The following training materials were adapted from the original video, which was written, performed, and directed by the Personal Statement Writing Group of Winter, 1999. The video stars Tara Dairman as the tutor and Bonnie Kim as the tutee. Sharon Stanley, Christina Krettecos, and Ara Walline comprised the rest of the group. Chris Warren operated the camera.
As students approach the end of their Dartmouth careers, many will choose to apply to a graduate program. Whether the student is applying to medical school, law school, or to a masters or doctoral program, the personal statement will play a significant role in the application process. This short, often only one-page essay provides one of the few opportunities to distinguish oneself from a mass of other candidates. The essay must sound sincere, position itself appropriately, and generate an admission committee's interest in the writer as both a scholar and a person. For this reason, it is important for the applicant to hone her personal statement writing skills.
As a tutor, it is equally important to be familiar with the expectations and purposes of the personal statement, and to be able to identify the aspects that will make the essay more successful. Tutors will also need to pay attention to the ways in which the personal statement differs from a standard academic paper. Finally, tutors will need to become comfortable working with a tutee on material that is not only very personal in nature, but is also very important to the tutee's future.
The following mock tutorial highlights techniques to avoid and others to implement when crafting a personal statement, and when tutoring the student who has written a personal statement. While the personal statement in this video is particularly awful, the problems themselves are all common.
At the end of each video segment, you will see two advice sections: the first contains advice for the writer; the second contains advice for the tutor. You may, of course, read both. Or you may simply read the advice that pertains to your specific needs.
Last Updated: 7/9/08