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*~*~*~*Official AMCAS "Work/Activities" Tips Thread 2014-2015*~*~*~*

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K1NG

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So for sections where I'm grouping activities (like multiple poster presentations, awards, etc) I'm putting the date for the most recent activity in the section. Is that what I should be doing?
 

thebuild45

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Yes, if you engaged in it regularly during the college years. Hobbies are generally grouped unless you have a great deal to say about one of them.

OK, how would I title it? Just putting "Violin" sounds kind of boring.
 
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- 1) Would you lump multiple teaching experiences (high school science, SI for Organic Chem, swim coach, etc.)? If these are lumped, what would the best "Experience Name" be?

2) -I couldn't agree more with struggling to make choices among too many activities. Trying to search previous posts for advice with little success.
1) I would try not to, but if you have to, it's OK. For a name you might use, eg, "HS Chemistry Teacher, Organic Chemistry TA, & Swim Coach", or "Paid and Volunteer Teaching and Coaching Involvement". You have 60 characters, so pack as much information in as you can.

2) I appreciate that you tried to Search.
 
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So for sections where I'm grouping activities (like multiple poster presentations, awards, etc) I'm putting the date for the most recent activity in the section. Is that what I should be doing?
That's fine if the most recent is also the first on your list. Then in the narrative, one puts the dates or timeframe for 2nd, 3rd, etc entries.
 
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OK, how would I title it? Just putting "Violin" sounds kind of boring.
What is your most significant accomplishment with a violin in terms of music difficulty? Maybe evoke that somehow, eg, "Bach Concerto Soloist in XXXX and Ongoing Violin Enthusiast". Or, "Fiddle Player Extraordinaire". It's OK to be playful (pun not intended) with your title to zip it up a bit.
 

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I have a brother with special needs that has been involved with the special olympics since 2008. I have gone to nearly every event that he has participated in, and have "volunteered" my time each time that I have attended an event; served as a coach on bowling lanes, run events at track meets, etc. My question is this: I have never formally signed up to be a volunteer with this organization, but merely done so because I was present and enjoyed being around for my brother and the other athletes. With that being said, would it be lame to list myself or a family member as a contact? If I listed myself, would my position simply be "brother of a special olympics athlete? Your thoughts on this experience are appreciated. I really enjoyed my time with this group, and want to be able to put it on my application.
 

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If I started a small online business, who should I list under contact information? Is it frowned upon to list myself? Or should I list a friend of mine who has helped me out with it?
 
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I have a brother with special needs that has been involved with the special olympics since 2008. I have gone to nearly every event that he has participated in, and have "volunteered" my time each time that I have attended an event; served as a coach on bowling lanes, run events at track meets, etc. My question is this: I have never formally signed up to be a volunteer with this organization, but merely done so because I was present and enjoyed being around for my brother and the other athletes. With that being said,
1) would it be lame to list myself or a family member as a contact?

2) If I listed myself, would my position simply be "brother of a special olympics athlete? Your thoughts on this experience are appreciated. I really enjoyed my time with this group, and want to be able to put it on my application.
1) Not lame at all. List the most objective witness you can. If all else fails, list yourself. Inject as much enthusiasm into your narrative as you've expressed here, and the entry will make enjoyable reading.

2) I think that listing the contact as Brother or Family Member of Special Olympic Athlete would be quite acceptable.
 
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If I started a small online business, who should I list under contact information? Is it frowned upon to list myself? Or should I list a friend of mine who has helped me out with it?
List the most objective witness to your involvement that you can. Your friend would be ideal, or a family member, but you can use yourself if necessary.
 

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1) Not lame at all. List the most objective witness you can. If all else fails, list yourself. Inject as much enthusiasm into your narrative as you've expressed here, and the entry will make enjoyable reading.

2) I think that listing the contact as Brother or Family Member of Special Olympic Athlete would be quite acceptable.
Thanks, cheers.
 

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This might be a stupid question and one already asked before, but what exactly is the difference between "Extracurriculars" and "Leadership - not listed elsewhere"? Is "Extracurriculars" just clubs that you were only members in? For example, before obtaining leadership positions in my fraternity and this one premed club, I was a "member". Should I create separate entries of just being a "member", or is that redundant and unnecessary?
 

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The AMCAS application won't allow future months to be entered as a start date in an activity header. If you have been involved in those clubs since earlier in college, you could list your membership in them and mention the future elected positions in the narrative.

For the chem tutoring you might tack mention of it onto the end of another Teaching entry, or alternatively, save it for an update letter.

Hey,

I was wondering about how much do people usually write in the description section for the extracurricular activities and volunteering. I was using bullet points and just doing a couple like 2 or 3. Do you think thats good enough or is that too short and not descriptive enough?

Thanks!
 
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Hi everyone,

I was reading through this board, but I couldn't find anyone else that had the same dilemma as me. For one of my activities, I was hoping to state as a hobby that I enjoy volunteering at several music festivals. (I haven't worked in the medical tent or anything medical-related in these festivals.) For me, this activity isn't one of the most meaningful, but it is important for me because of my passion for live music, exploring new experiences, and interacting with others.

However, I am still debating whether to put this on my application because music festivals typically have a negative reputation of being full of drugs/alcohol/sex etc. Even though I have never even been interested in any scandalousness, I'm afraid that the adcoms will make assumptions based on the reputation of these festivals.

I've read in previous discussions about avoiding any opportunities to expose any ambiguities concerning the applicant's character (like sex work or tattoos), and I was wondering if this were one of those situations.
 

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Please Note: This is a particularly difficult section of the application. On almost every point there are differing opinions, and ultimately you need to create the work and activities section that is best for you, but being consistent is important. Take all advice offered here as a piece of the solution, but often not the ultimate word on the subject.

This FAQ is a work in progress. Any suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.


