After submitting your primary application to a medical school of your choice, you will most likely be required to complete a secondary application and an additional essay. Some students find it even more laborious than dealing with a personal statement or AMCAS Work and Activities part.
Secondary essay prompts are different in terms of topic and length, but here is good news: they are normally shorter than standard personal statements. Some of the topics are being repeated. It means that you can pre-write essays on recurring topics. With the examples of secondary essays for medical school, this task will become much easier.
Most Common Types of Medical School Essays
Many students try to submit their secondary applications as early as possible. Of course, this can help you gain the advantage of rolling admission, but you should never sacrifice the quality of your secondary application. Applying a couple of days or a week earlier doesn’t always make a significant difference, but this amount of time will be enough to craft a proper essay.
Here are the types of secondary essays that come up more often:
- Diversity essay
- Adversity essay (describing a challenging situation and how you coped with it)
Let’s discuss each essay type, common misconceptions, and explore some inspiring samples.
How to Write a Diversity Essay
Medical schools actively advertise the diversity of their student community. And we assure you that this is not just for show. You see, medicine becomes more effective when clinicians respect and fully understand individuals who seek medical help, no matter what their background is. Diversity among students promotes a stimulating learning atmosphere and provides multiple perspectives.
Diversity Essay Common Misconceptions
Let’s look at some common misconceptions regarding a med school diversity essay:
- “I have nothing to share because I’m not from a minority background.” Your diversity essay shouldn’t necessarily concern your background. Move past this and see the bigger picture. In fact, diversity implies other factors that make you unique, such as exceptional qualities, unusual experiences, extracurricular activities, commitments, goals, and values.
- “I have nothing to tell because my ethnic minority background is already properly represented in the medical field.” Let’s say you’re from an Asian background, and you feel that your demographic is well represented in the medical industry. You think that there’s nothing unique about you as an applicant to a med school. Well, there are many races, countries, cultures, religions across Asia, so make sure you gave thought to all of these aspects. If you’re still sure that your background is common, consider the following points:
- Maybe you’re an immigrant? Share your assimilation experience.
- Maybe your parents immigrated? Tell what values your parents tried to implant in you, and how they clashed with your values, how a bicultural environment shaped your worldview.
- Share different cultural views on medicine and explain what value they bring into the health care field.
- “The more time I use words like “diversity”, “multicultural,” and so on, the more chances I have to impress the admission officers by my cultural awareness.” In reality, it is quite the contrary. Don’t overuse these notions, especially if it’s not appropriate. Avoid clichés and be honest. The admission committee will know whether you write genuinely or just copy the sophisticated phrases from the Internet.
Diversity Essay Medical School Example
You may get a prompt like this one:
“Our school values diversity and considers it an essential aspect of its educational mission. What contribution can you make to the diversity of the medical students’ community?”
Here is a proper sample answer:
“As a teenager, I was extremely self-conscious about my looks. I was twenty pounds heavier than other boys in my class, so I was usually chosen last for team sports. P.E. classes were a struggle for me, and I started despising school athletics altogether. I decided to turn towards other activities, such as healthy cooking methods and cycling.
My lifestyle became healthier, which positively impacted my self-esteem and relationships with peers. My passion for cooking and cycling led me to volunteering activities. I started organizing culinary workshops and small farmers’ markets for a local community and mountain bike races for students from my school.
Bringing together people from different ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic status has been filling me with immense joy. It was nice seeing their confidence and excitement accompanied by healthy lifestyle choices. I like encouraging children from the inner city and my school to cope with excess weight issues and improve their self-esteem with the help of physical activities and new culinary skills. I hope to share my passion with other medical students at Baylor College of Medicine.”
Draw inspiration from this diversity essay medical school example and craft your own unique piece that reveals your personality.
How to Write an Adversity Essay
Medical schools ask students to submit an adversity essay because they need to know how you cope with challenges. It is not about which student went through more difficulties. An admission committee would like to see how you deal with stressful situations, resolve issues, and how you draw lessons from tough experiences.
