*~*~*~* Official AMCAS "Work/Activities" Tips Thread 2021-2022 *~*~*~*

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Disclaimer: Post was found in a bottle washed up on the mod team's private island.

The AMCAS Application will be opening soon, and with it comes a ton of questions. The "Work and Activities" Section is probably the most talked-about section. For reference, here are three older threads that contain lots of valuable information about this section:

Great tips for entering your "Work/Activities" for AMCAS (2005-2010 thread)
*~*~*~*Tips for Entering your "Work and Activities" in AMCAS*~*~*~* (2011-2012 thread)
*~*~*~*Official AMCAS "Work/Activities" Tips Thread 2012-2013*~*~*~*
*~*~*~*Official AMCAS "Work/Activities" Tips Thread 2013-2014*~*~*~*
*~*~*~*Official AMCAS "Work/Activities" Tips Thread 2014-2015*~*~*~*
*~*~*~*Official AMCAS "Work/Activities" Tips Thread 2015-2016*~*~*~*
*~*~*~*Official AMCAS "Work/Activities" Tips Thread 2016-2017*~*~*~*
*~*~*~*Official AMCAS "Work/Activities" Tips Thread 2017-2018*~*~*~*
*~*~*~* Official AMCAS "Work/Activities" Tips Thread 2018-2019 *~*~*~*
*~*~*~* Official AMCAS "Work/Activities" Tips Thread 2019-2020 *~*~*~*
*~*~*~* Official AMCAS "Work/Activities" Tips Thread 2020-2021 *~*~*~*

(Even though these threads are all quite long, you can still search those threads to find useful answers to your question)

All new threads dealing with this topic in Pre-MD will be merged into this thread.

In the first few posts, the Moderation staff will be compiling a FAQ. Any suggestions for the FAQ are appreciated.

REMINDER: Each thread has a search function. Please use it.

This thread is brought to you by the Pre-MD Mod Squad. Ask away, and good luck!!
 

Catalystik

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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 and has been built by many contributors over many years. Any suggestions are welcomed and appreciated, especially when editing is needed to reflect changes in the AMCAS application form.


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 - Not Listed Elsewhere
-Club officer
-Student activism/government/Greek activities
-Starting a non-profit/student organization/business

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

Conferences Attended
-Use this if you were a keynote speaker, received major recognition, were an organizer, or held some other leadership role. If the conference gave you an opportunity to do a poster or podium presentation, that should be listed elsewhere tagged with a label where application screeners can easily find it (Presentations/Posters), and with the name of the conference included.

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 Medical/Clinical.
[Input the other header information (time span, total hours, contact, etc) for the first activity listed. Similar info for the additional experiences would be put in the narrative space.]

Starbucks Barista
-Responsible for training new employees, customer service, and product ordering.
-Worked while attending school full time

Also:
Paid Intern - June 2016 - August 2016
Contact: Jane Doe, Secretary, 555-123-4567
-Worked at the Mayor's Office for the City of Memphis.
-Responsible for...
-Worked 40 hours per week while taking 1 summer class. Total Hours 400

Summer Grocery Store Worker - May 2015 - August 2015
Contact: Jill Doe, Manager, 555-234-5678
-Worked as a cashier for a major grocery store chain
-Worked 30 hours per week while attending school. Total Hours 600
-Responsible for....


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? 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, reliability, 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, when your GPA speaks for itself. The other is that they won't know unless you tell them.

Again, a good trick for entering this sort of experience is to have a catch-all category like "Collegiate Recognitions" 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 need 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 (often after accepting you) and others not so much, but you won’t know which is which.

There are certainly some activities for which it is 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 friend or yourself 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 and timeframe faithfully. These are contacts, not references, so the person who responds does not need to answer questions about your performance or abilities to succeed in medical school.

8. Most Meaningful Activities
a) 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."

b) 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.

c) 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?
Yes, but it is best to use a portion of the box as AMCAS suggests on the application, also. Some creativity will be tolerated. Don't feel obliged to fill the entire space.

9. If I talk about something in my personal statement, should I still mention it in my Work/Activities Section?
Yes, definitely. Don't assume that the same reader will have access to your entire application. 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?
Some recommendations when listing physician shadowing: Group all of your shadowing together, giving a Total Hours for all included physicians. Additional relevant information such as specific dates, subtotaled hours, 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. There is no one right way, so feel free to make your own format:

Experience Type: Physician Shadowing/Clinical Observation
Title: Multiple Physician Observation Experiences
Dates: [Can encompass all the experiences in the space]
Total Hours: [Total hours shadowed for all docs included in the space.]
Contact info, organization name: [Use the info for the first physician you want to list. I suggest listing them by highest total hours or by those most recent and likely to recall you]

Narrative Description Box:
1. 13 hours 5/2019 John Patel, DO, Family Medicine resident
Participated in hospital rounds, meetings, observed longitudinal clinic hours and general scut work.
Also:
2. 20 hours 5/2018 Jill Rosenbloom, MD, Pediatrician. [email protected]
Was able to observe a newborn resuscitation.
3. 12 hours 1/2018-2/2018 Jane Santos, MD, General Surgeon. 555-123-0000 Rory Li, Office manager
Attended general and bariatric office hours. Observed two surgeries.
4. 7 hours 5/17, James Ruzic, MD, Radiologist. [email protected]
Observed image reading.

