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Advice for reapplication and reapplicant year

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kyo121

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So I'm fairly new to SDN so I'd like to apologize first if my questions have been answered somewhere else in the forums that I haven't found yet.

I applied to medical school this current round (20 schools) with no interviews and only 2 schools left to hear from (which I'm not really optimistic about getting in to them this late in the process) though I submitted my AMCAS fairly late (august) and secondaries in september.

Stats:
Currently a double degree (Bioengineering and biochemistry) at the University of Washington with a cGPA of 3.88 and a sGPA of 3.89 with two quarters still left to finish.

MCAT score: 30S (8V, 11B, 11P) taken last May

Volunteer/clinical work: Currently at the university medical center for about 9 months and minimal shadowing of a surgeon

Research experience for over a year (currently working on my own project and could get a first-author publication out of it.)

Washington resident

So I am currently studying to retake the MCAT in May hopefully to improve my score to mid-upper 30s or at least get a better distribution. But my main concern is increasing clinical experience as from the one school I talked to after being rejected (the University of Washington) specifically highlighted that part of my application. So I was wondering if I start to increase my clinical experience now (approx 2 months until the May opening of AMCAS) will that make any considerable difference for my application?

Also, I'm wondering what were some routes taken during your reapplicant year and if they made an impact during reapplication? I'm currently struggling on what to do during my reapplicant year and debating in staying in research or trying to focus more on increasing clinical experiences as I know this is a weakness in my application. I've currently applied for the NIH postbac research program and there are several opportunities for research in the Seattle area but I really want to maximize my efforts on improving my application.
 
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MiniMoo

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Can you give us more details? It seems odd you didn't receive a single interview with a 3.8+ GPA and a 30 MCAT. Granted the MCAT is a smidgen low, but if you applied broadly enough, I would think you would have at least gotten a couple of interviews.

How many hours of clinical volunteering did you have when you applied? How many hours of shadowing? Any leadership experience? Teaching? Community service? How are your LORs? Personal statement?

Did you apply broadly enough? You said 20 schools. Are they all top tier? Or does your list include middle and lower tier as well?

Sorry for all the questions, but in order to help you determine how to strengthen your application, we need to know what's "wrong" with it first. :)
 

kyo121

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I definitely don't mind all the questions and thank you for looking over my post. During the application period I actually lacked a lot of the activities that I currently have as receiving all those rejections made me realize I had to make considerable effort to strengthen my app.

As of my AMCAS submission, I had only volunteered at the hospital for 1 month with prior volunteering during my freshman year totaling about half a year in an escort position (~75 hours total). Right now, I think I have ~200 hours of volunteering at the hospital. Also, I did not have any shadowing experience at the time (currently done 20 hours of shadowing).

In terms of leadership, I've held some officer positions in the clubs I am in and help organize events like Relay for Life and outreach programs (not sure if that is really leadership).

In terms of teaching, I didn't have any before applying though I am currently helping to TA a bioengineering class.

My LORs were nothing really amazing and mostly from professors which I had been done well in the class for and I have had moderate interactions with, though I believe I can get much better ones from both my research PI and clinical volunteering. Also, my personal statement is probably nothing amazing either but can't really form much of an opinion on it.

Schools I applied to are:
Boston U, Case Western, Dartmouth, UCLA, Georgetown, Jefferson, USC, OHSU, Tufts, UCSD, UCSF, UC Davis, U Chicago, U Cinci, U Maryland, U Pitt, U Rochester, U Washington, Wake Forest, and Brown.

When I was creating my list of schools to apply for, I didn't really think to apply broadly and focused a lot more on just location of schools and programs that they had.
 

MiniMoo

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Well it seems that you've done a lot to improve your clinical experience since you last applied. The lack of clinical work really hurt you. Continue with the hospital volunteering and try to get more shadowing. I would recommend around 50+ hours if possible with physicians in different specialties.

Also your school selection was WAAY too top heavy. While your GPA is amazing, I would say your MCAT is too low for a lot of the schools you applied to. Do you own a copy of the MSAR? If not, I highly recommend you purchase one. Target your application to schools with stats in your range with just a couple of reaches and some "safeties" thrown in as well. Only retake the MCAT if you're SURE you can score better. A 34+ would put a lot more of the schools you originally applied to within your reach. And apply early next time!

Continue with the research. Getting a publication would be a nice boost to your application. Also obtain better LORs. You admitted that the ones you had were mediocre. Make sure the next time you apply, your letters are solid.

