what to put in the "optional" essay? (Tell us anything else)

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907914

I am kind of struggling on what to put in the optional essay? If a school doesn't have an adversity essay then I throw that in there, but if they do then I really don't have much else to say. I was extraordinarily thorough with my primary. The only things not in my primary are along the lines of adversity/diversity stuff. So if a school already has those, what do you put in there?

And is it appropriate to put an adversity/diversity essay in the "tell us anything else" section? Like, I understand the adversity, but when my 'diversity' essay is basically 'military taught me leadership, teamwork, and teaching' it feels kind of shallow or like I am just talking myself up?

Or would it be better to include something that is not anywhere else in my application but is not really relevant to medical school? Like talking about how I still spend time with family/what it is like raising a child while doing the Army/student thing? That isn’t the topic of my adversity statement, but I don’t really talk about what it is like so much as how I moved past it.
 
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The most memorable "tell us anything else" says I read are ones in which an applicant tells me what makes them cool and unique. You'd be surprised how many applications look exactly the same, which is a travesty given how hard med school applicants have worked to make themselves exceptional. But when everyone's special, no one is, right? So I get that applicants have worked hard to be a cut above, but what stands out to me is when an applicant writes something about what makes them truly different. One of my department's residents, for example, was a professional symphonic musician who decided he wanted to become a doctor -- that's truly out of the ordinary and would make a very memorable "tell us something else" essay. If you're a skilled athlete, chef, or artist, that would be a great place to tell us about it. If you're a dedicated hobbyist or collector, that would also make a memorable topic, too. I know a guy who collects and (legally) trades live audio recordings of his favorite rock band; he's got a collection of more than 700 shows and has developed friendships with very diverse people all over the country as part of that music-sharing community -- that would make for an interesting essay. Try to think of what makes you unique and tell schools about it.
 
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gonnif

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The most memorable "tell us anything else" says I read are ones in which an applicant tells me what makes them cool and unique. You'd be surprised how many applications look exactly the same, which is a travesty given how hard med school applicants have worked to make themselves exceptional. But when everyone's special, no one is, right? So I get that applicants have worked hard to be a cut above, but what stands out to me is when an applicant writes something about what makes them truly different. One of my department's residents, for example, was a professional symphonic musician who decided he wanted to become a doctor -- that's truly out of the ordinary and would make a very memorable "tell us something else" essay. If you're a skilled athlete, chef, or artist, that would be a great place to tell us about it. If you're a dedicated hobbyist or collector, that would also make a memorable topic, too. I know a guy who collects and (legally) trades live audio recordings of his favorite rock band; he's got a collection of more than 700 shows and has developed friendships with very diverse people all over the country as part of that music-sharing community -- that would make for an interesting essay. Try to think of what makes you unique and tell schools about it.

This applicant I believe is ex-army and may have something to say about that
 
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The most memorable "tell us anything else" says I read are ones in which an applicant tells me what makes them cool and unique. You'd be surprised how many applications look exactly the same, which is a travesty given how hard med school applicants have worked to make themselves exceptional. But when everyone's special, no one is, right? So I get that applicants have worked hard to be a cut above, but what stands out to me is when an applicant writes something about what makes them truly different. One of my department's residents, for example, was a professional symphonic musician who decided he wanted to become a doctor -- that's truly out of the ordinary and would make a very memorable "tell us something else" essay. If you're a skilled athlete, chef, or artist, that would be a great place to tell us about it. If you're a dedicated hobbyist or collector, that would also make a memorable topic, too. I know a guy who collects and (legally) trades live audio recordings of his favorite rock band; he's got a collection of more than 700 shows and has developed friendships with very diverse people all over the country as part of that music-sharing community -- that would make for an interesting essay. Try to think of what makes you unique and tell schools about it.

Wait so you’re telling me most people don't just leave it blank?

