I received a few secondary applications this past week and like any med school applicant, I was bursting with excitement and immediately logged into the schools’ application system. I read the first prompt, then the second, then the third and then the realization of what lay ahead hit me. The excitement diminished once it dawned on me that: one, I have quite a bit of research to do on these schools; two, a lot of writing and lastly, some editing to close it all up. I plan on having a short turn around with these secondaries and will be submitting them no longer than 2 weeks. Why so short? Well, for one thing, it shows your interest in the school and two, as with anything, the earlier the better (Procrastination is the devil I tell ya!).
I don’t want to sacrifice quality for timeliness (this is my future we’re talking about!), so of course, it was time to get down to business – STAT. First as mentioned is research. This means looking at each school’s website, their mission, the latest news, and finding out what makes the school unique. In other words, tangible reasons why I would want to go to that particular med school. After this comes the writing. Now, putting things into words can be challenging – well specifically forming cohesive and sophisticated sentences. So alas I had to go perusing for tips. Thanks to Google I found some Do’s and Don’ts of writing secondaries. My favorite bloggers at the moment, doctorORbust and 5 year journey: medical school edition also have some great tips on tackling these essays – Do check them out.
Now although these secondaries were automatically generated, I want to stress that this is NOT the case for all schools. Some medical schools do pre-screen for GPA and MCAT which streamlines their admission process. Now this can be an advantage or disadvantage for applicants such as myself.
Advantage: If you don’t make their stringent screening process then at least you’re not spending extra money on secondaries for a school that isn’t interested in you (Hey, look at the bright side). On the opposite end, if you meet their screening requirement(s), that means your application would at least warrant a look – Yayyy!
Disadvantage: If you don’t meet the stringent screening requirement(s), the school isn’t going to look at your app – point blank. Sad news, I know.
This leads to my biggest advice when choosing schools to apply to:
No, seriously, BUY IT. This booklet and online database saves you time and money, and might I add, this whole process IS costly. With the MSAR, you’ll know the most up-to-date stats of the accepted students – GPA, MCAT, what the school values in an applicant (i.e. how many of the matriculates had community service experience), demographics of the student body, as well as the school’s screening process, if any. This information allows you to apply strategically and write some well-thought out secondaries. Personally, I’ve found it very beneficial.
On that note, it’s time for me to get back to my secondaries. Time waits for no one!
Are you currently writing secondaries? Any tips to share? Do drop a comment below 🙂