay so far, so I have no problem with the honest part, and it was still a positive learning experience. I should probably take the weekend to mull about it and work on the work/activity section of my application instead. I'm just scared that they'll zero in on it during my (hopeful) interview and then I'll poop myself. In my suit. Can you salvage Italian wool from horrible poop stains? 


  1. I've been out of the blogging loop for a while and am just now catching up on your writings. I'm glad you found that book (or at least the idea of it) helpful enough to buy! Hopefully you find it worth the expense in the end, and don't give up! The personal statement was by far the hardest thing I've ever had to write. I don't think I've every spent that much time revising... Good luck!

    1. Regarding the books, I thought they were dirt cheap! The one you recommended was only $7-ish WITH two-day delivery, so that was super-awesome. I forgot how much a used Barron's book was, but I chose the Kindle version because of the instant-delivery perk.

      It's money well-spent, overall. I spent more money ordering one of my own college transcripts, so the books were definitely worth it.