Also shadowed X other physicians in [list of specialties] for 5-8 hours each during clinic hours in summer 2016.

[General comments on overall experience/impact if space permits]


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, in fact, 9-10 are the average used. 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, especially those that are unusual! Adcomm members like to know what you do to relieve stress and unwind. Group them all together. In a sea of look-alike activities, hobbies may be what helps make you memorable: "That dumpling-maker applicant" or "The fly fisherman."

Some are confused about 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 (and doesn't require listing a Contact).

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 (eg, 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 I have "submitted manuscripts," not actually accepted yet?
Publications are worthy of their own slot, even if you already have a "Research" space. For a contact, use the 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 acceptance 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. Include enough of the author's list so that your place in the authorship can be determined, or state that you are the third author.

Do not consider a poster or presentation abstract published in a Conference Proceedings Booklet to be a "Publication" for AMCAS purposes. If the abstract were to appear in a paper journal (or a supplement to one) and be PubMed searchable, then you can call it a Publication for AMCAS purposes (and you'd include the word "[Abstract]" in the citation).

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

Keep in mind: "Having publications is mostly icing on the cake though less than 20%-25% of all applicants have ANY kind of publication, poster or presentation at ANY level, campus-wide symposium and up" (per Gonnif).

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 Fine Arts or Sport involvement.

If you are a nontraditional applicant, then your more recent accomplishments are the most important to highlight. In that case, consider grouping your high-yield, college-related 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 reorder the activities by any parameter they choose.

17. What are the maximum "Total Hours" I can list for an activity?
The most that can be entered are 99999 Total Hours.

18. How should I go about naming an activity?
You can use 60 spaces for the title of each entry:
-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 on Infant Cognition Project.

If your official title isn't sufficiently descriptive, feel free to improvise.

-If you are a general member of an organization and will hold a higher office in the future, since it can't be listed under Leadership on its own before you start the position, you can sneak it into the application with the title you pick, eg: General Member and President-Elect of Campus Recycling Initiative.

-If the activity covers two categories, since you can only designate 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 you are grouping multiple similar activities together to save space, be sure the title you pick encompasses all of them, eg, Summer Camp Volunteerism, or College Seasonal Employment, or E-Publications of Graphic Novels, or Searchable Published Abstracts, or Leisuretime Activities, or Undergraduate Recognitions, or Fraternity Involvement.

-Try not to repeat the same organization name in the title you give the activity. Example:
For an experience titled: President of Pre-Medical Society, consider an alternative for the organization name: perhaps incorporating AED spelled out, or Office of Collegiate Affairs (or whatever dept oversees all student organizations), or your school's name.

19. What would I use the "Repeated" button for?
Say you volunteered at the same hospital for three summers in a row. All the header information is the same for each summer experience but your participation wasn't continuous. So you can fill in a separate date range for each of the three summers and enter a different Total Hours. The same might apply to sport team involvement, thespian commitments, marathons run, seasonal job with the same company, etc. Note: The program will give you an error message if you don't enter them in chronological order. And it won't save the information you enter until the problem is corrected.

Another potential use would be to differentiate completed hours vs future projected hours for an activity in which you are already engaged, by using the current month as the End Date for the first date span and then again as the Start Date for the future hours.

Or the Repeated feature can be used to separate decades of involvement (showing lifelong dedication to a sport or music, eg), divided into college years & after, HS years, and even childhood years.

All the timeframes you choose to include will appear above the narrative box, each with their own estimated hours.

20. How do I describe my Research-related activities?
Some Research description guidelines (YMMV):

Each project can start with a one-sentence nontechnical description that a lay person can understand. After that feel free to use jargon, if you have space for more discussion. Borrowing from Gonnif: If you have XXX hours of research
1) and just describe your tasks in the lab, its unimpressive
2) if you discuss the connection to understanding research it's better
3) if you state/imply what personal characteristics this work says about you that's good
4) if you integrate this all along with social/professional interactions in lab, that's great
5) if you develop themes in this EC that interconnects with similar themes in other W&A along with PS and secondaries, thus showing a consistent pattern as a candidate, that would be the best

Feel free to sort them into more than one space if you have multiple experiences. If grouping them, sort by timeframe, project type or discipline, importance, by class credit/volunteer vs employment.

