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2 Q's: What number of schools in what tiers should I apply to (for next cycle)?

takeeacy

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May 26, 2010
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    Sorry- the other questions are listed at the bottom of the page- there turned out to be 3 questions total!

    I've looked at some other threads, but I'm from Cali; I'm Chinese; I'm from the Bay Area - I hear that there's just so many kids pouring out that most Cali kids apply to hellla schools. My friends applied 25+ up to 55ish schools, but I feel that it's really excessive.

    Could you guys look at my EC's and kinda give me an idea of what tiers/schools to choose? I hear that low-tier schools reject high score applications, so I don't know if I can apply to those. Honestly, I really just want to go to a Cali med school, but I was hoping to get some advice from the wealth of knowledge at SDN.

    GPA: 3.91 (my sGPA is less than .3 lower)
    MCAT: 42Q
    Major: Psychobiology (haven't taken any real Psych classes yet)
    School: UCLA

    EC's

    Research:
    -Was part of a massive Drosophila genetic screen of novel genes (1 Quarter) as a class. 20hrs/wk
    -Did "independent research" directly under the professor - first I did another screen of Drosophila genes (1 qtr); then I examined a novel cancer-related gene's functions (2 qtrs) 17hrs/wk

    Volunteering:
    -Care Extender- I greeted and wheeled patients around the hospital (2 Qtr), I help X-rays position patients and help with taking X-rays (this quarter), next quarter I'm planning on helping out with the oncology department (kinda like an ICU) I have to complete 250 hrs to finish the program, and it's at a rate of 4 hrs/wk.

    Other:
    -Art tour guide at the Hammer Museum (modern art)- I give the tours at the museum; art is a crucial part to my choice in medicine instead of research. 4.5 hrs/wk for a year (on going)
    -Church fellowship- just attending and helping out with the ministry is 10hrs/wk (3 years)
    -When I was high school, I started an annual charity dance back at my home town; it's continued and I watched/helped organize it my freshman year until the event became self-sustainable (with new staff and etc).

    These are probably all the big things; my freshman year I was part of an ethnic club and I'm also in Regents Scholars Society (but I don't really do anything- it's just an org. for people who got merit-based scholarships to UCLA). I plan on mentoring some of the incoming scholars.


    Then two more questions since you guys have already seen a large chunk of my app.


    1. I love my research- it's really cool, but the drudgery of the work and time-commitment was killing me; I really want to stop, and just focus on volunteering more and my museum job(which I totally love), but I'm just afraid to, esp. b/c of people's suggestions. What do you guys think/know? I know I definitely plan on doing primary care; I don't think I have a future in doing research, as much as I love learning about new developments or planning experiments. I just hate the physical labor and repetition required for research - there's no people to interact with.
    2. Should I really do non-hospital volunteering? I was hoping my other stats would be good enough. It's not like I don't like to; it's something I miss from high school, but for the sake of time and trying to stay alive and seeking to date, I don't know if I have the time to do it know.
    I deeply appreciate anyone who's read all of this because I know it's one crazy beast of text. Thanks!
     

    rHinO1

    Grindin' Until I'm Tired
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      I've looked at some other threads, but I'm from Cali; I'm Chinese; I'm from the Bay Area - I hear that there's just so many kids pouring out that most Cali kids apply to hellla schools. My friends applied 25+ up to 55ish schools, but I feel that it's really excessive.

      Could you guys look at my EC's and kinda give me an idea of what tiers/schools to choose? I hear that low-tier EC's reject high score applications, so I don't know if I can apply to those. Honestly, I really just want to go to a Cali med school, but I was hoping to get some advice from the wealth of knowledge at SDN.

      GPA: 3.91 (my sGPA is less than .3 lower)
      MCAT: 42Q
      Major: Psychobiology (haven't taken any real Psych classes yet)
      School: UCLA


      Almost stopped reading when I saw you wrote hella... and after continuing on, I ready your MCAT/GPA... That's where I stopped.

      You will be fine! Just stop saying hella...
       
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      violet7

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      Aug 31, 2007
      282
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        With your MCAT score, I would apply to 10-15 top-tier research oriented schools like WashU, UCSF, Harvard, etc.
        And then may be 5-10 safety schools also making an emphasis on research.
        Please keep in mind that even people with amazing stats can get rejected/waitlisted if they suck at interviewing. So make sure you address your interviewing skills if you think it might be a concern.

        Good luck!
         

        itellitlikeitis

        Full Member
        Oct 9, 2010
        86
        1
          Sorry- the other questions are listed at the bottom of the page- there turned out to be 3 questions total!

          I've looked at some other threads, but I'm from Cali; I'm Chinese; I'm from the Bay Area - I hear that there's just so many kids pouring out that most Cali kids apply to hellla schools. My friends applied 25+ up to 55ish schools, but I feel that it's really excessive.

          You don't need to apply to 55 schools with your stats and ECs. 55 schools are for rich people with something glaringly wrong with their application. I would stick to about 25 schools.

