Self-Inventory for the Personal Statement

9 Jul

Think long and hard about what you want to say.  Ask yourself some questions to get things started (many of which you considered in making the decision to go to graduate school):

  • Why do I want to go to graduate school?

–I want to have a better life and my B.S. isn’t doing it for me.

  • Where/when did this ambition originate? What/who were the greatest influencers in my decision to pursue this goal?

–I research different career options and audiology was not as competitive as vet med, there was a school where I prevet 041currently live and where I want to move, and the pay/stress was much better.  Secondly, there was a client at the vet hospital where I work that said how she had more work then she knew what to do with, and I liked the security of getting into school, getting a job, and having enough work–especially in this economy.

  • What do I want to be able to do at the end of this program that I can’t do with a BA/BS?

–Find a job (w/a decent starting wage that I could live on) work in a non-stressful environment that is better regulated b/c it deals with people rather than animals.

  • What experience do I have in this field?

–Very little.  Though I belong to 2 professional organizations and they update me on current events and details about the career.  I also helped with community hearing screening through my school.  And I observed a hearing aid dispenser (NOT popular w/the AuD community) to get an idea of what what their job entails.

  • What have I done as an undergraduate student to prepare myself for this graduate program?

loudness vs intensity–Aside from the afore-mentioned hearing screenings and observation, I have worked incredibly heard to maintain a 4.0 GPA.  I also took pre-vet courses such as physics and chemistry that help with my background in audiology.

  • How will I contribute to the collective experience of the admitted class?  How am I different from every other student who will apply for this program?

–My frequent moving has given me a regionally wide perspective and diversity (Indian & politics).

–I have knowledge of other professions (vet med) that gives me a different view.

–I may me older and more mature then many of my 20-something classmates.

–I am gay.

  • Why is this the right program for me?

–Colorado is the state I am passionate about, despite having lived in many other places.  I believe it fits my politics, Welcom to CO sunflowercators to my athleticism with all the nature and recreation, and isn’t too large or too small (or too expensive).

–The program, specifically, will be a great fit because I feel I have an aptitude for audiology that I never had with my pre-vet studies.  I like the repetitiveness of it, the concrete measurements, and the technical aspects of the profession.  I also like that you’re still helping people, but in a more indirect, scheduled manner.

–>this is an area I need to know more about

  • What do I know about this particular school, their programs and their faculty?

–I gather from the faculty research bios I found that this school is focused on noise-induced hearing loss, which I am interested in as a music lover, and family member of 2 close relatives (at least) who I believe got their hearing loss this way.

–From their Tumbler page, I gather the school environment is friendly and has more outreach and activities then my current school, which I like.  I want a friendly, college environment (and accessible professors!), but not a huge, huge university.

 –>this is an area I need to know more about!

-How you explain achievements that are not in the other parts of your application
-How and why those achievements or events shaped your interests, goals, etc.

 

-Why are you a strong applicant?

–The improvement in my grades from undergrad to current show my commitment to the program, and prove I am a place in my life to make school the number 1 priority.

retirement from vet med 013–I am also a strong applicant, because I have a hard-science background and have worked in a hospital environment through my 14 years vet assistant experience.
o What makes you special?

–I’m older and wiser then I was in my 20s

–I need to look into a typical AuD student profile and see how I’m diverse
o What is impressive about your experiences or life?

–I was born on an Indian reservation, grew up in Northern Nevada, went to undergrad in Missouri, and have lived in a big WA city, and a conservative WA city, before coming to CO.  All of those locations have afforded me different perspectives and views.

–I switched career trajectories after undergrad, which gives me knowledge of BOTH professional avenues.
o What influenced your goals?

Honestly, I liked my chances of getting into school, the career growth and security, the low stress, the very sequential way in which the job is performed, and the pay was reasonable.

o Did you experience any personal or family problems that shaped your character?

–My repeated denial from veterinary school made me take a look inward and I had to reevaluate my goals.64417_1626982438227_1346535529_1679999_4120864_n
o How did you become interested in this field?

