Many students across Qatar will benefit after their teachers and counselors attended a workshop at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) about the best ways of writing personal statements and reference letters.

In all 20 teachers and counselors from 10 independent and private schools participated in the workshop, which was hosted by WCMC-Q’s Student Recruitment and Outreach Office in partnership with the writing faculty of the college’s Pre-Medical Education Department. The attendees, who came from a variety of disciplines, were advised on how they could help their students write personal statements that would offer them the best chance of being accepted by a university.

The workshops were organised as part of the Adopt A School programme that was launched by WCMC-Q four years ago. They were attended by representatives of Global Academy International, OBK Scientific Secondary Independent School, Gulf English School, Doha British School, Lebanese School, Aspire Academy, Dukhan English School, Ali bin Jassim Boys Secondary, Raba’a Al Adawiya Secondary School for Girls, and Zubaidah Independent Secondary School for Girls.

As part of the general session, Adrienne Gibbons, Director of Admissions offered some insights on how to fill out the application’s reference form as well as explaining their importance in the candidate’s file.

In total, five break-out sessions were held by WCMC-Q faculty members on March 19. They were lead by Adam Larson, Writing Center Coordinator; Dr Rodney Sharkey, Associate Professor of English; Dr Krystyna Golkowska, Associate Professor of English; Ian Miller, Assistant Professor of English; and Dr Alan Weber, Associate Professor of English. Dr Golkowska, who coordinated the event, emphasised that the personal statement is the first impression that a university has of a student, so it is vital that prospective students get it right. She said:

The admissions committee already knows about a candidate’s grades and academic attainment. The point about a personal statement is that it is a student’s chance to demonstrate what he or she is like as an individual. Thus it is important that the candidate discuss extracurricular activities, motivation for studying a particular subject, and relevant personal characteristics to present a holistic picture. In addition, it goes without saying that personal statements should be interesting, well-written and with a coherent structure. They should always be revised and proof-read before they are submitted.’

The workshop also addressed writing reference letters.

The school teachers and counselors were welcomed to WCMC-Q by Dr Rachid Bendriss, Assistant Dean For Student Recruitment, Outreach And Foundation Programs who stated that such outreach sessions present an opportunity to help students across Qatar, and not just those who want to pursue a career in medicine. Dr Bendriss said:

As a college, we know what other colleges look for when they are considering students for admission. They want well-rounded, intellectually curious individuals who have a drive to study a certain subject. But that has to be articulated, and workshops like these empower teachers to help their pupils to do that. Similarly, teachers themselves have to write reference letters that inform the admissions committee about their students.’

WCMC-Q is a partnership between Cornell University and Qatar Foundation. It offers pre-medical and medical courses leading to the Cornell University M.D. degree with teaching by Cornell and Weill Cornell faculty and by physicians at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and Aspetar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital who hold Weill Cornell appointments. Through its biomedical research programme, WCMC-Q is building a sustainable research community in Qatar while advancing basic science and clinical research. Through its medical college, WCMC-Q seeks to provide the finest education possible for medical students, to improve health care both now and for future generations, and to provide high quality health care to the Qatari population.