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

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1) 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?

2) How much do adcoms really read into your descriptions on amcas?
Keep in mind that the leadership category reads, "Leadership-Not Listed Elsewhere. For many leadership roles that arise from other activities, it's better to keep the assumption of of leadership with the affiliated activity, to better show one's growth in involvement and responsibility, and to keep it in context. One can title the activity to show both components:

Employment: "Pharmacy Tech and Team Leader" As a pharmacy tech, my role was xxx. After one year, I was promoted to Team Leader and took on the duties of yyy. Through this, I came to realize zzz.
Volunteer-not Medical/Clinical: "Habitat for Humanity General Helper and Finance Chair" I learned general carpentry skills from my grandfather in HS, like bbb and ccc. I thought it would be fun to put this ability to use when I learned that ddd. After putting in 8 hours per week on weekends for fall 2012 term, I wanted to put my organizational and business skills to the test so for my second project in spring 2013, I volunteered to take on the chairship for finance, where I fff.
Leadership: "Lead Teaching Assistant for Chemistry Lab" or Teaching: "General Chemistry Teaching Assistant and Lead TA"

2) Some adcomms read and reread your entries, highlighting important areas or taking notes. Others skim or, frankly, stop reading if it gets boring, due to time constraints. And others are between those extremes. Pro Tips: Be succinct. Make it interesting.
 
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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?
Sorry, my PM box is closed so a private consultation isn't possible. The benefit of a public question is that potentially thousands of folks can benefit from the answer. Maybe you could frame what you want to know in a more generic or slightly fictionalized way.
 
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Is it bad to openly brag about yourself? For example, can I just say I'm proactive and that's why I got to do x,y, and z, or is it more of a show, don't tell type of thing?

Thanks!
 

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I've got one space left to fill, and figured that I might as well use it to list some of my favorite hobbies given that I have not used this -typification- yet. I have called the experience "Leisurely Activities", but I am unsure of what to put for organization name and hours (especially considering that I'm going to be listing multiple hobbies, some of which I have been involved with for over a decade)? Also, is it sufficient to simply list all of the hobbies in the description, or do I need to explain them?(most will be VERY self explanatory). I know that this entry won't wow adcoms; I'm really just using this to fill my 15th activity and to portray that I know how to let loose to relieve stress; I'm not a robot. Thoughts Cataystik?

Cheers
 
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I've got one space left to fill, and figured that I might as well use it to list some of my favorite hobbies given that I have not used this -typification- yet. I have called the experience "Leisurely Activities", but I am unsure of what to put for organization name and hours (especially considering that I'm going to be listing multiple hobbies, some of which I have been involved with for over a decade)? Also, is it sufficient to simply list all of the hobbies in the description, or do I need to explain them?(most will be VERY self explanatory). I know that this entry won't wow adcoms; I'm really just using this to fill my 15th activity and to portray that I know how to let loose to relieve stress; I'm not a robot.
I don't think that an Organization name is required. It's fine to give a list of hobbies and artistic endeavors without explaining them, unless its a non-intuitive activity. Consider using the Repeated option to divide up timeframes before HS, for HS, and during the college years. Or, alternatively, give only the timeframe for college and vaguely refer to involvement before that time. Total hours really isn't relevant here, so don't stress about being exact.

And, I don't need to be wowed by hobbies, I just want a better sense of your interests so I can think of you as a well-rounded person.
 
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kaj

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I know that one shouldn't repeat themselves on the application but I'm scared a certain section of my application will be lacking. I don't have any separate physician shadowing, only shadowing I did as a part of volunteering at the hospital or research in the hospital itself. Would it be too repetitive to create a separate category for physician shadowing and list the same experiences but focus more on what I learned from the shadowing aspect?
 
