How to write a dental school personal statement (Part 3)

 Part 3: Writing your first draft.

Oof. This is a toughy, because I still struggle with this. (And I had to write papers all the time in college.) I procrastinate writing papers because I’m a bit “Type A” (okay, a lot “Type A”), and I tend to focus on perfecting the details from the start which makes writing papers a b&$%@ (in the most feminist sense possible of that word). 

Does this sound like you, too? I really feel sorry for us.

This is what you are going to do, step-by-step.

  1. Pull up a Word document, Google Doc, or hell, use the “notes” app on your phone if you must.

  2. Set a timer for 5 minutes and click start.

  3. Now, answer my question: Why do you want to be a dentist?

  4. Write. Ramble. Just follow your train of thought. I want you to word-vomit EVERYTHING that comes to your mind when I ask you that question.

  5. If the timer goes off, you can decide to stop there. But in my experience, I will usually go on to write for an hour or more. This isn’t a competition though. Continue until you feel like taking a break.

  6. Pat yourself on the back! You have a first draft.

It may be 4 pages or 4 sentences. BUT you put words to paper that will evolve and grow into what eventually a dental school professor will read.

The hardest part is getting started, so you have already done half the battle!

Of course, one battle doesn’t win the war. You are only allowed to express yourself in 4,500 characters (spaces, letters, punctuation, everything). And you should use almost every frickin’ one.

If you wrote a haiku...well it’s time to do some serious reflection and find out why you are even sitting in front of that blinking cursor. Then, come back to the keyboard and add a lot more.

If you wrote a novel, It will be time to start dialling it back and cutting out the most of the fluff and filler. (You know it’s there. I know it’s there. We all know it’s there.) A good place to start is usually by finding all the times you write the word “that” (use control+f or command+f) and delete 99% of them because they are usually not necessary.

Then it will be to decide what content stays and what goes. Where you should expand a sentiment, and where you should delete one altogether. This is where each personal statement becomes very individual and it’s very hard to write broad statements in a blog post about what exactly you should keep without seeing what you have produced. (Don’t forget: you can contact me! -->)

I hope that has gotten you off to a good start! Take a sigh of relief and keep on keepin’ on. I’m proud of you.

More on personal statements later!