Medical School Secondaries – How to Write the “Why this school?” Essay

I can guarantee that every medical school will ask you to respond to this essay prompt in the secondary application: “Why This School?”

The problem is that your first instinct is to tell the truth, and for 95% of premeds the truth is something medical schools don’t like to hear: “I want to become a doctor any way I can, so just about any school that will accept me will do.”

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The “any school will do” answer tells a medical school that in your eyes they are nothing more than a factory. Medical schools want a mutually nourishing relationship with you — they train you to become a doctor in exchange for your contributions to their program…contributions could be volunteering, research, expanding the alumni network, etc.

Match Your Core Values to Medical School Programs

The best way to respond to “Why This School?” is to match one of your core values to an activity or program unique to the medical school. Let’s say that the core theme of your personal statement is: “I want to eradicate heart disease in my lifetime by taking on the largest medical research project that I can put together.”

Your next step is to visit the medical school’s website and find a research activity that matches your core theme.

The ideal situation is that you find a researcher at the medical school who is doing the same or similar research as you. If that’s the case, your “why this school” essay will be all about your hope to work with that researcher.

The more realistic scenario is that you discover current research that aligns closely enough with your own that you can match your skills with the skills they might need.

On the other hand, if you’re more interested in clinical work, find out if the medical school operates a free clinic and express your interest to volunteer there.

What Not to Say in The “Why this School? Secondary Essay:

  • Don’t say: I want to go to your medical school because you can give me an MD. (Unflattering. You need to woo them.)
  • Don’t say: I want to go to your medical school because it has a great reputation. (Be more specific. What about their reputation aligns with your goals?)
  • Don’t say: Your school is close to home, so it will be cheaper for me to attend.

Most medical schools have such a variety of programs that it will be easy for you to sincerely answer the “Why this School?” prompt with specific and meaningful detail.

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  1. KAMICA says

    This is great information. I never thought of that but it makes sense. Plus, it also helps you to realize if this school & program align with your core values.

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