Harvard Medical School
Admission Consulting Services
To create and nurture a diverse community of the best people committed to leadership in alleviating human suffering caused by disease.
Secondary Application Questions
If you have already graduated, briefly (4000 characters max)
summarize your activities since graduation.
This question provides you with an opportunity to highlight
what activities you have been involved with since graduating
from your undergraduate institution. Just like with
descriptions of activities in any other section of the
application, your answer should be complete yet to the point.
You should highlight why you became involved in the activity,
what your responsibilities or contributions were, what you
have learned or what impact the activity has had on you.
You should use the space provided wisely and focus on the
activities that are going to advance your case and paint you
as a stronger candidate for admission to medical school.
Overall, the response should be constructed in such a way as
to demonstrate your continued dedication to the field of
medicine and persistent effort to explore issues in depth, improve yourself or expose yourself to new and challenging situations. Oftentimes, applicants talk about obtaining a Master's Degree, continuing or finishing the research they had started in their undergraduate program, going on a mission trip to an underserved country, working as an EMT, etc.
If there is an important aspect of your personal background or identity, not addressed elsewhere in the application, that you would like to share with the Committee, we invite you to do so here. Many applicants will not need to answer this question. Examples might include significant challenges in access to education, unusual socioeconomic factors, identification with a minority culture, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. Briefly explain how such factors have influenced your motivation for a career in medicine.(4000 character maximum)
This is a tricky question as it is very difficult to forgo yet another opportunity to explain why you would be a perfect choice for a given medical school. However, in this case less is more. You do not want to come across as trying too hard to portray yourself as having overcome significant challenges. Talking about something relatively insignificant here or simply repeating yourself runs the risk of undermining the rest of your application by displaying you as insensitive to others who overcame more significant challenges or trying too hard to depict yourself as such. So, unless there is truly an aspect of you or your life that you have not addressed well enough in the rest of the application, you should leave this section blank. Even if there is a significant challenge you faced in your life, most of the time it is already addressed in the personal statement or other parts of the application.
With the above caveats in mind, the question is worded relatively vaguely. Therefore, it is fair game to talk about such issues as:
-finding yourself in a minority (gender, race, etc) in an educational environment
-difficult family circumstances not already addressed or only briefly mentioned
-being an immigrant or from an immigrant family if you can convincingly articulate the impact and significance of this circumstance
-substantial experiences with other cultures and impact these have had on you.
This, of course, is not an exhaustive list. There may be many other situations that warrant further attention.
When choosing to answer the question, be concise and to the point. Discuss how the situation you overcame made you stronger or changed your perspective and how you are going to use the skills you learned to help you become a compassionate and effective physician. Do not use this section to seek "pity" from the committee - it does not work and can and does backfire!
Harvard Medical School Application Timeline:
AMCAS Application Submission Deadline: October 15, 2019
Secondary Application Submission Deadline: October 22, 2019
Admissions Decisions Released: Early March 2020
Acceptance Response Deadline: April 30, 2020
For more information about the medical school application process,
contact us at 1.646.598.8174 or .