The personal statement. A glorious testament to the ability of pre-vet students to bullshit about their life experiences. The question is: how do you make it good? I won’t lie to you, it’s unlikely that your personal statement will be the most enthralling piece of literature that admissions staff have ever read, but what we can do is make them not want to stab themselves in the eyes with a spoon as they read it. Want to know how? Read on!
1. Check your damn spelling and grammer! (Yes, I did do that on purpose)
You’d think this one wouldn’t be necessary but it really is! I’ve not come across a single personal statement so far this academic year (or ever for that matter) that hasn’t had a misspelt word in it. Remember your easy stuff (like there, their and they’re) and have a google of any technical words you might be including (like diarrhoea and anaesthetic) to make sure you sound fancy as shit. Also, I’m not hating on those who are challenged in the spelling department (because I’m one of you ) but the way we can circumvent this particular issue is to ….
2. Get someone else to check your damn spelling and grammar!
They don’t need to be a sciency or vetty person, they just need to have a basic grasp of the (British) English language (if you’re applying to any of the British vet schools that is). At this point in the game, you’ve been staring at your personal statement for way too long so it needs a fresh pair of eyes! Getting an outside perspective is also going to help you find out if what you’ve written actually makes any sense and flows well – remember that this is essentially an essay and the paragraphs need to lead into each other! As with any essay (or at least in my experience), it’s easy to convince yourself that everything connects well while you’re writing it but that doesn’t alway mean that it everyone else will read it that way!
3. Keep it personal!
It’s easy (when you’re passing around your personal statement to anyone that will read it) to try and make everyone happy. Don’t. Some of these people will know dick all about what you need to say to impress an admissions officer but will be really good at spotting spelling mistakes, others will have a good idea of what admissions wants but will want to rewrite every sentence so it fits with what they want. Listen to their feedback and incorporate their ideas but keep it yours. Read it through. Does it sound like something you’ve written? Do you get a sense of your personality or is it full of lifeless comments about the time you saw a dog have an x ray? As an extra layer of defence against the personality-less personal statement, get your parents to read it and ask them if it sounds like you. They should probably know you pretty well by this point and if they can’t tell you’ve written it no one will!
4. Be specific.
When you’re applying to vet school, EVERYONE HAS DONE WORK EXPERIENCE. It is not enough to say you went to the vets one time and it changed your life. Cool story. You need to use your words to tell admissions what you got out of the experience: what surgeries did you see? What did you learn about the veterinary team? Was it what you expected?
And if I read about one more student who reads ‘New Scientist’ I will have some kind of episode. We all know you’re lying. If you do genuinely read New Scientist I apologise but if you want to prove it give me an example of an article that you’ve read and how it relates to something you’ve studied or a case you saw while on work experience. Don’t just drop the new scientist line and walk away. Please.
5. Don’t be a dick
I mean this is good life advice in general but it also applies to vet school admissions. One of the most common phrases I see in personal statements is ‘when I get into vet school’. Be optimistic by all means but this just comes off as ridiculously cocky. Getting into vet school is bloody hard and sometimes even the best qualified people don’t get in first time round.
Also, whatever you do, don’t slag off nurses when you’re explaining why you want to be a vet instead. They’re not ‘glorified cleaners’ as one little shit called them. Vet nurses are amazing and you’d be bloody lucky to be one.
BONUS TIP Do your research
If you’re going to go in with the technical terms, make sure you know what they are. Don’t tell me that you saw a dog that got parvo from eating too much chocolate because it’s bollocks. Sure you shoehorned the word parvo into the sentence but if you don’t know what it actually means its worthless.
Another thing to look out for is where there’s a more common name and a sciency name for a condition for example strangles and equine distemper. They’re exactly the same thing and you wouldn’t be wrong if you used either of them, but its more likely that if you came across a case in practice that it would be called ‘strangles’ (or at least in my experience). Therefore if you called it strangles, I would think that you had seen a case while on work experience and the vet had called it that, while if you said equine distemper I would be more inclined to think that you’d googled ‘horse problems’ and stuck in something that sounded fancy.