Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Premed Tips: Secondary Applications

I whipped up this list a while ago after talking to a coworker who was applying to medical schools.  If you sent in your primary application (general application sent to all schools) early, you're probably receiving secondaries (applications for specific schools with additional essays and questions) right about now.  Here's a few tips to help you with the process:
  • Stay Organized.  One of my coworkers started a spreadsheet with all of the usernames, passwords, and websites for all the schools to which she applied.  I didn't do this, but I think it's a great idea to keep yourself organized especially if you've applied to a lot of schools.  It will save you time from having to search through all those emails.  You can even include submission dates and application statuses.  While you're at it, keep an organized email account with separate tags and folders for all this correspondence as well.
  • Do them as you get them.  The more you procrastinate, the further behind you'll put yourself in the candidate pool.  This will be a pain especially if you still have school work to do or you work all day.  If you've applied to a lot of schools (applying to upwards of a dozen is not uncommon) they'll pile up before you know it, so don't wait.  
  • Write something memorable.  Of course, don't make things up or exaggerate.  Depending on the additional questions/essays write about something unique to you if you have the opportunity to do so.  I bet admissions committees get tons of generic statements about how great the school is with things pulled from the school's website and empty platitudes.  You want to write about something that will make them want to take a second look.  Everyone does community service and gets involved in student leadership, but you want to find a way to write about a unique or specific instance from that experience.  How did it influence you?  Did it make you look at something different?...all this being said, some secondary applications just have questions that only require a short response without much room or need for details and elaboration.  If that's the case, great.  Keep it simple and move on.  But, if you've applied to a school that's asking for a little bit more, don't cheat yourself by skimping.  Put some thought and effort into it; it'll make a difference.  
  • This time may be stressful but continue to enjoy your life.  What are your creative outlets, your hobbies?  Tap into those things.  Continue old hobbies or start a new one.  Trust me, once you start school you'll need an outlet.  This could also be a great conversation piece during interviews.  My interviewers asked me what I like to do in my downtime and for stress relief.  They want to know that you weren't so focused on building the ideal student profile that you don't know what you enjoy outside of school and eventually your career in medicine.  They want to see that you're a real person, so get out and enjoy your life while you wait!
Feel free to contact me with any questions you have, and leave any additional tips you found useful for others!  Good luck!

Accepted?  Waiting?  Working towards all of this?  
Check out my "bucket list" of things to do before starting medical school.


  1. I'm sure only applying to one school was nerve-racking but you were lucky in that you escaped the secondary applications. To me, they required a lot more work than the initial application process. Staying organized is definitely key + I would say answering essays with similar themes helps to cut down on the workload. As always, your posts are so inciteful. I love this

    1. Similar themes...a great suggestion if you have many to write! A few years ago I went through the whole multiple secondaries experience. God just worked it out so the last time I only had to apply to one. And thank you! I always hope that they're something that can help someone else, I'm glad it shows :-)


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