Setting Yourself Apart

Updated: Mar 7, 2019

As a premed, we are given all these “boxes” to check off to get our applications ready and to do what medical schools want their future students to do. But then, the medical schools also tell us that we should not think of this experience as “checking boxes.”

So what are we supposed to do?!

It’s hard to stand out from a pool of applicants who all have pretty high GPAs, all the required science classes, volunteer experience, research experience and shadowing experience, but it can be done!

Disclaimer: I apply for medical school June 2019 and I am writing this February 2019 so I have NOT been accepted into medical school yet, these tips are just what I have done to try to set myself apart from everyone else.

Add A Minor

What can you do to not just be another biology major? Not only do I love science, I also love politics and am very active in politics, so I added a political science minor to my degree.

People give me crazy looks every time I tell them my degree but it sets me apart from someone only taking natural science classes. It additionally gives me a unique perspective on various political and medical issues. Politics and medicine also have a lot of overlap!

Volunteer Experiences

Volunteer experiences can also set you apart from the rest. I have done some volunteering in the emergency room, but I do most of my volunteer hours in non-medical settings for causes that I am passionate about.

My favorite volunteer experience has been volunteering as a group leader at the Boys and Girls Club grief support group where I help kids and teens process the grief of losing a close loved one, as I did. Find something you are passionate about and find a way to volunteer with it!


Research itself can help your application stand out but the context around the research can further help you stand out. At my university, seniors in the honors program are required to enroll in a senior seminar or complete a thesis project. I chose to do the thesis project and work with a faculty advisor on a research project. I think this could help me stand out a bit rather than doing research not for my thesis.

Check out if your university has something like this! If not, go on the faculty website and look into what various professors are researching and if any interests you, talk to them about helping with their research! The worst they can do is say no and if it all goes well, they could write you a strong letter of recommendation!

Letters Of Recommendation

Speaking of letters of recommendation, pick your writers wisely! Medical schools put a lot of weight on the letters of recommendation so you want to make sure the people you ask can vouch for you.

I am in the process of asking my letter writers to write me a letter, so far all have said yes! {Stay tuned for a post all about letters of recommendation!}

When planning your premed experience, make sure to “check the boxes” but do it creatively! Having experiences you are passionate about is much better than volunteering with someplace just because you “have to.” So be like a stem cell and differentiate yourself from the others!

How do you try to stand out from the crowd? To learn how to match your story to a story of a medical school, reach out to Compare Medical School ( Tell me about it in the comments or DM me on my Instagram @medicineandmoscato.

Love, Jenny