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Essays That Worked for Medical Schoolsby Ballantine
Synopses & Reviews
An Interview with a Dean
Medical schools have many methods for reviewing applications, though we found that most schools use a similar procedure to reduce the number of applicants to a reasonable pool from which to draw their incoming classes. This is not an easy task, since most schools receive thousands of applications for a first-year class of around 200 or fewer.
According to a recent U.S. News & World Report, the average acceptance rate for the twenty top medical schools is about 7 percent, with quite a few of the schools accepting only 3 percent of their applicants. With daunting figures like these, we asked med school deans and advisors about the importance of the essays in this competitive process.
Here's our composite version of an interview with a dean:
What is the difference between application essays for medical school and the essays we wrote to get into college?
The essays for medical school are more limited in scope. The college admission essay can often be about anything in the student's life, and applicants are encouraged to be creative, to have a hook that holds the reader. The essay for medical school, however, should be pointedly topical to medical issues. Essays that take the biggest risk are those that use creativity to do something different or unusual. This is usually not wise. Since it can be a turn-on or a turnoff, it's not worth the risk.
How are essays evaluated? By whom?
At selective medical schools, the process will be something like this:
There is a two-tiered system. First, the application materials are screened to determine who will be invited for an interview. Vanderbilt School of Medicine, for example, receives about 3,500 applications for 104 slots. No medical school can offer an interview to every applicant. This primary screening committee, composed of the dean, the director of admissions, and one or two faculty members, utilizes the on-line application AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service), which contains one essay. For those students who have less than stellar numbers-i.e., less than a B average—the essay is moot. But for all candidates whose numbers are competitive for admission, every bit of the application is read.
The second tier-those invited for the interview—must complete the secondary application, which can require up to three more essays. A school may ask for a two-page autobiography, in which the student might say whatever he wants, and two shorter essays concerning any research experience the applicant has had and what it has meant to him, and any special skills that the applicant could bring to the medical school. A committee of three faculty members and perhaps one student will read these essays carefully, along with the rest of your credentials, and then, you hope, become your advocates. At this point, there can be some heated debate if there's a problem with the essay.
Do you want a description of a person, anecdotes of real-life experiences, or just a listing of accomplishments?
Descriptions and anecdotes, if they are relevant and well done, can have a positive effect on the overall quality of the essay. Since the accomplishments have been listed on the vitae sheet, rehashing them would not be useful, unless you make the right case. A good essay might very well repeat some accomplishments, but the difference will be
Presents a selection of forty effective essays from successful applications to some of the nation's leading medical schools, along with helpful advice from admissions officers on how to get into the school of one's choice. Original.
Discover why admissions officers from the nation’s top medical schools selected these essays of worthy applicants
With only a limited number of spaces available every year to the thousands of
qualified applicants to the nation’s top medical schools, a serious candidate must find
a way to set himself or herself apart from the crowd. The essay is your one chance to
highlight the personal qualities and achievements that the application and MCAT
scores do not reveal.
As Essays That Worked for Medical Schools demonstrates, there is no such thing as
the perfect submission. The winning essays cover a wide range of interesting topics. If there is any similarity, it is that they are written from the heart. One applicant writes about his work as a counselor for mentally ill adults and teens. Another tells about the life-changing experience of delivering much needed supplies to a leprosy village in West Africa. And a third applicant talks about time spent volunteering at a local senior center. From the thousands submitted each year, the essays in this book were considered some of the best by admissions officers at the nation’s top medical schools.
With creativity and effort, you can turn almost any topic into an effective, successful essay for your medical school application!
Table of Contents
Introduction — An interview with a Dean — The essay questions — Using, and abusing, the Internet — The essays — I want to be a doctor — I don't want to be a doctor — The family crisis — Go ahead, make my day — Turning points — C'est moi — Hippocrates and humanity — Some final advice.
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