help! I know it's advised (here) that enhancing the experience as recounted in the PS would be better, what is the advice for writing on an experience that's totally unrelated to the one in the PS? It is not medicine-related but it did have an impact. thanks
I'm not sure of the exact question you're talking about, but in general any experience (even non-medical) that you can write passionately about is appropriate. The admissions committee needs to see you as a whole person, and the best way they can do that is if you write about something that is important to you. These essays sound much more real (i.e., less BS) than essays that say what you think the adcomm wants to hear.
However, having said that, it will look funny if you wrote about one experience having the most impact on your decision to practice medicine, and then don't mention it in the secondary. You can *definitely* write about other topics -- the 5300 character limit in the PS means you have no choice but to leave a lot out -- but try to tie them together so the PS and secondaries consistently reflect you.
Having gone through UMich's application process and been accepted there, I can tell you that it's good to write whatever you feel will be easy to talk about in your interview. Don't repeat your PS, but if you must talk about the same experience just take another angle to it.
For example, I talked about my EMT experience in one paragraph of my PS. In my UMich secondary, I went into greater detail and mentioned some things that weren't touched upon in my PS. I talked more about why I did it in the first place, how it changed my outlook, what it means to me. It's great fodder for the interviewer--it helps them ask questions that turn into long conversations.