Other than that, stick with the TAing. Try to stay active with hobbies, community service, or other activities that show you're a well rounded individual. You would also need to rewrite your PS for reapplication. Make sure you have people you trust to read it and give you feedback. I know this is a lot to think about and accomplish, but getting into med school is the hardest part IMO.

If you need assistance with choosing schools to apply to, feel free to ask as well. Good luck. :)
 
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ShyRem

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My first thought was "where were you applying"? And I agree with the above - you applied to a LOT of very high tier schools. You need to apply BROADLY - and that includes schools in lower tiers.
 

kyo121

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Thanks Minimoo and shyrem for your advice. I had a question on retaking the MCATs. Because of the distribution I obtained (with an 8 in verbal), would obtaining a slight increase in score but a more even distribution hurt or help my application? It seems like not improving your score can hurt the application (which was the reason I did not want to chance retaking while during applying) but I am really concerned that I have a score <9 and would hope to improve it. This is, of course, a less than ideal situation and hopefully something I don't have to deal with.
 

MiniMoo

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Thanks Minimoo and shyrem for your advice. I had a question on retaking the MCATs. Because of the distribution I obtained (with an 8 in verbal), would obtaining a slight increase in score but a more even distribution hurt or help my application? It seems like not improving your score can hurt the application (which was the reason I did not want to chance retaking while during applying) but I am really concerned that I have a score <9 and would hope to improve it. This is, of course, a less than ideal situation and hopefully something I don't have to deal with.

I don't know how you prepared for the MCAT or how you were scoring on practice exams, but if you're not fairly positive you can improve your score to at least a 32+, I wouldn't retake. An 8 on verbal shouldn't be that damaging considering your excellent GPA and writing score. If you don't retake though, you need to completely revamp the list of schools that you plan on applying to.
 

hippocraticoath

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I definitely don't mind all the questions and thank you for looking over my post. During the application period I actually lacked a lot of the activities that I currently have as receiving all those rejections made me realize I had to make considerable effort to strengthen my app.

As of my AMCAS submission, I had only volunteered at the hospital for 1 month with prior volunteering during my freshman year totaling about half a year in an escort position (~75 hours total). Right now, I think I have ~200 hours of volunteering at the hospital. Also, I did not have any shadowing experience at the time (currently done 20 hours of shadowing).

In terms of leadership, I've held some officer positions in the clubs I am in and help organize events like Relay for Life and outreach programs (not sure if that is really leadership).

In terms of teaching, I didn't have any before applying though I am currently helping to TA a bioengineering class.

My LORs were nothing really amazing and mostly from professors which I had been done well in the class for and I have had moderate interactions with, though I believe I can get much better ones from both my research PI and clinical volunteering. Also, my personal statement is probably nothing amazing either but can't really form much of an opinion on it.

Schools I applied to are:
Boston U, Case Western, Dartmouth, UCLA, Georgetown, Jefferson, USC, OHSU, Tufts, UCSD, UCSF, UC Davis, U Chicago, U Cinci, U Maryland, U Pitt, U Rochester, U Washington, Wake Forest, and Brown.

When I was creating my list of schools to apply for, I didn't really think to apply broadly and focused a lot more on just location of schools and programs that they had.

Why didn't you apply to any DO schools?
 

MiniMoo

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Why didn't you apply to any DO schools?

I don't think he would've necessarily fared any better at DO schools given his lack of ECs. Yes, DO schools have lower average stats, but they still expect you to jump through all the required hoops.
 

Morsetlis

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Need more clinical experience. Get that paper out and quit research--it's not helping you fill the clinical/volunteering gap and it'd take up way too much time.
 

kyo121

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Thanks again for the advice. My major concern about dropping research and just focusing on clinical/volunteering is that I need the money I get from research. While I've looked into EMT and phlebotomy training (the only paid clinical that I know right now, though I haven't researched that heavily into paid clinical work), I likely wouldn't take the necessary courses until summer (though I could rush them in next quarter) and then actually gain experience after I have already applied to med schools. I would really like to go through to gain the additional medical exposure but don't want them to impact my gpa/mcat if they won't be considered by adcoms, since it would be something I would do fall-spring.
 

Morsetlis

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You need clinical exp. BEFORE you apply. I suggest doing 8 hours a week at a hospital, starting NOW.
 

indianjatt

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As others mentioned you need to get all of the essentials like shadowing, clinical experience, hospital volunteering, research, non-med, etc.

Also looking at your list, I did not see one low-tier school! Those were all VERY top heavy. I think you should get an MSAR and look up some backup/safeties for next year and beef up that app.

Good luck. I tihnk you'll do great next year if you do everytthing right. :)
 
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