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Hello,

I applied for the medical admissions cycle this past year, and got only one II. At this point, I am planning to reapply this coming cycle and was wondering what are potential issues with my application.

Information regarding my 2015-2016 application:

MCAT: 33 (12, 12, 10) on my 2nd try, received a 31 (11, 11, 9) on my 1st try.
sGPA/cGPA: 3.68/3.78 (Cumulative GPA was 3.74) note: I took both semesters of intro physics at a cc after graduation. I am currently taking human biology and biochemistry at a cc as well.
Psychology major-graduated in 2013
Turning 25 this year, California resident, Asian, male
Submitted my primary end of june, verified end of july, submitted all secondaries by end of august (is this considered late?)

Note: a potential problem is that I have too many reach schools. I will aim lower this time around. Additionally, I am getting more clinical exposure as well. Also, I am considering a MD/PhD as well.


Research:

-research assistant at USC for 3 years, researched stem cells. Have manuscript and abstract published
-research assistant at MGH/Harvard over a single summer, conducted transplantation research. No publications
-lead researcher at Seoul National University conducting stem cell research for one year (Fulbright research grant). Only presented at Fulbright conference.
-PI/lead researcher at Westmont college conducting psychology research, supervised 4 undergraduates for one year. Presented at a conference in my alma mater.
-research assistant at a Korean biotech company (1 year)

Clinical/shadowing:

-shadowed in the pre-op, operating room, and post-op for a hospital (>200 hours)

Volunteering:

-volunteered in a post-rehabilitation center for acquired brain injury (~50 hours)
-volunteered at a private medical clinic that administered clinical pharmaceutical drugs (~50 hours)
-volunteered at a hospital. Essentially I played with kids and distracted them from being lonely (patients were usually international) and from the constant surgical treatments. (~200 hours)


Other ECs:

-Asian Student association (2 years), was the president (1 semester), vice president (1 semester), and officer (1 year). Was also on the Intercultural Organization board for one year.
-social outreach in Mexico over spring break for 4 years
-worked as a tutor for over seven years


Awards:

-Fulbright Student Fellow (research grant to South Korea conducting stem cell project)
-Presidential Scholar and Global Family Scholarship Endowment (academic awards at my alma mater)
-Deans List (for 1 or 2 years, I believe)


Activities since submission:

-taking human biology and biochem at a cc.
-shadowing at a hospital and conducting outreach to the local Korean American society and South Korean organizations.
-working as an instructor for an after school program (teaching SAT, ACT, and AP courses)


Medical Schools I applied to:

Albany
Einstein
BU
Emory
Harvard
USC
Temple Uni.
Morehouse
Oregon
UPenn
Rutgers New Jersey
Rutgers Robert Wood
Stanford
Stony Brook
Uni of Miami
Tufts
USF
Uni. Of Arizona
UCSD
UC Davis
Uni of Colorado
Uni of Connecticut
Uni. Of Illinois (interviewed)
Uni of Min (Minneapolis)
Uni of Nevada
Uni. Of Virginia
Uni. Of Washington
Vanderbuilt
Virginia Commonwealth University
 

Rainbow Zebra

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So, your list seems really top heavy, and a lot of schools that are not CA OOS friendly. Sorry you are a CA resident, as it is tough, and MD/PhD is yet another competitive level above that! Why do you want to do MD/PhD and not a strict PhD or just an MD? Need to have a complying reason for the path you are taking, and not just going for the free ride as an MSTP. Taking upper level classes at CC seems odd, that is not helping you in the MD/PhD circles. You should pursue a Post Bacc program at a 4 year University to fulfill your pre-reqs. It seems odd that you are doing stem cell research as a psychology major without a heavy science background. This story seems a bit disjointed and confusing with stats are that quite weak for the MD/PhD path. I am looking at this laundry list of activities and I'm not getting a sense of who you are, other than a Korean-American who hasn't strayed far from academic campuses.

