The “Secret” to Writing an Excellent Diversity Secondary Essay


Summary: Diversity secondary essays are increasingly common in medical school (and other disciplines). "Diversity" doesn't refer only to marginalized or underrepresented groups; we all have qualities that differentiate us from others. Asking students to write about their experiences with diversity isn't meant to exclude those who are traditionally well-represented in higher education, and thinking about diversity "broadly defined" offers opportunities to reflect on your own unique traits, experiences, and identity.

In this blog, you'll learn:

What is "Diversity"

Writing a Successful Diversity Secondary Essay - Step 1: Explore your own diversity

Writing a Successful Diversity Secondary Essay - Step 2: Reflect on your experiences with others

Writing a Successful Diversity Secondary Essay - Step 3: Show, don’t tell  - with a twist

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What is "Diversity?"

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to the diversity secondary essay – a now-common essay prompt for medical schools and professional programs of all sorts. In particular, some critics assume that “diversity” is some kind of politically correct code word, and – stemming from a similar misunderstanding – some assume that if they are part of a “majority” (whether this means ethnic majority, linguistic majority, or even a majority within a discipline), then that means they can’t be “diverse”. These are both incredibly unfortunate and carry a wealth of assumptions that need to be addressed before discussing how to write a great secondary essay on the topic of diversity.

First, “diversity” here does not necessarily (or exclusively) refer to those of religious, ethnic, cultural, or linguistic minorities. Yes, such applicants would indeed be diverse and would contribute to the diversity of a school or program, and advocating for traditionally-underrepresented or marginalized peoples in academia is a worthwhile task pursued by many institutions. However, there are any number of other identities and designators you might apply to yourself that act as distinguishing features. If you’re a returning student, a parent, or a non-traditional applicant, those are “diverse” attributes on a university campus. If you’ve served in the military, that is a “diverse” attribute in relation to the majority of students. If you are someone with a disability or unique health challenges, if you are the first person in your family to pursue higher education, if you come from a lower socioeconomic background, if you’re from a rural area, if you’re multilingual (either by choice or by necessity), these are all features that would be considered “diverse” in the context of the traditional university campus or professional program.

In short, “diversity” isn’t just some kind of PC code word

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Can you add letters of recommendation after submitting AMCAS?


Can you add letters of recommendation after submitting AMCAS?

The short answer: Generally, yes, you can add letters of recommendation after submitting your AMCAS application; in fact, this is one of only 3 sections in the AMCAS application that can be modifiedafter submission. However, this doesn't mean that you can or should wait until the last minute to secure letters of recommendation. Writing such evaluations is a lot of time-consuming work, so be sure to get started early, contacting potential referees and making your intentions known!

The long answer: This is a very common question, as letters of recommendation are a critical part of the medical school application. However, securing such letters prior to the initial AMCAS application due date can be difficult. The good news is that the letters of recommendation section of the AMCAS application is one of the few sections that can be 

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AMCAS Most Meaningful Experiences



AMCAS "Most Meaningful Experiences"

In completing the AMCAS Work and Activities section of the AMCAS application (required for all medical school applications in the US, except Texas), you are asked to provide up to 15 “significant” experiences from your employment, research, volunteer, and extracurricular activities, which will be reviewed in considering your application. We discuss the fundamentals of the AMCAS Work and Activities elsewhere, so here, we’re going to pay special attention to what the AMCAS application refers to as “most meaningful experiences”. While all of the entries here are significant in the overall evaluation of your application, the most important aspect of the Work and Activities section are these “most meaningful experiences”.

Up to three of your AMCAS entries can be isolated as “most meaningful experiences” – experiences that had a particular impact on your growth, development, professionalization, or that were particularly transformative or impactful. While each entry is given 700 characters (including spaces), these “most meaningful experiences” are allotted an additional 1325 characters (again, including spaces). This is not intended to be used as a space to simply describe more details of the position or activity; rather, this is meant to be a more reflective, contemplative narrative that highlights the ways in which these experiences enriched your life, the lives of others, and your overall perspective toward your journey to becoming a doctor. This isn’t the place for an expanded CV; it’s a place to demonstrate the key qualities you’ve developed and the ways in which these have contributed to your suitability for the profession.

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Comprehensive List of Medical School Secondary Essays


Medical School Secondary Essays

The following is a comprehensive list of medical school secondary essays 2020. Click on each school name to review the secondary essay prompts for each school. 

Click here for proven strategies on how to make your secondary essays stand out. If you're interested in applying to MD-PhD programs, review our blog: The Definitive Guide to MD-PhD Programs Including 5 Tips to Get Accepted. Follow this link for our video playlist devoted to answering the most common secondary essay prompts on this list. 

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Note: while we take care to update the list regularly, you are responsible for your own results. That includes checking with the official admissions office to make sure you have the most up to date med school secondary essay prompts.

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5 Mistakes to Avoid While Writing Your Medical School Personal Statement


A list of "Don'ts" for Writing Your Medical School Personal Statement

Writing your personal statement for medical school certainly isn’t easy. As an admissions consultant, I’ve watched several students struggle to describe exactly why they decided to pursue a career in medicine, answering the common question, "Why do you want to be a doctor?". It's not a simple task, given the limited word count and the enormous amount of pressure.  The key to writing a strong personal statement is reflecting on where this initial desire came from, the steps you took to explore it, and what you learned about yourself and medicine along the way. A good personal statement leaves the reader with a sense of how you became interested in pursuing medicine in the first place, what you did to explore that interest, and how you finally decided that it was the right career for you. Sometimes these things are difficult to put into words. To see how to write a successful med school personal statement, check out these medical school personal statement examples, including the statement that got SIX acceptances, complete with tips to get you started, and take a look at our AMCAS personal statement examples and TMDSAS personal statement examples to help you succeed.

Even worse than not knowing what to say, what if you write something that will actually hurt your chances of getting in? No one wants their application cycle to end before they even get to the interview phase!

To help you answer these questions, I’ve decided to put together a list of common mistakes that you should avoid while writing your personal statement for medical school. Most of the mistakes I’ll be outlining demonstrate a lack of professionalism or poor self-reflection. All of these errors outlined below can dash your chances of securing an interview, leaving you with an inbox full of rejection letters.

FIVE things you should absolutely avoid doing while writing your personal statement: 

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