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Advice for improving app

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by taubeladdi, Dec 14, 2005.

  1. taubeladdi

    taubeladdi Registerd User
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    I've just got my last rejection today and have no more hope for this cycle and was wondering how best I could go about improving my application. I graduated from college in '97 with a 3.6 (Bio, chem) and last April got a 30 on the MCAT. I've shadowed a few doctors for a couple of days and have about 150 hours volunteering in the E.R. Until recently I thought these were descent credentials, but my state schools (FL) wiped the floor with me. Anyhow, I have no idea as to how to improve my app. I 've only taken the MCAT once, but don't think I could really improve my score significantly. In addition, I'm not too excited about the concept of studying for the MCAT again while working full time. I'm beginning to believe its the age (staleness, if your from UF) of my grades that may be holding me back. I'm not getting much feedback from the schools I applied to either. I did manage one interview, but to no avail. Anyone have any ideas...reconsider MCAT, post-bac, full time clinical job (major pay cut and training, definitely required for this one). Thanks.
     
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  3. Seagal

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    I am so sorry. I am feeling that way too. Haven't heard anything from anyone except for one interview. I am on hold or still under review too. This process is so very frustrating. The only things I could think of are: apply early and apply to many places (I've noticed that ppl who have two or more acceptances have applied to 15+ schools. and have received many rejections.) I hope that this is helpful. If you have receive any helpful advice please PM me. :)
     
  4. chan

    chan Senior Member
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    It sounds like your stats are pretty good. But so are pretty much everyones. Find something unique about yourself and go with it. Adcoms look at hundreds of applications.... find out what can make you stand out. I doubt its going to be a 3.6 GPA, 30 MCAT, and shadowing in an ER. Those are pretty standard things that everyone does. Dont give up hope just because it didnt work out this time around.

    Chan
     
  5. Scottish Chap

    Physician PhD Moderator Emeritus 15+ Year Member

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    I'm so sorry to hear about your application this year, but don't you give up. It's probably not your age. A couple of people in my year are in their 30's and 40's. One is even 50 and his last academic grade was earned in 1980!

    Your GPA and MCAT are both fine. I would not bother retaking the MCAT (unless your 30 is very unbalanced - 12, 12, 6...or something like that). Your volunteer activities appear to be there and many people are accepted with less. Always keep in mind that the applicant pool is a massive, impressive, rather homogeneous group of individuals and it must be nightmarish for adcoms to distinguish between them.

    Not knowing you and going only by what you've posted, my best guess would be the logic of your application package - the AMCAS stuff, that is. Too many good applicants take this lightly. Did you apply widely (to schools where your stats alone make you competitive as well as to schools you consider to be a 'reach'?). My first of just three interviews was at my biggest reach school and it resulted in an immediate acceptance and I promise you that my GPA and MCAT were a few notches below their average. It's sometimes hard to tell what will make you attractive to a particular school in any given year.

    Was your essay unfocused or less than stellar? How have your past endeavors suitably prepared you for a medical career and convinced you that you want this more than anything? Did this come across logically in your essay? Don't underestimate just how important these essays are to schools. Also, were your letters of recommendation written by people who really know you, or were they formulaic, perhaps written by a chairman (or worse...by the chairmen's staff) who may have a fancy title, but doesn't know your personal attributes or the non-cognitive characteristics that highlight your suitability for a medical career? Those are important things to consider, IMHO.

    Ask for honest feedback from schools that rejected you. Many reapplicants have found success in this. Apply again next year, apply early, apply widely, strengthen your application with quality activities, and NEVER use the same AMCAS essay (the director of admissions at my school reads the previous AMCAS essay if the applicant was rejected without interview the previous year).

    Good luck and apply again, and again, and again if you have to. This is too precious to give up on when you're so close to getting in.
     
  6. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    As other posters have indicated, your stats are pretty average for med school matriculants, so the question is whether you managed to make yourself stand out. Was your PS solid and error free? Were your LORs good (and are you positive)? Was your MCAT score balanced or something wildly unbalanced (like 13,13, 4)? Did you have a good story as to why you were trying to go to med school now? Were you doing something interesting during the interval from college to now (That is probably the biggest question)? At the one interview, did you sell yourself and put your best foot forward or were you too passive? If you are correct about what is holding you back, the obvious answer is to find someplace where you can take some upper level science classes, perhaps at night.
    And make sure to apply to a ton of places, spanning a range of rankings.
     