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I know that one shouldn't repeat themselves on the application but I'm scared a certain section of my application will be lacking. I don't have any separate physician shadowing, only shadowing I did as a part of volunteering at the hospital or research in the hospital itself. Would it be too repetitive to create a separate category for physician shadowing and list the same experiences but focus more on what I learned from the shadowing aspect?
Ideally, you would split out the shadowing hours and list them in their own space, subtracting that time from what you would list if you kept the activities together.

If that would be too difficult, then add the words "& Shadowing" to each activity name. And where it's easy to see, state the percent of the total time you were in the presence of a physician, and call it Shadowing again, in the narrative box. As a backup, you might consider having a Shadowing entry, with 0 or 1 hour listed, saying, "See shadowing described elsewhere, embedded in Research and Hospital Volunteering experiences."
 
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motz

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For the description, should I do it resume style or start with "I"? Also, if I do it resume style, how do I describe the organization? I will have to say its name... "Student Council is responsible for..." and then if the next sentence is "Served as..." it sounds awkward.
 
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For the description, should I do it resume style or start with "I"? Also, if I do it resume style, how do I describe the organization? I will have to say its name... "Student Council is responsible for..." and then if the next sentence is "Served as..." it sounds awkward.
You can use bullet or narrative format, as seems best to suit what you want to convey. Or you can mix and match within an activity description. You might start with a narrative description of the purpose of the student council if it isn't intuitive. Then use bullet points for your role. And return to narrative style for any impact/insights (or whatever). You could skip the purpose completely and have more space for the last two sections. Or you can assume everyone knows purpose and role, and use all the characters for impact.
 
K

KlondikeDelight

May I ask another question: How does the activities section look format wise? Does it keep the formatting that I use to enter everything or does it use the formatting seen when I click show details on the Work/Activities page?

I used bullet formatting but when I click show details everything looks very messy because the formatting is removed and my spaces are gone. I can definitely redo my entries, but I just want to know how medical schools see the activities.
 
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How does the activities section look format wise? Does it keep the formatting that I use to enter everything or does it use the formatting seen when I click show details on the Work/Activities page?

I used bullet formatting but when I click show details everything looks very messy because the formatting is removed and my spaces are gone. I can definitely redo my entries, but I just want to know how medical schools see the activities.
Med schools view the PDF version which you can review by going to Main Menu, click Print Application, and choosing PDF. You get to look at it without printing it.

It's apparently very difficult to get real bullets to show up properly. Most use a dash "-" or a star "*".
 
K

KlondikeDelight

Ahh omg thank you Catalystik I was freaking out! See what happened was that I had everything like this:

-A
-B
-C

but when I clicked on show details it had it like this:

-A,-B,-C

Thank you!
 
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motz

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Is it OK if I switch from resume style to prose style from one activity to the next?
 

paulgilbert

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Hello!
I have a quick question about one of my activities.

I have an activity that goes under 'Recognition' category and would like to include an interview.
Is it acceptable to provide a weblink in my description?
 
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I have a quick question about one of my activities.

I have an activity that goes under 'Recognition' category and would like to include an interview.
Is it acceptable to provide a weblink in my description?
You may, but considering that everyone reading your application won't have time to click on it, the description will still be important. And also consider that at some schools, adcomms are provided with paper copies of your application.
 

motz

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I created, designed, wrote a science blog for three months that generated a lot of hits in the short time and over 100k+ visitors. I spent all summer doing it. Is it significant enough to put as an activity? Or is it ZZzzzzz.
 
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I created, designed, wrote a science blog for three months that generated a lot of hits in the short time and over 100k+ visitors. I spent all summer doing it. Is it significant enough to put as an activity? Or is it ZZzzzzz.
Might be a good one to provide a link for if it was created to be educational. If it was more personal, like a diary, then omit it.
 

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Would it be ok to include home care of family member as a volunteer - medical/clinical line item? My dad moved in with me for a couple of years, and he required quite a bit of medical care that I shared with my husband. I also took him to doctor's appointments and was basically his advocate for healthcare. If this is something that I can list as an activity, would it look odd that the contact name is either myself or my husband's?

