Another EC question

Does anyone have advice on how to double up on experiences in the AMCAS post-secondary experiences section? Within the 15 slots, is it ok to use one for, say, awards, and then list a variety of things, even if they are not all identical awards?
As far as work experience, is it necessary to list each recent job individually? I worked in a field where job hopping is the norm, and I had several positions in the space of a few years. I’m only planning to mention two, and they were pretty different from each other, but given the space constraints I’m wondering if I can cram them into one entry. Same goes for my 3 tutoring jobs–I want to use only one slot for this.
Is it all right to be doing it this way? What are others doing? Has anyone noticed that with 510 characters per entry, times 15 entries, the total EC descriptions can be longer than the personal statement? Aside from ensuring proper grammar, do I need to lavish as much attention on this part? I’m SOOOO sick of writing about myself! (I can only imagine how poor readers will feel…)
Thanks again!

I am anxious to see the answers to your questions Dave! I am filling out the EC section myself and wondered if anyone had any advice. How should one word the comments section for EC’s? Should it be “I did . . . .” or should it be in a resume style form i.e. “Worked as an emergency medical technician”? Also, what kind of details should one include? Can assume that the people reading the application will know what kind of job duties an EMT has, or should I list them?

My application was in the first cycle of electronic apps when you didn’t have a limit on the number of activities you could list, though I struggled with the same thing many of you are- especially, making sure not to be too redundant with similar activities.
When wording the blurb that went with the activity, I used the resume format, actually copying with a little tweaking from my resume. I also didn’t fill the full space for every activity. I remember not wanting it to look like I was just trying to fill space. For me at least (and I would think many people may be like this also), I was involved in different activites on different levels. For example, I only participated in Special Olympics as a hugger while in undergrad, but for RCIA, I was the cadet-in-charge, so my write-ups reflected the difference in levels of involvement. My hope was that on paper, these activities would stand out.
For my actually career positions, the only way I knew how to write up my job descriptions was from my resume, so it was the easiest thing for me to do, making sure I took out industry specific jargon, explaining it in a way that anyone could understand what it was that I did.
Also, I think that most adcoms know that you can’t list every detail in your personal statement or activity descriptions. Your goal may be to paint a picture for them so that they have a broad understanding of what is is that you did, opening it up for them to ask questions during you interview.
Hope this helps,

Thanks for the advice, Tara and Mary. Are there any examples of EC details out there anywhere (website, book, etc.)? I will have to think about how/whether to combine some of my EC’s for the best overall effect. For example, I have worked in three different EMS situations. One was volunteer, one was paid part-time, but not something I did for a primary source of income (often agreeing to work holidays so the full-timers didn’t have to), and now private EMS, which is my only (small) source of income while in school.
The EC section may be as much of a challenge as the personal statement!! Ever since I turned 16, I have worked every summer at different jobs, including the past ten years as a teacher. My list of different jobs is HUGE!

Thanks Tara! Wow, I didn’t know there wasn’t a limit in the past on how many EC’s you could list. I bet some people listed a million things. I sure wouldn’t want to mention everything myself, but it’s hard to narrow the list down. I’m not sure whether to choose my entries so as to show that I’m well rounded, or to go more for the “I’ve had lots of health care experience” approach (I haven’t had a ton, but some, and it would be nice to dispel any doubt). Or to emphasize the few things I’ve done the best at over time… Ugh–this section really isn’t designed with non-trads in mind.
Thanks again,

Sorry to keep posting on this, but I’m so grateful for the insight I’ve been getting that I thought I’d go ahead.
Anyway, here’s another question: I was an intern for a US Senator one semester. It was a full time job, and most likely I’ll list it as an EC. But it was a long time ago, and I’ve been active in many political campaigns since then, which I’ll probably mention in the same space. If I do this though, everyone who sees my application will know my political affiliation. And it’s an election year! So… how wise is it to let this information out? It’s not important enough to work into my essay, it’s just going to stand there on its own.
Thanks again everyone!

Andrea, go ahead and list it. No one is going to ding you for your political affiliation, honest.
And this gives me a chance to say something else… you know, the AMCAS application has a LOT of stuff in it. In my job as a member of the Admissions Committee, I reviewed completed applications - post-interview. So I had a person’s transcript, MCATs, LORs, PS, secondary and interview evaluations to read through. I quickly looked through the ECs to get the “flavor” of what this person was about, but I can assure you that I didn’t read them carefully or keep a tally of what sorts of things they’d been involved in. If there was something really interesting or seemingly significant in an EC, that wasn’t mentioned in the PS, I’d go, “Hmmmm.” If the PS went on at some length about an activity that wasn’t listed in the EC section, I’d go, “hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.” But honestly, there is SO much stuff to read about one applicant, at least in my experience the ECs don’t get a ton of scrutiny.
Note to anyone else reading: that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carefully list important things! You never know what one particular reviewer will fix on in looking at your file. For example, sometimes I’ve read a PS and found the chronology confusing, and have used the ECs to get a better idea of what the person meant to say. Remember, too, that your LOR writers may refer to parts of your life they know about, not just how you did in the classroom (e.g. “once he came into my classroom straight from volunteer firefighter duty, with his face all sooty and his clothes reeking of smoke.”). In other words, the overall application needs to be consistent.
And of course never make something up. I think on SDN there was a story circulating of someone who felt inadequate in the EC department, made something up with a time frame, and then found out later that one of his LORs referred to a study abroad program s/he had participated in during the time in question. Not good.

When I was filling out my EC’s, I wrote what I did but I also tried to explain it’s relevance to my “process” in becoming a student doctor.
For example: I was an aerobics instructor for about a year. I explained how that experience helped me realize how much I enjoyed teaching people how to be healthy.
Another example: Theater training gave me a process for putting myself in other people’s shoes, hence making me an empathetic care giver.
My personal statement talked about the really important (bigger) events that lead to my decision to pursue medicine, i.e. shadowing, clinical experience and life events. However, my EC’s showed that my whole life, distilled into 15 experiences, was a discovery process leading me to this calling.
Someone told me that was a really great way to show “you” through your experiences.
Good luck!
Danielle Inman
MS-1 starting August 10th
UNC School of Medicine, 2008

Danielle, that sounds great and I am sure the reviewers who read your file appreciated the way it all fit together, too.