  7. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy
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    your gpa is good, so i think a formal postbacc would be a waste of money. recent coursework is always good -- look into your local state university and see what they offer. i guess i'd also focus on getting some cool ec's that might make you stand out such as doing international medical mission work or something like that. also, it can't hurt to get some more volunteering hours taken care of. quitting your job and taking a noticeable pay cut to get a clinical job seems extreme to me.

    probably the best thing to do would be to contact the schools in florida and ask they why you didn't get in. sorry you didn't have better luck. :(
     
  8. dr.z

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    Maybe apply to more schools out of state. Pick some private schools that you may be interested in attending. I really don't see much problem with your credentials.
     
  9. robh

    robh Senior Member
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    exlawgrrl is right. I think this is hugely important. Find out why you weren't competitive. You'll probably have better luck talking to someone in the spring, rather than right now (they're likely very busy).

    I think your stats are good. A 3.6 gpa is competitive. A 30 MCAT is competitive. Yes they are average for matriculants but average means a bunch of people with lower grades and lower MCAT scores got admitted. Almost twice as many people are accepted with a 30 combined score on the MCAT as are rejected. It's about 50/50 with a 3.6 GPA. So based on those two stats alone, you should have better than a 50/50 chance of being admitted. Of course there is a lot more too it!

    Honestly, I'm a little surprised you didn't fair better. You only got one interview. That is the first problem to address. Consider what the adcom's have to base an interview decision on: Grades (reasonable), MCAT (very good), AMCAS/AACOMAS (???), secondary essays (???), LOR's (???).

    Look at each of these in turn and see if you can determine what is lacking. You can't really change your GPA, and you don't need to. Your MCAT score is good enough. Do you have strong LOR's? That can be a difficult problem for someone like you (and me) that hasn't been in school for 8 years. I had to go back to school to take a few prerequisite courses. I made sure that I creamed those courses and then asked the professors for LOR's. Did you get LOR's from your employer/boss? How about a physician you shadowed? You should have those.

    Are all your essays well written and thought out? Did you have other people read them for their reactions? Do they say what needs to be said? Remember that medical schools, and indeed all of academia, are very PC. You need to show that you have the intellectual ability, but also the humanistic qualities they are looking for. The function of the essays (PS, and secondaries) is to generate interest in you. You want the adcom to look at your essays and say, "this guy/gal is interesting let's interview."

    Examine your clinical experience and volunteer work. Do you have enough time in clinic/shadowing to support the notion that you know what you are getting into? Try to think of some clinical/volunteer work you can do between now and next May that will really stand out to the adcoms. I volunteered at an HIV/AIDS residential care facility, very PC, very interesting.

    Where else did you apply? Some schools will look negatively on an applicant that does not apply widely because they feel it reflects a poor motivation for medicine. (i.e. he's only willing to go to medical school if the school is in FL, so he's not really committed). I was told this by a member of the adcom at my home state school. I think that is a bogus judgment, but apparently it's a factor for this adcom.

    These are my thoughts, I hope they help you. Good luck and don't forget to call those schools and ask them how you can improve your application for next year. You'll get there! :thumbup: I've written a book! Sorry...
     
  10. gbleeker

    gbleeker Creighton, 2010
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    First of all, sorry that you didn't get in! Everyone else has already spoken on what I would say, but I will expand a bit more on a few things;

    Your MCAT is fine. If you want to try and retake the thing, go for it. I understand the process of studying all over again and how hard it is (took it 3 times - 22, 26, 28) so your score is definitely NOT bad.

    Your GPA seems fine also. If you want to take a few courses here and there to bring it up, that would be good I think; don't quit your job though.

    Here is my main point. Where all did you apply? To expand on previous posts, next year apply broadly. Don't just consider state schools for whatever reason. Give yourself as much chance as you can to get in to multiple schools, and don't be afraid to reapply to the FL schools again. Sometimes they definitely like to see that.

    As stated, I would try and find out exactly why you weren't getting interviews at the other schools (gpa and MCAT are fine - so find out what they thought) and then try to combat that.