Also, I would like your opinion as to whether I should include some workshops & pre-med conferences sponsored by the med school I wish to attend (applying early decision). On the list of activities, I was thinking of combining both events under the heading of conferences attended.
 
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1) Would it be ok to include home care of family member as a volunteer - medical/clinical line item? My dad moved in with me for a couple of years, and he required quite a bit of medical care that I shared with my husband. I also took him to doctor's appointments and was basically his advocate for healthcare.
2) If this is something that I can list as an activity, would it look odd that the contact name is either myself or my husband's?

3) Also, I would like your opinion as to whether I should include some workshops & pre-med conferences sponsored by the med school I wish to attend (applying early decision). On the list of activities, I was thinking of combining both events under the heading of conferences attended.
1) Caring for a family member with medical needs is not looked on as a Volunteer-Medical/Clinical activity and it would not reflect well to call it that. Certainly you can list it, but I'd suggest using the "Other" category instead, naming the activity something that evokes Home Health Care of Family Member, and discussing the role you took on in the narrative.

2) Using your husband as the contact would be better, with a title of maybe Co-Caretaker.

3) I generally discourage the use of the Conferences Attended category if one attended solely as an observer or learner, but in your specific case where the events took place only at the one school you'll apply to, I would support their inclusion. It might be looked on as a demonstration of your connection to the institution.
 
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motz

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I presented at a scientific conference that was only for people who finished a research internship for a state public agency. Should I list this separately? It's not exactly impressive but I did make my own poster, presented original data, and all that.

Also, I worked as an apartment manager. It was on-call and very sporadic, but continuous. I unclogged toilets, answered phone calls, painted, basically lots of DIY projects. Also kicking out tenants. It was approximately 2 hours a week. Should I list this? I had a "Sabbatical" gap year with just clinical volunteering for 16 hours a week and a few other ECs, so I'm worried this may be a red flag.

By the way, thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I have been out of school for two years so SDN, powerpoints I find online, and people like you are my main advisers!
 

romanjetfighter

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Does your contact matter? Like if your contacts are MDs vs. secretaries? Also, would it raise eyebrows if 90% of my contacts were Vietnamese? I don't want to seem too ORMy.
 
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1) I presented at a scientific conference that was only for people who finished a research internship for a state public agency. Should I list this separately? It's not exactly impressive but I did make my own poster, presented original data, and all that.

2) Also, I worked as an apartment manager. It was on-call and very sporadic, but continuous. I unclogged toilets, answered phone calls, painted, basically lots of DIY projects. Also kicking out tenants. It was approximately 2 hours a week. Should I list this?

3) I had a "Sabbatical" gap year with just clinical volunteering for 16 hours a week and a few other ECs, so I'm worried this may be a red flag.
1) Yes.

2) Yes. Highlight the problem solving skills and working with difficult people, both of which translate well into the world of medicine.

3) An unsuccessful hunt for full-time employment wouldn't be uncommon.
 
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1) Does your contact matter? Like if your contacts are MDs vs. secretaries? 2) Also, would it raise eyebrows if 90% of my contacts were Vietnamese? I don't want to seem too ORMy.
1) No. Ideally whomever you pick would recall your name, but face it, if time has gone by, that may be true of neither.

2) No. Think of it as showing a connection to an ethnic community (unless they are all your aunts and uncles, in which case, my eyebrows would indeed be raised).
 

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Slightly confused about entering a specific Conference-related activity.

I presented a talk on an independent research project at a Global Health Student Conference at a top medical school. There were 7 presentations total (6 by medical students, and my one being the only undergraduate presentation). I won first place for my talk. Should I mention that I was the only undergraduate presenting, or that all the other presentations were by medical students? It seems a little pompous to me, so originally I just had a generic "Won first place for my talk at so and so Conference." Now I feel like adcoms would like to at least know how many other presentations there were...

