By Sofia Charania
After the preliminary AMCAS application is submitted, schools will send secondary applications to students they are interested in. When filling out these secondary applications and when preparing for interviews, it is REALLY important to make sure that you are demonstrating to each school that you are excited about them. You want to woo them, and convince them that they are “the one” for you. Let’s talk about how you can do that.
(Actually, first, please note that these tips are only for when you are filling out secondary applications and for when you are preparing for med school interviews; you should NOT be mentioning specific schools in the AMCAS preliminary application.)
- Research. When you are writing in your secondaries or speaking in your interviews about why you are excited about XYZ School of Medicine, you’ll have to talk about opportunities at the school that you are enthusiastic about being part of. That’s pretty standard practice, in my opinion.
- But here’s the thing. You have to find opportunities that are The goal, in my opinion, should be to find activities that the admissions committee didn’t even know existed. It’s a great look when an admissions officer thinks “Oh wow, I didn’t even realize we had that opportunity here! I’ve never heard of a med student being involved in that- that’s cool!”
- Most schools have free community clinics run by med students. I would bet that at least half of the students who apply to XYZ School of Medicine talk about how they are excited about joining that free clinic and serving the community. It is not unique AT ALL to talk about this. It’s fine to mention it, but I don’t think it should be one of the key reasons why you are excited about XYZ School, especially since so many other schools also have a similar program.
- So then what can you talk about? Find other non-profits, government organizations, big companies, or other related entities that exist in the city/town of that med school, and figure out what capacities you could be involved in as a medical student. What I’m trying to say is find something outside of that med school’s bubble. Another example could be talking about opportunities at other grad schools at the same institution that you are interested in participating in and bringing a medical perspective to.
- Also, if you are going to talk about some opportunity the medical school offers that you want to be a part of – let’s say a global health fellowship- then don’t just say that you want to do the fellowship and end it there. Speak with students who have participated in that fellowship and get a feel for what types of projects they did. Then, talk about what ideas you have for when you participate in the fellowship. Basically, it’s not enough to say that you want to do xyz activity. You really have to prove it by showing that you’ve given it a lot of thought and know specifically what you want to explore and how it ties in with your overall goals.
- Location. Make sure you can make a case about why the location of the school is an amazing fit for you. I really think location is more important for graduate school than for undergrad, and that everyone should pay attention to this factor when choosing which schools to apply to. That said, I also think med schools know that students care about location a lot, so you want to show that XYZ School of Medicine’s city/town is something you are really excited about. Maybe you have family there, or maybe you really like the big city feel, or maybe you want to work with some organization that’s based in the town. Whatever it is, make a case for why that location is something you are thrilled about.
- Research. For all the super science-y people out there- if there is research being done at XYZ School of Medicine that you are interested in, talk about what you would like to add to that work. Don’t just say “Oh, I would like to be involved in Dr. ABC’s work on xyz topic.” That is not really that convincing, in my opinion. Reach out to that professor and have a chat before submitting the secondary application or before the interview. Ask if you could have a look at work that previous students have done with him/her. Read some of their work and see if there’s something in particular that you would like to explore further. (It’s best if you’ve done some work in that area before, I feel.) The goal isn’t to just say that you want to work on projects with them, but to say where you want to push the boundaries. Where do you want to expand on their existing work? Talk about this in your secondaries and interviews. Don’t feel shy about saying that you’ve spoken with that professor about what you’d like to add on to his/her work. I actually think it’s a really good look if you have a good relationship with a professor whose work you are interested in.
So yeah, there you have it. Those are my tips for wooing med schools. I did the first and second of these tips, but not the third. I have heard of people doing the third tip, though, and it seems to have worked well. Anyways, if you have any recommendations or feedback, please let me know via email or in the comments below! Also, if you would like for me to continue doing such posts, subscribe to my email list below (or on the right if you are using a computer) <3