internal-screaming-9367937.png
 
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907914

This applicant I believe is ex-army and may have something to say about that
I think my application covers my military stuff very well and it just feels like a crutch to continue to lean on that in the secondary application. I know it has been a defining characteristic of who I am as an adult, but feel like talking about it too much is a bad thing? Like, I am a lot more than my military experiences...is that the wrong way to think?
The most memorable "tell us anything else" says I read are ones in which an applicant tells me what makes them cool and unique. You'd be surprised how many applications look exactly the same, which is a travesty given how hard med school applicants have worked to make themselves exceptional. But when everyone's special, no one is, right? So I get that applicants have worked hard to be a cut above, but what stands out to me is when an applicant writes something about what makes them truly different. One of my department's residents, for example, was a professional symphonic musician who decided he wanted to become a doctor -- that's truly out of the ordinary and would make a very memorable "tell us something else" essay. If you're a skilled athlete, chef, or artist, that would be a great place to tell us about it. If you're a dedicated hobbyist or collector, that would also make a memorable topic, too. I know a guy who collects and (legally) trades live audio recordings of his favorite rock band; he's got a collection of more than 700 shows and has developed friendships with very diverse people all over the country as part of that music-sharing community -- that would make for an interesting essay. Try to think of what makes you unique and tell schools about it.
It has been suggested to me to potentially talk about how I, as a white American, have had the opportunity to learn a culture other than my own through marrying a Native American woman and supporting my daughter and spouse in that heritage. Would that be a good thing to talk about? I am proud to support that and have gained an appreciation for cultures beyond my own?
 
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deleted972488

If they already asked for diversity/adversity and you don't have anything else to say, you can leave it blank.
It has been suggested to me to potentially talk about how I, as a white American, have had the opportunity to learn a culture other than my own through marrying a Native American woman and supporting my daughter and spouse in that heritage. Would that be a good thing to talk about? I am proud to support that and have gained an appreciation for cultures beyond my own?

That sounds like a good “diversity” essay topic.
 
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907914

If they already asked for diversity/adversity and you don't have anything else to say, you can leave it blank.


That sounds like a good “diversity” essay topic.
Directly for diversity, I figured what I can contribute with Military perspectives > what I have observed my family doing.

What do y’all think?
 
9

907914

If they already asked for diversity/adversity and you don't have anything else to say, you can leave it blank.


That sounds like a good “diversity” essay topic.
Or is it all about wording?

“What perspectives can you contribute” = Military experience

“How can you contribute to the diversity...” = appreciation for cultures other than my own?
 
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907914

If they already asked for diversity/adversity and you don't have anything else to say, you can leave it blank.


That sounds like a good “diversity” essay topic.

I did have the idea actually of combining the family story with how I gained an appreciation for other cultures within the United States through living with people from around the states while in the army. Those two combine nicely.
 
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deleted972488

Or is it all about wording?

“What perspectives can you contribute” = Military experience

“How can you contribute to the diversity...” = appreciation for cultures other than my own?

You can do both. I wrote about multiple aspects of diversity in my essays.
 
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Calizboosted76

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The most memorable "tell us anything else" says I read are ones in which an applicant tells me what makes them cool and unique. You'd be surprised how many applications look exactly the same, which is a travesty given how hard med school applicants have worked to make themselves exceptional. But when everyone's special, no one is, right? So I get that applicants have worked hard to be a cut above, but what stands out to me is when an applicant writes something about what makes them truly different. One of my department's residents, for example, was a professional symphonic musician who decided he wanted to become a doctor -- that's truly out of the ordinary and would make a very memorable "tell us something else" essay. If you're a skilled athlete, chef, or artist, that would be a great place to tell us about it. If you're a dedicated hobbyist or collector, that would also make a memorable topic, too. I know a guy who collects and (legally) trades live audio recordings of his favorite rock band; he's got a collection of more than 700 shows and has developed friendships with very diverse people all over the country as part of that music-sharing community -- that would make for an interesting essay. Try to think of what makes you unique and tell schools about it.

So how would adcoms look if one of your hobbies was being a tattoo artist? I know tattoos are a very controversial topic. But I feel as if when I apply this would be something to make me stand out. My aunt who went to veterinary school said that she got a majority of her interviews on the grounds that she was a professional skydiver. She told me not to take up skydiving because the adcoms in human medicine are not very fond of those who have hobbies that risk their life. How true is this?
 
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907914

Very few applicants make themselves a stronger candidate by answering an optional essay.
Is it better to throw in an adversity/diversity essay if they do not have a spot for it but they do have an “optional” or to leave it blank?
 

gyngyn

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Is it better to throw in an adversity/diversity essay if they do not have a spot for it but they do have an “optional” or to leave it blank?
Do you have a compelling subject that adds something not found in the rest of the ap?
 
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TravelingMedicine

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Could my background of growing up in an international family be a topic for optional or adversity? Ie I grew up in two different households/ cultures (both were born in the same country) as mother was in the US and father was in a foreign country. Torn between two different cultures, I felt like I had to choose one to follow as I grew up but as I grew older that it was possible to be present and impactful in both? Also the added pressure of society to assimilate.
 
