Studying existing essays is one of the best ways to learn how to write your own because you can observe the methodology employed to craft the essay – skills in action. In turn, well-written essays are tremendously useful for . Standing out means personally introducing yourself to the committee, and that’s how you should think of these essays: as personal introductions. Tell the admissions committee everything they need to understand who you are and where you come from. Above all, make sure to impress upon them how connected you are to Geisel’s ideas and who they are as a school; show how you sync up with what they are looking for.
Read on to take in examples for responses to Geisel School of Medicine secondary essay prompts.
Essay Number 1
“Please indicate your plans for the [upcoming] academic year. If in school, please list your courses. If working, let us know something about the nature of your job. If your plans or courses change subsequently, you need to inform the Admissions Office by email.”
Purpose of the essay:
This is a way for the school to get to know you better. Your activities will speak volumes, so make this more than just a list of what you’re planning to get up to. You can’t just list your classes or your major or the jobs you will have and leave it at that.
First, make sure that your activities list paints you as a well-rounded, goal-oriented person with vision and dreams. You can show this by highlighting your ultimate goal – medical school – and how your academics will take you there. If you aren’t in school, use your jobs to show the qualities that you will be developing that will increase your chances of success in the professional health care field.
Second, show that you can balance your life and work. If you’ve packed your schedule with no room to breathe, you might come off as somebody who will burn out. You don’t need to remind the admissions committee that you will be taking time off but rather, give the impression that you are enthusiastic about your schooling.
Finally, if possible, connect these qualities specifically to Geisel. If you can roll in the school’s values, so much the better.
Limit: There is no specified limit for this essay.
When I tell you about the plans I am making for my upcoming academic year, I am reminded of a quote from Robert Burns, loosely translated as “the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Nevertheless, I will share the plans that I have made and intend to see through.
I am pursuing both academic interests and work, both of which are continuations of what I have been doing for several months now. My undergrad is in chemistry. The program has been particularly intense, and my professors have been demanding. That is not a complaint – they demanded a lot because they knew I was responding well to high expectations. One of my professors, Dr. Stewart, has been studying antivenoms, attempting to break down venom and antivenom at an atomic level and develop better, faster, and more reliable ways to cure victims of snake bites.
A small digression: at my home are several snakes, although none are poisonous, and a tarantula. I love unusual pets. When I was talking with Dr. Stewart about my pets, we struck up a friendship, and he invited me to be a part-time laboratory assistant. That is how I wound up with a professional job on top of a grueling academic course load: Dr. Stewart asked if I would like a position as his official lab assistant, and I accepted.
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So, we come to my plans: a full schedule of classes and lab work, all of which I am looking forward to immensely. I believe that I will grow exponentially under the auspices of Dr. Stewart, and my knowledge of chemistry will be boosted tremendously by this dual-learning approach – the academic and the practical in one school year.
How can I juggle all of this and make it work? Well, for a start, there is a tremendous amount of overlap in my academic and professional work. This means that I can apply skills and knowledge from one to the other. Furthermore, Dr. Stewart has agreed to waive certain lab requirements – filled by my participation in his professional activities. Because of this, I can reduce my academic load to a manageable level without needing to give up this opportunity.
With both of these elements in full swing, I am looking forward to a fun, rewarding, and engaging year of learning and personal growth. It will be tiring but worth every moment.
If Robert Burns is right, you might hear from me again, but I believe with careful time management, judicious study, and application, I am poised to have my best year yet.
Essay Number 2
“Please share with us something about yourself that is not addressed elsewhere in your application and which could be helpful to the Admissions Committee as we review your file.”
Purpose of the essay:
There are a multitude of ways to answer this prompt, all legitimate. Mostly, we would encourage you to find anything important about yourself that you haven’t put into other answers or sections on your application. Maybe you haven’t had room to talk about your love of animals and how you care for several pets. Showing a caring personality and a vibrant life full of creatures and affection will speak well of your abilities to care, manage time, and feel empathy.
You might want to talk about activism, personal struggles, or red flags – anything, really, provided it gives a complete picture of who you are as an applicant or why you, in particular, fit with the school.
Regarding red flags: if you have a low test score, a series of absences, or a lack of experience in areas like shadowing a physician, you could use this essay to address those gaps. Give reasons for the red flag, address how you dealt with those problems, and show – don’t tell – how you have moved forward as a candidate and as a person, which will lower those flags and make the committee more sanguine to your application.
Limit: There is no specified limit for this essay.
As before, no limit does not mean you should ramble or expand your material. Stay focused and try to keep to a brief, informative, and engaging essay.
“You’ll know me when you see me,” I tell them over the phone or email, and they don’t always believe me. Once they see my 6’ 9” self at our meeting place, they come right over; I stand out, even while seated. This has been the story of my life since I was ten years old and started rapidly growing for most of my teen years. I have always been the tallest kid in my class.
This has affected every aspect of my life. I am always “Tall Guy,” and that’s just my identity. It isn’t always easy being known by a physical characteristic, but this has given me a strange understanding of a lot of hardship in the world. Human “civilization” often divides people along physical characteristics – arbitrarily – and I know exactly what that’s like. I am not seen as a person by many of the people I meet; I am seen as a height. I am a walking anomaly – a strangeness they can talk about with their friends later.
