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Saturday, September 22, 2012

How to Write a College Admission Essay

Statement of Purpose Advice to Help You Stand Out

Many colleges and universities require a statement of purpose as part of their admission application, and scholarship applications often include one or more essays in addition to such objective information as grades and test scores.The typical question asks you to share personal information—allowing the selection committee to get to know you—such as your plans or goals, an important event in your life, your philosophy and/or beliefs, or your financial situation. Writing this statement of purpose is an opportunity for you to stand out among the applicants and to prove you’re the most deserving candidate. Be sure to keep certain things in mind as you write this essay:
  • Consider exactly what the question asks. Then list some relevant main ideas; use this list as an informal outline for your essay.
  • Don’t write a “generic” essay that could pass for one that any other applicant could have written. Everything in the essay should reveal something about YOU and your unique situation. Any reader of your essay should feel as if he or she knows you personally.
  • Remember that committee members are seeking the applicant who fits the mission of their institution and is worthy of their award. Tailor your college admission essay topic with their perspective in mind, and work to convince them that you’re the right candidate.
  • If you have trouble thinking of ideas, be resourceful. Ask people who know you well what they would say about you. If someone has written a letter of recommendation for you, re-read it. Which accomplishments listed on your résumé might interest the committee?
  • Don’t simply repeat information that is already on your application form or in your résumé. Your essay should include specific incidents and concrete examples.
  • Don’t use long words and obscure vocabulary simply to impress the committee; doing so will come across as artificial and showy.
  • Follow guidelines regarding such things as font size and essay length. Sometimes a typed essay is required; other times, you are required to hand-write it. Sometimes it should be on the application form; other times, it must be on a separate piece of paper. No matter how good your college admission essay is, failure to follow instructions will make a negative impression and may actually disqualify you.
  • The appearance of your essay is important. Spell all words correctly; follow grammar and punctuation rules; and keep your paper neat. The committee may not meet you personally; this essay may be the sole basis for their selection. A messy paper or an essay full of errors will cause them to see you as uncaring or unqualified, despite the inaccuracy of this judgment.
  • Save your essay! There is nothing wrong with using the same ideas—and occasionally even the same college admission essay—for several applications. Each time, make revisions so that the essay topic responds specifically to the question(s). Although you have used it for other applications, the committee should not be able to tell that this essay wasn’t originally written as a response to their question.
Good luck!

5 Things to Include in Your Statement of Purpose

For most people, the idea of completing a lengthy statement of purpose is somewhat intimidating, and when the assigned topic is you—your goals, experiences, and potential—the stress can become overwhelming. But don’t fret! Even if writing isn’t your strong suit, with a little planning your college admissions essay can be an articulate and convincing reflection of you.
Before You Begin
Give yourself plenty of time to research the program. Chances are if you’re gearing up to complete application materials, you already know why you want to attend a particular school or program. You can tighten your understanding of the program—and subsequently, your case for acceptance—by browsing published text, visiting institutional Web sites, and conferring regularly with program representatives.
The Nuts and Bolts of Writing
The personal essay should be a relaxed, confident expression of the factors that make you a good candidate for the program, but these components are meaningless if they’re not presented well. Make sure that your essay is seen by every fresh pair of eyes possible—this includes friends, family members, colleagues, and writing/editing professionals.
Here are the five most important things to cover in your essay:
  1. The big picture. First and foremost, explain to the admissions committee why you’re pursuing their program. Tell them where you see yourself in five, ten, or twenty years, and address the role that they can play in making your dream a reality.
  2. Specifics. Point out the aspects of your field that interest you most and explain why you believe that their school or program will be the best fit. If you considered other schools before applying to this one, tell the admissions board specifically why the others didn’t stack up.
  3. Your “goods.” Though you’ve alluded to them throughout your essay already, take a moment to talk about some of your past accomplishments, both professional and personal, that have led you down this path.
  4. Plan of attack. Your credentials don’t always speak for themselves. In this case especially, it’s important to tell the admissions council precisely how you will succeed in the program. Talk about some of the personal characteristics that you will utilize, and reiterate the fact that your future goals rely on earning this degree certification.
  5. The hook. Possibly the most important thing to remember while writing your admissions essay: Keep it fresh. The review board could be reading several essays at a time, so you don’t want yours to get lost in the shuffle. Supplement your credentials with personal stories, anecdotes, and current-events parallels where it feels comfortable and appropriate to do so.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Law School Statement of Purpose - they are not all the same!

Law School Personal Statements Advice

There is no other component of your application that you can control as much as your law school personal statement. An excellent personal statement will separate you from the sea of candidates with similar academic qualifications. Analogous to an interview, a law school personal statement should introduce the attributes and accomplishments that make you an individual. Do not write a summary of your resume or transcript, but instead utilize this opportunity to expand upon what is unique about you, your life experiences, and your goals. The following advice is intended to help you understand your audience, teach you how to craft a persuasive statement, suggest topics, and tell you the inside secrets you should know. This advice is supplemented by personal statement samples with commentary at the end.

For those seeking professional editing of their statement, one of the best services we have found is for most are Ivy League graduates and provide excellent advice.

This advice is divided into several sections:

1. Where to Begin: Motivate Yourself!

2. Write for Your Audience

3. Anticipate the Committee’s Cross-Examination

4. The First Steps to an Exceptional Personal Statement

Argumentation and Persuasion

Structuring Your Statement

How to Write a Strong Introduction

How to Write a Strong Conclusion

Appeal to Your Audience

5. Topics for Law School Personal Statements

6. Things to Remember Once You Begin

7. Inside Secrets You Should Know

8. To Do’s

9. Not to Do’s

10. Top 10 Personal Statement Mistakes

11. Sample Personal Statements and Commentary

1. Motivate Yourself!

1. Ask yourself if you want to go to law school. If the answer is, “I want this!” then find a way to say it in a heartfelt, mature, determined, engaging way in your personal statement.

2. Start writing now. Your personal statement is essential to gaining admission. Get serious.

3. You must demonstrate a strong, mature commitment to law: Inform yourself about your chosen profession and the schools you would consider attending. This research will take some time, and your serious competitors will put in this time.

4. The top law schools seem to ask very little of you in your application for potentially very high returns. This is somewhat deceptive because many of the people you are competing against will invest enormous amounts of time and energy in crafting and honing their two- or three-page personal statements. They may even hire a professional editor, through a company such as Invest time in your personal statement. This is not the two-page essay you whipped off in college the night before and got an “A.” This is a difficult genre that requires several drafts.