Comments about your list: U of Washington doesn't take non-NW states, unless it is different in MD/PhD circles. Rutgers is also a state school I think, as well as Oregon is not OOS friendly. If you are CA, you didn't apply to UCLA?? I would add Oakland University and Western Michigan, which are both in Michigan, but are private, and take quite a few CA folks for their MD programs., but are probably not MD/PhD material. Curious you didn't get any bites from U of Miami, VCU. Try adding OSU and Iowa if you can stand the midwest. Not sure about MD/PhD with these stats, but maybe a MSTP candidate will chime in.
 
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The Knife & Gun Club

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First thing I see is you applied to a lot of state schools OOS, and mission driven schools that are very unlikely to take a California ORM (Morehouse?!?!?). Where are all the mid and low teir privates? Rosalind Franklin, Tulane, philly schools, Nymc, wake forest, Virginia tech, Loyola, rush, GW, Georgetown, etc?

I think your lack of acceptance is due to a bad list not bad credentials. Also, echoing above, take postbac classes at a 4 year school!

Also, as above, why suddenly MD/PHD? I work with a few MD/PHD students and it's a really tough, reallllllly long road. They all love their work, but from time to time regret taking such a long path to their desired goal
 
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GrapesofRath

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1) I count about 6 schools on your list you could go in saying you have a reasonable shot at getting a II. For someone from CA, you want that number close to double that.
2) There is a lack of non clinical service outside of tutoring.

MD/PhD is considerably more competitive than MD only; generally not the type of route to pursue for someone who only got 1 MD II. The average MD/PhD matriculant has a 3.8/35, MD only it's 3.65/31. The average MD/PhD applicant who gets rejected from every program they apply to has about a 3.7/32(ie your stats).

Focus on addressing your weaknesses in the MD only app. Dont fall for the trap of "as long as my school list is better Im good"; it's tempting because it's such an easy fix but in reality the reasons behind not getting in are almost always deeper than that. Call some schools if you dont get into UIC for feedback. Revamp the written parts of your app. Gain experience with service to the less fortunate/most vulnerable populations.
 
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eteshoe

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@Rainbow Zebra covered a lot of the questions I was going to bring up. Your list is quite too heavy and almost random to me. What is your reasoning for wanting to go MD/PhD? You may also want to add some non-MSTP funded programs. Since you applied to some Midwest schools, you might as well add OSU, Michigan, IUSM, and Cincinnati. A common breakdown given on the Physician Scientist thread is 5 reach, 5 mid, 5 safety (plus some of your state's schools). It's hard to give advice until you talk about your motivations a bit.
 

gonnif

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One thing besides having a difficult school choice list, is simply what the presentation of both your primary and secondary application. I find that many solid applicants who do not do well on their first cycle, have less than an optimally prepared application. Should have it critically reviewed and see if it presenting a concise, coherent, and compelling narrative showing a strong pattern of motivation, commitment and achievement. This also should include ECs which need to have this same well-written standard applied to. I find many applicants overlook this.
 
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Rainbow Zebra

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One thing besides having a difficult school choice list, is simply what the presentation of both your primary and secondary application. I find that many solid applicants who do not do well on their first cycle, have less than an optimally prepared application. Should have it critically reviewed and see if it presenting a concise, coherent, and compelling narrative showing a strong pattern of motivation, commitment and achievement. This also should include ECs which need to have this same well-written standard applied to. I find many applicants overlook this.
Wholeheartedly agree with @gonnif. I owe my success this application cycle to a well-crafted PS and ECs (spent a HUGE amount of time and effort getting assistance from multiple editors). Had a story, my "journey" that others helped make me sound more interesting. I started with a laundry list of I did this, then that. My editors tore it apart, and threw out the EC description paragraphs (which I was able to recycle in secondaries BTW). They helped me create an arc to the story, with a hook at the beginning and paragraphs that flowed together nicely (basically, I'm an artist with a 3D visualization and a talent for working with my hands). I've had II feedback that I write well. I don't think I do, but I had forethought to get help from "english" majors in telling my story. THat is not a talent I learned from writing lab reports for years!! Those liberal arts majors are your new best friends.
 