–I researched what career would best fit with strengths I already had, the location, and job security.  Audiology made the most sense.
o How have you already learned about this field that prepares you for the next step?

–After taking 3 audiology-focused courses (the only ones my school offers) I realized I liked the material, it made sense, I could get into it and see the rationale behind it, and I have barely scratched the surface of the profession.
o What are your future goals?

–I am keeping an open-mind in regards to the avenue I would like to take in the career.  I don’t know enough about each sub-field to make any educated decisions.  The things I know for sure are that I don’t want to do research or take the phD pathway, and I don’t think I would like to do the intraoperative monitoring (too stressful).  I would love to observe and take more classes on educational, dispensing, rehab, and vestibular audiology to see which options draws me in the most.
o What skills/characteristics of yours will contribute to your success in the
field?

Maico MA-25 audm–I am detail-oriented and like the methodical approach to hearing batteries.

–I like the system of checks and balances that is audiometry.

–find more things!

  • What your career plans include

–I am not 100% certain, but I think I might like educational audiology.  If there are available jobs–it seems like a lot of SLPs are working with schools instead.

–I have an interest in aural rehab to help people like my dad who I feel didn’t get enough of that aspect, which is why he was a non-compliant wearer for so long.  He might have really benefitted from rehab.

–Dispensing would be OK as long as sales weren’t the main emphasis.

–As for location, I want to practice in Colorado–either Boulder, Denver, or an area within reasonable driving distance would be acceptable.

  • Where do you hope to have an impact

–Coming from a rural area, I have a soft spot for providing health care where it has not been widely available.  That said, I want stability and the ability to stay in business.

–I would be happy working with children to seniors, but probably not infants, because in vet medicine I really didn’t like the pediatric model where owners are constantly looking over your shoulder.

  • When did your interest in medicine develop

I wanted to be a veterinarian most of my life, but it never worked out for me.  In searching for back up options, I came Walking about-July 2012 039across audiology and enrolled at Riverpoint.  I thought it might work becaus audiologists are in demand so I knew the profession would provide me with stability.  The choice also made sense because my father, an important influence in my life, has hearing loss.  At first, I wasn’t certain if I would be happy working with people rather than animals as I had dreamed for so long.  My first class showed me that it wasn’t necessarily animals I enjoyed it was taking a stand to help those without voices.  Communication sciences allowed me to do just that.  As I was able to take the hearing-centric coursework, my interest grew even more.  I especially like the predictable manner in which a hearing test battery is carried out.

  • How have you demonstrated your interest and commitment to a career in medicine

Aside from taking rigorous hard-science coursework while many partied in school, I have maintained employment in veterinary hospitals for 14 years.  Currently, I apply myself to my studies, tutor others in my program, and participate in conducting every hearing screening opportunity that I am able.

  • What makes you a unique candidate
  • What makes you unique, or at least different from, any other applicant?
  • What attracts you to your chosen career? What do you expect to get out of it?

The stability, career outlook, and livable wages are factors for certain.  I am also drawn to the search and confirmation of hearing pathologies, and like the many avenues the career offers across the lifespan.  I can see myself successfully helping people gain functional communication to enhance their quality of life.

  • When did you initially become interested in this career? How has this interest developed? When did you become certain that this is what you wanted to do? What solidified your decision?

It was relatively recent that I thought about audiology as a viable career option.  The profession isn’t as visible as more cliche dream-careers and I never gave it much thought.  After my veterinary run fizzled, I looked into it and thought I could make that work.  Through my classes, reading of Student Academy of Audiology scientific journal articles, and my own experience performing hearing screenings, I have gained an excitement, and dare I say aptitude, for the work itself.

  • What are your intellectual influences? What writers, books, professors, concepts in college have shaped you?

–I enjoyed learning about the hearing mechanism, pathologies, audiometric techniques, and available technologies in my three audiology-focused undergraduate courses.  I would say I have been most influenced by my aural rehab class, because it opened my eyes to how well patients can adjust, given not only the proper tests and amplification, but the more human aspects–counseling, support, and rehabilitation.  I could easily make the connection to my Dad’s poor/negative experience, non-compliance, and general dissatisfaction and the resulting communication breakdowns and lack of good aural rehab.  The course motivated me to want to help patients as people, and not just test hearing and fit an aid.

