July 11, 2022

USC Keck Wants to Know What Pre-Meds Don’t Care About - How Should They Answer?

Ryan Kelly

For many years, USC Keck School of Medicine included an altruistic prompt that asked applicants about how they would allocate a mass amount of wealth:

If you had enormous wealth, how would you allocate your charitable donations? (3-5 sentences)

But for this cycle (2022-2023), that prompt has been replaced with a prompt that goes in the opposite direction and asks applicants to name things they don’t care about at all:

What are three things you don't care about at all? (3-5 sentences. Each answer must be 65 words or less.)

This replacement in prompts is far more interesting, but it’s also far more challenging to answer. There are several reasons that it’s so difficult:

Why is the New USC Keck Secondary Prompt so Difficult?

  1. The new 65 word limit is even stingier than the previous 3-5 sentences

  1. The prompt is inherently negative, and negativity is something that pre-meds have been told to avoid in their applications at all costs

  1. Every answer who choose can send you down a mental rabbit hole of second guessing and rethinking its implications

  1. It’s hard to tell whether it wants you to be funny or serious

  1. Pre-meds are passionate people with a lot of interests, so it’s tricky to find three things they truly care nothing about 

What are Some Things Pre-Meds Don’t Care About At All?

The prompt was released less than two weeks ago, so neither myself nor the pre-meds I work with have had much time to mull it over.

Every pre-med applicant I’ve talked to has been a bit baffled and unsettled by this prompt. And rightfully so.

I will do my best to provide some advice and good examples, but I wanted to start by just listing all the ideas I’ve heard from people so far.

45 Things Pre-Meds Don’t Care About at All:

Video games

The weather


Social media

The richest person in the world

Celebrity drama


How I am viewed by the admission committee

Correlation between personality and blood type


Loud parties


Fancy home decor

Being popular

Formula 1

UFC fights

Coffee brands

Horror movies



The texture of food (flavor > texture)


The gym (there are better forms of exercise in my opinion)


The click factor of my keyboard

Citrus fruits 

YouTube shorts


My golf score


Game of Thrones



Missing out

Negative opinions

Titles or names of positions

Society’s expectations



Genetically modified foods


Cancel culture

Being a leader in every situation

The flat-earth theory

Reality TV

Best sellers

As you can probably tell, people’s initial answers usually fall into three categories:

Category #1: 

Trivial, inconsequential, and light-hearted (i.e. horror movies, video games)

This category will offer “safe” answers, but merely explaining some personal taste in entertainment, art, or cuisine will rarely be memorable or unique. 

So, if you go this route, you’ll have the burden of finding a way to make the answer stand out with a very small amount of room for explanation.

Category #2: 

Something that shows your values or lifestyle (i.e. being popular, gossip)

These are nice in the sense that they make a bold statement, but at the same time, they could definitely fall into the category of “virtue signaling.”

It’s easy to see how these answers could be misinterpreted as self-righteous or holier than thou, and at worst, they might even come across as dishonest or inhuman. 

I mean, do you really not care about being popular? Do you never gossip?

Category #3:

Some type of social commentary (i.e. social media, cancel culture, GMOs)

This category has similar benefits and drawbacks as the previous one. By choosing something trendy or social conscious, you can make yourself seem more interesting by being contrarian and giving an unexpected answer.

However, you run the risk of choosing something that people have deemed to be important, enriching, or even necessary topics. If you get the wrong reader, it might taint their entire view of you as an applicant.

How Should Pre-Meds Answer the New USC Keck Secondary Prompt?

OK, so what are the tips and tricks you need to know to answer this prompt?

Admittedly, I’m still wrapping my head around this question, but here are the pieces of advice I feel pretty confident about:

1. Use humor, especially of the self-deprecating variety

Moral of the story here: the humor should come at your expense, rather than by putting others down.

Bad example: Fashion–I don’t care about your Gucci belt or handbag that costs more than a Third World country’s GDP.

Better example: Fashion–Although I’m improving, I’ve sometimes been accused of dressing in the dark or having the style sense of a vagabond.

2. If you choose to be contrarian, focus on what makes you weird, rather than point out what makes everyone else wrong

Moral of the story here: no one likes the person who tries too hard to be cool, so making yourself an anomaly should come from a place of idiosyncrasy, not self-righteousness.

Bad example: Being popular–I don’t care what other people think is cool or popular, since I know that my sense of worth comes from my own definition of success.

Better example: Being popular–I have an “old soul” and struggle to keep up with trends. I’m that weirdo who wears thrift store clothes and still uses a flip phone.

3. If you choose to make social commentary, you need to qualify your answer and give it a positive spin

Moral of the story here: The risk of being offensive or off-putting is high, so it’s probably best to accommodate the opposition and show both sides.

Bad example: Cancel culture–People are too sensitive nowadays, and I feel like they’re just looking for reasons to be offended and silence their opponents’ ideas.

Better example: Cancel culture–I draw the line with hate speech and threats, but I champion free speech and try to understand the reasoning behind dissenting or controversial opinions. 

So there you have it–a thorough breakdown and analysis of the new USC Keck secondary prompt. I hope you find it useful in tackling this tricky question!

Learn to be Savvy! Get creative pre-med strategies delivered right to your inbox.
FREE Medical School Application Timeline when you subscribe.

We follow the email Golden Rule: we will never send you anything without your permission.