5. When you begin writing, find a self-confident and mature tone, but don’t be afraid to let your personality and enthusiasm come through. Accept responsibilities for yourself, your family, and your community. Show why you are among the best and brightest, and break stereotypes by being unique.

2. Write for Your Audience

1. Admissions committees at top law schools usually consist of professional admissions officers, professors, and students. These are the people who will read your personal statement.

2. Your audience wants to enter into your thoughts and perspective, and they want specific details about you.

3. The ideal effect you want to achieve is personal transformation for the reader. The very best personal statements are the unforgettable handful that move the reader.

3. Anticipate the Committee’s Cross-Examination

Because very few law schools offer interviews, the personal statement functions in an introductory capacity. Thus a good personal statement should implicitly address the questions the committee will ask themselves about you if they had an opportunity. A well-crafted personal statement will not answer the following questions directly, but it will embed the desired answers in the narrative:

1. Will you be a good lawyer?

2. What was your tangible impact on an institution, an organization, or individuals?

3. Have you reached beyond the safety net of college into the real world?

4. Do you have a plan for your goals, or are you a dreamer?

5. Can you put yourself in another subject position in order to see all sides of an issue?

6. What will you bring to our law school?

7. Have you been a pro-active starter in the past? Did you raise money for what you started?

Do you know how to organize? Do you follow through on what you began?