USvWindsor

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You should add Michigan and Pitt. They love research
 

7331poas

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So, your list seems really top heavy, and a lot of schools that are not CA OOS friendly. Sorry you are a CA resident, as it is tough, and MD/PhD is yet another competitive level above that! Why do you want to do MD/PhD and not a strict PhD or just an MD? Need to have a complying reason for the path you are taking, and not just going for the free ride as an MSTP. Taking upper level classes at CC seems odd, that is not helping you in the MD/PhD circles. You should pursue a Post Bacc program at a 4 year University to fulfill your pre-reqs. It seems odd that you are doing stem cell research as a psychology major without a heavy science background. This story seems a bit disjointed and confusing with stats are that quite weak for the MD/PhD path. I am looking at this laundry list of activities and I'm not getting a sense of who you are, other than a Korean-American who hasn't strayed far from academic campuses.

Pretty sure taking his ECs at a CC after a good track record for undergrad will not hurt him that much. Additionally, what is wrong about doing stem cell research as a psychology major? Seems like a very nit picky complaint.
 

Rainbow Zebra

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Pretty sure taking his ECs at a CC after a good track record for undergrad will not hurt him that much. Additionally, what is wrong about doing stem cell research as a psychology major? Seems like a very nit picky complaint.
But what did he do with no science background? More than washing glassware, or minor experiments?? Something about all this doesn't jibe.
 
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Hello everyone,

First of all, thank you for your input. I appreciate all of you putting in the time to review my application. Having other, unbiased people review my application allows me to see my strengths and weaknesses in a honest light. Thank you!

@Rainbow Zebra @The Knife & Gun Club @eteshoe @GrapesofRath @gonnif
I agree, the list is very top heavy. As I submitted my primary application, I was also finishing my Fulbright research project in South Korea. I didn't properly choose my medical school wisely and more in depth (and it came back to haunt me). I had an someone look over my application, but my primary/secondaries could have been better. As for the postbac program, I was considering the UPenn prehealth postbac program. However, I realized that my MCAT scores will generally not be accepted for 2017-2018 application cycle (due to my MCAT being the old version). Additionally, some schools I wanted to apply to (ex. UCLA) required biochem and I didn't take it. I am taking the course now to fulfill that requirement.

I wanted to do MD/PhD because I simply enjoy research. Fortunately, I started research when I was in high school (first project was on lentiviral vectors from HIV-1...I still remember freaking out a bit when I realized what I was working with haha). Interestingly, most labs didn't have an issue with my psychology major. They usually saw that I had previous lab experience and accepted me. At most, some labs quizzed me on certain procedures and techniques. I was involved in all of my research projects to the point where I can talk about it in-depth. However, I know that my stats doesn't make me a competitive applicant for the MD/PhD program. Additionally, I am interested in the surgical field as well and I heard that the PhD isn't really beneficial in that field. It seems that it is better to take the MD route for now.

My motivation for becoming an MD was my clinical experience at a children's hospital. These patients had severe injuries or birth defects (ex. burn wounds, cleft lip/palate, bone defects, etc.). Not to sound cliche, but I enjoyed supporting them throughout the entire process no matter how painful or challenging it was. I wrote about this in my personal statement. Maybe because it was a cliche scenario that it didn't stick out? Note: I am still volunteering/shadowing at this hospital as well.
 

