How do you know when you're "done" with secondaries?

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IWishICouldPhysics

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Howdy! I'm not sure if the general forum is the "right" place to put this (my apologies if not), but I've been doing some pre-writing, and I've found that I'm often pleased with my first draft, with some changes as needed. Considering that I probably had a dozen drafts of my PS (and it took forever for me to be happy with it), I'm worried that I'm being complacent/lazy, which is decidedly not what I want to do, since I know how important these are. Anyway, wise SDN gods, how do you know when it's okay to be "done" with a secondary? Is one-draft-and-done probably a bad idea? Also, any advice on where/how to get feedback on secondaries? I'm applying to about 30-35 schools, and all of my med school friends are very, very busy. Any help is appreciated!

ETA: Another quick question. I've noticed that I sometimes bring up the same activity in two secondary essays for the same school. It's not copy paste, but rather focuses on different aspects of the activity - relevant example: wanting to go to a school that emphasizes trauma-informed care due to my experiences volunteering at a rape crisis center for the why us, and then discussing my experiences with cultural respect/respect of people's backgrounds with a diversity/underserved type essays. Is this a faux pas? Should I avoid doing this, or is it chill?

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Howdy! I'm not sure if the general forum is the "right" place to put this (my apologies if not), but I've been doing some pre-writing, and I've found that I'm often pleased with my first draft, with some changes as needed. Considering that I probably had a dozen drafts of my PS (and it took forever for me to be happy with it), I'm worried that I'm being complacent/lazy, which is decidedly not what I want to do, since I know how important these are. Anyway, wise SDN gods, how do you know when it's okay to be "done" with a secondary? Is one-draft-and-done probably a bad idea? Also, any advice on where/how to get feedback on secondaries? I'm applying to about 30-35 schools, and all of my med school friends are very, very busy. Any help is appreciated!

ETA: Another quick question. I've noticed that I sometimes bring up the same activity in two secondary essays for the same school. It's not copy paste, but rather focuses on different aspects of the activity - relevant example: wanting to go to a school that emphasizes trauma-informed care due to my experiences volunteering at a rape crisis center for the why us, and then discussing my experiences with cultural respect/respect of people's backgrounds with a diversity/underserved type essays. Is this a faux pas? Should I avoid doing this, or is it chill?
You may underestimate how long it takes to establish your individual school application profile in their secondary application management system (AMP is the most popular among medical schools).

Also, not every "diversity" prompt is the same either in context or in character length.

Secondary essays are just written interview questions. You really shouldn't take a ton of time to craft your answer unless it is warranted (Duke).

You may also encounter Recorded Video Interviews. These are not required to be disclosed in the MSAR's SJT database though a few schools do disclose it.
 
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Howdy! I'm not sure if the general forum is the "right" place to put this (my apologies if not), but I've been doing some pre-writing, and I've found that I'm often pleased with my first draft, with some changes as needed. Considering that I probably had a dozen drafts of my PS (and it took forever for me to be happy with it), I'm worried that I'm being complacent/lazy, which is decidedly not what I want to do, since I know how important these are. Anyway, wise SDN gods, how do you know when it's okay to be "done" with a secondary? Is one-draft-and-done probably a bad idea? Also, any advice on where/how to get feedback on secondaries? I'm applying to about 30-35 schools, and all of my med school friends are very, very busy. Any help is appreciated!

ETA: Another quick question. I've noticed that I sometimes bring up the same activity in two secondary essays for the same school. It's not copy paste, but rather focuses on different aspects of the activity - relevant example: wanting to go to a school that emphasizes trauma-informed care due to my experiences volunteering at a rape crisis center for the why us, and then discussing my experiences with cultural respect/respect of people's backgrounds with a diversity/underserved type essays. Is this a faux pas? Should I avoid doing this, or is it chill?
You're "done" when you submit.

if you are pre-writing secondaries now, I think it makes sense for you to write a draft, review it and edit as appropriate, and then put aside and then go on to the next essay that you want to write. At this point, they don't need to be perfect. just solid.

However, when you get the actual secondary, and some questions will definitely change, then be more critical. However, regardless you won't have the leisure that you had with the primary personal statement.