8. Have you demonstrated your ability both to work with a team and to delegate?

4. The First Steps to an Exceptional Personal Statement

Argumentation and Persuasion

You have three purposes in your personal statement that demand the art of persuasion:
1. To make your reader believe you should be admitted. 2. To clear away any doubts your reader might have about you. 3. To make your reader act on your behalf. You are writing a persuasive essay, but it should also have some of the elements of a persuasive speech. That is why it is generally called a personal “statement,” instead of personal essay. The personal statement is a unique genre and very difficult to master, since at most people write one or two in their lives. Most importantly for this genre, you want to build a strong ethos. That means your audience should like you and find you authoritative, competent, thoughtful, and honest. You want to demonstrate that you are a perceptive leader, who can communicate well with others, that you are open to new experiences and are enthusiastic. You do not want to come across as too formal, stuffy or too technical. You must give your audience evidence for your assertion that you should be admitted. The best essays will interpret the evidence provided by explaining how each piece of evidence contributes to supporting the assertion. The best essays will also be clear, concise, and graceful. There are several types of evidence you may choose to use. Good personal statements use more than one type of evidence, and exceptional personal statements use them all. 1. Logos: Reason and logic, including facts, figures, expert testimony, and syllogism. Use logos to persuade with facts. 2. Pathos: Emotional appeals, including examples and narratives that build sympathy. Use pathos to persuade with feelings. Show you care passionately about something. Caution: Using too much pathos, including wretched descriptions, fear or guilt, or even too many glowing adjectives can make your audience feel manipulated, offended, or turned off. 3. Ethos: Credibility, including perceived competence, character, and likeability. Use ethos to persuade by authority. 4. Mythos: Belief and value patterns of an audience, including traditional narratives, sayings, metaphors, and symbols. Use mythos to add power, subtle rhetorical control and wider significance to your argument. A persuasive personal statement will be an organic whole from beginning to end, not a collection of elements held together with a few flimsy pieces of tape you call “Why I should be admitted.” An exceptional law school personal statement will have themes running throughout like a functioning circulatory system, with these themes discussed and interpreted in the introduction and conclusion. Structuring Your Statement You should be able to tell someone how your personal statement is structured, what the logical progression is, what each of the roughly six to ten paragraphs is about, and how each paragraph both interprets evidence for its specific claim and contributes to the overall effect of the essay. You should also try to have a unifying theme. This might organically develop from your attention-grabbing material at the beginning of the statement. For most people, this will be a story with a moral strong enough to be your motto: the “angle” from which you are presenting yourself. There are several standard structures for law school personal statements. You may use more than one: 1. Tell a personal narrative or story. People remember stories. Have a clear ending to your story/stories as well as an explicit lesson. This type of essay typically allows you to demonstrate aspects of your character and leadership skills. 2. Show how you have made chronological growth, including steps you will take in the future. It is generally better to avoid giving long narratives about some aspect of yourself before college. If you have a good reason for mentioning your childhood or adolescence (such as an unusual history abroad or a specific obstacle you have overcome), then it is better to keep it to one short, vivid paragraph and refer to it again later in the essay, if you are making it the unifying theme of your statement. This structure relies on time to move it forward, but that is not enough: it also requires a theme you are tracing through time. 3. Present a problem and how you solved it or would solve it. This is called the problem-solution structure. For example, you might discuss what’s lacking in the legal system or society or demonstrate a need for change and then give evidence for how you have begun to solve this problem. This type of essay showcases your analytic reasoning. 4. Use a metaphor or analogy to help your audience understand you. This demonstrates your rhetorical control and usually integrates mythos into your statement. 5. Pose rhetorical questions to your audience or use suspense. This structure showcases your skill in persuasion and argumentation. 6. Describe what you have learned from another lawyer or mentor. Also analyze what you would do differently. This type of essay allows you to showcase your analytic reasoning. 7. Begin with a meaningful quote, which you explain and refer to throughout your statement. This is a difficult structure to master, but when it is done well, it can be satisfying for the reader. Do not randomly pick a quote from Bartlett’s. Do not pick a quote by some famous person whose work you have never read or barely encountered. Spend some time unpacking the various levels and resonances of the quote in relation to your life and goals. 8. List reasons you should be admitted. This structure, like the chronological structure, needs a unifying theme, or it is completely boring. It is best to avoid this structure. How to Write a Strong Introduction 1. Attention-grabbing material: Hook them with a remarkable or a life-changing experience, an anecdote, or a question that will be answered by your law school personal statement. 2. Benefits: Make your essay worth their time to read. 3. Credentials: Build ethos. 4. Direction: Tell them your thesis and structure. How to Write a Strong Conclusion 1. Discover something new for your audience that you set up along the way. 2. The conclusion is the final chord of music resolved. It should pull together the different parts of the personal statement, rephrase main ideas, interpret the importance of the choice of topics, point towards the future, and give the cue for ending with a rhetorical flourish. Appeal to your Audience: 1. Using pathos will appeal to your audience’s feelings and emotions and make them more sympathetic to you. Several ways to use pathos include: writing your story as a quest narrative (which also adds mythos), asking the audience to think of a time when…, using rhetorical questions, using suspense, describing a great disappointment with details but ending with a positive lesson learned, describing a great joy. 2. Your audience will be one of three types of learners: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Try to appeal to all of these by working in visual descriptions for visual learners, discussing times in which you excelled in oral communication for auditory learners, and discussing specific ways in which you were active for kinesthetic learners (kinesthetic learners are those who learn by physically doing rather than reading or listening). Your audience will primarily self-select as visual learners, because these typically include people who are good at reading. The bottom line is this: Vivid, active language is crucial. 3. Try to make the reader feel he or she has taken a short mental vacation. Whisk the reader away into your world. Make the reader smile. 4. If you think the audience can’t relate to a specific piece of evidence you have given to back up your claim that you should be admitted, try to describe it so that the audience can feel connected imaginatively. This applies to describing your work in a different nation and culture, for example. 5. Your audience will perk up if you describe a campus visit you made and give specific details about which of their colleagues you met with and how that visit changed your perspective. 6. Appeal to universal human values, including success, freedom, honesty, and friendship, among others. 5. Topics for Law School Personal Statements Your topic is related to, but separate from your structure. Your structure is the form of your personal statement, and the topic is the content. You may start with the structure or the topic, depending on which appeals to you more. Personalize your law school personal statement as much as possible by including concrete examples of your characteristics and specific details of your experiences. Show, rather than tell, the reader about yourself and your accomplishments. 1. Write about an event or issue of particular importance in your life. 2. Write what is unique about you or what interests and excites you. 3. Write about coursework, experiences, or research related to your law career or legal interest, such as completing a thesis, working with a professor, or volunteering for a legal aid or clinic. 4. Write about why a particular law school or program fits your goals. Extensive knowledge about that law school or program is essential for this to truly succeed. 5. Write about overcoming any difficulties or adversity in your life. This may include difficulties faced in your personal life, academic life, or in your local or college community. Be sure that you explain how this contributed to developing qualities that will make you a good candidate for law school. 6. Examine a tragedy in your life (loss of a parent or someone close, a severe accident) or a triumph (recognition for your outstanding performance, overcoming a disease, awards for excellence). Discuss how you have grown from this experience, and again, be sure that you explain how this contributed to developing qualities that will make you a good candidate for law school. 7. Write about the most important course, professor, or event that happened to you in college. 8. Write about your passions, ideals, or favorite hobbies and how they are related to your choice to attend law school and become a lawyer. If you are still unsure about what you should write or where to begin your personal statement, try some of the following activities. Expand one or more into a theme for your law school personal statement. 1. List your personal skills and consider how they will make you an asset to the law school or legal community. 2. Have a friend or colleague do a mock interview with you regarding why you are interested in applying to law school. Your answers to their questions may trigger new ideas. 3. Review all the pivotal or remarkable experiences that you have had throughout your life. Examine how these experiences have directed your life or your decision to apply to law school. 4. Have you ever volunteered or served a cause of great importance to you? Write about that experience. 5. How has a mentor or experience, a particular book or quote, changed the direction of your life? Write about that life-changing event. 6. Have you assumed a leadership role in any arena, such as a club, sports team, or work? Write about what goals or ideals led you to seek these leadership roles, or what you learned and accomplished as a leader. 7. Write several adjectives that characterize you, and then write a short paragraph explaining how these words describe you. 6. Things to Remember Once You Begin: 1. Write about aspects of yourself readers can’t get from the other parts of your application. 2. Personalize as much as possible with specific, meaningful stories and experiences. 3. Talk about yourself but also discuss how you influence others. 