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Do you real have to be a superstar to get into a top-tier med school?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by jd989898, Dec 19, 2012.

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  1. jd989898

    jd989898

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    Let's say someone has a 4.0 gpa, 35+ MCAT, 100 hours of shadowing, 300 hours of clinical volunteering, 300 hours of various non-clinical volunteering, above average research, 2-3 leadership positions, 2-3 ways of being involved on campus, some sort of employment, good letters of recommendation, a few interesting hobbies, decent interview skills, above average essays/personal statement, applies early, etc. Will they usually get into several top 10 medical schools?

    Or do they need to have some sort of "hook" like founding a Non-profit organization, being the captain of their school's varsity sports team, or winning some sort of competition? etc..
  2. MedPR

    MedPR

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    What you've listed is a superstar applicant everywhere but SDN. Multiple top 10 acceptances? That's probably a stretch though.

    Sent from my SGH-T999 using SDN Mobile
  3. Spinach Dip

    Spinach Dip Delicious with nachos

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    Only 35 on the MCAT?

    Sounds rather unremarkable to me.
  4. gyngyn

    gyngyn Professor Gold Donor

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    You've just described the average CA matriculant (only a slight overstatement).
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  5. pv515

    pv515

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    My answer is yes. I had none of those things you mentioned other than a 3.9 gpa/34 and interview skills.

    I had a hook with sports though and extremely meaningful clinical volunteering, and it has worked very well during my cycle. Hooks are a big deal in my estimation
  6. Bluto385

    Bluto385

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    Eh, maybe. But why be a superstar when you can be a regular star?

    State school > Private

    You couldn't pay me to go to Harvardesque name...well maybe you could. But I definitely wouldn't pay you.
  7. Praefectus

    Praefectus MS-0

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    If you're a superstar on your Boards, it doesn't matter where you go.
  8. Hemorrage

    Hemorrage 117

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    Honestly its difficult even to get into a "lower"-tier medical school.. in the end your boards decide what kind of doctor you will become
  9. red7

    red7

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    Not sure I entirely agree with this .. Obviously I'm not speaking from experience, but my understanding is that students from "top tier" research-driven schools will have a much smoother ride into academic medicine than other schools. If your goal is academic medicine, to become a physician-scientist, or to go into a very competitive specialty, I believe it can be a bit more straightforward when you're at a nationally-renowned institution.

    Back to the OP's question though, you should at least get interviews at top schools based on an application like that.
  10. MedPR

    MedPR

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    You're arguing something different completely. Even students at top schools need good board scores to get places. Sure the road is smoother, but as the previous posters have said, everything is board score dependant.

    Sent from my SGH-T999 using SDN Mobile
  11. heliscomo

    heliscomo

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    what is considered a top tier school? sorry if this is a dumb question, I'm curious in terms of ranking what is "top tier"
  12. BABSstudent

    BABSstudent Established Member

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    Top tier = high research dollars

    The public equates receiving hundreds of millions of research dollars as that school must be the best in the nation.

    Any US medical school is a good school and will yield a doctor title.
  13. Fivo

    Fivo

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    I'd say the public's perception of a top tier school is a lot different than USNEWS's research-based rankings.

    Schools like WUSL, Mt Sinai, Northwestern, UWashington, etc. might be known locally, but will get a "Who?" when it comes to the general public.
  14. Twinnering

    Twinnering Accepted Class of 2017 =)

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    ...Better yet, what qualifies as a superstar?
  15. i5hina

    i5hina AllopathicJay

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    Please elaborate...
  16. Bearstronaut

    Bearstronaut A giant leap for bearkind

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    The fact that you're measuring things in hours doesn't bode well for a top 10 acceptance without an MCAT substantially higher than 35.
  17. Bluto385

    Bluto385

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    High stats for a lower tier school doesn't necessarily sky-rocket your chances of acceptance. Many of these schools live and die by their mission statement, and they choose applicants closely resembling this. Beyond a certain GPA/MCAT benchmark it doesn't really matter, hence why the number of secondary essays tend to increase as you go down the tiers (at least from my experience).
  18. Bearstronaut

    Bearstronaut A giant leap for bearkind

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    A lot of lower tier schools will give high stat acceptances anyway because the applicant to matriculant ratio is irrelevant to them at the ranking they operate at, but a higher MCAT/GPA average is always beneficial
  19. Ichiban88

    Ichiban88

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    But with so many applicants to choose from why waste an interview/acceptance slot on someone who may not matriculate?
  20. Josh7