Work and Activities FAQ

1. What is the Work/Activities Section all about?
This is where you get to talk about your extracurricular activities, or "ECs" as they are referred to around SDN. This includes things like research experience, tutoring, academic awards, volunteer experience, clinical experience, etc. Everything that you ever wanted an admissions committee member (AdCom) to know about you to show that you are in fact a good candidate for medical school.

2. What kinds of categories can I put things in?
Artistic Endeavors
Community Service/Volunteer - Medical/Clinical
Community Service/Volunteer - Non Medical/Clinical
Conferences Attended
Extracurricular Activities
Hobbies
Honors/Award/Recognition
Intercollegiate Athletics
Leadership - Not Listed Elsewhere
Military Service
Other
Paid Employment - Medical/Clinical
Paid Employment - Non Medical/Clinical
Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
Presentations/Posters
Publications
Research/Lab
Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant

3. What kinds of things should I put in each category?
Part of this will be a judgement call. Adcoms are aware that things may fall into more than one category. For instance, if you are a Lead TA, you may want to separate it into two entries, one for Leadership and the other for Teaching/Tutoring. If you feel like you are more deficient in one category than another, then you may want to list it in the category where you are lacking something to balance out your application.

Some examples of things to list in each category:

Leadership
-Club officer
-Student activism/government/Greek activities
-Starting a non-profit/student organization

Honors/Awards/Recognitions
-Academic awards such as honor societies, dean's list, etc.
-Interesting certifications or recognitions you have such as a black belt in a martial art, placing in a competition, certified as pilot, etc.
-Received competitive research position or project funding for which you applied.
-Phi Beta Kappa

Community Service - Medical/Clinical
-As LizzyM likes to put this one, if you are close enough to SMELL patients, it is clinical. This is pretty much the prevailing wisdom on SDN.

Community Service - Non-medical/Clinical
-If it doesn't fall into the above, you didn't get paid for it, and it isn't a leadership or teaching opportunity, it probably falls here
-Include things like volunteering for non-profits and charitable organizations, volunteer work you have done at your school, etc.

Teaching
-Includes not just TA or tutor, but also mentoring and coaching.

Most of the other categories should be pretty self-explanatory.

4. They are giving me a lot of space to describe each activity....how the heck should I enter them in? Is less more? Should I use up all available space?
Unfortunately...you will never get a clear cut answer to this one. But we can give you some possible techniques and advice

A - One school of thought is that this is not the time to pontificate. Describe the activity if it needs describing (if you think it is something an AdCom member will not know about) and otherwise, be pithy with your description. Many think that talking about what you learned from the activity is not appropriate in this section, and is better saved as material for secondary applications.

B - Another school of thought is that this is exactly the place to address why you got involved and/or what you learned from an activity because you may not get another chance in a secondary application. Those from California especially feel this pressure since most of the secondaries at California Med Schools are screened (you do not automatically get a secondary; they review your primary application first and decide if you are worthy). Because of this it is tempting to spew as much as possible here.

C - Approach C is a combination of the two approaches. Spew when necessary (an unusual activity that may need a little bit more explanation to understand its depth, and you learned a lot from but you are NOT addressing in your PS) and limited description of commonplace application items (ER scribe, general hospital volunteer, MCAT teacher/tutor).

You can really go down two general paths when it comes to entering the activities in: paragraph form or bullet points. Go with what comes most naturally to you, and don't force yourself to conform to a style that you think is inappropriate for the information you are trying to convey and your writing style.

Another trick for entering your activities is to use a catchall description that allows you to enter several different activities under one heading so that you are not wasting multiple spots. For example:

Activity: "Undergraduate Work Experience". Category: Paid Employment - Non-Military
Input the other header information (time span, total hours, contact, etc) for the first activity listed


Activity Description

By using this method, you are able to save 2 spaces in the Work/Activities section, but still are able to show that you have significant work experience and experience juggling a job and school.

5. Is work experience really that important for me to list? Who is going to care if I worked at a grocery store for 2 years, 20 hours a week, while in college?
Work experience is ABSOLUTELY important for you to list. There is a fantastic thread about this topic here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=813497

The short version: the work/activities section is there for you to show off all of your skills. Holding down a job while continuing to be a learner (student) is a huge skill that not every medical student can bring to the table. It also shows commitment and an ability to tolerate some suckage, something that every job has, no matter how much you may love it on some days.

6. Should I really list that I was on the dean's list/in an honor society?
Again....two schools of thought here. One is that many applicants have these things, so why list them. The other is that they won't know unless you tell them.

Again, a good trick for entering activities is to have a catch-all category like "Academic Recognition" where you then list the X number of awards/recognition that you have received. That way you are not taking up multiple spaces for things you don't want to emphasize.

7. Do AdCom members really contact people in the "Contact Information" field of this section? What should I do if I don't have a good contact for an activity?
In the past, AdCom members rarely contacted these people. However, the application changed a few years ago to require either a phone number or email address for a contact for most activities listed. Especially if an LOR about the activity was not submitted, be sure your contact is up-to-date and even forewarned, particularly if the activity was substantial and adds great appeal to your candidacy. Some schools check these in detail (usually before, but possibly even after accepting you) and others not so much, but you won’t know which is which.

There are certainly some activities that are difficult to list a contact, like an activity long ago. Here are a few hints: It is best to include the most impartial person possible (so list your mom as your absolute last resort) but you might find the need to list your roommate or your friend as a contact. Remember, if the contact is called or emailed, he or she only needs to provide reassurance to the adcomm that you described the activity faithfully. These are contacts not references so the person who responds does not need to answer questions about your abilities to succeed in medical school. Also, please read the AMCAS FAQ answer to this question.