Thank you for the help, greatly appreciate it!
 
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I presented a talk on an independent research project at a Global Health Student Conference at a top medical school. There were 7 presentations total (6 by medical students, and my one being the only undergraduate presentation). I won first place for my talk. Should I mention that I was the only undergraduate presenting, or that all the other presentations were by medical students? It seems a little pompous to me, so originally I just had a generic "Won first place for my talk at so and so Conference." Now I feel like adcoms would like to at least know how many other presentations there were...
Presumably, your presentation was chosen on a competitive basis. If you can find out how many applied vs the 7 accepted to present, that is worth mentioning. I agree that it would be hard to work in the fact that you were the sole undergrad in a graceful manner; it's enough to say you won a First Place award for an oral presentation in a conference hosted at XXX med school.
 

whalewind

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Unfortunately, I am not sure how many applied, though yes, I did first submit an abstract and later received acceptance to present. The office is closed for the weekend, and I would really like to submit by Sunday, so I think I'll keep it to the simple description.

One other question. My research talk was based on an independent project I did through a research fellowship grant. Can I combine the two slots? (ie. After completing the blank research analysis, I presented my findings at so and so Conference and received the 1st place award for my oral presentation), or do you believe that this activity merits its own slot?

Thanks again!!
 
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My research talk was based on an independent project I did through a research fellowship grant. Can I combine the two slots? (ie. After completing the blank research analysis, I presented my findings at so and so Conference and received the 1st place award for my oral presentation), or do you believe that this activity merits its own slot?
I would use 1) a Research space to discuss the project, the fellowship grant, and your role, and 2) a Presentations/Posters space where you also mention the First Place Recognition, as it keeps the award in proper context. If you prefer to mention the fellowship grant (so you can give more description) in an Awards/Honors space along with other Collegiate Recognitions, that would be fine, too.
 

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Quick question before I submit early this week (hopefully I'm not too late). I said I repeated an activity on my first app last year but I didn't really stop volunteering. I just had to take a few months off while I studied for the MCAT and then I started volunteering again. I was still registered a volunteer and nothing really changed. For this app I'm thinking off making it continuous instead since I think that is a better description. Would that raise any questions?
 

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Hi all, just another quick question.

I have two experiences working with the same organization (one as a volunteer, another as an employee) and was curious as to if I should include a brief description of the organization in both experiences or not? I'm thinking that I should since medical schools can organize the activities/experiences as they need, but was looking for a little more feedback. Thanks
 
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Quick question before I submit early this week (hopefully I'm not too late). I said I repeated an activity on my first app last year but I didn't really stop volunteering. I just had to take a few months off while I studied for the MCAT and then I started volunteering again. I was still registered a volunteer and nothing really changed. For this app I'm thinking off making it continuous instead since I think that is a better description. Would that raise any questions?
It's not impossible that schools will compare one application with another. If you don't use the Repeated option, just put a quick line in the description about a ~3 month hiatus, which is not a big deal.
 
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I have two experiences working with the same organization (one as a volunteer, another as an employee) and was curious as to if I should include a brief description of the organization in both experiences or not? I'm thinking that I should since medical schools can organize the activities/experiences as they need, but was looking for a little more feedback.
I agree with you that each entry should be able to stand alone. That said, if it's a well-known group, maybe no description is needed. If not, one of the descriptions can be much briefer (I'd pick the Employment) if you're short on space. And adcomms may not appreciate being referred from one space to another (like, "see Employment entry"), so while it's an option, try not to do that.
 
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Nelmezzodelcammin

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I spent the summer between my junior/senior year living with my grandmother while she cared for my grandfather who was dying of cancer. I worked during the day but at home I helped with most of his care. I saw how cancer can ravish the body, I interacted with the nurse and doctor that visited him, and I watched him die. That sounds somewhat melodramatic, but it was a very influential experience and I learned a lot about disease, death and palliative care.
My question is if I should include this in that "activities" section of my app. It doesn't seem right to lump caring for a loved one in with all the other extracurriculars.
I wrote about something else in my personal statement but I want to find a way to include this in my application. What should I do?
 
