The personal statement
is one of the most important parts of the ADEA AADSAS® (ADEA
Associated American Dental School Application Service) application. It gives a
dental school’s admissions committee the opportunity to assess your motivations
and decide if you will be extended an invitation to interview. Often, it takes
a long time to write it, and individuals may feel lost on how to approach it. I
will help guide you on the path to successfully writing an effective personal
You should be
very clear on the statement’s purpose. Apart from being clear on the dental or
dental hygiene program and/or university’s mission focus, you should also be
aware of and communicate what you want to achieve by becoming a health care
provider. Ask yourself these questions:
drives you to be a dentist or dental hygienist?
will you achieve by becoming a dentist or dental hygienist?
are important and should be answered within the personal statement. If you have
clear answers, you will have a clear vision of the content of your personal statement’s
The next step
is to define the content before you start writing the essay. It should revolve
around your personal story, which could start from anywhere you like. For example,
you could start when you chose to pursue this profession, or you can start from
the present and explain how you’re investing time in and outside of school into
building yourself into a better future dentist or dental hygienist. The
beginning should be impactful, but do not sit on the beginning statement
too long. Rereading and editing will help you get there. Sometimes, you might need
to write the whole essay to identify a clear beginning statement.
After a decent
beginning, focus on the rest of the story. Remember, it is a personal statement
and it should be personal. Convey your story in an interesting manner. Project
your personality. The admissions committee knows your GPA and have your CV/resume.
What they want to know is who you really are. Add anecdotes from the journey
that brought you to dentistry/dental hygiene. Add experiences from your
personal life that highlight certain qualities essential to being a successful
health care provider. If there were any dentists that you admired, shadowed or
worked for who encouraged you to follow suit into dentistry, make sure you highlight
the characteristics you admired in them.
statements are important, too. There should be a delightful epilogue to your
essay summarizing the intent, while throwing light on the future and how
completing the dental program will put you in a better position to help the
quality of your grammar is not the admissions committee’s goal when they read
personal statements, but it serves to your advantage if you are meticulous with
the words you choose. Certain avoidable grammatical or syntax errors may shift
the focus of the reader from the message to the mistakes. It is important to reread
and edit out such mistakes. Doing so also conveys your sincere efforts toward
making a successful application.
structure is also important in making a script that flows well and keeps the
reader’s attention. Small, interrupted sentences may not allow the reader to
follow your thoughts through the punctuation marks, while long, complicated
sentences may leave the reader stranded and confused with no closure. We often
do not realize these mistakes as we write because the focus is not on sentence
structure but on the content. Make sure you go back and read the essay
thoroughly to make it easy for others to read. Follow up by using the most
suitable conjunctions and transitional words and phrases.
plenty of time for the writing process. Always try to start the personal
statement early and do not leave it for last. Take a day off, sleep well, focus
and write the first draft of the personal statement. At this point, do not
think of the word limits and grammar—simply put your heart on paper and then,
forget about it. Reread and edit it, afresh. Repeat the process three to four
times and then seek help from an advisor or your friends and family. Let at
least three to four trusted people read it and ask them to give their opinions
and criticisms. Make sure they understand what you are trying to convey in the
first place, then consider all their suggestions. Make edits per your liking
and, at this stage of editing, lock down the major content of your essay. If your
reviewers’ suggestions are contrasting and confusing, it is okay to make two
separate drafts and elect to use the one that appeals to you the most. Edit and
re-edit the draft you like the best and ask the reviewers to review the new
version(s) again. You can always get new people to review it as well.
After you are
happy with the content, focus on the language and presentation. Ask the
reviewers to read it again and submit it after you feel confident about it.
While taking suggestions from others, remember it is your
personal statement, so stay true to yourself and do not sway from being
yourself to impress others.