8. Most Meaningful Activities
8a. Is there any benefit to marking three activities as "Most Meaningful" vs. just one?

Again, there are several schools of thought on this issue:
i. You are only obliged to list one activity as "Most Meaningful." If you can express yourself in the first 700 characters, adding 1325 characters about two other activities might bore admissions committee members.
ii. Admissions committees will pay special attention to the activities marked as "Most Meaningful" so mark three activities that are the strongest part of your application. Be sure not to add fluff in the extra space, perhaps including a concise story to help illustrate the "transformative nature of the experience."

8b. What happens if I wrote about my most meaningful activities in my personal statement?
It is best not to repeat information on your application. There are two options:
1. Pick different activities as your "Most Meaningful".
2. Rework your personal statement. For example, you could use your Personal Statement to address a specific story, patient, or moment, then use the "Most Meaningful" box to provide a more general, big picture message from the activity.

8c. Can I use the "Most Meaningful" box to continue the description of my activity? For example, can I use it to list the citations for all my posters and presentations?
It is best to use the box as AMCAS suggests on the application. Some creativity will be tolerated. Just don't ramble to fill space.

9. If I talk about something in my personal statement, should I still mention it in my Work/Activities Section?
Yes, definitely. Be sure to review Depakote's Personal Statement Guide/Tips since it is a bad idea to have your PS simply serve as a regurgitation of your Extracurricular activities.

10. How should I list Physician Shadowing?
Physician shadowing now has its own designation so it is no longer recommended to list it as "Other".

Some recommendations when listing physician shadowing: Group all of your shadowing together, giving a total hours for each physician. Additional relevant information such as their title ("MD" or "DO"), level of training if not an attending (resident, fellow, etc.), or other notes about the shadowing (i.e. shadowed only during office hours for a surgeon, only during image reading for a radiologist, etc.) can be included. There's no need to describe what shadowing is.

Here's an example of how shadowing can be listed:
Experience Type: Physician shadowing
Title: Physician Shadowing
Total Hours: Total hours shadowed
Contact info, organization name, and dates: Use the info for the first physician you want to list
Description:


11. How many spaces are there for activities? How many of them should I use? Should I be trying to fill them all?
You have 15 spaces to list your activities. However, most applicants DO NOT use all of them. You should not try to "spread out" your activities for the sake of filling more slots. Be sure that every activity is worthy of being included and that they all improve the admission committee's understanding of you as the applicant.

12. Should I really be talking about my hobbies or artistic endeavors?
If you have some, then list them! Not all adcomm members will read them, but some like to know what you do to relieve stress and unwind. Group them all together.

Some are confused between listing an activity as a hobby or an artistic endeavor. The prevailing SDN opinion about artistic endeavors is that they involve reaching a wider audience (ie publishing or performing instead of just writing and practicing). A hobby is more personal with a limited audience.

13. Should I list something that I plan for the future but haven't started yet? Can end dates be projected into the future?
The AMCAS application will not accept future months for your start date. If an activity is ongoing, the end date can be no later than the intended start of medical school (ie, August at the end of the current cycle). Note that some categories only require one date, like Awards, Presentations/Posters, and Publications.

14. How should I list publications? What if some of them are "submitted" but not actually accepted yet?
Publications are worthy of their own slot, even if you already have a "Research" slot. For contact, use your PI that you worked with. For organization, you can use the name of the organization that publishes the journal. For date, use the publication date, or if accepted for publication but not yet published, use the accepted date. In the description, it is a good idea to include enough of a citation for an adcomm member to find the paper if he/she is curious enough to look it up. Some adcomm members find it helpful to include enough of the author's list so that your place in the authorship can be determined.

If a publication is only submitted or needs major revisions, then it is still a future activity which you cannot include. If it is published, accepted for publication, or accepted pending minor revisions then you can include it.

15. How far back should I go listing activities?
Any activity you engaged in after High School graduation may be considered potentially relevant. Strictly speaking, there is no rule that you can't include a High School-only activity, but if you do so, it should add substantially to your application, so you aren't wasting space for something that adcomms are unlikely to regard. This would include Experiences that began during HS (or even before) and either continued into the college years or resumed sometime later. Examples of life-long activities that might help your application would be music or dance involvement.

If you are a nontraditional applicant, then your more recent accomplishments are the most important to highlight. In that case, consider grouping your most important college-aged activities together under the "Other" designation.

16. What order should I input my activities in?
It doesn't matter! The AMCAS application automatically organizes the activities in a chronological order. Adcomms can change how the activities appear for their report but you can't alter the order.

17. What if the "Total Hours" for one of my activities is more than 999 hours?
See the AMCAS FAQ page for their recommendation https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/amcas/faqs/336138/morethan1000hours.html

18. How should I go about naming an activity?
If your position comes with a title, you can use that if it reflects what you do adequately, eg, Vice President of a Student Rockclimbing Association (especially if the name of the organization is Hawkeye Mountain Goats, which doesn't tell us enough). Or, Research Affiliate, vs Research Associate, vs Research Tech, vs Researcher.

If the activity covers two categories, since you can only pick one, in some instances you might choose a name that conveys the other designation. For example, Research/Lab can be paid, volunteer, or via class credit. Unless you are washing glassware, you might decide to select Research/Lab so it won't be overlooked, but could title the activity Animal Handler for Smith Lab through Work/Study Program. Exception: If your research activity earns class credit, the transcript will speak to this so it isn't necessary to repeat the information.

If the activity does not come with a title, try to convey its essence so a skimmer is more likely to read the entire entry. Instead of Runner, perhaps title the Hobby activity Marathoner, 235th Place. Instead of Band Member, perhaps First Chair Clarinetist in XXXCity Orchestra.

Hello,
Im sorta confused on how to list Experience Name for shadowing, would it be okay to just put "Shadowing Dr. X" like that

Thanks for any advice!
 