    Josh7 Relax

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    Maybe it's because I'm from Illinois but I'd say it's pretty well known that Northwestern and Wash U are crazy good schools. I'd agree with you on those other two schools though. It's interesting to think about how a lot of people outside of the pre-med culture wouldn't recognize Mt Sinai as a prestigious Med School
  21. mcloaf

    mcloaf SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor

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    Being from the NW, I could say it's well known that UWash rules and nobody knows about Northwestern or WashU. You're just proving his point. :)
  22. Ichiban88

    Ichiban88

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    I think that Northwestern is super well known.
  23. red7

    red7

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    My understanding is that the board score helps to get the interview, but won't get you into the program - that's where your research, LORs, phone calls on your behalf, etc. will really count and these might be much more heavy-hitting coming from a school with a lot of research money and famous faculty. That's what I meant when I said that it doesn't all come down to board scores.

    In any case, I think we can agree it's in everyone's interest to do as well as possible on the boards, and generally work hard throughout med school.

    Edit: This is also waaaay off topic from the OP's post - sorry!
  24. Josh7

    Josh7 Relax

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    Actually I was agreeing with him... :confused:
  25. aspiring20

    aspiring20

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    i can only share what i've seen from my undergrad and my peers who got into top 10 medical schools. I know around 10 of them fairly well, and below is a rough ballpark of their ECs and stats.

    3.6 - 3.8 GPA
    36 ish MCAT

    Biology/Chemistry Majors

    2-4 years of extensive research (both in the forms of independent study/lab assistant/employment
    -always something to show for the research - papers, posters, presentations, etc
    -strong LORs from research mentors (my school is well known for research, so those letters carry substantial weigh, especially to fellow top tiers)

    Standard hospital volunteering (around 150 hrs, a few have leadership roles in this manner)
    Some international or domestic community service (usually around a single summer)
    Some other miscellaneous things like club leadership, newspaper/journal editors, etc.

    THAT. IS. IT.
  26. mcloaf

    mcloaf SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor

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    Lol, not really (I.e. "but I'd agree with you about the others...").
  27. sliceofbread136

    sliceofbread136

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    I disagree based on my own experience. I was accepted into a ton of schools where I don't fit their missions statement. I think even alot of schools that cater to more rural places still would like some students interested in research and would love students with very high stats.
  28. Ichiban88

    Ichiban88

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    I like this post a lot but how do you mean by "that is it"? There's not enough information here to know if you are implying something here. You should add some kind of smiley here for the cyber awkward like me. :)

    With the addition of a few interesting hobbies and background, i think the list looks good.
    We are still young. What more do they want?
  29. aspiring20

    aspiring20

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    other than stats, i really dont think what i've described counts as a "superstar". Honestly, I view this as fairly typical, solid, and pedestrian ECs. But maybe I spend too much time on SDN. I really hope it's the latter.
  30. sliceofbread136

    sliceofbread136

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    I think good stats, great research and some typical ECs mixed with alittle luck can get you into a top 10. The thing is in research it can be hard to get those solid accomplishments sometimes
  31. Bearstronaut

    Bearstronaut A giant leap for bearkind

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    You seem to forget 50+% of matriculants are accepted off the waitlist. Harvard has the highest ratio of acceptances to matriculants, and it's about 60%.
  32. Ichiban88

    Ichiban88

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    Hmm I didn't know that about the matriculant rate and waitlist. Ic your point now. I am sold.
  33. Bluto385

    Bluto385

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    There are exceptions everywhere you look, but that is not the general rule. Candidates that are neither URM nor have stellar stats are routinely chosen in accordance with the mission statement at these schools. And even those with the high stats can be turned away if they in no way fit what the school is looking for.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2012
  34. Bearstronaut

    Bearstronaut A giant leap for bearkind

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    :)

    That was the dean at a top 10 school that said that. I don't necessarily know how true it is, but they were making a big deal about retention rates and that.

    It's a hard to see point on SDN because the top students are obsessively followed and discussed (Tots, wangers, etc) while other applicants are mostly in or not in, and their future school is irrelevant to most. Then there's a lot of people who don't post all their stuff online, because showing how a 4.0 and a 40 got you into Harvard doesn't really help future applicants all that much :p
  35. aspiring20

    aspiring20

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    yeah i guess this makes sense. i understand how difficult it can get with research. i was involved with it for two years, and it was an eye-opening experience.

    the only thing that i have going against me is relatively low sGPA and a minor institutional action. but seeing how so many people have had great success with situations much worse, i think i am getting more and more confident.
  36. Ichiban88