    Otherwise next year, apply broadly and best of luck!
     
  11. blee

    blee Senior Member
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    I think your best bet is to speak with an admissions officer at a local medical school to find out why your application is not competitive. Most schools are receptive to this sort of thing; at any rate, it couldn't hurt to ask. You could even ask the schools that rejected you this cycle to explain why they did it; some schools will absolutely not answer that question, but many will.

    This is only my opinion, but I'm wondering whether you are being held back by a lack of recent coursework. There isn't anything wrong with a 3.6 GPA or a 30 on the MCAT; as others have stated, though, these are roughly average for matriculated students. If your last semester of full-time study was eight years ago, perhaps there is some question as to your ability to hold down a rigorous schedule today. I realize that your MCAT score is reasonably strong, but maybe it isn't strong enough to offset the time that's passed since your graduation. There are other ways you might be putting yourself in a disfavorable position. Maybe your personal statement fails to explain why you want to be a doctor, or maybe you were not able to garner strong letters of reference. It's hard to say, since we don't have access to your entire app.

    If it really is the age of your transcript, then consider a post-bacc year or an SMP program, most of which would consider you a strong applicant. The SMP would be a particularly good fit; you obviously have a good handle on your basic sciences, and SMPs like Georgetown's actually put you in M1 classes as part of your degree. Doing well in this sort of environment would help to dispel any misgivings an adcom would have over your academic abilities. But don't go about quitting your job just yet; find out why this happened to you first. Best of luck!
     
  12. toothless rufus

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    What! How do they know where you apply? And so what if you want to try to go somewhere where you can remain in contact with friends and family? I think shipping yourself alone somewhere distant has no good justification. That is lame.
     
  13. robh

    robh Senior Member
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    I agree! As I said, I think it is bogus reasoning. I have a very compelling, and I think excellent reason to only go to my state school. My wife has a medical practice she loves. She would have to leave it and all the work she has put into building it. Why should that work against me? Nonetheless, schools do seem to be interested in where I have applied. The adcom member's comments were unambiguous. In truth, two adcom members told me the same thing independently.

    Regarding how they know. It is part of your AMCAS application. Presumably you got a copy of your application from AMCAS? It's on the next to last page. Plus, I've been asked by just about every school I've interviewed at.
     
  14. TX515

    TX515 Senior Member
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    Talk with the admissions committee. Go straight to the source.
     
  15. toothless rufus

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    Doh! That's right! They shouldn't have that information, and they certainly shouldn't ask. Their only concern is in dealing with why you applied to their school. And not to mention, maybe it would be a good idea to apply to every single program, but that gets a little $$$, and if you want to take advantage of lower tuition due to state resident status, that should hardly be held against one. It's almost like they are incapable of resonable common sense concerning this (and other!) issues. Ugh!
     
  16. TX515

    TX515 Senior Member
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    I was asked during two interviews why I applied to out of state schools.
     
  17. robh

    robh Senior Member
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    I think TX might be an unusual case, with the extremely low in-state tuition. They might be thinking you are highly motivated to leave the state since OOS tuition is probably 5x Texas in-state. They're just insecure and worried you might leave ;)
     
  18. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    I am also a non-trad from FL, and I'm the same age as you. I agree with a lot of the advice that other posters have given you, especially Law2Doc, robh, and ScottishChap (with the exception that it's not true that the FL schools would look down on you for only applying in FL!!!). Your age, the age of your pre-reqs, and your stats are NOT likely to be the problem. In fact, I would consider our state schools to be among the most non-trad friendly schools I have visited, especially USF and U Miami. My gut feeling after having applied and interviewed at the FL schools is that you need to improve your ECs. All of the FL schools weight your ECs extremely heavily assuming that your stats are reasonable, as yours more than are. Check your PM box.
     
  19. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    It's been brought to my attention that my last post was confusing, so just to be clear, it was robh whom I was disagreeing with about the FL schools looking down on applicants for applying OOS, not ScottishChap. :p
     
  20. taubeladdi

    taubeladdi Registerd User
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    Thank you all for your advice. I'm going to do as many suggested and speak directly with all of the schools I applied to (if possible) and ask for their sincere advice as to how to improve my application. Thanks again.
     

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