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what exactly is the difference between "Extracurriculars" and "Leadership - not listed elsewhere"? Is "Extracurriculars" just clubs that you were only members in? For example, before obtaining leadership positions in my fraternity and this one premed club, I was a "member". Should I create separate entries of just being a "member", or is that redundant and unnecessary?
Technically, Extracurriculars are experiences that occur outside of the classroom. Many of the other tags provided by the application are more specific, so practically speaking it is used for activities without a better descriptor. Clubs or memberships are some of those things that it's used for. Many would describe their involvement with a group showing how they gained in involvement and responsibility, then eventually took on a leadership role. Such an activity might be named Membership and Leadership roles in the Hawkeye Mountain Climbing Group. It keeps the components of involvement in context and thus easier to appreciate by the reader (and allows one to use a date range that covers the entire period of involvement with that club).

Side note: Club or frat membership are not generally considered to add much to an application, except to give a sense of a person's interests, unless, for example, they led to leadership or community service.

OTOH, sometimes one's leadership role is more immediate, or so robust one wants to highlight it, or is part of a multifaceted experience, each part of which is strong enough to split out and let stand on its own. Then the Leadership tag is used (and one would use the header's date range for the time of leadership involvement only, but could still mention in the narrative the preceding two years of organizational involvement).
 
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I was wondering about how much do people usually write in the description section for the extracurricular activities and volunteering. I was using bullet points and just doing a couple like 2 or 3. Do you think thats good enough or is that too short and not descriptive enough?
Each description should be considered separately. Some will need overview, description of role, and impact/insights, and some will need only one of those components. With some you might fill the space, and with others, there will be two lines (eg, citations). Succinctness is always appreciated, but if you have little to say about every entry, I think it will look too superficial. Try to encapsulate some deep thoughts about some of your experiences.
 
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I was reading through this board, but I couldn't find anyone else that had the same dilemma as me. For one of my activities, I was hoping to state as a hobby that I enjoy volunteering at several music festivals. (I haven't worked in the medical tent or anything medical-related in these festivals.) For me, this activity isn't one of the most meaningful, but it is important for me because of my passion for live music, exploring new experiences, and interacting with others.

However, I am still debating whether to put this on my application because music festivals typically have a negative reputation of being full of drugs/alcohol/sex etc. Even though I have never even been interested in any scandalousness, I'm afraid that the adcoms will make assumptions based on the reputation of these festivals.

I've read in previous discussions about avoiding any opportunities to expose any ambiguities concerning the applicant's character (like sex work or tattoos), and I was wondering if this were one of those situations.
None of the music festivals I've attended have been of that sort, so personally, I would have not given a negative interpretation to an entry such as you mention. I'm not sure that an n=1 response will or should be reassuring to you, though. I can see that the more suspicious among adcomms might read something negative into your "exploring new experiences" comment, so you might want to be more specific if you use that phrase. Maybe ask a conservative parent or grandparent to review your entry after you've written it to assure there is no perceived negative vibe.
 
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Im sorta confused on how to list Experience Name for shadowing, would it be okay to just put "Shadowing Dr. X" like that
You could say that or you could try to pack in more information in the 60 characters you're allowed, like "Hospital & Office-Based Pediatric Shadowing" (I assume the doc's name would be your contact). Or, "Surgery & Office Observation of Orthopedist".
 

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Should we list academic scholarships we received from our university when we were accepted and how much was awarded? Also, who should we list as the contact if so?
 

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Start date, end date for hobbies? What if we've been doing something since we were little?
 

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Thanks for all the help so far! One more two-part question:

I clumped all my physician shadowing experience under one activity and selected it as a MM because I needed the character space. One of those shadowing experiences came as part of an organization where I was a leader, which I have under another activity, also currently selected as a MM experience.
1) Should I label that leadership experience that involved physician shadowing as "Leadership - not listed elsewhere" or "Physician shadowing" ?
2) Is it unwise to select this leadership/shadowing experience as a MM since I already used a MM on a Physician shadowing activity? My summary talks about my experience with the organization and as a leader, while touching briefly on the shadowing aspect. My other choice would be volunteering at a hospital, but I didn't choose that one because I touched on it in my PS.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks!!
 
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Should we list academic scholarships we received from our university when we were accepted and how much was awarded? Also, who should we list as the contact if so?
Academic scholarships for merit are worth mentioning. If the amount is > $3000, that is considered to be worth specifying. Use the Registrar as your contact as that office has a record of it.
 
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Start date, end date for hobbies? What if we've been doing something since we were little?
You can enter a start date from early childhood if you like, or alternatively include just the college years and refer to earlier involvement in your narrative.

Or you can break up the years of involvement with the Repeated feature and enter pre-HS, HS, and college involvement time spans (for example).

For end date, use this month. If you want to include future involvement, using the Repeated button, enter this month for start date and any date up to Aug 2015 for end date, or alternatively, say in the narrative that you plan to engage in the activity indefinitely.

As you can imagine, total hours aren't as important here as depth of involvement, so don't get tied up with exact calculations, so long as they are in the ball park.
 
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I clumped all my physician shadowing experience under one activity and selected it as a MM because I needed the character space. One of those shadowing experiences came as part of an organization where I was a leader, which I have under another activity, also currently selected as a MM experience.
1) Should I label that leadership experience that involved physician shadowing as "Leadership - not listed elsewhere" or "Physician shadowing" ?
2) Is it unwise to select this leadership/shadowing experience as a MM since I already used a MM on a Physician shadowing activity? My summary talks about my experience with the organization and as a leader, while touching briefly on the shadowing aspect. My other choice would be volunteering at a hospital, but I didn't choose that one because I touched on it in my PS.
1) If the shadowing related to the organization is included in the Shadowing space, there is no need to mention it in the Leadership slot related to that same organization (except very briefly), unless you were the organizer who lined up docs and assigned premeds to rotate with them, or some such. Don't double count the hours if there is some confusing overlap I'm not reading into your scant description.

