So you finished writing your amazingly perfect PA school personal statement that shows Admissions Committees your passion for patient care and interest in the PA profession.
Now you are faced with a slew of supplemental essay prompts that must be addressed concisely and specifically.
What is a Pre-PA Applicant to do?
First, take a deep breath.
Second, remember the purpose of the supplemental essay: to speak specifically to why this school is the right fit for you and why you are a good fit for them.
The best supplemental essays require careful preparation and attention to detail. While your personal statement was not school-specific but rather answers the broader question of why do you want to be a PA? The supplemental essay is used by schools to find applicants who will best fit into their program’s goals and mission.
Those who do not put in effort into their supplemental essays will be weeded out quickly. The best applications are those that align with a school’s specific goals with the appropriate experience to back it up.
For your top choice schools, this is where a little effort can go a long way.
5 Tips to Write the Perfect PA School Supplemental Essay
1. Look for redundant questions
Some prompts are generic and will show up for multiple programs such as addressing any gaps and deficiencies in your application, the COVID essay, or your autobiography.
Write one version of this essay and use it for all schools where this question applies. Be careful that the narrative in the longer version does not contradict the simplified version that you may have included in your personal statement.
2. Do your research
Many schools will ask you why you want to attend their program. This question requires you to reflect on how you fulfill or align with their vision, mission statement, and goals. Locate the mission statement for each school you are applying to on our PASchoolFinder website. Copy and paste the program's mission statement into your favorite document editor. Pay careful attention to every word and highlight the key phrases. When writing your response, resist the urge to parrot or repeat back their own wording. This is your chance to provide specific examples from your work or volunteer experience that demonstrates how you align with their mission/goals—show, don’t tell.
3. Don’t repeat your personal statement
The supplemental essay also provides you an opportunity to highlight work, volunteer, and academic experiences that you were unable to discuss in your personal statement. Focus on adding new stories and anecdotes that make your application more well-rounded.
4. Read and then reread
One of the biggest mistakes that applicants make in their supplemental essays is not to answer the question being asked. After you have written your response(s), set it aside for a couple of days while you work on something else. Starting over with a fresh mind, reread the prompt, focusing on determining precisely what the question or questions are asking. As you read your response, look back to the original question and make sure that you have adequately answered it using specific details or examples and have avoided repeating the question verbatim. You should be able to map your answer to the prompt or to each component if there is more than one.
5. Start and end strong
Begin each paragraph with a clear topic sentence. It should not repeat the question being asked, but it should introduce the aspect of the question you want to answer. For example, if you have three reasons for applying to a specific program, each paragraph should focus on one reason that you introduce in the first sentence. Provide examples of how you have lived that reason out in your career. Then tie those examples together with the missional purpose to end the paragraph. Repeat until you have demonstrated each reason. End your essay with a summary conclusion that restates all the points made and ties it back to the beginning question.
A Little Effort Goes a Long Way
You may feel that you already put your best work into your personal statement to make it unique, enjoyable, etc. Even still, Admission Committees are sorting through thousands of applications, and they start to sound the same after a while.
The supplemental essay is your chance to stand out from the crowd, to address new aspects of your experiences, and to show that you align with your chosen program's goals and values, not just in words but with actions.
Be sure to put in the time and effort now to create a thoughtful and well-crafted supplemental essay. The supplemental essay may seem like an afterthought, but it could very well be the deciding factor between receiving an interview invite or facing yet another year of CASPA applications.
Need help crafting your perfect PA school supplemental essay?
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