gonnif

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I agree, the list is very top heavy. As I submitted my primary application, I was also finishing my Fulbright research project in South Korea. I didn't properly choose my medical school wisely and more in depth (and it came back to haunt me). I had an someone look over my application, but my primary/secondaries could have been better. As for the postbac program, I was considering the UPenn prehealth postbac program. However, I realized that my MCAT scores will generally not be accepted for 2017-2018 application cycle (due to my MCAT being the old version). Additionally, some schools I wanted to apply to (ex. UCLA) required biochem and I didn't take it. I am taking the course now to fulfill that requirement.

a few thoughts
1) this above paragraph succinctly outlines all you need do prior to a reapplication
2) Biochem is not only needed for UCLA, it is strongly recommended for the new MCAT
3) IMHO, with your background, a post-bacc is a very poor use of far too much money and time
4) Money and time would be better spent on MCAT prep and retake. A solid MCAT will go a very long way in a reapp
5) instead of postbacc, add a few courses in addition to Biochem, if you want. I dont think you really need them.
6) Having one person "look over" your application is insufficient. Needs be torn apart and really understood. It is the picture of how an adcom will see you and sets the context for how you will be viewed
 

trini818

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Not with a 32 MCAT. Especially for MD/PhD.
I was accepted to Pitt with a 30 MCAT. Definitely not MD/PhD, but if he changes to MD only (because you really do not need a PhD to do research and get Ro1s), I say why not if you have some money to throw around.
 

gyngyn

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I was accepted to Pitt with a 30 MCAT. Definitely not MD/PhD, but if he changes to MD only (because you really do not need a PhD to do research and get Ro1s), I say why not if you have some money to throw around.
You may well have some other quality that OP lacks.
OP got one interview of from 29 applications. It is possible that he applied MD/PhD to all of them and would have gotten interviews with a regular MD application, though.
 
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trini818

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You may well have some other quality that OP lacks.
I think my PhD helped me tremendously. Pitt does put a significant amount of weight on personal fit and research (top 5 in NIH funding), or at least I felt it to be that way. I sensed from my interviewer that they were looking for physician scientists. I know I am more than likely an exception to the rule, but it never hurts to try. I am sure I would have been told not to apply to Pitt with my low stats, but I am very glad I did. I agree with you, though, that in the end, you have to be realistic.
 
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Goro

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Here is a more realistic list. You need to add more schools whose stats are closer to yours, and invest in MSAR Online. Pay very careful attention to the Acceptance Information pages.

Because of your MCAT scores, I can't recommend MD/PhD


Albany
Einstein
BU
Emory
USC
Temple Uni.
Uni of Miami
Tufts
Uni. Of Illinois (interviewed)
Virginia Commonwealth University
Any DO school, starting with CCOM, DMU and MUCOM
 
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Here is a more realistic list. You need to add more schools whose stats are closer to yours, and invest in MSAR Online. Pay very careful attention to the Acceptance Information pages.

Because of your MCAT scores, I can't recommend MD/PhD


Albany
Einstein
BU
Emory
USC
Temple Uni.
Uni of Miami
Tufts
Uni. Of Illinois (interviewed)
Virginia Commonwealth University
Any DO school, starting with CCOM, DMU and MUCOM

I agree, scratch the MD/PhD hopes. Replace the name-brand schools like Harvard, Vandy and Emory with the PA & DC schools. Thoughts about adding Cleveland Clinic Lerner since he's interested in research? Maybe his background will resonate with them.
 
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Goro

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CCL is too small and quirky to advise on.



I agree, scratch the MD/PhD hopes. Replace the name-brand schools like Harvard, Vandy and Emory with the PA & DC schools. Thoughts about adding Cleveland Clinic Lerner since he's interested in research? Maybe his background will resonate with them.
 
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Everyone, thank you for your input. This process, as you all know, has been tedious and taxing. I'm grateful for your opinions.

The major problem, it seems, is that I was ill prepared and my school list was way too top heavy. Obviously, this time around I will not make that mistake. Additionally, I will just focus on the MD track. Hopefully I get into UIC this cycle and not have to worry about reapplying.
 
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