When you are writing your pharmacy school personal statement introduction, you can run afoul of any number of obstacles. From writer’s block to ineffective writing, this could be one of the more treacherous aspects to . With so much to accomplish in so little space, you will have a lot to take care of in your introduction. You might know already that your personal statement should answer why you, specifically should be admitted, and answer “,” but focusing on the introduction presents its own challenges.
Fortunately for you, we’ve got you covered with this article all about how to write your pharmacy school personal statement introduction, from the hook sentence through to the smooth transition into the body of your text.
To start with, you’ll have to verify whether there are any special requirements for your particular personal statement. might have different specific requirements from , for example, and if you are applying to one or the other, you might want to tailor your paper to suit. While it is unlikely that there will be such huge differences that you will wind up with a completely different introduction, it might be important if there are different word counts, for example. A shorter paper needs a shorter introduction.
Still, regardless of where you are applying, there will be certain elements that your admissions committee will be looking for, and even the will still want to see the best from anybody they will bring in for a .
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The first thing that you need to spend some time on is your hook sentence. The hook acts exactly as its name suggests, drawing a reader in, and almost requiring them to read on. The hook should present your essay in such a way that putting it down would be nigh-on impossible. Let’s look at two examples to see what a good hook looks like in contrast to a bad hook.
The Bad Hook
I want to be a pharmacist due to my enjoyment of chemistry, and because I have seen first-hand what good health care work can be, I want to work in health care.
The Good Hook
The water was cold, but I could still feel a mild burn as the chemistry lab’s eyewash station rinsed out my eyes, and I silently thought, “Please, don’t go blind.”
Do we need to explain this? Don’t you want to hear more after that second sentence? Why is this person rinsing their eyes? What went wrong? How is this connecting back to pharmacy?
The reality is that both sentences set up the same aspects of the student writing them. The first sentence says it nakedly and bluntly: this person enjoys chemistry and has experiences with health care. That frank, upfront tone, however, is combined with a generic statement. The tone isn’t really “wrong,” per se, it’s just that it’s paired with a very dull setup. The second hook, on the other hand, puts us in the action – it's active, it’s written almost as though the event is happening right now. Furthermore, this is an exciting event! Something could happen here with negative consequences. That raises the stakes of the story and draws the reader in.
There is another problem with the first hook, and that is that everybody who is applying to pharmacy school wants to work in health care. Everybody who is applying to pharmacy school enjoys – or says they enjoy – chemistry or other hard sciences. So what? Do you want to be everybody? No. That’s why the second hook really works: not everybody has wound up in an eyewash station during chemistry lab. This is something that the admissions committee isn’t likely to come across in many essays. If you can open with a truly unique story, that’s great.
Keep in mind: you don’t have a lot of room in some of these personal statements, so brevity is the soul of wit here. You can’t waste time telling a story if it isn’t also showing what makes you an ideal candidate.
The rest of your introduction is going to be devoted to setting up the rest of your personal statement. When you are selecting a topic to write on, you will want to pick aspects of your life and experiences that show why you are such a great candidate for the admissions committee to pick. With that in mind, you should go through some ideas and find the best one. One easy way to come up with core ideas is to try free associating – writing down anything you think of on a given topic for a small, set amount of time. Once you’re done with your free association, you will have a wealth of ideas to choose from. Pick the one that lets you showcase the most desirable traits that you have.
The last thing to consider in your setup is your conclusion. How you end the essay matters, and if you can use foreshadowing to bring the essay in a complete circle, with the introduction and conclusion complementing each other, that is an ideal setup.
The Bad Setup
My experiences have largely been academic, although I have also had some working and volunteer experiences which have helped me greatly. My chemistry lab was the most eventful experience I have had, and the experience in which I learned the most. We had a wonderful instructor who took us through many experiments, and I learned how to cope with incidents that occur during lab work.
The Good Setup
With my eyes thoroughly rinsed, I took stock of the situation in the lab. Everything was under control: our lab instructor had cleared the space around the offending liquid, which was no longer spraying from its tube, and two students in PPE were disposing of it properly. She was with me now, saying, “Are you okay? Can you see me?” over and over again until I responded. Then, she added, “You did it. You stopped that from being really bad.” This unfortunately exciting day in the chemistry lab proved to be the start of one of the best learning experiences I have ever had, a time when I grew as a person and as a chemist.
Again, the reason the second one is better is because it is showing, not telling, and remains exciting and intriguing. Detail is given about the situation, and it sets up the ending of the paragraph, which will transition nicely into the body of the paper.
Both paragraphs set up the reader to hear about a period of personal and academic growth in their experiences in a chemistry lab, but the good setup does this extremely well. It even gives us a statement from the instructor, “You stopped that from being really bad,” that promises to tell the reader about something interesting and impressive that the applicant accomplished.
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You need to know what to put into your introduction and what to leave out. Here is a list of general traits that the admissions committee is going to be looking for throughout your essay:
Obviously, that’s far too much to fit into any one statement, let alone just the introduction; nevertheless, you should be on the lookout for any opportunity to at least hint at or suggest some of these qualities.
If you think back to the dynamic “good hook” we presented, just by that sentence alone, we see that this person has lab experience, is safety conscious, and has good communication skills. As the essay moves on, we are likely going to see how they respond in times of crisis or distress, which they seem to be have managed well, based on their unpanicked approach to the eyewash station.
Include as many positive qualities and traits as you can in the introduction, but don’t worry about hitting every point – that's what the main body of your personal statement is for.
