Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Secondaries Suck

I'm taking a break from writing my secondary application essays to write a blog post because I'm stuck. I have one due in 15 days, so I'm working on that now. I'm having a hard time with it.

On Friday mornings and on an as-needed basis, I take a break from writing my essays to write grant proposals. I should consider finding things to do that don't involve writing, specifically.

I met with a physician I worked with last year to discuss the contents of a letter of recommendation for one of the schools I'm applying to this year. It is his alma mater, and while I don't know how much "pull" that has, I decided to go for it anyway. We met over coffee on a Saturday morning and, judging from our discussion, I feel fairly confident that he will write a positive letter.

He's also a really nice guy who makes killer lemon tarts from his own lemon trees. Damn those were good.

As for secondaries, I've noticed that there are some huge differences between school websites. Obviously, I'm not a website designer or any kind of expert in the internets, but websites are pretty important. I've found that it is much more difficult to write an enthusiastic and honest essay if the school website doesn't have as much information, which can include community service organizations, a detailed list of scholarly concentrations, opportunities abroad, newsletters, or even recent news releases of student accomplishments from the medical school. Not every school has the means to do all of those things, I bet, but it's hard to form a real attachment and desire to attend a school if I'm not seeing much that catches my eye.

I've only come across a few schools like that, though.

I guess my last resort is to call and ask. I'm really bad at asking questions, though. I'm that kid that never asks questions in class because I can't think of any. Which is why I like good webpages (and libraries). I can dig for stuff and eventually I'll come across something I like.

As a disclaimer, I'm also ridiculously judgmental about nitpicky things like websites. It may be the result of working as the impromptu website editor for my previous AmeriCorps organization, but I think websites are important as a source of information and to give people a good "first impression." Even if a strong website is just a sign that a company possesses a strong marketing department.

Anyway, back to work!!


  1. Stumbled upon your blog today and glad I found it. I am a non-traditional applicant, well I will be soon. How do you manage all the secondaries and the different essays? Can you reuse some of the material or is it all different, as you say it was surprising how different they were?

    I am currently in Peace Corps (yeah AmeriCorps!) and I have a lot of time. I am going to apply this application cycle. I am just curious how much time it is going to take and whether or not the material can be reused.

  2. Getting caught up on my blog today..I have been away.
    It is pretty time consuming. I worked on essays constantly, including weekends...but I submitted ~40 including D.O schools. I don't have an exact hours/week estimate. I started on them in August and finished the last MD one early November, for my list of 35. If I had submitted my AMCAS in June, the timeline would be pushed up.

    Material can be reused. A lot of questions like "what can you bring to school" are asked by almost every school. I would copy/paste paragraphs I wanted, and then tweak them a bit to better fit a specific school's program.