By ThriveAP Intern and Aspiring Nurse Practitioner Ashley Prince
Nursing application season is officially upon us! Are you feeling the stress? I know I am. Deadlines are coming up quickly and even though I worked ahead over the summer, I still have some loose ends to tie up. The application part, though mind-numbing after filling out my name and address over and over again, is relatively easy. It’s the essays that are killer.
Writing personal statements is a daunting task- it’s one way for admissions staff to really get to know you, but there is so much information you need to cram into a short space. I’ve outlined some tips that have helped me get on track with my essays, and hopefully they’ll help you stop procrastinating and open that Word file, too.
Start off by writing one general essay that covers basic questions. Why you want to be a nurse or nurse practitioner, your academic and professional goals, what you will contribute to healthcare, and the staple personal strengths and weaknesses questions are the most common questions on nursing and NP program apps. Draft one general, well edited two page paper addressing these questions and work from there. It’s so much easier to change a few paragraphs of one essay to fit three schools than trying to write three different essays.
Research the school you are applying to. Do they have something specific in their mission statement that directly applies to you? Mention it! Be sure to also point out specific aspects of the nursing program that draw you to that school. Whether it’s a 100% NCLEX pass rate, or clinical locations or internships, comment on how that school has stood out and will help you achieve your goals. Admissions faculty need to see that you’re actually interested in going to their specific school, and not just applying because they simply offer your program of interest (even if that is the case).
Edit, edit, edit. And when you think you’re done proofreading, ask for another’s opinion. Typos look awful on applications, and can sometimes take three or four read-throughs to catch. Getting feedback can help you shape the essay in a way you couldn’t do on your own.
Avoid the generic, “I want to be a nurse becasue I love to help people”. If you didn’t want to help people, you wouldn’t be applying. Which brings me to…
Make yourself unforgettable. Prior to reading your essay, the admissions staff probably glanced at your resume and transcripts quickly. But those don’t really show off your personality or character, so this is your chance to shine. My advisor told me he can still remember some lines from personal statements he read years ago when he was on the admissions board for Ph.D. programs. Some were funny, some serious, others sarcastic, but they all stood out to admissions staff years later, and those were that applicants that were accepted. Bring up quirks, unique challenges or opportunities you’ve had, or that you’re known for finding every blanket warmer in ever hospital you’ve ever volunteered in. Nuances like these make you stand out.
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