2) Provided the first MM focuses on Shadowing experience, wow moments, impact, and insights and the second on Leadership role, impact, and insights, I see no problem having both as a MM activity.
 

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Question: If I put down a person as a contact but they were formerly in a position at the time I was involved with the organization, ex) I had a leadership role for 2 years and want to put down the president at the time who was president for 2 years, do I put down "Former President" or just simply "President"? Thanks
 

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1) If the shadowing related to the organization is included in the Shadowing space, there is no need to mention it in the Leadership slot related to that same organization (except very briefly), unless you were the organizer who lined up docs and assigned premeds to rotate with them, or some such. Don't double count the hours if there is some confusing overlap I'm not reading into your scant description.
I'm a little bit confused about your advice here. So are you saying don't talk about the actual aspect of shadowing in this Leadership experience, and just focus on what I did as a leader? I was the person who lined up doctors and assigned the rotations for this leadership experience. And yeah, I took out the actual shadowing hours. That's one reason why I was wondering if I should list it as "Leadership" or "Physician Shadowing" because I don't want them to think that I shadowed for like 50 hours when instead those hours were used to plan and organize the experience.
 
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Question: If I put down a person as a contact but they were formerly in a position at the time I was involved with the organization, ex) I had a leadership role for 2 years and want to put down the president at the time who was president for 2 years, do I put down "Former President" or just simply "President"? Thanks
I'd put "Former President" or "Past President."
 

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Is being on the Dean's list worth mentioning if it was only for 3 semesters? or could that potentially do more harm than good since it wasn't all semesters?

Also, should we list studying abroad in the work/activities section?
 
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I'm a little bit confused about your advice here. So are you saying don't talk about the actual aspect of shadowing in this Leadership experience, and just focus on what I did as a leader? I was the person who lined up doctors and assigned the rotations for this leadership experience. And yeah, I took out the actual shadowing hours. That's one reason why I was wondering if I should list it as "Leadership" or "Physician Shadowing" because I don't want them to think that I shadowed for like 50 hours when instead those hours were used to plan and organize the experience.
Sorry to be confusing. I'd list it as Leadership-Not listed elsewhere, rather than having a second Shadowing experience slot, using a title like, "Organizer of Pre-Med Physician Shadowing Opportunities"?
 
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1) Is being on the Dean's list worth mentioning if it was only for 3 semesters? or could that potentially do more harm than good since it wasn't all semesters?

2) Also, should we list studying abroad in the work/activities section?
1) Your GPA speaks for itself anyway. List it if you like. Most group all academic honors together in one space, if they have others to mention.

2) You may list it if you like. The Other tag is usually used.
 

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What do you guys think about listing 2 different things under 1 hobby. I was gonna write several hobbies in the experience name and total all my hobby hours?

I was planning on listing scuba diving, personal training, and rock climbing. You guys think that's okay? I personal train ppl on the side but it's more of a hobby since it's not my primary source of income but just enjoy it. What about the title name? Is listing several hobbies okay?
 

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I am writing for a friend of mine. As a teenager she worked for her parent's privately owned business. However, she did not have the appropriate license to be able to work in that field. It is a service-type industry. It was a major part of her teenage years. She wanted to include it in the"work and activities" section of the amcas application. Should she be concerned of any questions during the interviewing process regarding her lack of license and her family's business.
 
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What do you guys think about listing 2 different things under 1 hobby. I was gonna write several hobbies in the experience name and total all my hobby hours?

I was planning on listing scuba diving, personal training, and rock climbing. You guys think that's okay? I personal train ppl on the side but it's more of a hobby since it's not my primary source of income but just enjoy it. What about the title name? Is listing several hobbies okay?
Applicants usually group their hobbies, or use two spaces if they have a lot to say about one of them. If you have room, you might consider listing the "Personal Training" separately (as it's a form of teaching/coaching) with the other named "Sport-Related Leisure-Time Activities". Otherwise, add the two titles together with an "&" between them. Or, just "Leisure-Time Activities" or as you said, "Scuba Diving, Personal Training, and Rock Climbing".
 

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I am writing for a friend of mine. As a teenager she worked for her parent's privately owned business. However, she did not have the appropriate license to be able to work in that field. It is a service-type industry. It was a major part of her teenage years. She wanted to include it in the"work and activities" section of the amcas application. Should she be concerned of any questions during the interviewing process regarding her lack of license and her family's business.

I think she needs to include things from college and beyond. If she didn't do it in college it may not be relevant.
 
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I am writing for a friend of mine. As a teenager she worked for her parent's privately owned business. However, she did not have the appropriate license to be able to work in that field. It is a service-type industry. It was a major part of her teenage years. She wanted to include it in the"work and activities" section of the amcas application. Should she be concerned of any questions during the interviewing process regarding her lack of license and her family's business.
Once an activity is listed, one must be prepared for intrusive questions. She could look up the licensing requirements in her state on line and see if working as an apprentice under supervision is one of the exceptions to attending formal training in the field.
 

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Please Note: This is a particularly difficult section of the application. On almost every point there are differing opinions, and ultimately you need to create the work and activities section that is best for you, but being consistent is important. Take all advice offered here as a piece of the solution, but often not the ultimate word on the subject.

This FAQ is a work in progress. Any suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.


Work and Activities FAQ

1. What is the Work/Activities Section all about?
This is where you get to talk about your extracurricular activities, or "ECs" as they are referred to around SDN. This includes things like research experience, tutoring, academic awards, volunteer experience, clinical experience, etc. Everything that you ever wanted an admissions committee member (AdCom) to know about you to show that you are in fact a good candidate for medical school.

