My sister is currently studying for the GMAT in preparation for applying to business school, and she mentioned that she’s applying to about seven schools and was worried about how time-consuming it will be. I told her it’s definitely not too bad, given that the average pre-med applies to anywhere from 15-20 med schools and has to complete that many secondaries along with the primary application. This number may seem daunting to you at first, but once you’ve gone through the secondary prompts you will realize that they are generally somewhat similar. To help assuage any anxiety the pre-meds out there may have about med school application, I thought I would share some useful advice on approaching secondaries.
First, copy/paste all the secondary prompts into a document (separate the different schools) so that you have them compiled together. This makes it easier when you are writing the essays, especially because a lot of copy/paste will be utilized given the similarity of many prompts. Next, think about your answers to the typical secondary application prompts, such as “Why our school?” “What makes you unique?” “What experiences have you had that will prepare you to come to our school?” “How can you contribute to the diversity of our school?” As you can see, a lot of the prompts are trying to figure out what makes you different as an application, that is not evident from the primary application’s limiting personal statement.
Before starting to write, I would do research on the schools you’re interested in to find out their niche and their unique mission. In order to write a solid secondary application, you need to cater your essays to the school’s mission statement. Some schools focus on community health. Other schools may emphasize inter-professionalism. Some pride themselves on research. Whatever the school’s “specialty,” is what I would make sure to change between prompts so it better fits what the school is looking for in its applicants. For example, if you were looking at a school with a big emphasis on community health, I would focus on any free clinic or volunteering experiences in your essays, and always talk about why you relate to the mission statement and how you can contribute to the school in that sense.
So all in all, don’t let the number of schools you are applying to scare you. You will soon realize that the secondary essays are very similar in nature, and you generally will not need to tweak your essays significantly from school to school. Of course, there are the occasional schools that will have many prompts included in their secondary app which may require you to have to write an essay from scratch, but these are not too common and tend to still include the common prompts across all schools (reference the first paragraph of this article). Do your research, keep your essays and thoughts organized, and the application will sail by smoothly.