Many students participate in clubs during their premed journey. Is it something that should be included in the med school activity section? It depends!
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[00:28] Question of the Day
“I’ve been reading your book and I saw that you mentioned in The Premed Playbook: Guide to the Medical School Application Process, that just being a club member doesn’t have a ton of impact that needs to be discussed similar to what you say about shadowing.
So I was just wondering, do you recommend we still list those if we have the room too or just don’t include them at all?”
A: If you have the room, then go ahead, it’s not going to hurt you. It’s going to help you in fact because they could see you’re showing up to meetings. If you need the space, then you can combine some things.
“There are lots of things that you can do and lots of freedom to have with that activity section.”
[01:32] Where to List the Honor Society
Q: What would your opinion be on listing an honor society? Would you do that as an extracurricular or just in the Honors, Awards, and Recognition section? I was in the engineering honor society. I was invited because of grades and they don’t see my grades so I don’t know if it really means a lot.
A: That’s not a ton of impact. But I would still put it on there, specifically under honors, awards, recognitions.
At the end of the day, the question is, what is the impact? What can you tell us about yourself in the activities description that will help you or help the admissions committee member understand a little bit more about you?
It’s something that happens that was given to you because you are a great student, which is reflected in your grades. It’s really not adding a ton. And so, just listing them in one activity section under honors awards, recognitions is perfectly fine.
[02:48] Community Service
Q: “There were some mandatory community service and things you had to do to get initiated. So should I try to estimate an hour for that? Or should I just leave it at zero?”
A: You can estimate hours because it was more than just a recognition, and you got a piece of paper for it or whatever. Because there was community service and stuff that was associated with it, then that’s a reason to list it separately. You can talk about the impact through community service as well as the things you did there.
Again, check in with yourself. Was it really impactful? Or did you just show up and put in the hours? If not, maybe it’s not something great to talk about in an application because everything is fair game on that application.
And if you’re sitting down in an interview with someone, and they ask about this community service you did for your honor society. And you really didn’t show up, then maybe that’s not a position you want to be put in. So just leave it off.
Many students are worried that if they don’t list everything exactly how they did it, then people will think you’re lying. And that’s not the whole point of the activity section.'The activity section is Who are you? What have you been doing with your time?'Click To Tweet
[04:51] Being a Nanny
Q: “Summer after freshman year, I was a nanny for a family. And it wasn’t super impactful or anything but that is what I was doing that summer. So should I include that just so they have the timeline of why I wasn’t doing anything else that summer?
A: They’re not going to look super close as to what you did freshman summer or sophomore summer. They’re not going to get that nitpicky.
That being said, being a nanny is incredibly hard. Taking care of kids is incredibly hard. Because you were a nanny for three months, a lot comes out of that without you specifically saying you’re compassionate and caring.
I’ve seen some amazing nanny activity descriptions that just talk about being there for the kids and impacting the kids and being a part of their life in the short few months. And so, I think there are some impacts that you could focus on.
[06:30] What is Research?
Q: “I have been trying to get research done. I’m a biomedical engineer. So it’s just a big part of our program at USF especially. But it’s really competitive, obviously. And also COVID. All the labs are pretty much shut down. And if you weren’t already in one, it’s been really hard to get in. I did start a research assistant type thing with a medical student. But we were creating a project that was a lot like literature review. We made a proposal and now we’re just waiting. So I haven’t done any actual lab or bench research or anything.”
A: Unfortunately, in the premed world, we say research and we think pipettes and being in a lab, and playing with mice and all that stuff. That is research. But it also doesn’t have to be the technical definition of research.
And so, just you starting out on this project, asking questions, doing lit reviews, trying to figure out – have these questions been asked? What are the answers out there? How can we ask a different question in a different way to get the answers we’re looking for? You’re already doing research. So I would 1,000% count that as research. Hopefully, it turns into something more. But what you’ve been doing to this point is research. And I would label it as that.'At the end of the day, what research is, is asking questions and trying to figure out how to get answers.'Click To Tweet
[10:33] MCAT Prep
Our student took the MCAT last August and studied all summer for it. She’s taking a fifth year for her major, and decided on being premed a little late. So it gave her the opportunity to spread out the premed process a little bit, which was nice.
She got to take the MCAT and studied all summer. She just had three months to prepare, but she was studying all day every day. And she was pretty happy with how it turned out.
When I asked her about the best piece of advice she could give to someone for MCAT prep, her advice is to practice CARS as often as possible.
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