2. What kinds of categories can I put things in?
Artistic Endeavors
Community Service/Volunteer - Medical/Clinical
Community Service/Volunteer - Non Medical/Clinical
Conferences Attended
Extracurricular Activities
Hobbies
Honors/Award/Recognition
Intercollegiate Athletics
Leadership - Not Listed Elsewhere
Military Service
Other
Paid Employment - Medical/Clinical
Paid Employment - Non Medical/Clinical
Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
Presentations/Posters
Publications
Research/Lab
Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant

3. What kinds of things should I put in each category?
Part of this will be a judgement call. Adcoms are aware that things may fall into more than one category. For instance, if you are a Lead TA, you may want to separate it into two entries, one for Leadership and the other for Teaching/Tutoring. If you feel like you are more deficient in one category than another, then you may want to list it in the category where you are lacking something to balance out your application.

Some examples of things to list in each category:

Leadership
-Club officer
-Student activism/government/Greek activities
-Starting a non-profit/student organization

Honors/Awards/Recognitions
-Academic awards such as honor societies, dean's list, etc.
-Interesting certifications or recognitions you have such as a black belt in a martial art, placing in a competition, certified as pilot, etc.
-Received competitive research position or project funding for which you applied.
-Phi Beta Kappa

Community Service - Medical/Clinical
-As LizzyM likes to put this one, if you are close enough to SMELL patients, it is clinical. This is pretty much the prevailing wisdom on SDN.

Community Service - Non-medical/Clinical
-If it doesn't fall into the above, you didn't get paid for it, and it isn't a leadership or teaching opportunity, it probably falls here
-Include things like volunteering for non-profits and charitable organizations, volunteer work you have done at your school, etc.

Teaching
-Includes not just TA or tutor, but also mentoring and coaching.

Most of the other categories should be pretty self-explanatory.

4. They are giving me a lot of space to describe each activity....how the heck should I enter them in? Is less more? Should I use up all available space?
Unfortunately...you will never get a clear cut answer to this one. But we can give you some possible techniques and advice

A - One school of thought is that this is not the time to pontificate. Describe the activity if it needs describing (if you think it is something an AdCom member will not know about) and otherwise, be pithy with your description. Many think that talking about what you learned from the activity is not appropriate in this section, and is better saved as material for secondary applications.

B - Another school of thought is that this is exactly the place to address why you got involved and/or what you learned from an activity because you may not get another chance in a secondary application. Those from California especially feel this pressure since most of the secondaries at California Med Schools are screened (you do not automatically get a secondary; they review your primary application first and decide if you are worthy). Because of this it is tempting to spew as much as possible here.

C - Approach C is a combination of the two approaches. Spew when necessary (an unusual activity that may need a little bit more explanation to understand its depth, and you learned a lot from but you are NOT addressing in your PS) and limited description of commonplace application items (ER scribe, general hospital volunteer, MCAT teacher/tutor).

You can really go down two general paths when it comes to entering the activities in: paragraph form or bullet points. Go with what comes most naturally to you, and don't force yourself to conform to a style that you think is inappropriate for the information you are trying to convey and your writing style.

Another trick for entering your activities is to use a catchall description that allows you to enter several different activities under one heading so that you are not wasting multiple spots. For example:

Activity: "Undergraduate Work Experience". Category: Paid Employment - Non-Military
Input the other header information (time span, total hours, contact, etc) for the first activity listed


Activity Description

By using this method, you are able to save 2 spaces in the Work/Activities section, but still are able to show that you have significant work experience and experience juggling a job and school.

5. Is work experience really that important for me to list? Who is going to care if I worked at a grocery store for 2 years, 20 hours a week, while in college?
Work experience is ABSOLUTELY important for you to list. There is a fantastic thread about this topic here: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=813497

The short version: the work/activities section is there for you to show off all of your skills. Holding down a job while continuing to be a learner (student) is a huge skill that not every medical student can bring to the table. It also shows commitment and an ability to tolerate some suckage, something that every job has, no matter how much you may love it on some days.

6. Should I really list that I was on the dean's list/in an honor society?
Again....two schools of thought here. One is that many applicants have these things, so why list them. The other is that they won't know unless you tell them.

Again, a good trick for entering activities is to have a catch-all category like "Academic Recognition" where you then list the X number of awards/recognition that you have received. That way you are not taking up multiple spaces for things you don't want to emphasize.

7. Do AdCom members really contact people in the "Contact Information" field of this section? What should I do if I don't have a good contact for an activity?
In the past, AdCom members rarely contacted these people. However, the application changed a few years ago to require either a phone number or email address for a contact for most activities listed. Especially if an LOR about the activity was not submitted, be sure your contact is up-to-date and even forewarned, particularly if the activity was substantial and adds great appeal to your candidacy. Some schools check these in detail (usually before, but possibly even after accepting you) and others not so much, but you won’t know which is which.

There are certainly some activities that are difficult to list a contact, like an activity long ago. Here are a few hints: It is best to include the most impartial person possible (so list your mom as your absolute last resort) but you might find the need to list your roommate or your friend as a contact. Remember, if the contact is called or emailed, he or she only needs to provide reassurance to the adcomm that you described the activity faithfully. These are contacts not references so the person who responds does not need to answer questions about your abilities to succeed in medical school. Also, please read the AMCAS FAQ answer to this question.

8. Most Meaningful Activities
8a. Is there any benefit to marking three activities as "Most Meaningful" vs. just one?

Again, there are several schools of thought on this issue:
i. You are only obliged to list one activity as "Most Meaningful." If you can express yourself in the first 700 characters, adding 1325 characters about two other activities might bore admissions committee members.
ii. Admissions committees will pay special attention to the activities marked as "Most Meaningful" so mark three activities that are the strongest part of your application. Be sure not to add fluff in the extra space, perhaps including a concise story to help illustrate the "transformative nature of the experience."

