My daughter asked me my opinion on her graduate school essay

She’s applying to DPT programs, and the prompt is why she wants to go into physical therapy on a personal level. Both of her reasons are very true to her.

The first is about how much she loves interacting with patents, talking to them, learning from them, and gives some insight into an elderly veteran she helped treat and a young child with CP who brings her joy. My daughter is a very social creature who never met a stranger and loves learning about other people. Even as a young child she really would bond with older folks.

The other relates to wanting to help those who might shy away from intervention. She was a competitive irish dancer plus ran xc and track in high school, her dance teachers and trainers encouraged dancing through injuries, stress fractures, sprains, even if crying. Since working in PT, she had seen many athletes like herself who were told to work though the pain (like a young gymnast), and she believes this isn’t right, and wants to advocate for them.

Is one better than the other? She feels like many applicants will have essays similar to the second, being athletes themselves and having spent a good amount of time in PT as well.

It’s hard to say until she writes them, but to me, the first idea seems better, for the reasons you mentioned in regards to the second idea.

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Thank you, she brings up the fact that her older sister is a cpa, her older brother is in finance, her younger sister wants to be an actuary, her younger brother some sort of business, all business schools, and knew that was not the route she wanted to go (dad is a financial planner).

I don’t know what her word count is, but she should keep the emphasis on the other stuff: her work with a veteran and a child with CP. How she learns from others, what is relevant about that that is related to her chosen field, how she’s never met a stranger. A person like that can be comfortable with anyone and make others feel comfortable, which is important.

That’s exactly what I was thinking, the fact that she loves to make others comfortable and at ease.

I have no advice but I just wanted to say I totally relate to the Irish dancing through injuries! We need more dance PT’s who can talk to our teachers and tell them to maybe try to conserve our bodies,just a little. I ended up quitting Irish dance because I wanted to be able to play my other sport in college without being injured all the time.


I totally agree, my daughter actually lied to her teachers about doing xc and track, they forbade her from running (and she was the fastest xc runner and broke a sprinting record at the HS). It was interesting to compare the two actives, exact opposite of each other objective/subjective, kind supportive coaches no matter how you do/getting yelled at and told you won’t even recall at the Oireachtas (my daughter WQ every single year). There were many positive aspects of ID (including developing a thick skin). I think lack of proper injury prevention is a real issue (how many girls get off of the stage and put their boots back on).

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Not to be contrary, and I certainly don’t know the field, but the second topic seems more interesting to me. The “I want to help people” essay could risk being trite as I would imagine it gets done a lot in health care- related fields. In contrast, the perspective of knowing that many people are reluctant to seek help, for all kinds of reasons and not just being an athlete told to push through the pain, plus being able to craft a strategy to bring them out and support them, seems much more compelling.


I treat athletes and world class dancers such as Irish. Just saw one yesterday. Irish dance teachers are insane… Lol. The stuff I hear they tell an 11 year old is crazy. Worlds or Bust… Lol.

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So I like the second one with dance. Many Pts are ex dancers, runners, gymnast etc. Yes, they do tend to specialize. Strong hint here… If she specializes in dance she will have a never ending clientele if in a strong dance area. Since she has some knowledge giving a reasoning of prevention and a method or theory could be compelling. The first one is just to be everyday.

I spoke here a few years back but all dancers and, doctors and Pts go to these conferences. Lots of good information and resources here.

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I think the second is better, personally. I have a dancer and a gymnast and I can relate to the struggles- and I know we’ve always specifically sought PTs and orthos who understood my kids activities in particular. Yes, a lot of dancers seem to go the PT route, but it’s a great fit for many of them and their dance experience definitely brings something to the table imo.

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I like the 2nd topic better. She could probably weave her love of interacting with people into it. I can imagine children and the elderly (vets or not) shy away from intervention too, so depending on the word length she may be able to incorporate the best parts of both.

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Thanks for your opinions, I had my daughter read them too, and she’s going to try incorporate her love of working one on one with lots of people and the empathy she has for those who are being pushed to compete in their sport without proper care and her desire to help them. Irish dance is a weird wacky world and folks seem to always ask a lot of questions about it.

What is the word count? My daughter just wrote a grad school essay and then learned that she had to cut it…by a lot.

If the word count allows, your D can actually weave the two topics together into one essay. I like the second essay, but I am wondering if a lot of applicants use that theme (?).

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