By: Ryan Kelly
Medical school secondary essay topics aren’t typically creative writing exercises, but kudos to Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS) for adding some style and fun to its prompts.
Check out this new RFUMS secondary essay prompt for the 2021-2022 cycle:
That’s right - you have to create your own superhero like you’re Stan Lee or Alan Moore. But that’s the easy part - the harder task is figuring out a problem that your superhero can combat in your current city or town.
Personally, I love this kind of prompt - it reminds me of USC’s secondary essays, particularly the question about creating your own nickname.
Sure, it’s a little inconvenient that RFUMS is asking for secondary essay material that will be difficult to repurpose for other schools.
BUT on the bright side, it’s only 150 words, and it lets you showcase a cause you’re passionate about and what you value most about your hometown.
What are the do’s and don’ts of answering this RFUMS secondary essay? Are there some good examples you can follow? Don’t worry - I got you covered.
1. Choose a Less Common Problem for Your Superhero to Fight
Take a moment to consider the most likely problems that other pre-meds will choose for their superheroes to fight:
Try to push your creativity further and find something more nuanced like:
The more narrow and specific, the better.
You don’t have to be profoundly unique, but if you can ratchet up the originality a little bit, you’ll be able to stick in the readers’ minds and hopefully stand out enough for an interview.
2. Choose a Superhero and Problem That Feel Exclusive to Your City or Town
Ideally, you don’t want to choose a problem that’s too universal or ubiquitous. You should view this as an opportunity to highlight something that’s unique to your hometown.
Maybe you live in a town that’s prone to drought and wildfires. Maybe you live in a town with an opioid epidemic. Maybe you live in a food desert. Maybe you live in a town with rampant pollution or a wide income gap.
These are just a few possibilities. Try to choose a fight for your superhero that speaks towards a cause you’re passionate about. In a sense, you should view the superhero as a narrative proxy for yourself.
1. Don’t Force a Connection to RFUMS or Its Mission/Values
Unless you’re actually from Chicago (where RFUMS is located), it’s ill-advised to connect your superhero explicitly to RFUMS or its mission statement.
RFUMS already has a prompt that offers you the opportunity to align yourself with the school’s values and culture:
Please specially discuss how, if admitted to our program, your admission would contribute to the diversity of the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science community. (150 words)
It’s an added bonus if your superhero or the problem they fight implicitly connects to RFUMS’s values, but forcing a connection to RFUMS will take up too much precious space and detract from the creative style of your superhero essay.
Plus, it will seem a bit desperate. As I said earlier, just focus on being memorable.
2. Don’t Skimp on the Details of Your Superhero’s Appearance and Powers
Think about Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth and her Invisible Plane, or the Batmobile, or the Green Lantern’s Power Ring. All of these items and accessories are as iconic as the superhero themselves.
These details will make your essay memorable, and they’re a great way to stand out through your creativity, even if your idea is fairly common.
Let’s consider some of our ideas from earlier to illustrate how this could work.
Droughts and wildfires:
You could even assign your superhero a real-life job, similar to how Daredevil works as a lawyer by day and fights bad guys at night. This would let you combat multiple problems in your town while also adding an unexpected layer to your essay.
Don’t be afraid to think outside-the-box, and try your best to have fun (if that’s even possible with secondary essays?).
Best of luck!
Have any questions about Rosalind Franklin’s (RFUMS) prompts or secondary essays in general? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll respond to you personally!