8b. What happens if I wrote about my most meaningful activities in my personal statement?
It is best not to repeat information on your application. There are two options:
1. Pick different activities as your "Most Meaningful".
2. Rework your personal statement. For example, you could use your Personal Statement to address a specific story, patient, or moment, then use the "Most Meaningful" box to provide a more general, big picture message from the activity.

8c. Can I use the "Most Meaningful" box to continue the description of my activity? For example, can I use it to list the citations for all my posters and presentations?
It is best to use the box as AMCAS suggests on the application. Some creativity will be tolerated. Just don't ramble to fill space.

9. If I talk about something in my personal statement, should I still mention it in my Work/Activities Section?
Yes, definitely. Be sure to review Depakote's Personal Statement Guide/Tips since it is a bad idea to have your PS simply serve as a regurgitation of your Extracurricular activities.

10. How should I list Physician Shadowing?
Physician shadowing now has its own designation so it is no longer recommended to list it as "Other".

Some recommendations when listing physician shadowing: Group all of your shadowing together, giving a total hours for each physician. Additional relevant information such as their title ("MD" or "DO"), level of training if not an attending (resident, fellow, etc.), or other notes about the shadowing (i.e. shadowed only during office hours for a surgeon, only during image reading for a radiologist, etc.) can be included. There's no need to describe what shadowing is.

Here's an example of how shadowing can be listed:
Experience Type: Physician shadowing
Title: Physician Shadowing
Total Hours: Total hours shadowed
Contact info, organization name, and dates: Use the info for the first physician you want to list
Description:


11. How many spaces are there for activities? How many of them should I use? Should I be trying to fill them all?
You have 15 spaces to list your activities. However, most applicants DO NOT use all of them. You should not try to "spread out" your activities for the sake of filling more slots. Be sure that every activity is worthy of being included and that they all improve the admission committee's understanding of you as the applicant.

12. Should I really be talking about my hobbies or artistic endeavors?
If you have some, then list them! Not all adcomm members will read them, but some like to know what you do to relieve stress and unwind. Group them all together.

Some are confused between listing an activity as a hobby or an artistic endeavor. The prevailing SDN opinion about artistic endeavors is that they involve reaching a wider audience (ie publishing or performing instead of just writing and practicing). A hobby is more personal with a limited audience.

13. Should I list something that I plan for the future but haven't started yet? Can end dates be projected into the future?
The AMCAS application will not accept future months for your start date. If an activity is ongoing, the end date can be no later than the intended start of medical school (ie, August at the end of the current cycle). Note that some categories only require one date, like Awards, Presentations/Posters, and Publications.

14. How should I list publications? What if some of them are "submitted" but not actually accepted yet?
Publications are worthy of their own slot, even if you already have a "Research" slot. For contact, use your PI that you worked with. For organization, you can use the name of the organization that publishes the journal. For date, use the publication date, or if accepted for publication but not yet published, use the accepted date. In the description, it is a good idea to include enough of a citation for an adcomm member to find the paper if he/she is curious enough to look it up. Some adcomm members find it helpful to include enough of the author's list so that your place in the authorship can be determined.

If a publication is only submitted or needs major revisions, then it is still a future activity which you cannot include. If it is published, accepted for publication, or accepted pending minor revisions then you can include it.

15. How far back should I go listing activities?
Any activity you engaged in after High School graduation may be considered potentially relevant. Strictly speaking, there is no rule that you can't include a High School-only activity, but if you do so, it should add substantially to your application, so you aren't wasting space for something that adcomms are unlikely to regard. This would include Experiences that began during HS (or even before) and either continued into the college years or resumed sometime later. Examples of life-long activities that might help your application would be music or dance involvement.

If you are a nontraditional applicant, then your more recent accomplishments are the most important to highlight. In that case, consider grouping your most important college-aged activities together under the "Other" designation.

16. What order should I input my activities in?
It doesn't matter! The AMCAS application automatically organizes the activities in a chronological order. Adcomms can change how the activities appear for their report but you can't alter the order.

17. What if the "Total Hours" for one of my activities is more than 999 hours?
See the AMCAS FAQ page for their recommendation https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/amcas/faqs/336138/morethan1000hours.html

18. How should I go about naming an activity?
If your position comes with a title, you can use that if it reflects what you do adequately, eg, Vice President of a Student Rockclimbing Association (especially if the name of the organization is Hawkeye Mountain Goats, which doesn't tell us enough). Or, Research Affiliate, vs Research Associate, vs Research Tech, vs Researcher.

If the activity covers two categories, since you can only pick one, in some instances you might choose a name that conveys the other designation. For example, Research/Lab can be paid, volunteer, or via class credit. Unless you are washing glassware, you might decide to select Research/Lab so it won't be overlooked, but could title the activity Animal Handler for Smith Lab through Work/Study Program. Exception: If your research activity earns class credit, the transcript will speak to this so it isn't necessary to repeat the information.

If the activity does not come with a title, try to convey its essence so a skimmer is more likely to read the entire entry. Instead of Runner, perhaps title the Hobby activity Marathoner, 235th Place. Instead of Band Member, perhaps First Chair Clarinetist in XXXCity Orchestra.

Hello,
I'm slightly confused on the suggestion on how to list the physician shadowing. I believe that this is saying that I should list my first physician that I shadowed and then in the experience description box list all the others that I have shadowed as well? and also if we are doing it in this manner would it be too confusing for the Adcoms if i was listing one of the shadowing experiences as my most memorable experience?

Thanks!
 
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I'm slightly confused on the suggestion on how to list the physician shadowing. I believe that this is saying that I should list my first physician that I shadowed and then in the experience description box list all the others that I have shadowed as well? and also if we are doing it in this manner would it be too confusing for the Adcoms if i was listing one of the shadowing experiences as my most memorable experience?
Whichever doc you WANT to list first can be first on the list. In your case, choose the doc that caused to you pick MM status for this designation. The other docs can be mentioned in the narrative, along with similar information that you already included in the header about Doc #1. If you want to (and have the space), you are free to use two Shadowing spaces, with one for MM and the other for the remaining docs you shadowed. If you are still confused, ask another question.
 