Regarding the second question, it's a little hard to answer in a vacuum. If you were a client, I'd know if there was something else you could write about. On the forum, I don't have that info. However, assuming that this approach really is the best for a given school, approaching an experience from different angles with different themes (and maybe examples) that answer the question posed, makes sense.

I actually discussed this issue in a podcast that aired yesterday.
 
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Start working on secondaries from individual schools based on previous years prompts. Make sure you're well-prepared. Every year I have students fall behind on secondaries and submit then so late they're basically autorejected.
 
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Howdy! I'm not sure if the general forum is the "right" place to put this (my apologies if not), but I've been doing some pre-writing, and I've found that I'm often pleased with my first draft, with some changes as needed. Considering that I probably had a dozen drafts of my PS (and it took forever for me to be happy with it), I'm worried that I'm being complacent/lazy, which is decidedly not what I want to do, since I know how important these are. Anyway, wise SDN gods, how do you know when it's okay to be "done" with a secondary? Is one-draft-and-done probably a bad idea? Also, any advice on where/how to get feedback on secondaries? I'm applying to about 30-35 schools, and all of my med school friends are very, very busy. Any help is appreciated!

ETA: Another quick question. I've noticed that I sometimes bring up the same activity in two secondary essays for the same school. It's not copy paste, but rather focuses on different aspects of the activity - relevant example: wanting to go to a school that emphasizes trauma-informed care due to my experiences volunteering at a rape crisis center for the why us, and then discussing my experiences with cultural respect/respect of people's backgrounds with a diversity/underserved type essays. Is this a faux pas? Should I avoid doing this, or is it chill?
I would say to follow your instincts. If you're pleased with how it is written, then it's probably OK. Wait a few weeks (they'll start in July anyways) and then review them then to see if you'd like to change them. I didn't get feedback from anyone else for secondaries, though I used grammarly for spelling and punctuation checks. For the 2nd, I would try to use examples from 2 different experiences if at all possible. If you really can't come up with anything else, then do the different takes on the same thing.
 
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I would suggest avoiding the use of the same experience in multiple secondary essays for the same school. You are otherwise likely to be labeled unidimensional and that's not a good look.
 
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You're "done" when you submit.

if you are pre-writing secondaries now, I think it makes sense for you to write a draft, review it and edit as appropriate, and then put aside and then go on to the next essay that you want to write. At this point, they don't need to be perfect. just solid.

However, when you get the actual secondary, and some questions will definitely change, then be more critical. However, regardless you won't have the leisure that you had with the primary personal statement.

Regarding the second question, it's a little hard to answer in a vacuum. If you were a client, I'd know if there was something else you could write about. On the forum, I don't have that info. However, assuming that this approach really is the best for a given school, approaching an experience from different angles with different themes (and maybe examples) that answer the question posed, makes sense.

I actually discussed this issue in a podcast that aired yesterday.
Thank you for your reply! The experiences I use twice (never more than that) have different stories and different take-always, so I hope that helps. Also, do you mind linking the podcast? Would love to hear more about this :)
 
I would suggest avoiding the use of the same experience in multiple secondary essays for the same school. You are otherwise likely to be labeled unidimensional and that's not a good look.
Darn, that makes my job a little harder; I’ve gotten all of my best stories and experiences between the same 3-4 activities, so it makes it hard not to double dip, especially when an activity like my volunteering or initiative fits so well with more than one prompt. Is it still a no-no/bad idea if you use different stories and angles/takeaways to illustrate different points? For example, using the initiative I started as a “challenge” essay and then connecting it to something a school offers as a part of “why us?”

I could maybe come up with different activities but they likely wouldn’t be as strong or authentic
 
I would say to follow your instincts. If you're pleased with how it is written, then it's probably OK. Wait a few weeks (they'll start in July anyways) and then review them then to see if you'd like to change them. I didn't get feedback from anyone else for secondaries, though I used grammarly for spelling and punctuation checks. For the 2nd, I would try to use examples from 2 different experiences if at all possible. If you really can't come up with anything else, then do the different takes on the same thing.
The struggle is that all of my best stories come from the same few activities, that often all align best with secondaries and a school’s mission. I can try to come up with examples form other activities, but I feel like they simply wouldn’t be as authentic/solid, yk?
 