4. Be creative. Use metaphors and analogies. These make extra neurons fire as the mind plays with the levels of resonance. 5. If you are fluent in another language, mention it. This is a strong card. Play it. 6. Discuss topics that build your credibility. Your reason for applying should not be that you have wanted to be a lawyer since you were five. What kind of credibility does a five-year-old have? 7. Try to show you have as many of the following qualities as possible: Intellectual ability, analytic ability, imagination, motivation, maturity, organization, teamwork, leadership, self-confidence, oral communication skills, written communication skills, and career potential. 8. Don’t depress your audience. Everyone loves a happy ending. 7. Inside Secrets You Should Know: 1. The law school professors will be reading your personal statement closely and will immediately be able to spot good writers, with polished ideas, elegant structure, and no errors. 2. Admissions committees have read hundreds of personal statements. They can spot a good one in about two seconds. 3. Use recent stories before older, personal experiences over academic, strongest arguments before weaker. End strong. 4. A strong introduction and conclusion are essential. 5. People can think faster than they can read, so they are able to think about other things when they read your personal statement. Ideally, your essay will grab their attention so that they focus solely on you. 6. Lawyers write professionally. You must demonstrate exceptional writing skills. 7. Lawyers are master orators. They must know the skills of persuasion. Your essay must be able to persuade your audience to admit you. Use your rhetorical choices to show you have considered the art form. 8. Community service is imperative for advantaged applicants and those interested in public service. 9. The admissions committee is looking for those who have had “cross-cultural” experience: those who have put themselves in another environment that is out of their comfort zone and excelled, enjoyed it, learned about another culture, and learned to fit in. 10. What you’ve done needs to be impressive and have impacted many people. 11. The admissions committee is looking for future leaders in the public and private sectors, and those who value social power. They are not looking for naïve idealists. 12. If the school were a store, you should go in knowing what you want, why you want it, and that you’re getting the best deal for your time and money. It is rare for an applicant to have taken the time to research the school, the program, and what he or she wants from it and why he or she wants that one experience. Present yourself strongly. Know what you want. Be clear about it, and simple, but smart. 13. Admissions committees are impressed when you can mention one of their school’s individual strengths and how that would benefit you. Showing that you would take advantage of the school’s strengths as a means to achieve your end shows the committee you are motivated. 8. To Do’s 1. Use first-person “I.” 2. Read through thirty personal statement samples. You will quickly see how they all start to sound the same. Now imagine your audience reading through thousands of law school personal statements. Try to find a way to make your writing style and content stand out from the crowd. 3. Have a clear idea of what you want to convey before writing. Before starting your law school personal statement, use an outline to determine the structure of your statement. Have a central theme or thesis that is used throughout your personal statement. Note that you can brainstorm and free write to generate topics for your personal statement, but before you begin writing anything close to your final draft you should have a clear and concise idea of what you are conveying in your personal statement. 4. Show continuity. Conclude your personal statement by referring back to the introductory paragraph and restate your main thesis in a slightly different way. 5. Use your law school personal statement as a means to market yourself. Most top law schools receive thousands of applications. Admissions committees seek to weave together a class composed of unique individuals whose diverse views symbiotically complement each other. Consequently, admissions decisions are based upon subjective determinations, such as the personal statement, in addition to objective measurements such as one’s GPA and LSAT score. Use this opportunity to show the admissions committee that you are more than a standardized test score and a cluster of grades; showcase your peerless and intriguing personality. 6. Be “personal” in the law school personal statement. Cultivate a positive ethos. Be genuinely honest and try to focus on your most favorable characteristics. This will allow your personal statement to stand apart from the multitude of generic law school personal statements that merely reiterate a transcript or generally describe how law school will benefit the applicant’s life. 7. Write clearly and to the point. Effectively utilize the limited words allowed to convey what is unique about yourself as well as why you are a suitable fit for law school or that particular program. Make sure every sentence is clear. If you aren’t sure what you said, no one else can guess. 8. Adhere to the page or word limitations. Respect the pages limits! Most well-written personal statements should be no longer than two to three pages double-spaced. Length does not correlate with quality. Don’t make margins less than 1” around. Use 12-point font. If you absolutely must, you can use 11-point font in Times. 9. Consider tailoring your personal statement to reflect the law schools to which you are applying. Making specific references to a particular law school or specialty will demonstrate your knowledge and commitment to a particular law school. Check if professors have retired or changed institutions. 10. Take your statement through several drafts. Show your statement to professors and lawyers, and listen to their advice. 11. Edit your law school personal statement. Proofread the final draft of your personal statement several times, including at least once orally, for substance, style, and grammatical and spelling errors. Have others edit your law school personal statement as well. Ideally, ask an academic advisor, professor, or someone familiar with the law school application process to edit your statement. Pay attention to detail. Two sentences joined by the conjunction “and” requires a comma before the “and.” Leaving out the comma is called a comma splice. A comma splice or two will send your file to the reject pile. 12. Do use specific details. If it’s a dull generality, or says something like, “This experience was very valuable,” cut it. If you can exchange the name of the school for others, take out that sentence or rewrite it with a detail specific to the law school. 13. Write about things that make you genuinely excited and enthusiastic. Readers of your statement can tell when your enthusiasm takes over. Be optimistic. 9. Not To Dos: 1. Do not focus upon your weaknesses! Almost every applicant has some aspect of their application, such as a low LSAT score or GPA, which they view as a flaw. Discussing this weakness will only highlight it. Instead, write about the traits and characteristics that define you as an individual and showcase what you will bring to that law school. Your tone should be confident and positive. If you do have a weakness to address, such as a severe illness resulting in poor grades for a semester or a documented history of doing poorly on standardized tests with their not truly reflecting your potential, write about this in an addendum. 2. Do not “write like a lawyer.” Lawyers are fond of “legalese,” or using long and often redundant words. The best law school personal statements display clear and succinct writing that is well within the specified word limitations. 3. Do not solely discuss why you want to be a lawyer. The fact that you are going through the admissions process evidences your interest in the law. This topic is trite and will not leave a lasting impression upon the admissions committee. Instead, again, try to discuss what experiences led to your choice and what unique attributes you will bring to law school and the legal field. 4. Avoid a boring introduction that loses the reader’s attention. Admissions committees read thousands of law school personal statements, and a boring introduction will result in the reader skimming over rather than fully considering your personal statement. 5. Do not use clichés, slang, or contractions. The tone of the essay should convey the seriousness of the topic and the writer. Don’t be vague. 6. Avoid controversial issues. Steer away from topics such as religion, political doctrines, or contentious issues. While you may be an outspoken critic of affirmative action or organized religion, the admissions committee may be offended by your views. Don’t be inappropriate. 7. Do not reiterate your academic accomplishments, unless they are not evident from your transcripts and test scores. As an example, a major family crisis or personal catharsis resulting in a drastic change in your grades is worth discussing, whereas your being on the Honor Roll most semesters is not. Furthermore, your grades are already documented on your transcript, and you should take this opportunity to give the committee information they cannot find in other parts of your application. 8. Do not solely rely on the spell checker. It will not correct words that are improperly used such as “form” instead of “from” and “none” versus “one.” 9. Avoid using the passive voice. Extensive use of the passive voice will rob your personal statement of clarity, brevity and impact. Sentences written in the active voice are more powerful and succinct than those written in the passive voice. The passive voice occurs when the subject receives the action of the verb and is acted upon by someone or something. Generally, passive voice uses a verb form of “to be.” An example of passive voice would be, “The fire is seen by Joe.” When using the active voice, the subject performs the action of the verb: “Joe sees the fire.” Trial lawyers may use passive voice as a rhetorical device to avoid attributing actions to a subject. However, the personal statement is not the place for passive voice. 10. Do not write about a romance. This is an example of an inappropriate topic. 11. Do not be too influenced by one person or idea. Show you can synthesize ideas and choose your own way. 12. Do not sound arrogant. This will score you zero points for positive ethos. 13. Do not use the words, “And at that moment I knew…”. 10. Top 10 Personal Statement Mistakes This list, culled from discussions with admissions directors, lists the ten biggest mistakes applicants often make on their law school personal statements. Most of these were discussed above. 1. Spelling and grammatical errors. 2. Sending a personal statement to school B meant for School A. Harvard Law School does not want to read about your desire to attend Yale Law School. 3. Merely summarizing your resume in essay form. 4. Staying too detached in your writing style and not letting your personality come through in your “personal” statement. 5. Focusing upon your weaknesses and not your strengths. 6. Using too many big words or “legalese.” 7. Spending just a few hours on your personal statement and submitting your first draft. 8. Exceeding the specified page or word limitations. 9. Stating that once admitted you will save the world. 10. Using gimmicks such as writing in crayon, modeling your personal statement as a legal brief, or writing it as a poem.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