You will have to decide how to present these experiences to best represent you. Perhaps projects from long ago need less emphasis. Those most recent will likely serve you better if more detail is given.

Any poster, pub, or presentation that took place at a campus venue should be mentioned with the affiliated Research entry. Any that occurred at a regional/national location or appears in a journal deserves its own spot, if you have space. If any of those data sharings came out of the same project, they could be mentioned together in one spot tagged under the highest prestige format: National Pub > Regional Pub > Abstract in a national journal > National Poster/Presentation > Regional Poster/Presentation > abstract in a conference brochure > campus pub > campus poster/presentation.

Any format for citation is fine, including abbreviated versions when you are short on space. Long author lists can be shortened by stating your place on the list, the PIs name, and et al., titles can be shortened to general topic, PMID# can substitute for much of a citation if necessary. If the paper is accepted but not yet published, add [in press] in place of unknown information.

If the data set from the campus presentation was later presented in poster format at a regional conference and then finally published in a national journal, you would cite is under Publication and then mention after the citation in the same space, "Data also presented orally at DDDD College Research Symposium x/x/xx, and again as a poster that won second place at the YYY Conference in Tucson z/zz/zz date."

If you were not the presenter for your poster, but your name is on the author list, you can include it, but give credit to the presenter, as research is a team sport, and it's important to give credit where it is due. If you presented, it's fine to say so.

There is little value in using a Conferences Attended slot, if you have already mentioned the name of the conference in a Posters/Presentation or Publications entry.

A manuscript in preparation or submitted doesn't belong on the application, but if you feel compelled to mention it regardless, add it at the end of a Research description on the affiliated project. An exception might be if your productivity is proven, in which case a submitted manuscript can be added to the same space as your cited publications, if room is available, and if your PI will include mention of it in their letter for verification.

If you wrote the grant that got funding or navigated an IRB process, mention it.

Use the MM space for impact, insights, how you were inspired, future directions. If some of the research description spills over into this space, you won't be the only one who's used it that way. Just be sure that at the 700 character mark you end a paragraph so it will flow smoothly into the MM space (which is distinguished by a blank line, like a paragraph break).

Succinctness is always good.

FAQ are continued in the next space.
 

Catalystik

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FAQ (continued). This is a work in progress.

21. a)
Does anyone have any recommendations on how to list a fraternity experience? I listed it as just a one year thing (president year) even though I was in it for four years. I held other positions throughout the four years that I could include.
If you want to list it as Leadership, you could include all the years where you held office (using the Repeated feature if this was just for the academic year and not year-round) and call it maybe, Leadership Roles with XXX Fraternity, giving just the dates of leadership in the header and those dedicated hours. You could refer to the membership in the narrative, if you like, but would not add those hours.

If you want to speak more widely about general frat membership and include leadership among those comments, you'd instead use the tag Extracurricular, or Other (and could include community service if that was a part of the experience, or alternatively, split it out with its own hours into a Community Service-tagged space).

b) I have the same question for sorority experience! I was a member for 3.5 years and our philanthropy was very important to me (a local women's shelter) so I would like to be able to list this as a volunteer experience.
If you want to list it as Community Service, you could include all the years where you gave time to your cause (using the Repeated feature if this was just for the academic year and not year-round) and call it maybe, Philanthropic Involvement with XXX Sorority, giving just the dates of volunteerism in the header and those dedicated hours. You could refer to the membership in the narrative, if you like, but would not add those hours.

If you want to speak more widely about general sorority membership and include philanthropy among those comments, you'd instead use the tag Extracurricular, or Other (and could include leadership roles with that, or alternatively, split them out with their own hours into a Leadership-tagged space).

22. Can I assume that adcomms will see my application as I see it in PDF (accessed through the Main Menu>Print Application)?
The good news is yes. The application is transmitted in plain text and rendered in PDF by each school's specific application system. Why it is done this was partially simplicity of program used by the initial AMCAS system and partly for baseline security. You can't implant malicious code in plain text, so only the text of your application is transmitted, gets repopulated at each school's AMCAS-compliant system, and recreates the application. Who knew that nearly 20 years later, the simple text system is still the hardest to break into.


Proceed to questions and responses below.
 
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Hi @Catalystik

What's the difference between including presentations (posters and podium alike) into their own slot on AMCAS, versus including them within the the actual research description? Do you think the prior method allows them to stand out more?

