I can’t count the number of times I have seen applicants dive into an essay without providing any context for the event. You have to realize the reader knows absolutely nothing about you. One second I’m learning your name for the first time, and the next you are knee deep in the jungles of the rainforest saving animals – wait, how the heck did we get here? And why are you here?
Anytime you introduce a new experience from your life, actually provide an introduction: what the activity is, what your role is, and how/why you got involved. The reader shouldn’t have to do any work to understand your story. And I’m not asking for you to spend 1/3 of your essay on the introduction – something like 2 concise sentences would suffice. Just enough to set up some context for the rest of the essay.
2. Essays without a message
I have one key philosophy when it comes to essay writing: every single word should have a purpose. It doesn’t matter whether you are writing an argumentative essay for school or a medical school essay – every single sentence down to the last word should have been written with purpose.
It’s not enough to answer the question – your goal should be to deliver a direct message to the admissions committee with your essay. If you write an essay and have no idea what message it’s telling, chances are, it’s not a strong essay.
Your ultimate goal is to convince the admissions committee to want to meet you for an interview – that you are potentially ready to start medical school. Every essay you write should contribute to that goal. Your essays should be sending messages like “As you can see, I can handle the academic rigors of medical school” or “I have developed the necessary interpersonal skills to work well with others and here is proof of that” – that is, messages medical schools actually care about.
A medical school application might ask you to pick an item from your resume and just spend 250 words expanding on...