–I only watch a documentary called “Sound and Fury” that opened my eyes to feelings about cochlear implants.  I saw perspectives of the deaf community, significant others, the hearing community, and medical professionals.  The movie impacted me, because as a member of the hearing community I have not been exposed to Deaf lifestyles.

  • How has your undergraduate academic experience prepared you for graduate/professional school?

–As a student, it taught me how to study, prioritize, and set boundaries.  I learned basics of science and entry-level communication theories and practices.

–As a person, college showed me how to be more independent, unapologetic for my aspirations, and opened my eyes to different regions, politics, and ways of life.

  • What are two or three of the academic accomplishments which have most prepared you?

Auroa–I think working full time at a veterinary hospital and taking pre-veterinary course work, which entailed many labs taught me how to manage time and organize my life.  I worked under pressure constantly and learned how to manage a full schedule.

  • What research have you conducted? What did you learn from it?

–I have not conducted my own research, but I have assisted other with projects.  At MU, I helped collect temperature data and care for dairy cattle, than hogs.  I learned_____, and it applies to audiology_____

–I didn’t organize the grant money, animal subjects, or staff, but as a Senior in Animal Science I studied the impact of ergovaline on rodent populations in the environmental physiology lab I worked in.  I found the research didn’t take that long, but maintaining the animal welfare and doing paperwork was the majority of the work.  The other thing I learned was that meticulous records and procedures are necessary.  Keeping orderly, meticulous records will help me in the audiology profession to administer the correct test, track patient hearing over time, and manage the amplification payment processes.

–Typing language samples of toddlers at Riverpoint gave me insight into parent-child interactions, and exposure to different child-rearing tactics that will give me more tolerance toward patients from all walks of life.

  • What non-academic experiences contributed to your choice of school and/or career? (work, volunteer, family)

–my father’s hearing loss

–getting into a more regulated profession than vet med

–hearing screenings

  • Do you have specific career plans? How does graduate or professional school pertain to them?

–I know I was to be in the audiology field.  And I know I don’t want to go the phD route or surgical monitoring specialty.  Because I have only had 3 audiology courses, I don’t feel like I could make an informed career choice beyond that.  Before I shut any doors, I want to learn theory, observe practice, and experience more options in the audiology field.  I do want to help people enhance their communication, but I’m not sure which population I would be most suited to work with.  UNC’s AuD program is perfect to help me decide the right route for me.  The fact we will get to see both medical and educational audiologists prior to the externship will give me the necessary exposure to a wider variety of audiological specialties than other schools.

  • How much more education are you interested in?

–My finances would like me to be finished and practicing in the profession right now.  I can do the next four years, especially since 2 of those are clinical years, but I wouldn’t want to complete 8 more and go for a phD or speciality license.

  • What’s the most important thing the admissions committee should know about you?

–I am ready to work hard and when I put my mind to something I will get it done to the best of my abilities.  I have quad in snowarranged my life around this aspiration and as such I am ready to make a large impact.

  • Think of a professor in your field that you’ve had already and that you like and respect. If this person were reading your application essay, what would most impress him or her?
  1. Think of your characteristics or actions that make you distinctive. How would your friends describe what’s important about you to someone who doesn’t know you? Try writing a story about an incident from your life that illustrates one of these characteristics.
  2. Think of one of the most significant learning experiences in your life — an Aha! moment — when you finally understood something for the first time. Write about this experience and relate it to your development and your aspirations.
  3. What do you care about most deeply?
  4. What matters to you?

Ethics matter to me a great deal and I try to reflect inwardly and align my intentions with my actions.  I try to take the high road and do what I know is important and right.  Using my whole-heart along with common sense is important to me, and I’m striving to put those things to action all the time–even when it’s difficult–especially when it’s difficult.