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I spent the summer between my junior/senior year living with my grandmother while she cared for my grandfather who was dying of cancer. I worked during the day but at home I helped with most of his care. I saw how cancer can ravish the body, I interacted with the nurse and doctor that visited him, and I watched him die. That sounds somewhat melodramatic, but it was a very influential experience and I learned a lot about disease, death and palliative care.
My question is if I should include this in that "activities" section of my app. It doesn't seem right to lump caring for a loved one in with all the other extracurriculars.
I wrote about something else in my personal statement but I want to find a way to include this in my application. What should I do?
Many Secondaries have an essay prompt that would be suitable to including the Experience and using this avenue would be a good choice. Alternatively, see post #1334 above, item 1.
 

ridethecliche

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I was an idiot and delayed my app by a week because I thought that the 'most meaningful experience' make the total characters 1325, instead of giving 1325 additional characters IN A SEPARATE BOX.

Yeah, so that happened.

Learn from my stupid mistakes!
 

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It's not impossible that schools will compare one application with another. If you don't use the Repeated option, just put a quick line in the description about a ~3 month hiatus, which is not a big deal.

Awesome thanks! It was actually more like 5 months since I was working as a scribe at that time as well. I think I'll just put a comment in the description explaining it.
 

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I have a few spots open on my Work and Activities section so I might as well have a "Hobbies" entry. My concern is that the hobbies weren't terribly regular (just when I happened to have the time) or might not exactly be considered hobbies. For example:

-instrument: classically trained since cihldhood; in college whenever I had time/access
-contact: instrument teacher
-sport: played informally since childhood, 1 year in high school; occasionally in college
-watching documentaries
-traveling:
have been to quite a number of countries & traveling is essentially a main goal for the rest of my life
-contact: family member
-informal employment: helped a family friend with her business by producing (read: painting) artwork
-misc non-clinical volunteering: not enough for its own listing, just a few events through the school and continuing to volunteer at the soup kitchen I volunteered at before college
-contact: soup kitchen

Is it worth listing these? And if I were to use any of these in a single "Hobbies" entry, who would I list as the contact?
 
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I have a few spots open on my Work and Activities section so I might as well have a "Hobbies" entry. My concern is that the hobbies weren't terribly regular (just when I happened to have the time) or might not exactly be considered hobbies. For example:

-instrument: classically trained since cihldhood; in college whenever I had time/access
-contact: instrument teacher
-sport: played informally since childhood, 1 year in high school; occasionally in college
-watching documentaries
-traveling:
have been to quite a number of countries & traveling is essentially a main goal for the rest of my life
-contact: family member
-informal employment: helped a family friend with her business by producing (read: painting) artwork
-misc non-clinical volunteering: not enough for its own listing, just a few events through the school and continuing to volunteer at the soup kitchen I volunteered at before college
-contact: soup kitchen

Is it worth listing these? And if I were to use any of these in a single "Hobbies" entry, who would I list as the contact?
Yes, I would list them. Rather than Hobbies, you might use Other or Extracurriculars, since it's a mixed bag of items, titling it maybe, "Miscellaneous Hobbies & Involvements of Interest" or "Other Interesting Things About Me," or somesuch that attracts curiosity. Add some genres of documentary you prefer. Use yourself as the contact. Don't worry about accuracy in the Total Hours, as no one will care; I think that using 999 is code for TNTC.
 

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Could someone help me with a few questions.

Do you have to put an organization name for everything? What if I tutored one student privately? Do I just leave it blank?

If I want to put study abroad as an experience, for the organization name, do I just put the institution that I attended?

Thanks.
 
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1) Do you have to put an organization name for everything? What if I tutored one student privately? Do I just leave it blank?