You Are Not Cheating

In the business of ghostwriting, time and again - let's face it - more often than not, clients feel guilty about using a service to get help in writing, be it a resume, statement of purpose, or application responses. To date, I have aided almost 500, mostly, international medical graduates, students of many nations, get into the universities and or medical residency programs of their choice. And it is perfectly legal. Let me tell you a brief story: Hilary Clinton was on Larry King Live, toting her new New York Times Bestselling book. Larry asked her, "Did you get any help writing your book?", to which Clinton responded, "I got a lot of help." No one batted an eye. Where is the difference? On a legal level, if you apply to a university, you obviously have not been accepted yet. If you have not been accepted yet, then you cannot be in violation of any of their codes. Getting online writing help is not a crime. What is more, I feel very strongly about international graduates coming to the U.S., especially international medical graduates. Many of these people are highly-skilled doctors, nurses, dentists, social workers and more in their own countries. When they come to the U.S., they have to basically go back to school again. The first hurdle: string 300 to 600 words together in a statement of purpose. This is not testing their medical skills, it is an exercise, one that I find to be unfair. What I do is level the playing field for them, help them get into the programs of their choice. And why? These people are passionate about their work, about selflessly helping others. And this is from experience: most - almost 100% - international students feel more strongly about giving back to their communities than U.S. applicants. This is why I do it. For them. For their communities. I'm not a doctor, and I never will be. These are good people, who need a helping hand to get to where they need and should be. I help them get there.

Best Books: Writing Statements of Purpose, resumes, cvs, & letters

1. Graduate Admissions Essays: Write Your Way into the Graduate School of Your Choice by Donald Asher A great reference. Develop your own formula for writing success, but don't be formulaic! Create a list of points you want to hit, and then create your 10-15 Statements of Purpose, customizing each one for a particular school or program. Or you can look me up at 2. Resume Magic: Trade Secrets of a Professional Resume Writer by Susan Britton Whitcomb A good reference. Nowadays you need a great resume visually ‘and’ informatively. Employers do not have ADHD, they simply need to be able to scan your resume quickly to get the intel they are looking for. Look at DK (Doring Kindersely) books to see cool layouts, and then stick your resume into one. Visual impact is incredibly important. Make your own or look me up at 3. Essential CVS (Essentials) by Jennifer Vesperman A good reference. Nowadays you need a great cv visually ‘and’ informatively. Employers do not have ADHD, they simply need to be able to scan your cv quickly to get the intel they are looking for. Look at DK (Doring Kindersely) books to see cool layouts, and then stick your cv into one. Visual impact is incredibly important. Make your own or look me up at 4. Instant Recommendation Letter Kit - How To Write Winning Letters of Recommendation (Third Edition) by Shaun Fawcett Don't get trapped in the cookie cutter! If your letter looks like a copy/paste from a list of nice things to say about anyone and no one, you need to rethink your process! Be thoughtful and specific. You owe it to the person you are writing about or yourself. Employers & schools don't want to read dry impersonal letters. Write your own, or look me up at 5. 1001 Letters For All Occasions: The Best Models for Every Business and Personal Need by Corey Sandler 6. Cover Letter Magic: Trade Secrets of Professional Resume Writers by Louise Kursmark 7. How to Write a Great Query Letter by Noah Lukeman The list author says: 8. How to Write the Perfect Personal Statement: Write powerful essays for law, business, medical, or graduate school application (Peterson's Perfect Personal Statements) by Mark Alan Stewart Peterson's has some of the best advice on creating a winning Statement of Purpose, giving loads of examples and advice. It's a daunting task, and it's never easy to write about yourself. Tackle the task with this book or you can look me up at 9. Perfect Personal Statements, 2nd ed (Peterson's Perfect Personal Statements: Law, Business, Medical, Graduate School) by Mark A. Stewart Another of Peterson's amazing guides! Best advice on creating a winning Statement of Purpose, giving loads of examples and advice. It's a daunting task, and it's never easy to write about yourself. Tackle the task with this book or you can look me up at 10. Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student's Guide to Earning an M.A. or a Ph.D. by Robert L. Peters Some of the best advice on creating a winning Statement of Purpose, giving loads of examples and advice. It's a daunting task, and it's never easy to write about yourself. Tackle the task with this book or you can look me up at 11. Get Into Graduate School: A Strategic Approach for Master's and Doctoral Candidates by Kaplan Another of Kaplan's amazing guides! Best advice on how to get into grad school including how to create a winning Statement of Purpose, giving loads of examples and advice. It's a daunting task, and it's never easy to write about yourself. Tackle the task with this book or you can look me up at

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 Some really good links to explore - Practice tests and information for high school, college and graduate tests SAT Prep - Free practice tests for students taking the SAT GRE Prep - Free practice tests for students taking the GRE GMAT Prep - Free practice tests for students taking the GMAT - Practice tests and information for high school, college and graduate tests

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Using the Internet as a source of references

Any school will tell you that first and foremost, you should use their library’s own battery of databases, indices, texts of abstracts and journals, collections of statistics, maps, paintings and photographs, and other resources, often organized by field. All electronic sources are chosen by your school and information professionals for scholarly authority and reliability. The thing is, they are right, and you are also paying for this access as a part of your tuition, so use it as a jumping off point, if not entirely. You will find your library personnel highly approachable and if not, there will be explicit instructions posted everywhere, like through your library’s portal page, which show you how to first find the sources best suited for your search and then how to best search them for the information you want. Your library may even have research guides printed or accessible online for various disciplines and even specific courses. Oftentimes, reference librarians are readily available, at the reference desk, sometimes by e-mail, depending on your school.

Generally, use Web sites and other non-journal and non-print materials from the Internet only to supplement other sources. When you do use them

• Give priority to those that list their sources (so you can verify the information) or at least list an advisory board of professionals who vet the material.
• If the site doesn’t list its sources but still seems serious (i.e.,shows no breeziness, carelessness, or bias, and isn’t a commercial [.com] site), check out the author’s professional position and what else he or she has written, and whether the site has a respectable institutional base or is an outgrowth of a long-standing professional organization. You can also directly e-mail the author about the status of a particular piece of information—or post a query.
• Don’t use as a source a site that gives no author or supervisory editor.
• When the text on a site is subject to change or erasure, and thus may not be consultable by other readers, try to find a more stable source for the information. If you must use it, either print out the text or have the author send it to you as a personal communication—which you can then cite as such and attach to your paper as an appendix. If you include non-journal Internet sources in your paper and you have, or think your reader may have, concerns about their reliability or verifiability, include an explanatory note.

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Writing a good Letter of Recommendation

Professors, bosses, etc are all notoriously busy people. When you approach them for a Letter of Recommendation, they may ask you to write your own and then they will sign it. This doesn't necessarily mean they cannot remember you, or think of anything nice to say about you, it's one more chance for you to sell yourself to your prospective school, clients or potential workplace.

