What is the UWSOM looking for in the additional personal statement that is part of the secondary application?
This is a good place for applicants to add anything they feel was not covered in the AMCAS personal statement. Because the UWSOM has a particular interest in serving rural and/or underserved populations, any volunteer or paid experience spent working with these populations could be explored in this essay.
How do we articulate a bump in the road in our personal statements?
We recommend that you lead off with why you want to be a doctor and why you think you will be good at it and save the slightly more negative stuff for later in the personal statement. One way to describe a bump in the road might be, "I realize that my GPA might not be what you expect for someone who is applying to medical school. Initially I was not sure I was interested in the sciences, or I was carrying a heavy load..." We want to know that you have some understanding of what happened and why it happened. You can phrase it "I'm not happy with my GPA, however as a junior and senior I subsequently took a lot of difficult courses and did very well." Or, "I've taken a lot of classes after college and I have done very well." Use two or three sentences at most.
How do you rewrite the personal statement when it is so personal?
The personal statement does not have to be a chronology of your life in any way. It should be about why you are suited for medicine. So the defining moments that happened in the past can still be your defining moments but move them around in the personal statement. By not rewriting the personal statement, it gives the impression that the applicant is not dedicated.
In retrospect, I disliked some things I said on my application and in my interview. Can these things be held against me when I re-apply in the future?
Only the executive committee member sees your previous application. Whenever an applicant re-applies, the committee anticipates and appreciates any evidence of self evaluation and change. The committee might feel an applicant is a strong candidate in many ways, but just needs some time to mature. You might be one of these individuals.
Should we keep our essay as professional as possible, or can we be a little casual /conversational?
Your essay is a personal statement, so by its very nature it will be relatively casual. However, you should beware of using "I" too frequently, using texting abbreviations or slang.
If I am re-applying, should I avoid putting details of my first round in my personal statement?
Details of your first round need not be part of your personal statement unless you feel that not being accepted the first time was a major learning experience and in some way made you realize something(s) important about yourself. In addition, in our secondary application, you are required to answer a question asking how you have improved since your previous application. Also keep in mind that you may be applying to schools that never saw your previous application and the main emphasis in your personal statement should be about why you want to be a doctor and how you know that this is the right career for you.
How would you recommend structuring a personal statement so that an applicant is still able to get all of their points across without almost sounding like a laundry list of items, In particular if items come across as being more or less chronological?
This is more about writing skills. Write a sample statement, show it to somebody you know but not someone that is very close to you, and have them give you objective feedback on how it sounds.