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EasyEveryoneWouldDoIt

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so last cycle i split the optional essay with "why do i want to go there" specific if they didn't ask it and my experience with medicine on 3 different continents in different cultures i.e. diversity essay. from the II i got ... the diversity and working with different cultures and why i am unique worked while the why do i want to go with your specific medical school didn't. i am also a reinventor so i needed to stand out someway for them to disregard my previous GPA but for the optional essay make it something that is "unique" to you and that a reader would want to read rather than something they have to read.
 
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I am kind of struggling on what to put in the optional essay? If a school doesn't have an adversity essay then I throw that in there, but if they do then I really don't have much else to say. I was extraordinarily thorough with my primary. The only things not in my primary are along the lines of adversity/diversity stuff. So if a school already has those, what do you put in there?

And is it appropriate to put an adversity/diversity essay in the "tell us anything else" section? Like, I understand the adversity, but when my 'diversity' essay is basically 'military taught me leadership, teamwork, and teaching' it feels kind of shallow or like I am just talking myself up?

Or would it be better to include something that is not anywhere else in my application but is not really relevant to medical school? Like talking about how I still spend time with family/what it is like raising a child while doing the Army/student thing? That isn’t the topic of my adversity statement, but I don’t really talk about what it is like so much as how I moved past it.
Memes, if not addressed elsewhere, what's cool about you?
 
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907914

If there is no adversity essay then the whole father at 19 with full time job, full time school, and reserves is kinda cool that I perservered.

If no diversity essay, military + cultural awareness stuff

If both are present, I grow cabbage with fish poop and I climb mountains. Those are cool, but not really medical school relevant lol
 
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Would it be more worthwhile to utilize the optional essay to provide an adversity/diversity essay if the school does not have one or to address my awkward grade deviations (first 40 semester hours in 5.5 months all in a military context yielded a 3.4ish and a 12 month absence in returning to school and first two quarters returning to school were at the same time as a newborn yielded a 3.2ish and an 18 month absence before returning to school)?
 

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Would it be more worthwhile to utilize the optional essay to provide an adversity/diversity essay if the school does not have one or to address my awkward grade deviations (first 40 semester hours in 5.5 months all in a military context yielded a 3.4ish and a 12 month absence in returning to school and first two quarters returning to school were at the same time as a newborn yielded a 3.2ish and an 18 month absence before returning to school)?

Off topic,
Don't think I've said this yet but thank you for your service!
 
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deleted972488

Would it be more worthwhile to utilize the optional essay to provide an adversity/diversity essay if the school does not have one or to address my awkward grade deviations (first 40 semester hours in 5.5 months all in a military context yielded a 3.4ish and a 12 month absence in returning to school and first two quarters returning to school were at the same time as a newborn yielded a 3.2ish and an 18 month absence before returning to school)?

adversity/diversity
 
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I think growing cabbage with fish poop is kinda cool o.o
 
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[/QUOTE]
For instance does:

My transcripts do not accurately reflect the time frame and context of my initial 40 semester hours. These credits were all conducted in a span of five and a half months with 10 hours of class each day in addition to three to five hours of military activities. I was unable to fully direct my attention towards my classes.

Additionally, my first 25 credits after leaving active duty were all in the same time frame that I had my daughter, in which there were major financial constrains and resulted in my withdrawing from classes for 18 months.
I think growing cabbage with fish poop is kinda cool o.o
Join the aquaponics club!

 

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Optional essays are just that: optional. If you have something important to add, then by all means add it. If you think that your application represents yourself well, then feel free to skip it. I personally get annoyed when people answer the optional question with an answer clearly adapted from another school's prompt. There's so many applications and essays but so little time.

If you're applying to schools with good mountain ranges nearby, wouldn't hurt to mention that you enjoy climbing mountains and that you hope to find like-minded folks to do this with.
 
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I personally get annoyed when people answer the optional question with an answer clearly adapted from another school's prompt
So this is to say, if a school wanted an adversity/diversity/challenges/gap year/etc. essay they would have a prompt for it?
 

Moko

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So this is to say, if a school wanted an adversity/diversity/challenges/gap year/etc. essay they would have a prompt for it?
Really depends on the topic. In general, the bar to include something for an optional essay should be a lot higher than that for a required essay. In that sense, what an applicant chooses to put down tells us a bit about their judgement. If what's included ends up being very inconsequential and irrelevant, it does reflect poorly on them. Having said that, if a secondary doesn't ask about diversity, but you truly believe that you would add a lot to the school, then by all means, including a spiel about it! Just make sure that whatever you include is worth the time to read.
 