  1. How have you spent your time in the past few years toward working to further this passion or dream?

flashcards 002In the past few years, I have gone back to school, as an alternative student, not the 20-something norm.  This required me to rearrange my priorities in such a way that I could focus my efforts on my studies and furthering my experience in a new field–which was never easy.  I had to gain independence, stop seeking the approval of others, and follow my own path.  This was disappointing to some people, but ultimately, it was imperative that I change direction and pursue what I feel is the most important thing–achieving good grades in order to succeed in school.

  1. What are your plans for fulfilling your dreams?

I plan on moving to a new state in order to matriculate to an audiology program, put finances on hold to pursue education, and invest my whole heart in learning the most I can about speech & hearing sciences so I can help create a humanistic and thorough audiology practice.

  1. Try writing about your current and future efforts, perhaps illustrating #1 or #2.

-What errors or regrets have taught you something important about yourself?

I am hesitant to look upon lessons I’ve learned as mistakes and regrets.  I did the best I could at the time, using what I knew, and what I had at those times.  Somethimes I wished things had turned out differently, but I didn’t have the appropriate tools at my disposal all the time to make that happen.  Therefore, I look at this question as what lessons I have learned–not what errors did I overcome.  I learned that I need the GPA, even over experience or work obligations.  I may not agree with it or think it’s best, but admissions into higher education programs comes down to quantitative walking at workcomparisons.  I have scaled back my work dramatically from the first time around.  I have also resisted joining a lot of clubs or extracurricular activities, even though I am a natural joiner, leader, and team-player.
• When have you been so immersed in what you were doing, that time seemed to evaporate while you were actively absorbed?
• What ideas, books, theories or movements have made a profound impact on you – be honest.
• To what extent do your current commitments reflect your most strongly-held values?
• Where or how do you seem to waste the most time?

I like organizing things

Spending time with my family
Under what conditions do you do your best, most creative work?

I do best when given clear expectations, concrete examples, plenty of time, low pressure, and positive feedback.
• To what extent are you a typical product of your generation and/or culture? How might you deviate from the norm?

• Where/when did this ambition originate? What/who were the greatest influencers in my decision to pursue this goal?
• What do I want to be able to do at the end of this program that I can’t do with a BA/BS?
• What experience do I have in this field?
• What have I done as an undergraduate student to prepare myself for this graduate program?
• How will I contribute to the collective experience of the admitted class? How am I different from other students
applying to this program?
Why is this the right program for me?

welcome 2Honestly, the cost of living and proximity to housing, school, and work is the best thing about it.  As for the program, I like the emphasis on clear speech because it relates closely to rehab considerations and working to improve speech perception–one of my biggest goals.  I also like the focus on speech & hearing science as physics and technology underlies the whole field and what allows us to provide the best patient care.  The more technology improves, the better the outcomes, and maybe one day the prices will drop because the best amplification techniques are so common they saturate the market.
• What do I know about this particular school, their programs and their faculty?

1. Personal History
Are you heading for graduate school straight from undergraduate? If so, what has happened during your undergraduate years to make you certain that you already know what you want to do with your life?

No, as usual I’ve taken the most winding path toward my goals.  I finished my undergrad degree in 2007, then moved a couple times to new states.  I switched from pre-vet tospeech & hearing sciences.  I liked the prospect of helping the underdog along with the greater regulation for humans.
Are you a nontraditional student, five, ten years past undergraduate school? If so, an interesting part of your story will be what in your adult life has led you to return to school.

My future had always been uncertain and I was always chasing schools.  I moved at least 3 different times chasing college admissions and searching for opportunities.  I wanted more stability, and career I could count on, reasonable expectations that I could find a job, work a long time, and make enough money to pay my student loans and live off of.  I found audiology as I looked for something to fulfill those criteria.

2. Personal Life
 Were there any unusual or difficult circumstances in your childhood? In your undergraduate years?
 Do you have family relatives, especially in your chosen field?
 Was there an adult in your life who was especially influential?

