Assistant Dean for Admissions The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
IN TERMS OF CONTENT, there's nothing specific that we're looking for. I strongly feel this is entirely within the purview of the applicant to determine. In meeting with premed students I do not make specific suggestions concerning the content of the essay. The essay may be used any way the applicant wishes, and we do see a variety of central themes and writing styles. With respect to the very hasir ronsmicrion of rhp p*<;ay it should be npatlv typed, ir should not exceed the space provided on the application, and it should he prnpfffad carefully. It's unfortunate when you see an essay that seems to have good content but numerous typos or grammatical problems. It should be well planned, well thought out. Also, 1 think that instead of just looking at the essay entirely from their own perspective—"how am 1 going to use this space?'-applicants should consider how it will appear to the reader. It should be an original piece, an honest expression ot" the applicant, although it's not a bad idea to have it proofread by a few people to check for typing or grammatical errors.
On occasion we'll get applicants who don't fill out the essay, thinking it's an optional or unimportant part of the application, which it isn't. Using the essay can be helpful; candidates should take advantage of the opportunity to express themselves fully rather than giving a short response. When you see only a couple of sentences, it's not too helpful because we're not getting very much information. On the other hand, they shouldn't feel compelled to fill in the space entirely. Conversely, sometimes we see microscopic reductions of typing print in order to fit in additional information.
By a well thought-out essay. I don't just mean a free flow of thoughts but good construction from beginning to end. There isn't
We read 3/000 or more applications each year. We get quite a variety of essays, and I wouldn't want it any other way.
necessarily a correct way of writing the essay; it's very open-ended. This is, perhaps, the only opportunity that applicants will have for us to know about them personally in some way, prior to when interview decisions are made. It enables applicants to express themselves and show they can write in a coherent manner, if statements are made about special skills or talents, they should be backed up with concrete evidence of academic work or extracurricular activities. On occasion we've seen anatomical drawings, caricatures, etc. Obviously, the intent is to catch the eye of the reader. Sometimes it may be effective, sometimes it isn't.
The essay may be read closely by a number of people at the front end when decisions are being made about interviews. Then it will be seen by the entire admissions committee after the interview is
conducted. It could be a dozen or more people. We read 3,000 or more applications each year. We get quite a variety of essays, and 1 wouldn't want it any other way.
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