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init2020

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@MemeLord , hope you don't mind me piggy-backing for a quick and relevant question.

Should I use the optional essay to explain a W on my otherwise perfect transcript? Any adcom care to chime in?
 
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@MemeLord , hope you don't mind me piggy-backing for a quick and relevant question.

Should I use the optional essay to explain a W on my otherwise perfect transcript? Any adcom care to chime in?
You are good. This one I think I actually can help with: One W don't mean jack.
 
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If the app itself did not cover leadership experiences, can one mention these in the optional ”anything else”?
 
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If the app itself did not cover leadership experiences, can one mention these in the optional ”anything else”?
Theoretically but I wouldn’t use the optional simply to highlight it. Shoulda done that in your primary somewhere...
 
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A-Fib

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AACOMAS, unlike AMCAS, doesn't really have a good separate option for that :/
 

Matthew9Thirtyfive

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AACOMAS, unlike AMCAS, doesn't really have a good separate option for that :/

One of the experience categories is literally leadership, and it’s pretty easy to highlight leadership roles in the other categories. If you didn’t highlight any leadership roles in your primary, then yeah you might want to in the secondary if given the chance.
 
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A-Fib

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One of the experience categories is literally leadership, and it’s pretty easy to highlight leadership roles in the other categories. If you didn’t highlight any leadership roles in your primary, then yeah you might want to in the secondary if given the chance.

For DO apps?

 

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For DO apps?


I meant for AMCAS (misread your post). But I filled out an AACOMAS app too and was able to make it clear what my leadership roles were in my experiences. That’s what the description is for.

But if you didn’t (or you did but feel like it’s not highlighted enough), go for it in an optional essay. Just keep in mind like was said above, most applicants don’t improve their app with that essay.
 
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drdreyman

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I have a very very sharp upward trend (had a couple C's and a couple W's early on), and I've been using the optional essays to explain my change in performance and how I feel like the latter years of my schooling better reflect my academic skills. Is this a bad idea?
(i am applying MD/PhD where the average stats are generally slightly higher, which is one of the reasons I felt inclined to include it)
 

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@Moko @gyngyn If I recently started a translating position at an underserved clinic, is this worthy of mention on these optional essays? That’s if schools don’t already have a gap year essay to address the new job.
 
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Moko

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@Moko @gyngyn If I recently started a translating position at an underserved clinic, is this worthy of mention on these optional essays? That’s if schools don’t already have a gap year essay to address the new job.
Depends on how welcoming the essay prompt seems. In general though, better for an update letter down the road or mentioned in an interview after you've accrued more hours. Just my thoughts.
 
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She told me not to take up skydiving because the adcoms in human medicine are not very fond of those who have hobbies that risk their life. How true is this?

It's in my application a couple of different times and I hope they wouldn't toss it because of a false sense of danger. Last year there were 13 fatalities out of 3.3 million skydives. So if 1 out of 700,000 people in the US are struck by lightning and skydiving is too dangerous, I fully expect that school to move to a section of Siberia (lowest density of lightning strikes per year). Also, don't change your hobbies because of medical school, do what you want.
 
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Calizboosted76

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It's in my application a couple of different times and I hope they wouldn't toss it because of a false sense of danger. Last year there were 13 fatalities out of 3.3 million skydives. So if 1 out of 700,000 people in the US are struck by lightning and skydiving is too dangerous, I fully expect that school to move to a section of Siberia (lowest density of lightning strikes per year). Also, don't change your hobbies because of medical school, do what you want.

I would never change my hobbies because of medical school. Skydiving was just one of those things I was terrified to do so I was going to do it anyways. Kind of like Implosive therapy lol. I will however leave out some of my hobbies since some admissions may look unfavorably upon them( Tattooing).
 
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A-Fib

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I think that “not fighting the system” is a sign of maturity...
 
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Calizboosted76

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I think that “not fighting the system” is a sign of maturity...

Heavily agree here. I have tattoos and do tattoos as well but I understand the stigma behind them, is it right? No. But I would rather keep my mouth shut and understand that people view certain things certain ways. No reason to jeopardize my application because of my viewpoints towards an irrelevant subject that has no correlation to the medical service I will one day provide.
 
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A-Fib

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Exactly. Pick and choose your fights...
 
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