Darn, that makes my job a little harder; I’ve gotten all of my best stories and experiences between the same 3-4 activities, so it makes it hard not to double dip, especially when an activity like my volunteering or initiative fits so well with more than one prompt. Is it still a no-no/bad idea if you use different stories and angles/takeaways to illustrate different points? For example, using the initiative I started as a “challenge” essay and then connecting it to something a school offers as a part of “why us?”

I could maybe come up with different activities but they likely wouldn’t be as strong or authentic
I've done that. I think what you mentioned is ok for a why us essay (where the experience you mention again is not the sole focus of the 2nd essay). If it were challenge essay and diversity essay and you used the same experience as the main focus, it would not be ideal.

The struggle is that all of my best stories come from the same few activities, that often all align best with secondaries and a school’s mission. I can try to come up with examples form other activities, but I feel like they simply wouldn’t be as authentic/solid, yk?
You just gotta dig deep and take some time to think. I felt the same way about some prompts where I could have used the same experience twice, but didn't. I ended up pulling experiences out of my hat that I did not at all connect to the prompt at first or second glance. It doesn't all have to be related to activities you've done and listed on AMCAS. Some things can come from your lived experiences.
 
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For example, I remember having a prompt on servant leadership (you could talk about yourself or seeing someone else do it). I literally had no idea how to answer it in a novel way and wanted to fall back on my default leadership experience (I didn't really understand what servant leadership was at first too), but ended up using an anecdote of when my grandfather had passed away and a choir group had come to sing at the hospice before he died.
 
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I've done that. I think what you mentioned is ok for a why us essay (where the experience you mention again is not the sole focus of the 2nd essay). If it were challenge essay and diversity essay and you used the same experience as the main focus, it would not be ideal.


You just gotta dig deep and take some time to think. I felt the same way about some prompts where I could have used the same experience twice, but didn't. I ended up pulling experiences out of my hat that I did not at all connect to the prompt at first or second glance. It doesn't all have to be related to activities you've done and listed on AMCAS. Some things can come from your lived experiences.
At this point, I might honestly do the hat thing, or just take a wheel spinner to my AMCAS W/A. I'll see what I can do, even if it means having to gaslight myself a little. Thank you for all your help!
 
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Thank you for your reply! The experiences I use twice (never more than that) have different stories and different take-always, so I hope that helps. Also, do you mind linking the podcast? Would love to hear more about this :)
Here is the link you requested.

I definitely recommend not using the same experience more than twice even if you could approach from a third angle. As @LizzyM wrote, you don't want to be labeled unidimensional (and boring).
 
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Here is the link you requested.

I definitely recommend not using the same experience more than twice even if you could approach from a third angle. As @LizzyM wrote, you don't want to be labeled unidimensional (and boring).
Thank you, I appreciate your help! And yes, I have no plans to; I'll likely rewrite some essays and stick to one activity-mention per secondary set, save the Why Us essay for connecting what I've done with what I will do in med school. No reason to risk it!
 
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For example, I remember having a prompt on servant leadership (you could talk about yourself or seeing someone else do it). I literally had no idea how to answer it in a novel way and wanted to fall back on my default leadership experience (I didn't really understand what servant leadership was at first too), but ended up using an anecdote of when my grandfather had passed away and a choir group had come to sing at the hospice before he died.
Really quickly (sorry to keep quoting you :( !), but it sounds like you've done this process relatively recently, and I have to ask: is it normal to feel like you're repeating yourself with? I'm on my 16th/17th? school for secondaries at this point, and I'm REALLY starting to feel like I'm copy-pasting and then tweaking half of these essays to fit better. I'm not going crazy....am I?
 
Really quickly (sorry to keep quoting you :( !), but it sounds like you've done this process relatively recently, and I have to ask: is it normal to feel like you're repeating yourself with? I'm on my 16th/17th? school for secondaries at this point, and I'm REALLY starting to feel like I'm copy-pasting and then tweaking half of these essays to fit better. I'm not going crazy....am I?
Yeah totally normal once you get past like 15 secondaries. A lot of the editing is stretching or culling the character count of pre existing essays to fit each school. Though be careful coz some secondary prompts sound very similar but they change a few words around like the *servant leadership* one I mentioned above, requiring you to write a substantially different essay. Even why us essays start to all sound the same when you have to mention research, geography, student orgs, etc. for each school.
 
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