          Could you guys look at my EC's and kinda give me an idea of what tiers/schools to choose? I hear that low-tier schools reject high score applications, so I don't know if I can apply to those. Honestly, I really just want to go to a Cali med school, but I was hoping to get some advice from the wealth of knowledge at SDN.

          GPA: 3.91 (my sGPA is less than .3 lower)
          MCAT: 42Q
          Major: Psychobiology (haven't taken any real Psych classes yet)
          School: UCLA

          EC's

          Research:
          -Was part of a massive Drosophila genetic screen of novel genes (1 Quarter) as a class. 20hrs/wk
          -Did "independent research" directly under the professor - first I did another screen of Drosophila genes (1 qtr); then I examined a novel cancer-related gene's functions (2 qtrs) 17hrs/wk

          Volunteering:
          -Care Extender- I greeted and wheeled patients around the hospital (2 Qtr), I help X-rays position patients and help with taking X-rays (this quarter), next quarter I'm planning on helping out with the oncology department (kinda like an ICU) I have to complete 250 hrs to finish the program, and it's at a rate of 4 hrs/wk.

          Other:
          -Art tour guide at the Hammer Museum (modern art)- I give the tours at the museum; art is a crucial part to my choice in medicine instead of research. 4.5 hrs/wk for a year (on going)
          -Church fellowship- just attending and helping out with the ministry is 10hrs/wk (3 years)
          -When I was high school, I started an annual charity dance back at my home town; it's continued and I watched/helped organize it my freshman year until the event became self-sustainable (with new staff and etc).

          These are probably all the big things; my freshman year I was part of an ethnic club and I'm also in Regents Scholars Society (but I don't really do anything- it's just an org. for people who got merit-based scholarships to UCLA). I plan on mentoring some of the incoming scholars.

          You've got a great shot at the California schools, but there's always the "c**pshoot variable" since there's way too many Californian applicants with above average stats who want to stay in state (looks like you already realize this). You have the clinical and research aspects of your application down, and just as important, you have something "non-academic", "nonclinical" that you invested significant time in, especially since you're not a research or clinical/nonclinical volunteer superstar.


          Then two more questions since you guys have already seen a large chunk of my app.


          1. I love my research- it's really cool, but the drudgery of the work and time-commitment was killing me; I really want to stop, and just focus on volunteering more and my museum job(which I totally love), but I'm just afraid to, esp. b/c of people's suggestions. What do you guys think/know? I know I definitely plan on doing primary care; I don't think I have a future in doing research, as much as I love learning about new developments or planning experiments. I just hate the physical labor and repetition required for research - there's no people to interact with.
          Sounds like you hate the research you're doing despite saying you like it (drudgery and time-sink doesn't exact sell your love for it). 1 year is a significant enough amount of time in research and you should have enough to talk about on the interview trail when interviewers decide to ask you about it. I wouldn't stick around unless you can either get a scholarship or publication out of it.

          Your clinical experience is good enough. I wouldn't bend over backwards to try and get 250 hours. 4.5 hrs/wk volunteering at the art museum is also good enough- try to steer your interview to this activity if they allow you to (most interviews are open ended enough to let you do that), and show off your expertise and enthusiasm for this- it will give them something unique to remember you by.

          I would either take that extra time and put it into the museum job, or finding some other nonclinical activity especially if you can somehow get some leadership position along the way. Again, don't bend over backwards for the latter.

          Also, we need more primary care doctors in this nation, but keep your options open. If you're dead-set, there's some special primary care career-based loan you can take out with a lower interest rate but if you change your mind, I think they retroactively charge you a higher interest rate than the loans that other students normally take out. You never know what might happen your third year of medical school so I would keep an open mind until then. Of course if interviewers ask what your ultimate goal is, tell them why for now it would be to become a primary care doctor.


          1. Should I really do non-hospital volunteering? I was hoping my other stats would be good enough. It's not like I don't like to; it's something I miss from high school, but for the sake of time and trying to stay alive and seeking to date, I don't know if I have the time to do it know.
          It'd be something nice to have, but I would personally feel fine if that was all I had on my application. You're going to have plenty of time once you drop the research- maybe go back to that ethnic club or do something interesting and relaxing/fun like learning how to play some obscure instrument from some part of the world, or taking part in a play that's put on by your ethnic group, etc etc

          I deeply appreciate anyone who's read all of this because I know it's one crazy beast of text. Thanks!

          good luck :luck:
           
          Last edited:

          Ursa

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          Oct 20, 2010
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            images
             

            takeeacy

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            May 26, 2010
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              Deepest thanks for all the sincere advice!

              Probably just to clear up the research issue brought up earlier; what I really enjoyed and liked about research was writing the paper, reading papers, or planning/interpreting experiments. I totally hated doing the physical work; I didn't really mind looking at the first couple results, but repeating the same procedure over and over again for the sake of good statistics, while necessary, was not something I can handle. I need to talk to people.

