Any suggestions on how to improve my application for 2010-2011

jadealer

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I am a reapplicant. Sorta two times, but not really.

2007 Graduate: Rutgers University (I attended RU and graduated with a 3.7 and prior Delaware Valley College with a 3.92)
Major: Animal with Pre-vet Research Focus & Biotechnology with an animal focus
Minor: Equine Science
cGPA: 3.80
nsGPA: 3.95
sGPA: 3.65 (my science GPA got royally undercut because of AMCAS's lumping of animal science courses into "natural science" which I don't agree with because my animal science major was harder than the general bio major, i.e. I had to take 8 credits of general biochemistry (7 lecture, 1 lab) versus 3 credits of introduction to biochem with no lab for gen bio majors)

MCAT scores:
August 2006: 24P (B:8, V:9, P:7)
September 2009: 29P (B:11 V:10 P:8)

In 2006, I applied to medical school for the first time. I only sent in my preliminary application because when I got my MCAT score back (24P, B:8, V:9, P:7), I know my scores were too low for any of the schools so I didn't want to waste several thousand dollars. I never even sent in my letters of recommendation or any secondaries. At the time I had also applied only to upper tier schools. At the time of my MCAT, my best friend died 3 weeks prior to the test and my boyfriend (at the time) relapsed into alcoholism and ended up in rehab, so I was not focused enough for a huge test like the MCAT.

In summer 2009, I decided to try to take my MCAT again. I did improve my score by 5 points to a 29P. Since I took my MCAT in September, I didn't get my scores back until October. I submitted my preliminary application in mid/late October and didn't get most of my secondaries in until November-December. I applied to 22 schools, most of them mid or lower tier. So far, I have received 13 rejections, 3 interviews, and 6 schools haven't gotten back to me. At two of the schools where I interviewed, I have been put on the waitlist and I am still waiting for the third school to get back to me.

I thought I did a good job on my PS, several of my interviews said they loved it.

Strong Letters of Recommendation.

EC:
-Since graduating in Jan 2007, I have worked as a molecular biologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. My work has focused on gene and stem cell therapies used for treating cardiovascular disease and tumors. My lab work has been presented as oral and poster presentations at a number of conferences locally, nationally, and internationally. A paper has also been submitted for publication and is waiting for approval. I don't have any first author papers. I work with cardiologists on a daily basis at my job.

-Horse, Rabbit, and pig 4-H: 1993-Present, Competed in 4-H competitions, held offices of Secretary, Treasurer, and VP of horse 4-H Club, mentor young girls who don't own horses through horseless rider program (continue to this day), helped run horse shows, clean parks, horse judging competitions, etc. Won high point awards and

-Best of Friends handicap riding program- 1996-2007- worked with handicap children

-National Barrel Horse Assosiation - 1997-Present- qualified and competed at World, Regional, State, and local levels. Won high point awards. Help run horse shows and fundraisers.

-Worked at veterinary tech for 2 years. Giving medical treatment to a variety of cats, dogs, rabbits, and other small pets.

-Academic achievements: National honor society (High school), graduated 7th in my class of 190 with 4.2 GPA. Received $10K/yr academic scholarship from DVC, Honors program at DVC which I traveled to Vienna, Austria). Rutgers University: $500/yr scholarship, graduated magna cum laude with 2 majors and a minor. I was on the dean's list every semester of college.

-RU equestrian team- 1 year

-Animal research experience- from equine and biotechnology related- 2 years

-Shadow an ER doctor - 8 hours

-Shadow general surgical residents - 50+ hours

-Work with cardiologists everyday for 3years at my current job.

-Hurricane Katrina Clean Up with Habitat for Humanity 2006- I went during spring break and gutted houses.

Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can improve my application for 2010-2011. I figure I should start preparing for reapplication encase I don't get in anywhere. In my opinion, my weakness is my MCAT score. I believe I could do better with more studying time and by preparing more for the physics section, which was my worst section, especially physics (a subject which was never my strongest). I did not take any preparation course when either time when I took the MCAT so I just studied on my own. I also did not do any of the MCAT practice exams, so I feel if I get a tutor in physics and do the practice exams that there is a good chance I will increase my score. Any other suggestions would be truly apperciated. Thanks.
Given that I am on the cusp of that sacred 30 MCAT with a 29P, do you guys think I am better off not taking the MCAT again but just trying to get more volunteer/hospital experiences and applying as early as possible? i.e. June 1, 2010.
I really appreciate any feedback.
 