SKation

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Whichever doc you WANT to list first can be first on the list. In your case, choose the doc that caused to you pick MM status for this designation. The other docs can be mentioned in the narrative, along with similar information that you already included in the header about Doc #1. If you want to (and have the space), you are free to use two Shadowing spaces, with one for MM and the other for the remaining docs you shadowed. If you are still confused, ask another question.

Hello,

Thanks that sounds great. Also I went through a pre-med committee at my school and I was wondering should I put all the stuff that is on my resume in the extracurricular activities in the medical school application or is it okay if I dont mention certain things or will that look weird?

Thanks for all the help!
 
6

624548

Hello,

I have been interning at a hospital for a month, and I was wondering even though I still have another month at the hospital, if this ongoing event can be one of my most meaningful?
 
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I went through a pre-med committee at my school and I was wondering should I put all the stuff that is on my resume in the extracurricular activities in the medical school application or is it okay if I dont mention certain things or will that look weird?
The AMCAS instructions say to enter Experiences "that you would like to bring to the attention of the medical schools to which you are applying." Your list isn't intended to be as complete as a CV would be.
 
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I have been interning at a hospital for a month, and I was wondering even though I still have another month at the hospital, if this ongoing event can be one of my most meaningful?
Yes. Even though an experience has been of short and recent duration, that doesn't mean it couldn't have had a significant impact on you. Go for it.
 
K

KlondikeDelight

Hi everyone,

Since AMCAS now allows to put "future activities" in our Activities section of our application should I do this? I just graduated and I'm currently working for a physician (I'm submitting my app once I know whether or not I should put in future activities), but I plan on traveling/learning a new skill/working in a field that is unrelated to medicine and pushing myself in non-medicine ways.

I will definitely volunteer and keep pursuing medicine while doing this, but I wanted to utilize my gap year to explore. I haven't finalized my plans yet, so I don't want to write something under as a future activity, but come interview time say that I did not do it!

I definitely don't want to come across as "sitting on my butt" during my gap year so please let me know your thoughts!
 
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Since AMCAS now allows to put "future activities" in our Activities section of our application should I do this? I just graduated and I'm currently working for a physician (I'm submitting my app once I know whether or not I should put in future activities), but I plan on traveling/learning a new skill/working in a field that is unrelated to medicine and pushing myself in non-medicine ways.

I will definitely volunteer and keep pursuing medicine while doing this, but I wanted to utilize my gap year to explore. I haven't finalized my plans yet, so I don't want to write something under as a future activity, but come interview time say that I did not do it!

I definitely don't want to come across as "sitting on my butt" during my gap year so please let me know your thoughts!
The AMCAS application allows one to predict future hours only if one is already engaged in the activity. So entering planned, but not-yet-started, activities isn't possible (as you get an error message when you try to Save it). Many Secondary applications, however, give one the chance to discuss all one's anticipated Experiences. Another way to communicate them would be through a fall update letter after they are in progress.
 
K

KlondikeDelight

Wow I am embarrassed! Sorry for my ignorance and thank you for your patient response!

Are fall update letters allowed even if you don't receive an interview invite? For some reason, I am under the impression that you can only send one after an interview.

Also could you give me some tips if by the time I get my secondaries I still have not finalized my plans. I'm working on a trip overseas to participate in charitable work but I won't know if I have the funds till around September and I would like to fill out my secondaries before then!

Thank you!
 
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1) Are fall update letters allowed even if you don't receive an interview invite? For some reason, I am under the impression that you can only send one after an interview.

2) Also could you give me some tips if by the time I get my secondaries I still have not finalized my plans. I'm working on a trip overseas to participate in charitable work but I won't know if I have the funds till around September and I would like to fill out my secondaries before then!
1) Schools vary in their policy about supplemental materials, like update letters. Some don't allow them at all. Some don't allow them until after interviews. And others permit frequent updates.

2) All Secondaries don't provide an opportunity to share one's plans. But for those that do, just be honest and vague about future plans (maybe, "I'd like to travel if funds are available" or "I plan to look for a job, but meanwhile will continue my current activities of xxx, yyy, and zzz."), as you are correct that it's embarrassing at interviews to have presented a precise roadmap for activities that fall through.

You can also consider reworking your plan and engaging in charitable work locally that wouldn't require travel funds. Adcomms prefer to see engagement with the local community over international charity work that provides you with a travel adventure.
 

kaj

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Hello!
I apologize in advance if this question has already been asked but the search results were too confusing when I tried to look for it.

If I'm listing all my awards under one entry, awards I've received for academic achievement, research, financial aid, and community service, what is the recommended date I put? I've received them all on different dates so I'm unsure what to put there.

thank you!!
 
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Hello!
I apologize in advance if this question has already been asked but the search results were too confusing when I tried to look for it.

If I'm listing all my awards under one entry, awards I've received for academic achievement, research, financial aid, and community service, what is the recommended date I put? I've received them all on different dates so I'm unsure what to put there.

thank you!!
Whichever one you consider most important, list that one first and use its date in the header. Dates for the others can be inserted directly after their names.
 
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ciestar

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I don't even know how I would go about my own leadership experience. I'm a team leader at my job (pharmacy) and I'm also a team leader at one of my non-clinical volunteering gigs. I'm not sure where I'd even classify any of it. I was also essentially lead TA when I was TAing, but I feel like all three are better suited for other categories. So how would I go about explaining the leadership here? How much do adcoms really read into your descriptions on amcas?
 

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Hi Catalystik! I actually have a question about how to list a couple experiences that are specific to myself.. is there a way I could ask you privately?
 
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