Also, are academic honors (Magna Cum Laude, Honors program) worthwhile to include, in your opinion? If they're not included, how do schools usually know that you graduated with those honors?
 

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Hi @Catalystik

1) a. What's the difference between including presentations (posters and podium alike) into their own slot on AMCAS, versus including them within the the actual research description? b. Do you think the prior method allows them to stand out more?

2) Also, are academic honors (Magna Cum Laude, Honors program) worthwhile to include, in your opinion? If they're not included, how do schools usually know that you graduated with those honors?
1) a. If a reader is specifically scanning for evidence of research productivity, they will be looking for Publication and Presentations/Posters entries. A more holistic evaluation of the Activities section will, of course, find mention of those activities if they are within the research slot. b. Yes.

2) Your GPA speaks for itself. Listing such honors is fine, but if you need to trim your list of activities, it won't hurt to omit specific mention of them since your course-by-course transcript will be looked at closely anyway.
 
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Hello all! Two questions

1) I will be working as a clinical research coordinator and the job is split 50:50 between patient interaction (consenting/questionnaires, coordinating/running tests) and research/admin. Based on my current hours, should I classify it as clinical experience or research? Currently I have 1000 hours research experience (900 from two summer internships and 100 from an independent project with my clinical volunteering supervisor) and 500 hours as a clinic volunteer.

2) How do I calculate hours for study abroad? My activities description emphasized less of the coursework and more of the perspective I gained.

Thank you!
 

Catalystik

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1) I will be working as a clinical research coordinator and the job is split 50:50 between patient interaction (consenting/questionnaires, coordinating/running tests) and research/admin. Based on my current hours, should I classify it as clinical experience or research? Currently I have 1000 hours research experience (900 from two summer internships and 100 from an independent project with my clinical volunteering supervisor) and 500 hours as a clinic volunteer.

2) How do I calculate hours for study abroad? My activities description emphasized less of the coursework and more of the perspective I gained.
1) You could
a) split the hours into two categories/two spaces: using Employment-Medical/Clinical, and either Employment-Not Medical/Clinical or Research. Or
b) Call it all Research, but make clear the patient interaction in the title and description. Or
c) Call it all Employment-Medical/Clinical, but make clear that half the hours are administrative/research.

Your choice might be made depending on whether you have the stats to aim for selective research-oriented schools vs have a preference to appeal more to schools whose mission is to produce clinicians.

2) Your transcript already accounts for the time you spent in classes. I suggest calculating the time you spent interacting with the environment/people. Do not include sleep, personal-care time, study, or hanging out with other Americans. If that degree of calculation isn't possible, consider using a 999 or 9999 for Total Hours, indicating that the hours are unknowable.
 
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Hello! I am a little confused on how to classify one of my activities. I have been horseback riding since I was 8 years old, and also joined a club riding team that I participated in all throughout college. This club is recognized as an official intercollegiate organization (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association) and we competed at shows in our region. My question is, do I list this (horseback riding) as a hobby or an extracurricular activity? The club is my only extracurricular that hasn't been included in another category, but I plan on listing other hobbies, so I am wondering if including it as an extracurricular would be better to have some balance in that area.

Also, thoughts on listing this as a Most Meaningful? It's been an incredibly important part of my life, I got to work with others on a team, etc. But I switched from pre-vet -->pre-med and will also be listing equine-assisted therapy volunteering as another Most Meaningful, so I am not sure how another horse-themed MM will be perceived, or if it doesn't matter as long as I can write about it well. I do have a clinical activity (have been involved with it for over 2 years) as another MM.

Edit: switched some words
 

Catalystik

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1) I am a little confused on how to classify one of my activities. I have been horseback riding since I was 8 years old, and also joined a club riding team that I participated in all throughout college. This club is recognized as an official intercollegiate organization (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association) and we competed at shows in our region. My question is, do I list this (horseback riding) as a hobby or an extracurricular activity? The club is my only extracurricular that hasn't been included in another category, but I plan on listing other hobbies, so I am wondering if including it as an extracurricular would be better to have some balance in that area.

2) a. Also, thoughts on listing this as a Most Meaningful? It's been an incredibly important part of my life, I got to work with others on a team, etc. b. But I switched from pre-vet -->pre-med and will also be listing equine-assisted therapy volunteering as another Most Meaningful, so c. I am not sure how another horse-themed MM will be perceived, or if it doesn't matter as long as I can write about it well. I do have a clinical activity (have been involved with it for over 2 years) as another MM.
1) As it is an official intercollegiate sport, why not label it Intercollegiate Athletics (which highlights the "teamwork" aspect). Extracurricular would be a good second choice. Within the narrative refer to your 10 years of prior equestrian experience without trying to assign specific hours.