              My job at the art museum is paid - rather than volunteering, but I am doing it for personal interests. It was supposed to be a rather competitive job; I was up against art history and art students, but I think the museum was interested by my background and my enthusiasm for art. My official office/tour preparation hours are maxed out at 4 hours a week, but coming from a pre-med background, I have to do a bit more research than that to keep up with the art history students. I can give as many tours as are available - so I really intend on doing that more.

              Truly, art for me is a way to connect with people, to really understand, or just start to grasp, people as individuals, ethnic groups, socioeconomic classes, geographic communities, social institutions, cultural forces, and etc. It helps break down doctor-patient barriers and improve those relationships/diagnoses by understanding forms of expression that defy language. Many artists express themselves or cultural critiques through their art. A few artists really stand out in their efforts to try contribute to humanity - those are rather inspiring.

              I don't know if you guys can tell, but I'm really considering psychiatry right now.

              Anyways, does it count as leadership if I guide a tour group? We individually design, create, and lead our tours. We have to deal with all sorts of people- from the youngest to the oldest people, from the least experienced to the experts and professionals of the field. Otherwise, I think I'll just pick up some pre-med mentoring- I like doing that :)
               

              IlaEm

              Full Member
              Sep 15, 2010
              187
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              1. Pre-Medical
                Dang it! I knew I should have majored in psychobio at UCLA! Everyone always gets awesome GPAs in that major.....

                Congrats on the MCAT score. You should be fine! I had a much lower GPA and MCAT and I've been accepted to a california school. I am also a California resident, from the bay area, who attended UCLA.....
                 

                fish89

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                Aug 16, 2008
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                  Your stats are nice, so all schools will at least look at (and hopefully think about) your application. From there, whether or not you get in will depend on other experiences - I think that only having done ONE clinical activity is kinda weak, especially w/o leadership... and everyone else has done research too, as well as a thesis. Sorry but a one quarter drosophila class doesn't count sa research. I mean, who hasn't done at least one volunteering and research activity? Why are you special? For that matter, with so little ec's, why are you even a 'top' candidate? I'm not trying to be discouraging, just raising an analytical comment. However, on a more positive note, your stats will definitely carry weight. Whether a 'top' school will just embrace your stats and overlook your lack of experiences is veryyy hard to say (i.e. honestly unlikely) given the competitiveness of those schools.

                  Being only average to below average at best with the ec's, the best bet is to apply broadly. Others with 3.7s and 3.8s may have significantly more leadership, clinical work, and research - and I think that it's those last 3 things that really differentiate those with high stats from each other. I would say, hope for the "higher tier" schools, also cover your bases - and do it well. Ive seen a lot of 3.8s and 3.9s who dont get into the top tiers especially because they lacked those ec's. The grades/stats just say you will survive the academics in med school, but the ec's are what show you're going to be a good doctor. And med schools are looking for doctors.

                  So for you, it's hard to say. Apply broadly, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I'm not trying to be discouraging, just trying to be [helpfully] real. But you do have to think about only having one clinical experience, and only 1 year of research, plus a minor drosophila class...
                   
                  Last edited:

                  premed67783

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                  Apr 7, 2010
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                    Your stats are nice, so all schools will at least look at (and hopefully think about) your application. From there, whether or not you get in will depend on other experiences - I think that only having done ONE clinical activity is kinda weak, especially w/o leadership... and everyone else has done research too, as well as a thesis. Sorry but a one quarter drosophila class doesn't count sa research. I mean, who hasn't done at least one volunteering and research activity? Why are you special? For that matter, with so little ec's, why are you even a 'top' candidate? I'm not trying to be discouraging, just raising an analytical comment. However, on a more positive note, your stats will definitely carry weight. Whether a 'top' school will just embrace your stats and overlook your lack of experiences is veryyy hard to say (i.e. honestly unlikely) given the competitiveness of those schools.

                    Being only average to below average at best with the ec's, the best bet is to apply broadly. Others with 3.7s and 3.8s may have significantly more leadership, clinical work, and research - and I think that it's those last 3 things that really differentiate those with high stats from each other. I would say, hope for the "higher tier" schools, also cover your bases - and do it well. Ive seen a lot of 3.8s and 3.9s who dont get into the top tiers especially because they lacked those ec's. The grades/stats just say you will survive the academics in med school, but the ec's are what show you're going to be a good doctor. And med schools are looking for doctors.

                    So for you, it's hard to say. Apply broadly, prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I'm not trying to be discouraging, just trying to be [helpfully] real. But you do have to think about only having one clinical experience, and only 1 year of research, plus a minor drosophila class...

                    Agreed. Your stats will pretty much guarantee you'll get into med school, but if you're set on a TOP TIER med school, you have to "wow" them somehow with your EC's, not just hit the bare minimums. That being said.... a 3.9/42 is highly competitive, even for top tier schools (look up the numbers in the MSAR), and the bottom line is that GPA/MCAT numbers are the most important factor.
                     

                    sector9

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                      Anyways, does it count as leadership if I guide a tour group?
                      No.

                      How much shadowing do you have?

                      Your research is on the low end for top schools. I also don't see much leadership, which top schools will also expect. And your overall volunteering is weak too.

                      How are your LORs shaping up?
                       
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