Three Most Meaningful Activities - Use Strategically or Sincerely?

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MiddleEMed

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Hi everyone!

I'm currently trying to assign my 3 "most meaningful" activities and I'm stuck.

I thought I had the three figured out - my current job in clinical research (2+ years), my clinical volunteering, and my role in kind of a social justice/activist organization. These are, for me, the most meaningful.

However, before my current job I was involved in full-time research and I worked my butt off in a crazy project under a negligent PI for 1.5 years. After a collaborator of his could no longer continue helping, he literally froze the project and didn't renew funding for my position... which sucks because 1) I put in a hell of a lot of work and 2) I worked for a long time on a research project for 0 output or publications.

As such, should I use one of my most meaningful to describe this research and explain the situation? I'm shooting my shot at some top schools where research is important (and it is important to me too). My current job in clinical research is fantastic but its much more participant-facing/IRB/grant writing etc. I won't be getting a pub from this position, although will have a stellar LoR.

Would it be wise to sacrifice one of the other activities as a Most Meaningful to do this? Like my current job (explained above) or my activism (which I already talk a lot about in my PS, and is a part of my identity).

Any advice in particular would be extremely helpful - thank you so much!

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Go with what has been most meaningful for you. I also thought I needed to highlight my research experience (though it was limited) in order to be competitive for top schools. But, I stayed true to portraying my application sincerely and highlighting my passions in areas other than research and had a successful cycle.
 
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I worked my butt off in a crazy project under a negligent PI for 1.5 years. After a collaborator of his could no longer continue helping, he literally froze the project and didn't renew funding for my position... which sucks because 1) I put in a hell of a lot of work and 2) I worked for a long time on a research project for 0 output or publications.
I sympathize with this situation, but using a most-meaningful to say something like "I worked hard for a bad PI and that's why I didn't get a publication" doesn't answer the prompt and could come of as complaining or making excuses. The "most meaningful" section is for you to describe activities that were meaningful to you, not to make excuses for not having publications.

I'm not an Adcom but I would think that most people who've done research would understand that sometimes research just isn't fruitful. The flip side of that is that sometimes people get publications just because they got lucky or a PI wanted to throw them a bone, not because they necessarily put in the work. I was also a research assistant before medical school and got my name on publications I barely did anything for, and yet spent literally thousands of hours on projects that will likely never be published.

I would agree with previous posters advising you to write about what you're truly passionate about, and if you do that well, I wouldn't worry too much about not having a publication from a 1.5 year position. It's not like you're a failed PhD student.
 
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I sympathize with this situation, but using a most-meaningful to say something like "I worked hard for a bad PI and that's why I didn't get a publication" doesn't answer the prompt and could come of as complaining or making excuses. The "most meaningful" section is for you to describe activities that were meaningful to you, not to make excuses for not having publications.

I'm not an Adcom but I would think that most people who've done research would understand that sometimes research just isn't fruitful. The flip side of that is that sometimes people get publications just because they got lucky or a PI wanted to throw them a bone, not because they necessarily put in the work. I was also a research assistant before medical school and got my name on publications I barely did anything for, and yet spent literally thousands of hours on projects that will likely never be published.

I would agree with previous posters advising you to write about what you're truly passionate about, and if you do that well, I wouldn't worry too much about not having a publication from a 1.5 year position. It's not like you're a failed PhD student.
Thank you! I really appreciate this reply. You're very right - I really am trying to steer clear of complaining, and was instead going to try and use the extra space for that research project to explain all the things I did, what I learned, and ultimately mentioning that while I didn't get to see it through to completing, I learned intrinsic fundamentals of research from the very inception of a project to its implementation. Kind of one of the "what did you learn from a situation that didn't go your way" kind of thing.

It isn't meaningful in the sense that it inspired me or I consider it personally a good thing, but damn that time was meaningful in that I learned so damn much and have grown a hell of a lot since then. Haha.
 
Go with what has been most meaningful for you. I also thought I needed to highlight my research experience (though it was limited) in order to be competitive for top schools. But, I stayed true to portraying my application sincerely and highlighting my passions in areas other than research and had a successful cycle.
Wow; those are some impressive II and A stats - congrats on such a successful cycle!!
 
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Both. Strategically have you looked at all the secondary essay prompts? Sincerely because ChatGPT shouldn't be writing it for you.
Thank you! Agreed - I actually graduated college 4 years, before the advent of ChatGPT, and I have never once used it, nor am I even sure how to haha.

But thank you! I have browsed some of the prompts, and I definitely will elaborate more on the one activity I choose to cut from "Most meaningful"

Just a quick question - do you know if AdComs place much importance into what an applicant designates as "most meaningful" - for example, if you've been working full time in a lab for 2 years and yet don't have it as a most meaningful, is that a red flag?
 
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Thank you! I really appreciate this reply. You're very right - I really am trying to steer clear of complaining, and was instead going to try and use the extra space for that research project to explain all the things I did, what I learned, and ultimately mentioning that while I didn't get to see it through to completing, I learned intrinsic fundamentals of research from the very inception of a project to its implementation. Kind of one of the "what did you learn from a situation that didn't go your way" kind of thing.

It isn't meaningful in the sense that it inspired me or I consider it personally a good thing, but damn that time was meaningful in that I learned so damn much and have grown a hell of a lot since then. Haha.
What you wrote here sounds like it could be a good answer to a secondary prompt, depending on the prompt and how you spin it. Still, I would focus more on what you did than what you did not accomplish.

Also, do you want to do a lot of research in medical school and/or do you have the stats for T20s? If so it MIGHT be reasonable to use this as a most meaningful if you are careful to avoid any hints of making excuses, but I still think it's safer just be your genuine self. When I applied to medical school I had 6000+ research hours but wasn't convinced I wanted a research-heavy career or medical school experience. I actually tried to de-emphasize research on my application: I devoted one sentence to it in my PS and did not include it as a most meaningful, since I figured my hours and LOR from my PI would speak for themselves. As a result, all of my interviews were from schools that I genuinely wanted to attend, and I did not get interviews from the fancy research powerhouses. I'm now at a school not exactly known for research but that is nonetheless a great fit for me. Moral of the story: show people who you really are, and assuming you've approached this process thoughtfully and correctly, things will work out.
 
You can be honest. You can be strategic. You can be somewhere in between. I would consider what your application currently consists of, what it's missing, and how your MME can bring something new to the table that makes you a more compelling applicant.
 
Just a quick question - do you know if AdComs place much importance into what an applicant designates as "most meaningful" - for example, if you've been working full time in a lab for 2 years and yet don't have it as a most meaningful, is that a red flag?
I can't speak for all admissions committees. The ones I worked for didn't put in any effort to extrapolate hidden messages or signals from what activities were designated as most meaningful. That said, I can't control what an individual reviewer may think if they expected you to have (for example, do not construe as advice) 1 clinical experience, 1 research experience, and 1 community service experience.

For me, my eyebrows are raised if you had a MME for an activity where you participated in fewer than 50 hours.
 
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