Therefore, while I have often been press-ganged into joining various sports teams over the years, and enjoyed it immensely, my passion has always taken a more socially conscious direction. I have always involved myself in protecting people who are underrepresented and making sure other people have a voice at the table. Mostly, that is metaphorical, but sometimes it is literally me using my imposing physicality to interrupt long enough to let a meeker person into a conversation.
I’m proud of this. That’s who I am and who I want to be.
So, I’m characterized by my physical stature, but I don’t let that slow me down. I need to buy custom-made clothes, I spend crazy amounts of money on shoes, and I am begged to play a lot of basketball by confused coaches who think I’m missing my true calling. I’m not: my calling is helping people. Of course, I enjoy basketball, so that’s a bonus, but my true raison d’être is getting everybody a seat at the table, no matter who they are.
I have long been a part of student government, and it is my dream to continue to affect social change. As a physician, I hope to become a champion for greater access and affordability to health care. I want to ensure that underrepresented persons have all the voice they need to live their best lives with complete, holistic, lasting good health.
I hope to accomplish all of that without needing to take too much time off to find a lab coat that doesn’t look like a t-shirt on me. But, you know, that might just be a pipe dream.
Essay Number 3
“Geisel School of Medicine values social justice and diversity in all its forms. Reflect on a situation where you were the ‘other’.”
Purpose of the essay:
This is a great example of a diversity essay, and it opens the door to talk about diversity in your life, in your ethos, and in a variety of ways. You might be a member of a majority group who found yourself in a room where you finally experienced being the minority. For example, if you are male and you took a women’s studies course, you could talk about the insights you gained by being “other” in your class. Most people have been “other” at some point.
We will also caution you to look to the wording of “... a situation where you were the ‘other’.” Not just any diversity essay will do here. You should talk about a specific time, place, or series of encounters over time when you were “other.” This could be positive or negative, a learning experience, a harrowing event – anything – but you should make sure that you don’t just write or copy a generic diversity essay. Make sure that you follow and respond to the prompt as it is specifically written.
Limit: 250 words
Online, I can be anybody I want. I should be able to be anybody I want in real life, too, but I am held up by the physical reality of the body I inhabit. I don’t have a problem with my body, per se, but my pursuits often “other” me.
I am an avid nerd. Comic book conventions are some of my favorite times of the year, and I look forward to indulging in my nerd pursuits. The only problem is that my physical body gets in the way.
I’m a girl in a sea of boys, and although I can always find fellow girl gamers at conventions, sometimes I find myself in situations where I am the only girl at the table. This experience can range from intimidating to downright terrifying.
The first offline gaming group in which I played role playing board games was entirely male but for myself. I went into the room and clicked with most of the guys immediately. We had a lot of fun pretending to adventure across magical realms. But often, the banter at the table was masculine oriented. While they never made me feel scared or unsafe, I did feel like I was just slightly out of step with the rest of the table.
I dealt with this situation as gracefully as possible: by being polite but vocalizing anytime I felt mild discomfort. I learned, over the course of those sessions, that I could be anybody I wanted offline, too.
Confused about how to respond to your secondary medical prompts? This useful video can help you stay ahead!
Having read over these top-grade essay examples, you are now well equipped to write your own secondary essays. Always keep in mind your goal of giving the admissions committee a clear vision of why you are the perfect candidate for their school. Think of how you can represent yourself as the missing puzzle piece that completes the picture. Also keep in mind that the committee wants to love each application they receive. They won’t be studying your writing looking for flaws; they want to feel that breath of fresh air when the perfect candidate – you – pops off the page.
That said, make sure you take your time to perfect your work and proofread before submitting. It can be difficult to correct any errors after submission, so you have one opportunity, one shot, to get into the medical school you want. Don’t let it slip by you.
1. Do the prompts change from year to year?
Sometimes, but not often. COVID-19 essays are relatively new. Schools tend to ask similar questions because they are looking for the same qualities from year to year.
2. Do the prompts at other institutions vary from Geisel’s?
Schools are looking for similar qualities, so they often use similar prompts. For instance, they are all looking to answer, “why this school?” and get there by similar methods.
3. If I have a similar prompt at another school, can I reuse my existing essays?
Yes, but don’t just copy-paste from one application to the next. Similar prompts are not identical prompts. Make sure they match the school and that you don’t mention school specifics in the wrong essay.
4. Are the limits exact?
All limits are exact. You cannot go over them. If the limit is given in characters, assume they include spaces, unless specifically and explicitly stated otherwise.
5. How much time should I spend writing essays?
We recommend that you set aside a little time each day for 2–3 weeks in which to write your essays. These essays require a lot of refinement and editing and need to be error-free, so set aside adequate time.
6. Are these essays given a score or grade?
Not formally, but they contribute to your evaluation, so do your best possible work.
7. Do spelling and grammar matter while writing these essays?
Yes. You need to present legible work that communicates effectively. Communication is a big part of health care and can have dire consequences if done poorly.
8. If I spend more time perfecting the required essays, can I ignore the optional ones?
Fill out all optional sections of your application, including essays. Take every opportunity to stand out.