Blogside Manner: The Road to PLME is Paved with Essay Drafts

IMG_0028Hello! I’m Lulu, a member of the PLME class of 2018/2022, and I am the writer for Blogside Manner. In this column, I will talk about the ins and outs of PLME life at Brown and, of course, the dreaded application process. Whether or not you decide to ultimately apply for PLME, I hope to help provide you with a better sense of what Brown is all about!

Early decision deadline was a few days ago, and I hope that all of you who applied early felt good about your applications! This is about the time that all of you regular decision people should start getting serious about your applications, so I will continue with my PLME admissions series. Today, I’m going to talk about my personal experience with starting the process.

As a chemistry lover, this is the best way I can explain my experience with the PLME application: the activation energy for starting the application was incredibly high, but once it was achieved (with the addition of a catalysis, read: lots of Coca-Cola), the process was spontaneous. Basically, it’s really hard to get started, but once you’re on a roll, you just keep on rolling.

So how exactly did I start? I opened a word doc, thought about medicine and my experiences with it, and just straight up word-vomited. I believe the more classy term is that I “brainstormed.” You’re really not going to write this essay in one sitting (unless there is a deadline to consider), which is why I suggest spending a few days just letting ideas flow. That way, you’ll have a pool to pick from, and you’ll always have backups in case your first drafts didn’t come out how you wanted.

I was actually one of those seniors that were dead set on medicine even before they were accepted into college; thus, I applied to multiple combined medical programs that had vastly different deadlines. I feel this made the “why medicine” essay easier for just because I was almost forced to continuously reread and edit that essay before each submission. That is why I am going to again emphasize the need to START EARLY AND EDIT OFTEN. Please don’t submit your first draft. Or your second. Or your third. Or your fourth, unless it is amazingly amazing. This is not true for all combined medical programs, but I think PLME values essays more than most things especially because there are no interviews. Since the deans don’t see you personally, make sure your essay brings out “you”!

One thing that I think is really important is getting other people to read your essays. If you are anything like me and have issues with people reading my work, please find someone you trust to read your essays. If anything, a good science teacher can help correct for logic, and a good English teacher can help fix grammar. Make sure to ask early since your readers are doing you a favor and not vice versa. Try to get a diversity of views because a lot of people will not end up giving you very useful advice (it is always nice to be told that your essay is “great,” but it’s not very helpful in the long run for making your essay even better). And of course, take note of what people say, but don’t be discouraged if it is not positive! Take everything in stride and you’ll definitely see improvements.

Since this post is getting somewhat long, I’m going to end with a piece of advise: question yourself as you write your essay to make sure your material is relevant. This is also where letting others read your essay could be helpful, because my readers definitely asked questions that made me reevaluate my material. If you are somewhat confused as to what questions you should be asking yourself, here are a few that I wish I thought about earlier on that I think all applicants should consider:

  1. Why do you want to be come a physician and not -insert some profession related to medicine such as an immunology researcher or pharmacist-?
  1. If you were not accepted into PLME or another combined medical program, would you still pursue medicine?

Good luck to all of you who applied early, and see you all next week!

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Email me at can_cao@brown.edu or comment below! I’ll make sure to respond as soon as I can!

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