This medical school places special emphasis on the relationships formed during medical school with classmates and faculty. Students join one of four colleges on campus to participate in small group learning activities. In the first two years of medical school, students create their own project to self-direct their learning process with mentorship. The school is seeking students who will contribute to the diversity of their class and share successful strategies in building communication skills and a solid foundation of scientific knowledge. The secondary application requires three essay responses.
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine 2020-21 secondary application essay questions
VU essay #1: Challenge
Please discuss a challenging situation or obstacle you have faced in the past. Why was it challenging? How did you handle it? Knowing what you know now, would you do anything differently? What did you learn? (500 word limit)
Select an example that has a positive outcome for all parties involved. As a direct result of your efforts, how did you improve the situation? The best examples will be professional in nature. I do not recommend using a personal example for this response. Using an example in which you gained new skills or learned a new approach to create a successful resolution will be important.
VU essay #2: Autobiography
Write a brief autobiography. As completely and precisely as possible, give a picture of yourself, your family, and events you consider important to you. In doing so, identify the values that are of greatest importance to you. If you have completed your undergraduate education, please comment on what you have done or have been doing since graduation. (1,200 word limit)
To structure your response to this essay question, I recommend creating a list of values that you want to emphasize. Selecting only the top three values from your list, rank them in order of importance. For each value, is there an example from your life, family interactions, or volunteer and clinical experiences that you can use to “show” rather than tell how you exemplify this value? You can arrange the values in any order that makes the most sense to you in terms of creating clear transitions from one example to the next. If you have graduated from college, use some of the life experiences you have gained to illustrate these values. Or after you have provided examples for the values most important to you, you can provide a brief summary of your activities after college.
VU essay #3
If applicable, please describe how the COVID-19 outbreak affected your pathway to medical school. You may discuss any academic, personal, financial, or professional alterations to your plans. NOTE: Disclosing certain hardships or obstacles that have been faced during this time will not negatively affect an application. (500 word limit)
Create a separate paragraph for each area of your life: work, community service, school, finances and family as well as any others that are important to you, like athletics, research or music. The best way to approach this essay will be to simply state the facts. If your MCAT was rescheduled three times, make sure that you include that information in the academic or school section. I don’t recommend expressing frustration or sharing any other strong negative emotions. Remember that you are not the only person who has been impacted by the pandemic. Many people have lost their jobs, homes and most tragically, family members. Maintain a sense of perspective in your response. The most impressive essays on this topic detail how the student has helped others through this difficult time. For your conclusion, highlight the new skills you have gained and what you have learned about yourself and others through this experience. Has the pandemic changed your understanding of medicine and how you would like to practice it? If so, in what ways and how?
If you would like professional guidance with your Vanderbilt University School of Medicine application materials, check out Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting and Editing Services, which include advising, editing, and interview coaching for VU SOM’s application materials.
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine 2020-21 application timeline
|AMCAS Application Due||November 1, 2020|
|Secondary Application Due||November 22, 2020|
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***Alicia McNease Nimonkar worked for 5 years as the Student Advisor & Director at the UC Davis School of Medicine's postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and other health professional programs. She has served Accepted's clients since 2012 with roughly a 90% success rate. She has a Master of Arts in Composition and Rhetoric as well as Literature. Want Alicia to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
- The Ultimate Guide to Secondary Essay Questions from Top Med Schools, a free guide
- Writing About Overcoming Obstacles in Your Application Essays, a short video
- Med School Interviews During COVID-19, a Q&A session