Warning: the professor/boss is going to read what you want them to sign. If you lie or exaggerate, you're going to be writing it again. They will allow some "poetic license", but it is their reputation on the line if they allow you to lie/exaggerate. If all you did was fax some press releases for them, saying that you were "the cornerstone of the department's communications and PR" is a big fat lie. What you can say is that you "provided administrative support in a consistently reliable and professional manner". See? Easy, right? Read on.

Secondly, this is where you get to do some role-playing. You have to put yourself in the professor's or boss' position, and write about you. Yes, it's you again, but you can do it.

Here's what needs to be covered:
(for the purposes of this blog, we're going to pretend it's your professor who's "writing" the letter of recommendation)

To start with, the reader is going to want to know how enthusiastic your professor is about recommending you for PhD Thermonuclear Research. You want to use words like:
strongly recommend, recommend, recommend with reservations, I do not recommend for admission (If you choose the last option, you can go back to your daily life and not worry about sending the letter in the first place).

Second: describe how long the professor has known you and under what circumstances he/she has known you. If you've only known the professor about two hours, choose a different professor. Talk in terms of months/years, or say, "It was a pleasure having Peggy Sue in three of my advanced brain surgery courses, from 2006-2009." You do not necessarily have to pick a professor you took courses with. If you work for a university as a work/study student, professors may know you from work you've done for them or others in their department. If all they can say is, "you should see John collate and staple!", then choose another professor.

Third: evaluate yourself for the reader in comparison with others in your class in terms of those your professor has known or may have known during his/her professional career. Describe the comparison group you are using. This means, you would say something to the effect of, "John was a pleasure to have in class. In my 30 years of professorship, I never knew a more energetic or engaged student." You have then identified yourself in their class and out of 30 years worth of students in a professor's career.

Lastly: (here's the "body" of the Letter) Addressing your abilities to pursue graduate studies and research, if applicable. Address your ability to work with peers, supervisors and subordinates; teaching potential; any outstanding abilities, talents, liabilities and weaknesses; and oral and written communication skills.

This is where you "blow your own trumpet" where you show off all that you are and more importantly what you are capable of. If you say you can "handle the pressures of graduate study” and your professor remembers you crying during pop quizzes, you may want to highlight your other skills. If you gravitate towards group leadership positions, then mention it. Do not be afraid of using your accomplishments.

Above all! This is your chance to talk about you in the best light possible, and as someone in authority. Use your boss'/professor's position, seniority and experience to work for you. You've worked hard to get where you are, so do yourself justice! All those times your boss made you feel like an idiot, well, it's payback time, baby! Show them that you know that they know how awesome you are!

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Medical Residency - Presidential Advice!

Presidential Advice for Medical Residency Applicants:

The President of the NRMP took time from his busy schedule to give you his unique insights into what makes a good personal statement for Medical Residency applicants:

Arthur Maron M.D. was President of the NRMP from 1998-99. Please note his words:

“A good personal statement will not guarantee a residency, but a poor one will certainly lose the position.”

1) Grammar, typos, spelling mistakes or instances of obvious stylistic awkwardness are fatal. The MUA staff does not have time to correct your grammar; get several proof readers.

2 Limit is 1 page: training directors read hundreds of statements. Be concise. (We realize that the statement is ultimately put into a format generated by ERAS and not uploaded as a Microsoft word document; however, the document should be one page with normal formatting in Microsoft Word, such as size twelve (12) Times New Roman font.)

3) The first paragraph should clearly focus on your choice of a residency in a medical specialty. It is recommended that you do not use detailed case examples in this particular paragraph, nor open with questions or quotes.

4) Do be confident and dedicated, but also humble and sincere. Definitely make your statement personalized so that it avoids appearing like a “boiler plate,” or generic statement.

5) The statement should reflect your in-depth knowledge of the medical specialty- its philosophy of patient care, the knowledge base and skills needed, contemporary issues and innovations in the specialty, etc.

6) Do talk about your core and elective clerkships- any unusual procedures, presentations or research projects- especially those that relate to your choice of a residency.

7) Do not write the same general statement that you wrote to get into medical school. Example: “Since I was a child I wanted to be a doctor,” “My grandfather was my role model,” “I excelled in sciences so therefore I decided to become a doctor,” etc.

8) Do not tell your life story; it’s on your C.V. Your prior career is not the focus, even if it was in the medical field.

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CV Writing - they're not all the same!

Writing Different Kinds of CVs

What is a CV?

The term “curriculum vitae” comes from the Latin Curriculum (course) and Vitae (life): The course of one’s life. "It is vitae (not vita) because "life" in the phrase "course of life" … is in the genitive singular….” - Eric Daniels,

A Curriculum Vitae (CV) resembles a resume in many ways, but is more specifically focused on academic achievements. A CV summarizes educational and academic history, and may include details about teaching experience, publications (books, articles, research papers, unpublished manuscripts, or book chapters), and academic honors and awards. Use a CV rather than a resume for teaching or research opportunities, applying for fellowships or for further academic training. Some research positions in industry may also prefer a CV rather than a resume
CV’s are frequently longer than resumes, since the emphasis is on completeness rather than brevity. While there is no single correct format or style for writing a CV, the following types of information are generally included, and typically organized in this way:

• Name and Address
• Education
• Dissertation
• Fellowships and Awards
• Prepared to Teach or Areas of Research Interest or Areas of Specialization or Areas of Competence/ Expertise or Principal Research and Teaching Interests
• Teaching Experience
• Research Experience
• Publications and Presentations
• Works in Progress
• Related Professional Experience
• Languages
• Other
• References
• Dissertation Abstract
Additional Tips:
• Fields of Interest or Teaching Competencies: CVs may begin with a short section specifying Fields of Interest or Teaching Competencies (instead of a statement of Professional Objective with which resumes may begin). If you do include this optional section, make your categories as broad as possible to cover a variety of potential opportunities but don't be so broad that you appear unfocused.
• Teaching and Research Experience: On a CV it is appropriate to describe both teaching and research experience in detail (on a resume this is usually not appropriate). If applying for a position that primarily involves research, describe research experience first; if the reverse is true, put teaching experience first.
• Work Experience: Work experience not directly relevant to research/teaching/academic opportunities should be omitted or described only briefly on a CV.
• Other: This may include miscellaneous personal information such as membership in professional or scholarly associations, travel or study abroad, or personal interests. Include only if you feel that some aspects of your personal history may be relevant and of potential interest to your readers.
• References: If you list references, provide title, university affiliation, and phone number
• Your Dissertation:
• If you are working on or have recently finished your doctoral degree, at least include a brief, clear summary of your thesis topic in the Education section.
• Including a separate one- or two- page abstract of your thesis at the end of your resume is recommended, but optional. In this attachment, concisely summarize your thesis work, placing it within its scholarly context, and noting its contribution to the field. Your summary should be comprehensible to people outside your field, but scholarly enough to interest people within your area of expertise. Looking at theses on related topics, in Rotch or Dewey Library, may help you write yours. If you do provide an abstract, write "(See Abstract Attached)" in the Education section of your CV, after the name of your thesis title.
• Cover Letter: A CV should always be accompanied by a cover letter.