2) a. Making it MM is fine.
b. Is the equine-assisted therapy volunteering going to be tagged as Clinical or Non-Clinical? If the former, in what way does it qualify? Is it physician-ordered? Do you assist/assess a patient? Do your notes get forwarded to a credentialed therapist or physician and go into a medical record? Whatever your reasoning, it needs to be made clear in your description.
c. Whether MM for this is to your advantage or not depends on what you have to say. Regardless, "meaningful" is in the mind of the writer (and should be!), and you shouldn't try to guess whether some readers will prefer another choice.
 
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Hi @Catalystik !

Quick question about listing my shadowing experience. Most of my shadowing experience falls under my summer research experiences. I did research over several summers with various docs and shadowed them as part of those experiences. One of my shadowing experiences I want to list as an individual work/activity since I want to write about its impact on me in some detail. Therefore, for those shadowing experiences that fall into my research work, is it acceptable to include a line in my description that says something along the lines of: "Simultaneously, I shadowed Dr. X (my PI) for Y hours..."? Or should I list all other shadowing experiences combined in one separate work/activity and exclude the one that I want to write about seperately? Thanks so much!
 

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Quick question about listing my shadowing experience. Most of my shadowing experience falls under my summer research experiences. I did research over several summers with various docs and shadowed them as part of those experiences. One of my shadowing experiences I want to list as an individual work/activity since I want to write about its impact on me in some detail. Therefore, for those shadowing experiences that fall into my research work, is it acceptable to include a line in my description that says something along the lines of: "Simultaneously, I shadowed Dr. X (my PI) for Y hours..."? Or should I list all other shadowing experiences combined in one separate work/activity and exclude the one that I want to write about seperately?
When adcomms are looking for shadowing experience, they'll expect to find it under Shadowing, not buried in a Research description. You might have a separate space for all of the multiple shadowing exposures and another for the impactful one you want more characters to discuss. Alternatively, if the Total hours of most impactful shadowing are sufficient (and not for a specialist like Neurosurgeon, Radiology, Ortho, or Dermatologist), you could leave mention of the additional shadowing in the Research space, since they won't matter so much.

Take care not to double count the hours. Or if you have no choice, make a note of it in the description.
 
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As it is an official intercollegiate sport, why not label it Intercollegiate Athletics (which highlights the "teamwork" aspect). Extracurricular would be a good second choice.
Thank you for pointing that out. I guess I was under the impression that “intercollegiate athletics” would be more for varsity sports/division athletes and things of that nature, so I didn’t even consider that category. That makes more sense though!
Is the equine-assisted therapy volunteering going to be tagged as Clinical or Non-Clinical?
I have tagged it as non-clinical. Thank you for all your advice, super helpful!
 
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When adcomms are looking for shadowing experience, they'll expect to find it under Shadowing, not buried in a Research description. You might have a separate space for all of the multiple shadowing exposures and another for the impactful one you want more characters to discuss. Alternatively, if the Total hours of most impactful shadowing are sufficient (and not for a specialist like Neurosurgeon, Radiology, Ortho, or Dermatologist), you could leave mention of the additional shadowing in the Research space, since they won't matter so much.

Take care not to double count the hours. Or if you have no choice, make a note of it in the description.
Thanks so much! Would you be able to elaborate more on why it shouldn't be for a neuro/ortho/derm etc. speciality? Just curious why that is.
 
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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 (and doesn't require listing a Contact).
What would you classify a non-monetized YouTube channel as? Artistic endeavor or hobby?
 

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Thanks so much! Would you be able to elaborate more on why it shouldn't be for a neuro/ortho/derm etc. speciality? Just curious why that is.
Listing only highly-selective specialties that are the most difficult to match in may suggest you are set on those areas of practice and would not be happy in another field. It is highly recommended that you have some experience in a primary care field or one that provides longitudinal care. (Add ophthalmology to that previous list, BTW.) It is best to appear open-minded.
 
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Hello. Are the AMCAS cateogories primarily used by adcoms to filter and make it easier to view relevant portions of an application? What other purpose do they serve?
 
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Hello. I have no clear leadership positions and would prefer not to leave the category empty. Of these two non-clinical volunteering positions, would you advise putting any of them as leadership or would you put them both under non-clinical volunteering?

1. Adult Literacy Conversation Group Leader. I lead an adult literacy conversation group for US immigrants. We sit in a circle at the public library and talk about American culture and have conversation. I am the one who leads the group, gets them back on track if they start arguing or talking over one another, and creates the lessons/topic (vocabulary words, sentence structures) for the day.
2. Alumni Mentor. I mentor eight undergraduate students as an alumni mentor for computer science for scientific purposes. I meet monthly with them individually where I focus on helping them find experiences to improve their chances of obtaining internships or employment, revise their resumes, do interview prep, discuss future career options, navigate certain issues in their life, etc.

