Hi all. Well I've finally sat down and done the dreaded work/activities section of the application. I have three questions:
1) as older non-trads, how far back should we go? Since it only allows 15 activities I have to be selective...so should I even bother listing something I did say in high school, even though it may add some diversity to the list?
2) I know we're supposed to explain the experience in resume style without narrative, however...ok I'm not sure how to word this question without being specific so here goes: One of my "artistic endeavors" is ballet. So I wrote "Trained and danced with various ballet companies across the US and in Europe." Though I no longer dance as seriously as I once did, I still take classes. Do I need to add this in somehow? You know explain why I still dance, my passion for it, etc.? Or is checking "Until Present" for the End Date sufficient?
3) last question...phew...is it ok to list something that I haven't done yet but plan on doing this year before starting med school (i.e. a medical missions trip).
Sorry this ended up being so long.
To answer your questions:
1) I'd take care of the priorities first. include your best (interms of time spent, things learned, quality of experience) clinical experience and lock that in. Consider condensing a few together into a coherent and continuous narrative if you don't have a single great one. People have been rejected for not having this EC. After that, I'd look for your best research experience and do the same with it. Then do the same for community service and teaching. One you have those out of the way, if you have them, publications, presentations, conventions, and honors are all good things to have one experience each in (roughly the same priority). Lastly, I included one random thing to balance me out - I chose skiing, rock climbing, and sailing and called it a hobby. I put 'current' as the end date.
2) I wrote all of them like a resume too. If you learned something, then that can be put in as a one-liner summary. For example: I did poorly in Organic. But I ended up teaching it in college. So I wrote about how it was a challege for me but I worked harder and learned more as a teacher because of it. Dancing is one of those random things like I mentioned in 1). It adds depth and personality to an otherwise standard application. As such, if you've got a personal reason for doing it, then I'd say write about it. If you've been to Egypt because of it, then that makes it even better and more distinct.
3) I don't believe AMCAS has a "Planning to" option for an EC start/finish time. In any case, I'd hold off on these. How would you answer an interviewer's question about it if it fell through (through no fault of your own)? Besides, being a non-trad, you should be able to fill up those 15 spots like nobody's buisness.
Lastly, notice how I haven't said WHEN you did these, just asking IF you've filled particular categories. You want to look like a balanced applicant with diverse interests. It's ok if all of those ECs haven't happened in the last 2 years. (Though if you're going back more than 10 years, you may want to consider a more recent EC. Note: college-level academic/research honors never age.)