2) If I want to put study abroad as an experience, for the organization name, do I just put the institution that I attended?
1) Organization Name isn't a required field, so it's OK to leave it blank.

2) Use the university that sponsored the Study Abroad opportunity, not the international school name.
 

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1) Organization Name isn't a required field, so it's OK to leave it blank.

2) Use the university that sponsored the Study Abroad opportunity, not the international school name.
Thanks a lot! If you don't mind me asking, how many hours should I put for the study abroad? It wasn't like an hours based thing, more like a total experience in the period of one month. Would appreciate a reply.
 
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how many hours should I put for the study abroad? It wasn't like an hours based thing, more like a total experience in the period of one month.
You could either enter a 0 or 1, or you could total up your non-sleeping hours, or you could total the waking hours outside of class and study (the latter two of which can be presumed from your transcript). Hours of involvement aren't really important for this type of activity, so it doesn't matter what you choose.
 
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NYCdude

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You could either enter a 0 or 1, or you could total up your non-sleeping hours, or you could total the waking hours outside of class and study (the latter two of which can be presumed from your transcript). Hours of involvement aren't really important for this type of activity, so it doesn't matter what you choose.
Catalystik, sorry to keep pestering you. Does it look bad if you only use 300 characters or so to describe an activity? For example, I volunteered at a hospital, and can describe everything I did within 400 characters. Also, I marked it as a "Most meaningful" activity and used up all the space there. So is it okay if the description portion is a little bare? Thanks again!
 
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Does it look bad if you only use 300 characters or so to describe an activity? For example, I volunteered at a hospital, and can describe everything I did within 400 characters. Also, I marked it as a "Most meaningful" activity and used up all the space there. So is it okay if the description portion is a little bare?
In this thread, I have frequently harped on the importance of being succinct and not blathering on just to fill the space. You'll be fine. If you look at the PDF view under Print Application on the Main Menu (which is what adcomms see), you'll notice that there are no giant white spaces where you don't use all the characters. Everything will come out looking tidy rather than sparse.
 

NYCdude

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In this thread, I have frequently harped on the importance of being succinct and not blathering on just to fill the space. You'll be fine. If you look at the PDF view under Print Application on the Main Menu (which is what adcomms see), you'll notice that there are no giant white spaces where you don't use all the characters. Everything will come out looking tidy rather than sparse.
Thanks again. :) Last question for ya (if you don't mind). What is your opinion about having three meaningful experiences as opposed to just one or two? Does it look better for someone to have all three filled rather than just one or two? Again, super appreciated.
 

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Does it matter what tense the descriptions are in (bullet point format)? Ex: For a past experience of when I was a tutor, can it be "Tutored students in..." or can it be "Tutor students in.." ? The only reason I ask is because I'm short a few characters and removing the "ed" from a handful of verbs would be helpful. But, I don't want to imply that I'm currently doing this activity. I know this sounds silly but I'm not sure which direction to take.

Thanks!
 

K1NG

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For activities that I'm continuing, I put the end date for June 2015 and put a note in the description that I'll be active until acceptance to medical school. How does that sound?
 

Premixis

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Does it matter what tense the descriptions are in (bullet point format)? Ex: For a past experience of when I was a tutor, can it be "Tutored students in..." or can it be "Tutor students in.." ? The only reason I ask is because I'm short a few characters and removing the "ed" from a handful of verbs would be helpful. But, I don't want to imply that I'm currently doing this activity. I know this sounds silly but I'm not sure which direction to take.

Thanks!

From what I've seen, I think you should be as clear as possible when writing about the experiences. Personally, I would leave in the -ed so that there isn't any confusion about if/if not you are still doing the experiences.
 
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Premixis

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For activities that I'm continuing, I put the end date for June 2015 and put a note in the description that I'll be active until acceptance to medical school. How does that sound?

I've heard doing that is just fine, and will be doing that in my application as well.
 
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