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AcademicGround >> Anecdote at Beginning of Personal Statement?

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10/10/09 10:35 PM
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Hollywood Blonde
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A buddy of mine will be applying for grad programs in clinical and counseling psychology soon. He asked me if I thought it was a good idea to begin his personal statement with an anecdote that would catch the reader's eye. I don't know all of the details of the anecdote, but it's something about wanting to help a friend of his who had a problem in his life and not knowing how, and this spurring his interest in clinical/counseling psych.

I didn't start my grad school personal statements like that. Is it appropriate or advisable?
10/14/09 1:17 PM
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Hollywood Blonde
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10/19/09 6:08 PM
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Hollywood Blonde
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ttt
10/20/09 10:45 AM
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None So Blind
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Depends on the anecdote ;-)

I've read several in my time (for admission to psych Ph.D. programs, internships, and post-docs), and I have seen some good ones and I have seen some terrible ones. The good ones make you want to talk to the person to ask more about it, the bad ones make you think they're a loser.

Three examples:

Good one - person talked about an "aha" moment he had in a class that wound up becoming an ongoing debate with a professor; it showed the student's thinking, experience, and desire to learn, not to mention what he found most interesting.

Average one - anybody who talks about their family, upbringing, or racial/ethnic hardships. Sorry, most everyone has hardships in their life, that doesn't make you special.

Bad one - student who talked about how she was nicknamed "Little Einstein" in grade school. Bragging is poor form, don't do it ;-)
10/21/09 10:55 PM
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asdf
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Edited: 10/21/09 10:56 PM
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true story : I heard this first hand from a member of an MIT grad admissions board in one of the engineering deparmtents.


One applicatnt did entire personal statement as an interview of himself with Barbara Walters.

He got in.
10/22/09 2:39 PM
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None So Blind
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ROFLMAO

We had one do her statement as an interview with Oprah (complete with audience participation).

She did NOT get in :-P

(didn't help that her father followed her around all her interviews and had to be asked to stay out of the office when she was talking to faculty)

10/22/09 4:27 PM
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Hollywood Blonde
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None So Blind - ROFLMAO

We had one do her statement as an interview with Oprah (complete with audience participation).

She did NOT get in :-P

(didn't help that her father followed her around all her interviews and had to be asked to stay out of the office when she was talking to faculty)


NSB--Thanks for the help! Do you have any other application tips I can pass on to him?
11/22/09 2:59 AM
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Gforce
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YES, ABSOLUTELY.

I used this method successfully on my application essays for both a White House Internship and med school.

Remember, the people are reading piles of essays which are largely boring as fuck. You have one paragraph--some say one sentence--to grab the reader and make him want to read YOURS.

e-mail me at theivyleaguethug a-t y@hoo dt cm if you want a copy of the essay I used this cycle for med schools. I absolutely killed it this cycle, and my numbers were not huge.

It's always good to look at some essays that were winners before crafting your own.

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