Updated: Dec 12, 2022
Yes, the title of this blogpost is a little over dramatic because medical schools do read secondary essays. However, the real question is “how closely?”
As we put in hours of blood, sweat, and tears into crafting our essays for medical school admissions committees, I at least had an expectation that the essays would be read with a microscope. However, I have a relevant and slightly funny anecdote that may contextualize how closely committees actually read the essays.
To start off, as I thought about the medical schools I wanted to apply to, I knew I wanted to apply to a couple extra mid-tiers to be safe. I heard through the grapevine that the University of South Florida School of Medicine was almost excessively attracted to high-stat applicants. In addition, my uncle had also attended medical school. So, I threw my hat in.
Although USF doesn’t specifically ask a “Why Us?” question, I tailored one of the prompts to personalize my essays to the school. Here is a paragraph of that essay.
At USF Morsani, I would make use of the Scholarly Concentrations Program by pursuing a mixture of Biomedical Research and Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Business in Medicine. Dr. Smith’s predictive model of opioid misuse and overdoses using artificial intelligence represents the innovative technology I would like to contribute to. Furthermore, in addition to being a physician scientist, a business concentration would provide me knowledge on how to implement these solutions and products into healthcare systems.
So, I finished all my essays, paid the secondary fee, and submitted. 118 days later, I received an interview invite.
There I was preparing for my interview, figuring out my verbal answer for why I want to go to USF, when I re-looked up Dr. Smith and got directed to a University of Florida website.
Facepalm. In my secondary essay, the researcher that I cited I wanted to do research with was not even affiliated with USF, but instead UF.
While I definitely made a mistake, looking back on it, it is interesting to note that the USF admissions committee did not pick up on this mistake. I, in fact, even got invited for an interview. Maybe, they read my secondary essay and decided not to look up who I was actually referring to. Or, maybe they didn’t look at my essays that closely to begin with. I honestly can’t say what happened, but my hope with this blog post is to give a little peek into the medical school admissions process, in terms of how closely admission committees read essays.
(I am not advocating purposely writing about non-affiliated researchers or lowering the quality of the essays. :)