Help for the secondaries

July 29, 2008 at 10:51 pm (Applying to med school)

Since many of my readers are currently applying for medical school, I figured that I would do a public service by helping them with their secondary applications. The application process is divided into three phases: the primary application, the secondary, and interviews. The first phase is run through AMCAS, a clearinghouse under the direction of the American Association of Medical Colleges. Here, eager premeds will enter biographical information, submit their transcript, and provide a personal statement. They will then select between 5-30 schools to send their application to.

If the universities like them—and the applicant can provide the necessary fee—a secondary application will be sent out. This secondary is unique to each college. It will ask for additional information and will carry with it several essay questions such as “Who has had the most influence on your life?” or “Have you been convicted of any felonies?” The most common question is “Why do you want to come here?”

Use this template for writing your secondary essay. Simply print it out and circle the parts that apply to you.

I want to go to (Columbia/Stanford/Emory/Vanderbilt) because of the amazing (teaching ability/research opportunities/student culture) fits so well with my life’s goals. I first became interested in this university when I saw it (clone a dog on national news/create a cure for restless leg syndrome/win the 1992 lacrosse national championship). Ever since then, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the day that I could go to medical school here. After looking through the faculty profiles, I’m interested in working with (Dr. Wu/Dr. Han/Dr. Lee/Coach Zeke) in the field of (particulate biochemistry/cardiovascular physiology/bioethics/building homes for the uninsured). I understand that this school has a strong (psychiatry department/trauma surgery program/women’s basketball team) that I was hoping I can get involved with early in my first semester. While I don’t know which specialty I want to go into, I am sure that (insert same name as above) could prepare me for whatever lies ahead.

Also, I must confess that I have family in (California/Arkansas/Wyoming/Washington, DC) and wish to be with my (aunt/uncle/second cousin) who is suffering from (Parkinson’s disease/irritable bowel syndrome/peanut allergies). He/she has had a great influence on my life and has taught me that I can do anything so long as I put my mind to it. For example, when I was growing up we used to go (fishing/knitting/clogging/building model rockets). Now, I wish to be by his/her bedside during his/her time of need.

Do not think that my decision to apply to this school is based on a whim. I diligently read every issue of (Nature/the New York Times/Wired magazine) looking for the next great article published by (insert name of school) faculty. I know that you can train me to be the doctor I’ve always wanted to be.



  1. Emily said,

    this is great! 🙂 cool writing! it’s so funny

  2. Dr. Val said,

    Wow. You nailed it! Aren’t you too young to be that cynical? :/

  3. Sunny said,

    Facetious, you may be…. Copy, I maybe-sort-of-definitely just might.

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