Thank you!
 
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Hello. Sorry for so many questions. I hope this will be my final one.

Do artistic endeavors or extracurricular activities matter more to adcoms? Which category would be better for being a member of a university (student-led) traditional Japanese music club that travels around the US and does paid music performances for audiences? The group is renowned within this niche music genre.
 

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Hello. Are the AMCAS cateogories primarily used by adcoms to filter and make it easier to view relevant portions of an application? What other purpose do they serve?
Med schools can sort/group the activities by any parameter they wish, presumably according to what factors they consider most important to their decision making. I expect the list of available tags might also trigger the memory of an applicant that they have something to list in a given category.
 

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Hello. I have no clear leadership positions and would prefer not to leave the category empty. Of these two non-clinical volunteering positions, would you advise putting any of them as leadership or would you put them both under non-clinical volunteering?

1. Adult Literacy Conversation Group Leader. I lead an adult literacy conversation group for US immigrants. We sit in a circle at the public library and talk about American culture and have conversation. I am the one who leads the group, gets them back on track if they start arguing or talking over one another, and creates the lessons/topic (vocabulary words, sentence structures) for the day.
2. Alumni Mentor. I mentor eight undergraduate students as an alumni mentor for computer science for scientific purposes. I meet monthly with them individually where I focus on helping them find experiences to improve their chances of obtaining internships or employment, revise their resumes, do interview prep, discuss future career options, navigate certain issues in their life, etc.

Thank you!
If unpaid, both would fit under Teaching or Volunteer/Community Service. The second seemingly comes closest to the peer leadership AMCAS schools are looking for (assuming you are a recent graduate). Have you never been a project or team leader, or a trainer of volunteers or newbies in a workplace?
 
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Do artistic endeavors or extracurricular activities matter more to adcoms? Which category would be better for being a member of a university (student-led) traditional Japanese music club that travels around the US and does paid music performances for audiences? The group is renowned within this niche music genre.
It depends on the activity. I'd definitely call this an Artistic Endeavor, though, since you are reaching a wider audience and have achieved some renown. It could also be Employment, but as a far second choice.
 
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If unpaid, both would fit under Teaching or Volunteer/Community Service. The second seemingly comes closest to the peer leadership AMCAS schools are looking for (assuming you are a recent graduate). Have you never been a project or team leader, or a trainer of volunteers or newbies in a workplace?
Thank you Catalystik. Yes, I have been a trainer of newbies or volunteers in a workplace, and have also led student-led projects, but I held no official titles for any of these roles. They are more like extra tasks I picked up out of necessity while as a regular employee/team member. Counting up all the hours, I wouldn't expect the number of hours to break 50.
 

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Thank you Catalystik. Yes, I have been a trainer of newbies or volunteers in a workplace, and have also led student-led projects, but I held no official titles for any of these roles. They are more like extra tasks I picked up out of necessity while as a regular employee/team member. Counting up all the hours, I wouldn't expect the number of hours to break 50.
These activities would be better categorized as Leadership (and carved out of the affiliated activity if listed separately). An official title isn't necessary, so long as your Contact is aware you engaged in the activity. Fifty hours is a reasonable amount.
 
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These activities would be better categorized as Leadership (and carved out of the affiliated activity if listed separately). An official title isn't necessary, so long as your Contact is aware you engaged in the activity. Fifty hours is a reasonable amount.
Thank you for all your help.
 
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@Catalystik one more question!

For my leadership, I think the best example I have were my years of employment in food service as a supervisor, leading groups of 10+ people much older than myself through services. However, it feels more natural to list this as employment rather than leadership. However, this is the best leadership I will have had on my application. Should I stick with employment or is it important enough to have some W/A labeled as leadership? Thanks so much!
 

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@Catalystik one more question!

For my leadership, I think the best example I have were my years of employment in food service as a supervisor, leading groups of 10+ people much older than myself through services. However, it feels more natural to list this as employment rather than leadership. However, this is the best leadership I will have had on my application. Should I stick with employment or is it important enough to have some W/A labeled as leadership? Thanks so much!
Do you have enough spaces to list the Employment from when you started the job and then Leadership after the date of your promotion to Supervisor?
 
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Do you have enough spaces to list the Employment from when you started the job and then Leadership after the date of your promotion to Supervisor?
Unfortunately I am pretty tight on spaces. Am using all 15 currently. Don't think that it would be right to use 2 slots for this experience given the significance of the other ones. Currently have it written mostly skewed towards my responsibilities as a supervisor given that I think that is more important to discuss. Thanks so much for your help.
 
