Jan 17, 2021
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Hello Everyone,

This is my first post. I apologize in advance for the long post. This was my first application cycle, and it did not go too well. I applied to 47 schools and received secondaries from 34. I submitted all 34 secondaries but unfortunately I did not receive an interview invitation from any school. My biggest mistake was waiting too long to submit my secondaries. My turnaround for secondaries was 4 weeks or longer.

I am unsure of how to approach this application cycle. I am looking for advice, guidance, and feedback on how to improve my application.

Some background information of me: First generation graduate, Mexican immigrant, DACA applicant, and a Florida resident. Being a DACA applicant, I can only apply to DACA friendly schools. I have worked as a CNA since freshmen year (2014) to cover my education and living expenses.

Cell and Molecular Biology major
cGPA 3.16 (according to AMCAS)
sGPA 2.98, upward trend until junior year (experienced family issues).
My cGPA starting with freshmen year: 3.18, 3.33, 2.84, 3.34
First MCAT attempt: 486 (6/20/2020)
Second MCAT attempt: 492 (9/28/2020)

The pandemic made a huge mess of the MCAT for test takers in the first half of 2020.
I began studying for my MCAT towards the end of 2019. I did not do well on my first attempt. The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic caused exam cancellations, it impacted work (I work at a hospital, so we experienced many changes), and increased my stress levels. I took my exam on 6/20/2020 and scored a 486.

I studied a little bit more and retook my MCAT on 9/28/2020. This time I scored a 492. I fractured my foot in July, so I was juggling doctor’s appointments, studying, and work.
I feel pretty bummed out after not receiving an interview invitation, but I refuse to give up. I would like some advice on what improvements I can make this cycle and how I may be able to accomplish them.

I have condensed a little bit of my application.
Research ~150hours, no publications
Clinical volunteering ~150 hours
Non-clinical volunteering ~250 hours
  • Volunteer opportunities with my AMSA pre-health chapter
  • Community volunteer opportunities
  • Other volunteer opportunities with clubs and organizations
TA: Peer led team learning leader ~50 hours for Ecology

Leadership
  • Peer led team learning supervisor at FIU (2017 fall semester)
  • Brandon Headstart Pre-school Director, 1 year fall and spring semester
  • AMSA member from 2015-2021
Work
  • 7 years as a CNA, ~10,000 hours
Letters of Recommendation
  • Letter from Nurse Manager
  • Letter from ARNP
  • 2 Letters from my Science professors
  • 1 Letter from my English professor
  • 1 Letter from Nurse clinician at work
  • 1 Letter from a Nurse technician (nurse in training)

I apologize for the long post. I am also open to feedback on my personal statement if anyone would like to read it. I would like to retake my MCAT and score over 502+. Any study tips, resources, or advice would be greatly appreciated!
I only applied to MD schools, but I will apply to DO schools as well this cycle. If there are any DACA friendly schools (DO or MD) you or someone may know I would greatly appreciate it as well. Thank you for reading my post.
 
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Moko

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This was my first application cycle, and it did not go too well. I applied to 47 schools and received secondaries from 34. I submitted all 34 secondaries but unfortunately I did not receive an interview invitation from any school. My biggest mistake was waiting too long to submit my secondaries. My turnaround for secondaries was 4 weeks or longer...

I am unsure of how to approach this application cycle. I am looking for advice, guidance, and feedback on how to improve my application. Some background information of me: First generation graduate, Mexican immigrant, DACA applicant, and a Florida resident. Being a DACA applicant, I can only apply to DACA friendly schools. I have worked as a CNA since freshmen year (2014) to cover my education and living expenses.

cGPA 3.16 (according to AMCAS)
sGPA 2.98, upward trend until junior year (experienced family issues).
My cGPA starting with freshmen year: 3.18, 3.33, 2.84, 3.34
First MCAT attempt: 486 (6/20/2020)
Second MCAT attempt: 492 (9/28/2020)

Research ~150hours, no publications
Clinical volunteering ~150 hours
Non-clinical volunteering ~250 hours
TA: Peer led team learning leader ~50 hours for Ecology
Average Leadership
Work - 7 years as a CNA, ~10,000 hours

I only applied to MD schools, but I will apply to DO schools as well this cycle. If there are any DACA friendly schools (DO or MD) you or someone may know I would greatly appreciate it as well. Thank you for reading my post.
Just some corrections first, and pardon my bluntness...