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Resumes - They're not all the same!

Resumes - they're not all the same!

All kinds of resumes require different content. Here are some great tips for specific resumes

General Information:

- Name/Contact info/incl website if appropriate: address, tel, cell, e-mail, http

- Education — List all schools post-high school attended and the corresponding academic degrees earned, noting honors. Also include periods of study at schools or universities attended without completing a degree or where credits were earned, even if not transferred to the next educational institution. List workshops or classes attended and notable teachers you have studied with. Incl symposiums, conventions, professional education courses etc attended/completed. The latter may be listed under honors/awards/grants if preferred.

- Note about education versus experience: if you feel you do not have the relevant experience or enough of the relevant experience; indicate which courses you took were particularly relevant to your career track. For example, if you want to go into Environmental Management, indicate that you took environmental biology.

- Related Experience/Related Work Experience/Professional Experience – List all applicable employment in chronological order beginning with the most recent. If you are going for a residency assignment in Internal Medicine, feel free to omit your restaurant serving experience. Instead, if you have not had paid employment, put your assistantships, externships, observerships, research assistant work, tutoring, or volunteerism. No matter how small the involvement, even if it was only 10 days of volunteering at a bowling alley with physically challenged children, please mention it here. Volunteerism can also be work you’ve done in your community outside of an agency. For example, if you speak a foreign language and have helped people in your community translate their medical forms, this is volunteerism. Taking initiative is admirable and your chance to shine, so mention it.

- Internships, externships, observerships, shadowing, unpaid work-experience. Also put how many hours, or hours per week if the information is available.

- Volunteerism – No matter how small the involvement, even if it was only 10 days of volunteering at a bowling alley with physically challenged children, please mention it here. Volunteerism can also be work you’ve done in your community outside of an agency. For example, if you speak a foreign language and have helped people in your community translate their medical forms, this is volunteerism. Taking initiative is admirable and your chance to shine, so mention it.

- Honors and Awards/Grants — list all recognitions of merit, prizes won in competitions, grants, fellowships, scholarships and other special recognitions.

- Publications – Are you published? Do you have articles/reviews that are awaiting approval for publication? Even if you are a contributing author, or research assistant, this area is for you

- Skills – for example computer-related experience. Are you Microsoft Office proficient? Are you Windows proficient? What other operating systems, platforms, computer languages are you proficient with? Do you have html experience? List all software packages you are familiar with, especially any you have used professionally such as SPSS, Premiere, QuarkXpress, PhotoShop, FrontPage, etc. If your workplace or school used a particular communication package, list it, for example Eudora for e-mail or Outlook. If packages are discipline specific, please put them. For example mechanical engineers should indicate their proficiency with Abaqus, Solid Work, AutoCad, Mastercam, Ansys, Matlab, etc.

- Lab skills: if you have laboratory or research experience indicate the equipment you are proficient in the use of, such as electro-spectrometer, or Micro-Scan machine; media preparation, steak plate isolation, bacterial identification tests (stains, API-20e strip interpretation), blood extraction,

- Professional licensures: any current licensures you possess. For example professional dentists may want to put their NBDE Part 1-80, ECFMG can be listed here.

- Professional Affiliations — List the professional organizations, national, regional, and local, to which you belong. If you held a position within the organization or served as a volunteer, note this as well.

- Languages: spoken, written, arterial (native), and level of proficiency

- Extracurricular activities/hobbies/pastimes: this area can be used to describe sporting activities, Greek life, or other activities you are involved in or have been involved in. If you were captain of your high school cricket team, you can put it here, or varsity sports participation. Be specific as well. If you enjoy reading non-fiction books on quantum physics, do not just say you enjoy reading. Teaching tai chi is very different than just participating. If you have poetry published, don’t just put “poetry”.

- References: include all contact information and position held, if applicable. If left blank, we will simply put “References available upon request”. References fall into two categories, professional and personal. Please indicate which are professional or personal
Nurses’ resumes usually include:

In addition to the general resume information above:

- Nursing skills/proficiencies: Please put packages you have used for medical records, or your daily work such as Cerner applications, or Meditech documentation. What equipment are you proficient in the use of? For example, ventilator care; Basic life Support, Advanced Life Support, PALS, TNCC, Triple lumen CVP; AV fistulas, Swanz Ganz Catheter: Cardiac output; NG/Sump & Peg tubes; Balloon Pump management, CVVHDF. UEXCEL Professional Practice Plan. Also include Care plan creation and administration; Patient/family education; Training and in-services. If not listed elsewhere, what units have you had exposure in, i.e.: Open Heart ICU, CCU; Surgical ICU. Please be as specific as possible, for example don’t just put ventilator if it was a Bennett 7600 Ventilator, or bedside monitoring if it was Hewlett Packard bedside monitoring, or EKG when it was 12-lead EKG, even balloon pumps can be described more specifically, such as the Intraaortic balloon pump (IABP).

- Nursing certifications: list all, but do not duplicate what is listed under skills/proficiencies. Indicate any subspecialties as well, if you are CCRN, CMC, or CSC, etc.
Medical Doctors, Dental Professionals, and other medical professionals need to include (in addition to above general information):

- Doctors: please put which USMLE’s you have taken and your scores; include which ones you are enrolled for, as well. Indicate whether it was CS or CK and which step.

- Doctor skills: list procedures you are proficient in, surgeries you’ve assisted or performed, techniques you are proficient in or have been introduced to, departments you have interned in
Artists Resume should include:
Website – your professional website if you have one, or online gallery or your work; commercial sites of your work are acceptable. If your work is included in a group site, give the most exact site possible. For example, if you are a part of an online community of artists, do not just list you are a part of Indicate’sCeramics. If your gallery requires a username and password, do not include it as a professional website!
Honors and Awards/Grants — list all recognitions of merit, prizes won in competitions, grants, fellowships, scholarships and other special recognitions. Include artist-in residences or special workshops attended.

