Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Clear. Concise. Logical.
I guess my previous blog post comment in reference to the onsite essay ("we are seeing a LOT of people that need to work on their onsite essay skills") raised some eyebrows. I received three emails (since that was posted) specifically asking about the onsite essay.
I thought I'd take this opportunity to respond here on the blog so I can simply link to this post when/if I receive future questions about this particular aspect of the interview day.
While the actual interview itself is certainly a critical aspect of your visit to UCSF, the writing component is just as important. Your onsite essay should reflect your true writing abilities and preparedness to enter a University of California doctoral-level program. Since our biggest cut in the application process is based on the written/prepared application, you must have demonstrated strong written communication skills on your PharmCAS and Supplemental Application in order to be advanced to the interview stage. Your onsite writing skills shouldn’t deviate too much from what we observed in your prepared materials. Granted the circumstances are different (with prepared materials you have unlimited time to edit/proof versus the timed onsite writing assignment), both your prepared and onsite written essays should reflect strong written communication skills. As stated on the essay form itself, "The purpose is to test your ability to organize and coherently express your thoughts." Rarely do we discuss the position an applicant takes on an essay topic (unless it's so fantastical that one can't help taking it into consideration.) Instead, we tend to focus on the applicant's ability to write clearly, concisely, and logically with a convincing flow of ideas -- with few grammar/syntax and spelling errors. In addition, the ability to compose an essay that clearly articulates a response to the question with adequate supporting details is key.
Do we realize you are under pressure? Absolutely! Of course! However, this exercise is not a term paper or multi-page report. It is a fairly simple essay less than one-page in length. If an applicant cannot successfully complete this task, it makes it very difficult to advocate for their candidacy -- not just at UCSF but any doctoral program.
I'd be curious to hear your feedback so please feel free to leave your comments. But remember, make sure they are clear, concise, and logical.
And because I hate text-only blog posts, here's a picture....
P.S. I used the word "fantastical". How crazy is that?