What To Write About
A big question is what to even write about? What if you don’t have any exciting experiences involving eyewash stations? That’s not a problem; just write about your most interesting experiences, and they will do just fine. You might have to work to make them a bit more intriguing, but you have had good life experiences, even ones without chemical burns.
If you have to narrow down your experiences, use the list of desirable traits the admissions committee will be looking for and try to find an experience that showcases as many of them as possible. The more exciting the better, but don’t worry about exciting. Your writing style helps hook the reader.
What Not to Include
That’s all fine, but what should you avoid including in your pharmacy personal statement introduction?
- Red flags like arrogance or inappropriate language
- Listing your accomplishments (i.e., “telling” not “showing”)
- Rehashing what is already on your resume, transcript, or other areas of your application
- Passive writing
- Problems you did not solve or did not learn from
If you are prideful or narcissistic, you will not only come across as unlikable, but you also will cast aspersions on some of your accomplishments. If you write something that makes you sound boastful, even if you did accomplish something admirable, it might be deemed suspect in light of your tone. In other words: the reader can’t trust you.
Likewise, other red flags in tone include inappropriate language or general negativity. Keep your writing style professional. You can use the first person – it isn’t quite “formal” language – and make stylistic choices for a more excited or passionate tone, but you don’t want to seem unprofessional. This is the antithesis of teamwork or leadership.
Listing Your Accomplishments
If you just say that you’re good at math, the reader might believe you, but your expertise won’t stick in their mind. If, on the other hand, you have a great story about why you’re good at math, it will illustrate what you can do far better than simply stating it as a fact. Remember “show, don’t tell,” an old writing mantra that works.
Rehashing Your Resume
As with listing your accomplishments, this isn’t just dull, it’s redundant. This is one circumstance wherein you really shouldn’t recycle. Don’t take information that is already on your transcripts, or elsewhere in your application, and just provide it again. The committee already has that information. Focus on showing who you are as part of a more personal introduction; this isn’t really the time to speak of pure academic accomplishments.
Adopting a more enthusiastic writing style energizes your audience and makes them want to keep reading. Remember how many personal statements admissions committees must read. You want a dynamic, active tone that wakes up your reader and shows off how interesting and exciting you are.
Problems You Didn’t Solve or Learn From
This can be deadly, so discerning between cases to include and exclude is crucial.
If you have a story from work where you caused a big mess, or mayhem ensued as a result of your actions, you probably should avoid it, especially if there were no major pivot points for you as a person following the event. However, it is okay to include explanations for mistakes you have made, but if you don’t have a story of growth, don’t include the event.
For some applications, mentioning a red flag might be required to address a problem: if you received a low test score, or you have a gap in your education or work history, that might warrant an explanation in the body of your text. You’ll want to set this up in your introduction.
Pharmacy Personal Statement Introduction No.1
I often feel like my life didn’t begin at birth, but after I recovered from my accident. I was engaging in some mountain biking and trying to keep up with my friends when a wet patch of path sent me spinning over the edge of a steep hill. By the time I hit the bottom, I was in bad shape. Fortunately, my friends called 911, and I got help quickly. My experiences in the hospital and in recovery put me in close contact with pharmacists, and I learned how a miserable experience can become far more bearable with great help. I knew I wanted to help others that same way, and my learning experiences all started while I was in rehab.
Pharmacy Personal Statement Introduction No.2
My ears felt blurry, if that’s even possible, as I tried to understand what the pharmacist was telling me. “The blue medication once per day for three weeks? Or red? Or was red medication twice a day until the course is completed?” My father’s medications were getting more detailed, and as a first-generation immigrant, his English wasn’t great. I had to help. I was already planning to be a pharmacist, and I thought, “This can’t be right.” My bad experiences have helped me move forward to study harder and focus on client interaction, so that, when I’m a pharmacist, I can prevent others from getting blurry ears.
Pharmacy Personal Statement Introduction No.3
My first choice was paramedic, and my second was nurse practitioner. Pharmacist wasn’t even on my radar as I entered my first year of my undergrad and started in on courses in the sciences. But as I sat in my various classes, I noticed I was taking three pages of notes more during my pharmacology classes than my other classes. My natural impulses moved me in a whole other direction, and by my second year, I was destined to become a pharmacist.
Armed with these expert tips, you’ll be well on your way to planning your , going over . However, for the time being, you should focus on writing your essay, one part at a time, starting with the hook and the introduction, and moving on through the body until you hit the very end.
1. What’s the difference between a personal tone and an unprofessional one?
A personal story is your story and is in the first person. A professional tone might sound, for example, like a workplace email from a manager to their team. Unprofessional tones use slang or other language that can alienate readers.
There is considerable flexibility in the presentation of personal statements in any field, and you should always confirm the expectations for the particular schools and programs you are applying to; however, the tone of these texts should be a balance of personal and professional.
2. What is a typical word count for a personal statement?
It varies from school to school, but typically they will be between 500 and 750 words.
3. Do spelling and grammar matter?
Yes, they do. These essays allow the committee to see you; make it a clear picture.
4. How long should my introduction be?
Given that personal statements tend to be between 500 and 750 words – check any limits for the schools or application systems you are using – you should be spending around 100 words, maybe 150, on your introduction. If you can do it in fewer words, great. Just make sure to hit all your points.
5. Anything else I should avoid?
Avoid cliches like the Dickens.
6. Anything else I should put in?
As long as it is authentic to your story, passionate, and demonstrates a couple of the qualities the schools look for, you’ll be fine.
7. Should I have somebody look over my essay?
8. How do I trim the introduction if it runs long?
See if any of the information in your introduction can go into another paragraph in the body of the essay or serve as the conclusion.