3. Academic Life
 Which ideas, fields of research, or problems especially intrigue you?
 Among the professors you have studied with and in reading you have done, who has influenced you the most? Why?

4. Work Life
 Includes jobs, volunteer work, extracurricular activities, and so on.
 “Real-world” work experience is major influence behind a nontraditional student’s decision to go on to graduate school – “moment of truth” in this type situation can make a compelling statement.
 Traditional students should demonstrate familiarity with and competence in the field they want to enter through their work or activities because an admissions committee might ask “What does she know about this field at the age of 21?”

-Watch out for repetitiveness. Did you already address certain experiences or achievements in another part of your application? Don’t repeat information that has already been provided. For example, there is no need to state your specific
GPA or course titles in your essay since they’re on your transcript.

-What do you think is the overall theme?

o Where is the essay most and least persuasive?
o Do the paragraphs have a logical transition?
o Do the paragraphs consistently move from issue to issue?
o Did I use appropriate adjectives in descriptions?
o Were there grammar or spelling mistakes?
o What could make my essay stronger?

  • What is special, unique, distinctive, or impressive about you or your life story? What details of your life (personal or family problems/ history, any genuinely notable accomplishments, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants?
  • When did you originally become interested in this field and what have you since learned about it—and about yourself—that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? This does not mean that you should write, “Why I want to be a lawyer.” Instead, tell what insights you have gained from certain experiences that reinforce your decision to go to law school
  • How have you learned about this field—through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, internships, or conversations with people already in the field.
  • If work experiences have consumed significant periods of time during your college years, what have you learned (leadership or managerial skills, for example), and how has the work contributed to your personal growth?
  • What are your career goals?

-I absolutely want to focus on the human side of audiology across the span of ages, ensuring my patents’ needs are being met, that they understand the underlying issues and how to work the technology as well as have a realistic expectation for improvement, and really focus on remaining with that patient for the long term, guiding them through any difficulties and managing changes.

  • Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (great grades and mediocre LSAT scores, for example, or a distinct improvement in you GRA if it was only average in the beginning?
  • Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (e.g., economic, familial, physical) in your life?
  • What personal characteristic (integrity, compassion, persistence, for example) do you possess that would enhance your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics?
  • What skills (leadership, communicative, analytical, for example) do you possess?
  • Why might you be a stronger candidate for graduate school—and more successful and effective in the profession or field—than other applicants?
  • What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you?

-It is also important to mention field experiences, like internships, research programs, and extracurricular activities.

-Don’t simply tell me that you volunteered at the soup kitchen, because I probably can read that in your AMCAS application elsewhere. Tell me why you did that, what you learned, how that experience has affected you, and how it will affect the way you intend to practice medicine in the future.

-I taught clogging classes to people aged 4 to 64, which helped me realize I like reading people to identifying weaknesses or confusion and helping them overcome those obstacles.  It’s useful motivation for audiometry, as I will have to counsel people, educate them, and work with them over time to ensure their success.

Transforms blemishes into positives

It’s okay to have flaws! The essay is your chance to show how you have transformed blemishes. For example, if your essay theme is “overcoming obstacles” and you earned a poor grade in a class, but went to a community college at night to repeat the course, it is important for your reader to know this because it is an example of your perseverance. The reader does not want to hear complaints about poor grades or circumstances, but rather wants to know how you have overcome them.

 -Find an Angle

If you are like most people, your life story might well lack significant drama, so figuring out a way to make it interesting becomes the big challenge. Finding an angle is vital. Brainstorm for ideas that emphasize your exceptional qualities, goals, past performances.

-Concentrate on Your Opening Paragraph 
Keep in mind when composing your statement that the lead or OPENING PARAGRAPH IS generally the MOST IMPORTANT. Here you either GRAB the readers attention or lose it. If you are telling a story you will use this first paragraph to introduce the elements most relevant to that story—and the ones that will hold greatest interest for the reader.

  • Determine what you would tell an admission committee member if you had five minutes to answer the question “What is most important for us to know about you?” This exercise will force you to do the type of thinking that must precede the preparation of an effective personal statement.
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