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How to Approach the AMCAS Experiences Section

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Lauren DiProspero

Written by Lauren DiProsperoon May 10th, 2022

I began my undergraduate admissions career at Stanford University where I helped coordinate diversity events and outreach. This ignited a passion for higher education which led me to Columbia University where, after earning my masters, I began recruiting and reviewing the applications of students applying to Columbia College from all around the country including the northeast, mid-west, Texas and California. I also reviewed the applications of international students from countries across Asia as well as Canada and Mexico. During my time at Columbia, I was Director of Admissions at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons where I oversaw the entire medical school admissions process, including recruitment, application review, interview days, and admitted student events. From there I became the Director of Enrollment Management at the University of San Francisco where I oversaw a team that supported both undergraduate and graduate admissions. In that role I recruited in Southern California and reviewed applications from multiple domestic territories for the undergraduate admissions team. Most recently, I was the senior director at Stanford Medicine, where I again oversaw the entire medical school admissions process.
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by Lauren DiProspero, former admissions officer at Columbia University The medical school application is a writing intensive process. That typically comes as a surprise to many applicants. They know that the application will require a reflective essay about why they have chosen to apply to medical school. What most do not anticipate is that, in addition to that essay, they will have to complete a lengthy experiences section and respond to many school-specific prompts. This month, we are going to focus on the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) experiences section. This section allows for up to 15 activities, with each entry allowing for a robust description. The application then asks the applicant to choose up to three experiences to be designated as “most meaningful” and provides additional space for the applicant to share more. That can add up to a lot of writing! It is important to start early so that you have enough time to write and edit your work. When you sit down to write, focus on quality over quantity. There are multiple categories of experiences to choose from and medical school admissions committees do not expect applicants to fill in every possible category or provide every detail of every experience. Think about your application as the puzzle of who you are: How does this experience fit in and what can you convey about yourself? It isn’t just what you did, but about the impact you had, the qualities you developed, and the growth you experienced. The more concrete you are, the better. If you are particularly passionate about something you’ve been involved with, let that show, but avoid being clichéd, using flowery language, and overusing “I” phrases. And don’t forget to include non-medical activities to provide additional context, like intercollegiate athletics, hobbies, military service, and extracurricular activities. With that said, when selecting your most meaningful experiences, it’s best to focus on those things that have a connection to medicine. In the additional space provided, it is important to go deeper into that experience and the impact you made. What did you learn? How did you grow? Is there a story that makes sense to share? This may be where your passion comes out! It is a chance to help the reader understand why this was such an important experience—just don’t repeat what you wrote in the original description or what you may have already shared in your essay. Once you’ve finished drafting your experiences section, have a friend, family member, or advisor review what you wrote. They may remember success you’ve forgotten or have feedback on how to better showcase them!

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