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Hi! I was a peer mentor for a local middle school student in an underserved area. However, I did this as part of a pedagogy class in which we learned mentoring styles and providing support for resources to apply to college. If I make it clear that it was part of a class and list it as 'other' would this be an acceptable designation?
 

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Unfortunately I am pretty tight on spaces. Am using all 15 currently. Don't think that it would be right to use 2 slots for this experience given the significance of the other ones. Currently have it written mostly skewed towards my responsibilities as a supervisor given that I think that is more important to discuss.
If you are a strong candidate for highly-selective, stats driven med schools, then having a dedicated Leadership space is important.

How would you feel about listing the leadership dates and hours only (in a Leadership space), but referring to the employment that led to the position as the backstory for the promotion (not including those hours in the Total Hours space)?

Alternatively, list it all as Employment, but use the word Supervisor in the title of the space along with your previous title [eg, Food Service Worker, then Supervisor], with your narrative mentioning the date of transition.
 
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I was a peer mentor for a local middle school student in an underserved area. However, I did this as part of a pedagogy class in which we learned mentoring styles and providing support for resources to apply to college. If I make it clear that it was part of a class and list it as 'other' would this be an acceptable designation?
The Other tag is fine, but I'd have no problem with your calling this a Community Service. You can mention the class for credit connection in the narrative.
 
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I know this is mainly a tips/questions thread, but would anyone be available to provide feedback on how I actually wrote my activities? preferably a current MD student, resident, attending physician, or ADCOM.
 
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I was nominated by faculty for my university’s highest possible award, however I did not receive it. In an academic awards category with 6 awards listed, I have about 60 characters left - would this nomination be worthwhile mentioning?
 

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I was nominated by faculty for my university’s highest possible award, however I did not receive it. In an academic awards category with 6 awards listed, I have about 60 characters left - would this nomination be worthwhile mentioning?
Perhaps you could explain further? What were the criteria for nomination? How many candidates were there? How many received the award?
 

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I know this is mainly a tips/questions thread, but would anyone be available to provide feedback on how I actually wrote my activities? preferably a current MD student, resident, attending physician, or ADCOM.
Activities review lies outside the scope of this thread and those you are seeking to provide review are unlikely to see your request here. Consider posting your inquiry in the main Pre-Med Forum.
 
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Perhaps you could explain further? What were the criteria for nomination? How many candidates were there? How many received the award?
The award is given for excellence in academics, service, and leadership. Students are nominated exclusively by full-time faculty and confirmed by department deans, and the award is granted by the deans of the university upon graduation. Each college nominates just a single student (in my case the biology department ~400 graduates nominated me). 30 nominees for the entire class of 2,000+, 10 awards.
 

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The award is given for excellence in academics, service, and leadership. Students are nominated exclusively by full-time faculty and confirmed by department deans, and the award is granted by the deans of the university upon graduation. Each college nominates just a single student (in my case the biology department ~400 graduates nominated me). 30 nominees for the entire class of 2,000+, 10 awards.
I do think the nomination is worth mentioning, if you can fit in a lot of this information so it's clear how selective it is. Why did you not receive it? Is the final outcome still pending?
 
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I do think the nomination is worth mentioning, if you can fit in a lot of this information so it's clear how selective it is. Why did you not receive it? Is the final outcome still pending?
While my academic success and leadership (both on and off campus) accomplishments were deemed above and beyond, the service component was looking specifically towards service on campus. While I did have a few hundred hours of tutoring/TAing/volunteering on campus, most of my actually impactful service work has been off campus.
 
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Hi @Catalystik

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. So, currently I reached my limit of 15 activities and within it I have a single space dedicated for a podium presentation and a poster (belonging to the same project).

Would it look weird or potentially give off the wrong impression if I were to also include my academic honors in the same section? I would like to highlight my presentations so I want to keep the category as Presentations/posters, but maybe title it as Presentations and Distinctions?

Ex./ Category: Presentations and Posters

Title: First Author Presentations and other Distinctions. (Open to suggestions here!)

* RESEARCH CITATION*
- Presentation at so and so conference
- Poster at so and so conference

-Cum Laude
-College Honors Program
-Departmental Honors
 
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Another question here. I did some shadowing of a few surgeons all in one day about 4 years ago. Unfortunately, I did not write down their contact information (or their names, except for one) so I don't really have a contact for verification purposes. Would it be weird to list my aunt, who is a nurse that worked there with those doctors? She escorted me to the departments while I was shadowing, so she would absolutely be able to verify that I was there (if needed). Just wondering if that would be "appropriate" to do or not.
 

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Hi @Catalystik

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. So, currently I reached my limit of 15 activities and within it I have a single space dedicated for a podium presentation and a poster (belonging to the same project).