Your biggest mistake was NOT "waiting too long to submit [your] secondaries". Rather, your biggest mistake was that you actually applied at all with your current application. AMCAS publishes their aggregate acceptance data here. Someone with a 3.1 GPA and 492 MCAT (let's ignore your 486 score for a moment) had just a 1.9% chance of successfully getting into a medical school. Just 18 success stories out of almost 1,000 applications (!!). Each of these applicants no doubt thought they would be the exception to the rule... the reality is even more grim, as most of these 18 success stories likely had strong SMP performances (which are not included in cGPA). Your chances are higher with DO schools, but probably not by much, when successful Hispanic DO applicants have a mean GPA of 3.5 GPA and mean MCAT of 502..

The reality is your application (and every penny and minute spent on it) was wasted from the beginning, worsened by the fact that DACA-friendly schools tend to have at least decent matriculant statistics. You can choose to reapply as many times as you would like with your current application and you are unlikely to get a different outcome. To be clear, no amount of refinement and perfection of your personal statement, experience descriptions, and/or secondary responses will matter when your application lacks a solid foundation.

A low GPA and very low MCAT despite 'best efforts' are indicative of severe deficiencies in your knowledge base. Schools are not doing you any favors by accepting you. Based on published AMCAS data (see page 33), someone with your GPA/MCAT has a >25% chance of failing to get through even the preclinical years on time. In reality, your odds are probably worse than these statistics as you had multiple poor MCAT scores, and (again) these statistics include those with strong SMP performances, which you do not have. You need to reinvent your application prior to any further attempts.

Read Goro's advice for pre-meds who need reinvention. Prior to reapplying, you need to first show that you can handle medical school, as evidenced by both further coursework (not necessarily a SMP) and at least a passable MCAT score.

We commonly see disadvantaged students who get near-perfect GPAs and excellent MCATs despite working full time jobs while pursuing extracurricular activities. Why wasn't that you? Be very honest with yourself about why you have not done better academically, and cut the excuses. Utilize any resources available to you, both at your school, and online here (and elsewhere).

My recommendations:
1)
Do NOT retake the MCAT until you are truly ready for it. You cannot afford another subpar score.
2) Pursue further undergrad coursework first, but only when you are confident that you can get A's in them. You cannot afford further mediocre grades.
3) Strongly consider cutting down on your work hours and/or start with a part-time course load. This is an investment in your future.
4) I cannot recommend a SMP for you as they are incredibly high risk (and expensive) when you have not shown any ability to do well academically. Your being in a SMP now will purely be to set a bottom for the curve..
5) If the best you can do despite 'best efforts' is a B/B+ and <505 MCAT, then you should cut your losses and strongly consider alternative careers. If patient care is truly important to you, you can still make a difference as a nurse, case manager, social worker, physical therapist (and OT/SLP), psychotherapist, etc.
6) Any reapplication should be geared primarily towards DO schools and low-tier MDs.
7) Come back after a semester and in a year with your updated performance to make sure you are on the right track.
8) Realistically, it will take at least two years of good academic performance to alleviate the concerns with your current academic record, i.e. aim to reapply in the 2023-2024 application cycle at the absolute earliest. Medical training is a marathon, not a sprint.

Just my thoughts and best of luck.
 
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Melchizedek

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Letters of Recommendation
  • Letter from Nurse Manager
  • Letter from ARNP
  • 2 Letters from my Science professors
  • 1 Letter from my English professor
  • 1 Letter from Nurse clinician at work
  • 1 Letter from a Nurse technician (nurse in training) at TGH
The above advice is spot on, and the only thing I can add is that your nursing/english professor letters are not doing you any good.
I also had nursing staff letters of recommendation and was told by adcoms politely that nursing staff doesn't know what it means to be a physician so their rec's are hollow.

