In this series of articles, I will be sharing excerpts of case studies on several of my former students (with their permission, of course). Names and other identifying information have been changed, but the material facts — MCAT score, GPA, etc. — are unchanged. The full case studies are published in my book, Pre-Med Success Stories.
I’ll present each case study in three parts — an introduction of the student, followed by an in-depth assessment of the student’s profile and chances for admission to medical school, and then finally I’ll explain what happened to the student once s/he applied.
In this article, I continue with part two of the case study on a client of mine, Jeremy.
Part Two — Jeremy’s Core Themes
Core themes are crucial in bringing your application together. You need a few parallels in your application so that it doesn’t come off as a jumbled mess. I managed to put together a few for Jeremy. First off, he has definite characteristics of leadership — he is energetic and eager to help people and, best of all, he is also naturally a very good listener. He is also open to taking initiatives. I also recommended he include aspects of his Latino heritage as crucial to his experiences because there was little doubt that it impacted him. Finally, he had to explain the burnout he experienced after high school.
His Personal Statement
Jeremy’s first draft was a very powerful story about his experiences moving a cadaver to the morgue. It was missing something, however. I suggested that he focus his personal statement less on demonstrating himself as a leader (surely, that would show at the interview), but instead focus on his opposite traits: patience, doubt, vulnerability, and his ability to listen. With my suggestions in mind, Jeremy wrote up a second draft which included a few stories to parallel his initial one. He, thus, tied his cadaver anecdote to his interactions with live patients which made a strong transition, emotionally, from his work at the morgue to his work in medicine. He also included a story on his Molecular Biology course which proved to be more relevant than his initial stories on his History of Popular Culture course anecdote.
The final draft, minus a few disagreements between us, looked great. The parallels were there, and the experiences were all tied together. Jeremy demonstrated his softer traits, as we discussed, and he was sure that his leadership abilities would shine during the interview itself. So far, Jeremy felt content with his work.
(Author’s note: You can read Jeremy’s final personal statement in Pre-Med Success Stories.)
In part three, I will tell you what ended up happening to Jeremy and if he got into medical school.