Would it look weird or potentially give off the wrong impression if I were to also include my academic honors in the same section? I would like to highlight my presentations so I want to keep the category as Presentations/posters, but maybe title it as Presentations and Distinctions?

Ex./ Category: Presentations and Posters

Title: First Author Presentations and other Distinctions. (Open to suggestions here!)

* RESEARCH CITATION*
- Presentation at so and so conference
- Poster at so and so conference

-Cum Laude
-College Honors Program
-Departmental Honors
Yes, it would be weird.
 
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I did some shadowing of a few surgeons all in one day about 4 years ago. Unfortunately, I did not write down their contact information (or their names, except for one) so I don't really have a contact for verification purposes. Would it be weird to list my aunt, who is a nurse that worked there with those doctors? She escorted me to the departments while I was shadowing, so she would absolutely be able to verify that I was there (if needed). Just wondering if that would be "appropriate" to do or not.
Using a nurse from the establishment as a Contact would be fine. In your description mention the one doc whose name you saved, plus "other surgeons from the department," somewhere in your comments.
 
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Yes, it would be weird.

Thank you so much for your response and I apologize if it was a bad question.

The only reason I asked it is because my dream school indicated to me that they give extra points when they see academic honors on a primary application. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to give honors/ awards it’s own space, and so combining it with my presentation citations is my only chance. If you feel strongly one way or the other then I’m ready to omit the honors entirely, because I don’t want to alienate all my other schools, if it will give of a bad impression.

Here is how I was thinking of doing it:

Ex./

Category: Presentations & Posters
Title: First Author Presentations and Distinctions

Presentations:

* Research Citation*
- Oral Presented at _____ Conference

* Research Citation*
- Poster Presented at _____ Conference

Distinctions:
- Indicating my academic honors
 

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Thank you so much for your response and I apologize if it was a bad question.

The only reason I asked it is because my dream school indicated to me that they give extra points when they see academic honors on a primary application. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to give honors/ awards it’s own space, and so combining it with my presentation citations is my only chance. If you feel strongly one way or the other then I’m ready to omit the honors entirely, because I don’t want to alienate all my other schools, if it will give of a bad impression.

Here is how I was thinking of doing it:

Ex./

Category: Presentations & Posters
Title: First Author Presentations and Distinctions

Presentations:

* Research Citation*
- Oral Presented at _____ Conference

* Research Citation*
- Poster Presented at _____ Conference

Distinctions:
- Indicating my academic honors
I would rather see you add the posters and presentation to the Publications entry (not my first choice, as I've posted before, but a less egregious choice IMO), if you absolutely can't squeeze them into the affiliated Research space. No one is going to notice your distinctions in a Presentations/Posters space on a quick readthrough.
 
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If you are a strong candidate for highly-selective, stats driven med schools, then having a dedicated Leadership space is important.

How would you feel about listing the leadership dates and hours only (in a Leadership space), but referring to the employment that led to the position as the backstory for the promotion (not including those hours in the Total Hours space)?

Alternatively, list it all as Employment, but use the word Supervisor in the title of the space along with your previous title [eg, Food Service Worker, then Supervisor], with your narrative mentioning the date of transition.
Thanks for this! I will go with your suggestion of using only the leadership dates and refer to my previous employment in the description.

I currently believe I could be potentially competitive at highly selective schools? My current breakdown of W/A is: 1 leadership, 1 non medical volunteering, 1 publication, 2 teaching/TAing, 2 shadowing, 5 research, 1 medical volunteering, 1 honors, 1 hobby. Do there seem to be any glaring holes in this? Just from very surface level.

Thanks so much for all your help.
 

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Thanks for this! I will go with your suggestion of using only the leadership dates and refer to my previous employment in the description.

I currently believe I could be potentially competitive at highly selective schools? My current breakdown of W/A is: 1 leadership, 1 non medical volunteering, 1 publication, 2 teaching/TAing, 2 shadowing, 5 research, 1 medical volunteering, 1 honors, 1 hobby. Do there seem to be any glaring holes in this? Just from very surface level.

Thanks so much for all your help.
Looks like good variety, though maybe a bit heavy on the research with five entries If some of those were long ago, very similar, or less than ground-breaking, you could consider grouping them.
 

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@Catalystik I have worked as a full-time high school teacher. Should I label this as Paid-Employment (Non-Clinical) or Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant? Thanks!
 

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@Catalystik I have worked as a full-time high school teacher. Should I label this as Paid-Employment (Non-Clinical) or Teaching/Tutoring/Teaching Assistant? Thanks!
Use Paid Employment and include the words High School [subject] Teacher in the name you give the space.
 
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