Bibliography — Material about you in articles, reviews, catalogues, radio and television interviews, etc. Indicate any of your work that has been included in books, magazines, newspapers, and catalogues. Do not duplicate here publications you have written, this is included in the publications portion of the resume.

Professional Affiliations — List the professional organizations, national, regional, and local, to which you belong. If you held a position within the organization or served as a volunteer, note this as well.

Related Experience/Related Work Experience/Professional Experience — Include experience that is relevant to your professional art-making career: teaching art; jobs held in the field; technical experience related to your discipline; lectures, workshops and presentations given as an artist.

Exhibitions — List the title of the exhibition, the exhibition space, and the city and state where the exhibition was presented. If your exhibition experience is extensive you may want to divide your exhibitions into separate categories of exhibitions - solo shows, group shows, juried exhibitions, invitational exhibitions, touring exhibitions, museum shows, etc. As well, if notable, the curator or juror of the exhibition is often listed.

Collections — This category can be divided into private collections, corporate collections, permanent public collections, etc. It is considered proper etiquette to ask permission to list a private purchaser/owner of your work if you intend to list them on your résumé.

Other categories – indicate any commissions, residencies, and installations you have to your credit

Performing Artists Resume should include:

Performances/Recordings/Productions — Musicians should categorize their experience based on recordings, compositions, and performances. Choreographers and dancers should indicate experience with choreography, performances, and or productions. List the title of the piece, your role in the work, where performed, other collaborators or performers if appropriate, and any other relevant information. If the piece was commissioned, indicate this as well.

Collaborations — If you have extensive work with others, you may want to list your collaborative work. Indicate your role in the collaboration and list other collaborators and their roles.

Commissions — your commissioned work goes here.
Literary artists include the following:

Publications — Title of the piece(s), where published or the publishing press. Indicate fiction/nonfiction, poetry, magazine/newspaper publications, etc.

Readings — List any public readings or presentations of your work. List the title of the work presented, and the venue.

Media artists include the following:

Films/ Videos/Shorts /Digital Media /TV — Include information about completed and in-production works. Indicate your artistic role in the work – i.e.: actor, director, and writer. Was the work a video, TV, feature film, or short. List the title of the piece(s), your role in the work, other collaborators if applicable, screening location and any other relevant information.

Screenings/Festivals — If your work has appeared at several screening locations or has been included in festivals, list the various screening locations and/or festivals in which your work has appeared. You may also want to note any awards or special recognition your work received if you have not already included this elsewhere.

Architects Resume should include:

Projects: indicate size/scale of project, for example square footage or storeys; indicate the status of the project i.e.: CD development, under construction, bidding, built, on hold, mostly built, canceled, etc.

What were your responsibilities? Preparing construction documents, coordinating with consultants, DOB, SD, CD, DD, filing, bidding

Project involvement and your corresponding titles: architect, project architect, detailer, senior project architect, freelance designer, CAD designer, drafter

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Free Help! No, really!

Free Help! No, really!
Tips for creating a great Statement of Purpose

So here it is…the first "Tips" post:

Here is the golden rule about Statements:

Your Statement of Purpose is a critically important part of your application materials. Do not dwell on information in your Statement that is covered by your other application materials. Your Statement represents your humanness, what you bring to a program, not just in terms of academics, but who you are, what has brought you to this moment, and where you want it to take you. Don't just say, "Post-graduation, I want to be an attorney in a successful firm"…tell them, "Ever since I was a child, I have dreamed of being an attorney. My dad was an attorney, and I remember how people looked up to him, respected him, and how much he loved his job helping others".

Look, you are writing about your favorite topic, the subject that ignites your passion for living… so let it shine through! Let them feel your love for your work..! And if you don't feel this for your work, then it's time to reassess.

A good Statement of Purpose needs to cover five (5) areas (not necessarily in this order):

1) Who are you and what led you to the subject/discipline/degree you are pursuing?
2) What are your research interests?
3) What are your plans post-graduation?
4) What relevant academic/professional/volunteer experiences have you had?
5) Why do you want to go to this particular school?

Comments on the outline:

1) Take for example a young man who was close to his grandfather. The grandfather contracts a deadly disease which may have been treatable or his life extended, but there are no quality healthcare services available and dies. The grandson then goes on to pursue medicine, or public health, promising that people in the future that he encounters or serves in his work will never go without proper healthcare coverage, or at least get reduced pricing for medical care.
It's anecdotes like this that make you more human and endearing to the admissions group/ person. Just saying, "I want to help people" is not enough, your passion and drive needs to be explained. Don't just say, "I find medicine rewarding", tell how when you helped a small child, they gave you a hug when they felt better, that this reward was worth more to you than money.

2) Your research interests, if it is applicable need to be in line with the program you are applying to. If you are applying for a PhD Organic Chemistry program and the program's professors are all involved in Inorganic/Physical Chemistry, you need to re-think your program. If your work with pseudo hallucinogenic compound cyanogen is right up the alley of one of the school's professors, then mention it! This will make you stand out! Plus, professors are constantly trolling applications looking for free labor.

3) These are where your short and long term goals go. It's obvious you want to succeed in the academic program in the short term, so don't mention it here. Explain your dreams post-graduation. For example, a DDS/DMD student wants to work post-graduation in a group dental practice, and upon building their exposure, go on to a private practice and dental medical mission work. This is the adult version of "what do you want to be when you grow up?"

4) Relevant academic/professional/volunteer experiences: do not fall into the trap of putting your resume/CV into prose form. The school will already have your resume/CV. This is your chance to show what you have learned from your experiences in terms of skills, lessons you have learned, how you have matured, and how this will be an asset to the program you are applying to, and in your career post-graduation.

5) Every single school wants to know why you chose them. If they don't ask you in the application process, they will ask you in person. This is a critically important question, and if you are using a form letter for 10 different schools, seriously consider doing a little research into each school, and customize each letter, even if it's just one paragraph about why you want to go to each specific school. And think about it: if you hate cities, why are you applying to an urban campus school? If you love the beach, why are you applying to a school in Wyoming? Seriously, though, think about things like the teachers you want to learn from, the kind of classmates you want to interact with. Most of the information you need to answer this question is right on the school's website, or doing just a little digging in Google.

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