Adversity Essay Common Misconceptions
- “I didn’t go through any challenges so I have nothing to share on adversity.” Well, this is not a competition on who suffered more. If you haven’t encountered any serious challenges, consider focusing on one of the following points:
- How you made new friends after a significant change in your life;
- How you faced strong disapproval or criticism;
- How you approached a situation that was beyond your control, etc.
- “I went through some challenges, but they don’t seem to be significant enough to mention them in my secondary essay.” It’s understandable that you want to stand out among other applicants. However, a good secondary essay should not necessarily include tragic stories or huge challenges. It’s more important to highlight how you handle difficult situations, even minor ones. You can write about how you approached a complex academic assignment, broke a bad habit, or help a friend in need. The goal is to demonstrate your maturity, resourcefulness, and thoughtfulness.
Adversity Essay Example
Here is a sample prompt:
“Describe a challenging situation you went through and how you approached it. Identify what skills helped you to overcome the difficulties and what valuable lessons you learned.
And this is how to answer:
A year ago, I found a stray puppy on the street near the park. It was so small and helpless, shivering from cold. The decision to take him home was immediate, and, fortunately, my parents approved. Milo became an integral part of our family, and taking care of him brought me so much joy. One rainy Saturday morning, I woke up and found that Milo was not beside me, which was strange. I headed down to the first floor and saw that the front door was open.
How could I forget to close it? I ran out into the street and started shouting my dog’s name, hoping that Milo is somewhere near. Frustrated and confused as I was, I realized that shouting would not get me anywhere and came up with a plan. The wisest option was to enlist the support of my family, friends, neighbors, and fellow dog owners.
Some people I had never met before, but they gladly volunteered to help. Over the day, they all helped me create and print flyers. We posted them on our street, near my school, in the park. My friends organized search groups that started combing the streets and the park actively. All of this inspired hope in me, though I felt responsible for the loss of Milo.
Finally, in the late evening, a man called and told me that Milo had been found behind an old building near the end of town. The man was able to reach me because he saw our flyer somewhere on the street. I don’t know if Milo would be safe if I didn’t knock on my neighbors’ doors and ask them for help. This experience showed me how important it is to seek help from others when the situation is difficult to manage on your own and not give up prematurely.
Additional Tips on How to Write a Secondary Essay for Medical School
Do not deviate from the prompt
Directly answer what you’ve been asked. It is easy to get caught up in what you want to share and forget to address the key question. Before you start writing your secondary essay, make sure you understand the prompt fully.
If you already mentioned something in your personal statement, do not repeat it in a secondary essay. Even if it’s something significant, you won’t impress the admission committee by reiterating. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mention the same activities or achievements. Just choose a different angle, expand, and include new information.
Think like admission officers
When you write a secondary essay, keep your target audience in mind. Some admission committees consist not only of professors but also students. Make them think, “I would like to be in one class with this person!” Read what you wrote and ask yourself: “If I was on the committee, would I consider this person worthy a place in this school?”
Don’t make the recipients yawn
Admission officers read tons of essays each year. Most of them sound identical and are boring to read. If you want to create a memorable impression and grab their attention, leave clichés and banalities out of your secondary essay.
Use clear and discreet language
Make sure that your vocabulary is appropriate. Avoid slang words and overly expressive phrases along with exaggerations. The grammatical structure of your essay should be simple, so try keeping your sentences under 15 words.
Do not underestimate the necessity of proofreading
Upon finishing your secondary essay, read it a couple of times, and make sure that there are no mistakes. A good idea would be to ask a friend or a family member to check it and provide feedback.
Hopefully, sample diversity essay medical school ideas and these tips help you in the process. If you struggle with your secondary essay because you lack original ideas or sufficient writing skills, consider hiring a skilled professional who can help you with it. After all, this is what your future depends on.