    Ichiban88

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    I don't know your sGPA but don't worry too much about the IA. From your posts above, it looks like you are on the right track and very highly aspiring which is great! Top schools tend to be research schools and they like applicants with research but there are those on admissions boards who will keep selection factors in check and will be eager to look at your humanity side. Volunteering and clinical experiences can be strong foundations for conveying your personality and character.
  37. i5hina

    i5hina AllopathicJay

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    Bluto385,

    Thanks for the elaboration. Makes sense though.
  38. i5hina

    i5hina AllopathicJay

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    Bluto385,

    Thanks for the elaboration. Makes sense though.
  39. sliceofbread136

    sliceofbread136

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    Well of course they COULD be turned away. But I'm still not convinced that many of those schools don't give a significant boost for people with high stats, even if they don't fit their mission.
  40. aspiring20

    aspiring20

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    yeah...what's done is done, and there's nothing i can do to change the past. fortunately the IA is about as minor as it can get, so i got that in my favor. it is also comforting seeing how many members on SDN have had great success even with IAs to report.
  41. red7

    red7

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    Here is the US News data on the top 10 schools by yield

    Harvard's yield in 2011-2012 was 74%, and it was #10 on that list. It was the highest yield amongst private schools, with only state schools having a higher yield (notably, the University of Washington at 76.8%). Oklahoma State University and the University of Kansas were tied for first at 85.7%.

    I would guess 40-50% is probably average for most schools, though.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2012
  42. Bluto385

    Bluto385

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    Wherein lies the boost, then? It certainly isn't used to compensate for something that is clearly lacking in the candidate's essays, letters, or interviews.

    There is a reason why these schools have a median MCAT that is significantly lower than middle tier schools, and it is not because there is any shortage of applicants with stats 4+ points above their average. If this boost were as significant as you suggest, then there would be a homogenous stat average among schools across the middle and lower tiers. The fact that this isn't true shows that these schools place much more value on a candidate's character through their secondary materials, personal statement, etc. Having a great numbers is always looked upon with favor, but not at the cost of overlooking other competent candidates fitting the mission more closely.
  43. Bearstronaut

    Bearstronaut A giant leap for bearkind

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    I think you're wrong about there not being a shortage of people 4 points higher, but we're also not talking about people with 33s and 34s. Probably 36+ is where the real advantages start.
  44. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor Daisy the Dog

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    Adding on to this, that it's been demonstrated scientifically that there is little different in academic performance once applicants score above something like a 27. LizzyM posts this somewhat regularly so maybe (s)he can post the actual study. It pretty much shoots a hole in the idea that the MCAT actually measures proficiency in something. Either that or the MCAT tests skills that aren't relevant in medical school.
  45. Bearstronaut

    Bearstronaut A giant leap for bearkind

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    Very high MCATs being favored likely has more to do with the school's potential reputation/ranking than it does with actual future academic performance.
  46. NickNaylor

    NickNaylor Daisy the Dog

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    Exactly, which is hilarious given that the MCAT is so relatively useless.
  47. Bearstronaut

    Bearstronaut A giant leap for bearkind

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    Everyone's a unique and beautiful snowflake, and the admissions process is the flame we're all inexorably drawn to :p

    It's probably a feedback loop. High ranked schools promote their high rankings, the ranking services differentiate schools (and they differentiate themselves on their website) for how high their MCAT scores are... ambitious top and mid tier schools thus focus on these easily modifiable factors, cascades a bit, and there you go. Extracurriculars fall to an easily categorical wayside, since most curriculums don't leave you with the time to nation build in Africa or whatever it takes to be exceptional these days :p
  48. Bluto385

    Bluto385

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    With lower tier schools, I am talking about 33s and 34s which are roughly 4 points or more higher than the averages. Given the thousands of applicants that are continually turned down each year, there are no shortages of these numbers in the applicant pool. Now if someone with a 36+ started having real advantages, then that would manifest in an acceptance despite the candidate's stark deviation from the school's mission. I don't know of any data supporting this, do you?
  49. PreMedOrDead

    PreMedOrDead I'm sure you'll get in...

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    To be honest, I was a bit surprised that every time I mention NU I have gotten a "what's that?" Especially considering it's often regarded top 10 or at the very least top 20.

    Also, since this was just on Comedy Central...

    Scene

    And I just now realized how logically incorrect this entire movie is regarding the admissions process. :(

    As for Top 10 acceptances... it's variable. I know of several 3.7-4.0s and 34-38s with one or more acceptances to these schools, but I also know of several 3.7-4.0s and 34-38s with no acceptances anywhere. And a lot of them have very similar activities/interests (ECs are pretty average). I hate to say this, but sometime it just comes down to who read your application.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012
  50. Narmerguy

    Narmerguy SDN Senior Moderator

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    Agreed :thumbup:

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