The number of physical therapy school applicants has grown massively over the last few years. Now you need more than just “a passion” for PT and a high GPA. The essay is one the last places you can make changes since GPA, work experience, and most other application materials are set in place by the time of the application.
So how should you start writing the essay?
1.Answer the essay prompt: This might seem obvious, but the first time I wrote my essay I was very self-centered and shared the story I wanted to tell. A mentor read my essay and bluntly said “You didn’t answer the prompt”.
The admissions committees are looking over hundreds of applications and will have no time to dissect your essay for hidden meaning. As William Howard Taft said “Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you can’t be misunderstood.”
2.”Be Unique”: that may sound like obvious, cliche advice, but many people don’t write unique stories. After a first draft review, a mentor said that my story of “I was injured and found PT” and “I like helping people” was the same as hundreds of other applicants. After hearing this I revised my essay to discuss how my senior college engineering project taught me skills that would help in PT.
Also, I shared stories from my observation hours and lessons learned from observation. All applicants have observation hours but showing that you’ve learned from them differentiates you.
3.Have a variety of critics read your essay for grammar and flow: Admissions officers are reading hundreds of applications, so your essay needs to be easy to read. I had family, friends, several PT’s, and writing tutors read my essays.
The essay is one of the last things you can control in your PT school application, so make it count.