With your extensive CNA work, talk to some physicians you've gotten to know. Mention your desire to become a doctor and that you need rec letters, something along the lines of "Hey, I was wondering if I'd be able to shadow you so that I can learn more about the physician side of healthcare. In the next couple of months I hope to show you that I would do well in medical school, so that you would feel comfortable writing me a letter of recommendation."

Primes them to observe you while you're shadowing them and pick out instances that they can use to write a strong letter of rec.
 
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Jan 17, 2021
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Pursue further undergrad coursework first, but only when you are confident that you can get A's in them. You cannot afford further mediocre grades.
I do have a question though. Would you be able to elaborate on what you mean by pursing further undergrad coursework? Are you referring to Goro's advice of a DIY post-bac?
 
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candbgirl

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I do have a question though. Would you be able to elaborate on what you mean by pursing further undergrad coursework? Are you referring to Goro's advice of a DIY post-bac?
Yes. But it should(must) be in upper level science courses. You probably need 35+ hours over 3-4 semesters of all As. Anything less will not help you in proving to ADCOMS that you are up to the rigors of med school. And even then there are no guarantees so have a backup plan.
 
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Jan 17, 2021
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Yes. But it should(must) be in upper level science courses. You probably need 35+ hours over 3-4 semesters of all As. Anything less will not help you in proving to ADCOMS that you are up to the rigors of med school. And even then there are no guarantees so have a backup plan.
Thank you 😀
 

Osminog

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There are only 10 DO schools that consider out-of-state DACA applicants. At least five of them have 507+ MCAT averages. Two of them require you to pay first-year tuition up front.

Don’t apply to MD schools. A higher score on an MCAT retake would not make you a competitive MD applicant. It’s just a waste of time and money.

With your stats and academic record, I would choose another career path—perhaps nursing with the eventual goal of becoming an NP. This might be a solid path for you, since you’re a CNA and have experience working with RNs and NPs.

Also, work-related stress and foot injuries aren’t going to fly as excuses for poor MCAT performance. You could have noticed your underperformance on practice exams and rescheduled, and in the worst case scenario, you could have voided. Your extremely low scores are a direct consequence of your poor judgment. Please don’t think that your excuses will inspire admission staff to look past your academic deficits.

Best of luck.

See:
 

TragicalDrFaust

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I see you've already gotten some signature SDN tough love and there's not much I can add as advice. Your numbers are sinking you and most medical schools require physician letters of recommendation. Since you already have an extraordinary amount of clinical hours, I suggest looking for a more lucrative job so you work less hours and focus on academics. If I were in your position, I would take 3 months off from work and dedicate to preparing for the MCAT. If your score is competitive (~505), proceed with GPA repair and fine-tuning your extracurriculars, which don't tell a cohesive story IMO. If your score is not competitive after a good faith effort, cut your losses and maybe look into PA. They would view your clinical experience favorably. Hope this doesn't come off the wrong way but I'm rooting for you - medicine needs more doctors with your life experiences.
 

candbgirl

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I see you've already gotten some signature SDN tough love and there's not much I can add as advice. Your numbers are sinking you and most medical schools require physician letters of recommendation. Since you already have an extraordinary amount of clinical hours, I suggest looking for a more lucrative job so you work less hours and focus on academics. If I were in your position, I would take 3 months off from work and dedicate to preparing for the MCAT. If your score is competitive (~505), proceed with GPA repair and fine-tuning your extracurriculars, which don't tell a cohesive story IMO. If your score is not competitive after a good faith effort, cut your losses and maybe look into PA. They would view your clinical experience favorably. Hope this doesn't come off the wrong way but I'm rooting for you - medicine needs more doctors with your life experiences.
Just a FYI- most MD schools do not require physician letters. Some do but they will take a clinical letter(doc, pt, etc). Physician letters are always welcome at DO schools and some DO schools require a physician letter.
 
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