How to Answer Secondary Prompts about “Why Us”

Why do you want to come to our medical school?

This is a very common medical school interview question, but it’s also a very common secondary essay question.

Do you fit with the school’s mission?

Medical schools each have a mission. They want to make sure that students fit their mission. 

Whether serving the rural underserved areas or training new physicians who have deeper thinking with an engineering model, why us is a very important question.

Here are some things you need to think about as you’re going through this question.

1. Do your research.

You should do this even before you add the school to your list and apply. But revisit it as you are writing your secondary essays.


  • Go to the school’s website. 


Unfortunately, a lot of schools have very old websites that haven’t been updated. Do a lot of clicking and digging. Pull up the website and do some research. 


  • Find them on social media.


You can also pull up their social media. Search on YouTube for videos. 

Pull up the locations on Instagram and see if there are students posting. They may not tag a specific school, but they could be tagging a location. This is a good way to get more in-depth information.


  • Join school-specific forums.


Look at Reddit and Student Doctor Network. A lot of those sites and forums have school-specific threads. Start asking questions in there. 


  • Connect with alumni or current students.


If you have friends at that school or you know of any physicians who went to the schools you’re interested in, talk to them. 

Ask them what their experiences were like. What was unique about their school? Maybe there’s something they really enjoyed that you will enjoy as well. If so, this is potentially something you can talk about.

2. Tie it into who you are.

Where most students fail with this essay is they just take the information from the research they’ve done and then just regurgitate it out. But this doesn’t tell the schools anything about you!


  • Tie this into your experiences and passions.


As you’re doing this research, you have to be self-aware. Know who you are and what your experiences are. Then tie those things into everything else you’ve learned through the research.

If you see that a specific school does a lot of international medicine in Ghana, for instance, and if you’re from Ghana, then you have a connection to that school’s work that most students do not.

Tie this together with who you are as a person. Tie in what you’ve learned through your research with your own experiences, your own passions, and what you really want. 


  • How are you going to benefit from them?


Tie these in together to show the school how you are going to benefit from those programs and everything else you see they have at the school and that you’re interested in.


  • How are the schools going to benefit from you?


Talk about how you’re going to contribute to the medical school. How do you see yourself integrating your ideas into their school and moving along the program in these specific directions?

Put yourself into these programs and the different things you find about the school through your research to be able to stand out

Show the schools not only that they have this specific program they offer, but why it’s going to benefit you and why you being there is going to benefit them. 

3. Don’t be generic.

You have to avoid being generic when answering this question. You can’t just say they have great facilities because a lot of schools have that. 

Don’t say their school produces great physicians. Every school produces great physicians assuming they put in the work and effort.

Don’t talk about seeing the students being so happy when you visited their school. Students are happy to be at any medical school. They’re in medical school so they’re obviously happy being there. 

Why Us?

Do your research. 

Be super-specific. Don’t be generic. 

Finally, tie this question into who you are. Explain why you’re going to benefit from being at this school and how they’re going to benefit from you.