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MiniMoo

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Initial impressions: your work with animals, while impressive, greatly overshadows any work you have done in the medical field. You have some shadowing but no clinical experience other than what you receive through paid employment. If I were on an adcom, I would question your desire to go into medicine and wonder why you didn't pursue a career as a vet instead? Any way you can get a position volunteering at a hospital for even a few hours a week? If you work with patients everyday, I know how it would seem redundant, but I think it would help show you have a heart for medicine aside from just working with patients as a job.

Other than that, getting a higher MCAT may help as well. But really the lack of clinical volunteering is a bigger problem, imo.
 

DrMidlife

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I agree w/MiniMoo on app focus. I have friends in vet school, and I personally can see the value of your vet-related experiences, but they're communicated too strongly (and with too much pride) to be effective in a med school app. It comes across as a last-minute decision to do med school instead of vet school. I recommend attempting to come across as a passionate advocate for human healthcare who happens to have done some fun barrel riding kinds of things as a kid.

I'd also suggest that you let it go with respect to the animal science coursework categorization. Mentioning this in your med school app process is going to fall on deaf ears and label you as vet-centric candidate.

Again, this is NOT criticism about the value of your experiences, it's feedback on how you present yourself as a med school candidate.

I think I disagree w/MiniMoo on clinical exposure - it looks to me like you have a bunch of this. I do think that every premed should have the experience of cleaning and pushing stretchers in an ER, and witnessing first hand the lack of a social safety net for the poor, the mentally ill, and the addicted, but that's my personal bias.

I think you're correct about the MCAT score. A 29 devalues your very high GPAs. I would like to see you with a 32+ to balance your GPA.

Lastly, I haven't used one, but an app consultant might be useful to you. People here have used Judy Colwell and MedEdits.

Best of luck to you.
 

MiniMoo

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I think you're correct about the MCAT score. A 29 devalues your very high GPAs. I would like to see you with a 32+ to balance your GPA.
I agree that a 32+ would be ideal, but I've also seen individuals with 29 MCAT, 3.6+ GPAs, and solid clinical experience get accepted to multiple schools. To the OP, if you're confident that you can score higher with at least a 9-10 in each section, then I would encourage a retake. And apply as early as possible.
 

jadealer

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Oct 13, 2009
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I agree w/MiniMoo on app focus. I have friends in vet school, and I personally can see the value of your vet-related experiences, but they're communicated too strongly (and with too much pride) to be effective in a med school app. It comes across as a last-minute decision to do med school instead of vet school. I recommend attempting to come across as a passionate advocate for human healthcare who happens to have done some fun barrel riding kinds of things as a kid.

I'd also suggest that you let it go with respect to the animal science coursework categorization. Mentioning this in your med school app process is going to fall on deaf ears and label you as vet-centric candidate.

Again, this is NOT criticism about the value of your experiences, it's feedback on how you present yourself as a med school candidate.

I think I disagree w/MiniMoo on clinical exposure - it looks to me like you have a bunch of this. I do think that every premed should have the experience of cleaning and pushing stretchers in an ER, and witnessing first hand the lack of a social safety net for the poor, the mentally ill, and the addicted, but that's my personal bias.

I think you're correct about the MCAT score. A 29 devalues your very high GPAs. I would like to see you with a 32+ to balance your GPA.

Lastly, I haven't used one, but an app consultant might be useful to you. People here have used Judy Colwell and MedEdits.

Best of luck to you.
I tried to make my application not focus on vet medicine. I only briefly mentioned that I worked as a vet tech (which was over 4 years ago). I took 3 years off between undergrad and now so I could distance myself from being "too vet school". And now I'm being told I'm still "vet school" because I enjoy horseback ridign and the organizations that I have been involved with for a long time deal with equestrian sports.

I don't know how I am suppose to remove all my activities involved with animals because then I basically have nothing for personal interests to represent. So what would you suggest I remove from my application? All of my interests? Alot of my interests involved helping and workign with people, for example in theraupetic horseback riding I was involved with working with children... I didn't really do anything witht he horses. In 4-H, I held alot of leadership positions and roles.. if I throw that out.. it was a huge part of my life for over 10 years.. To me the only thing that is vet centered is my mention of 2 years as a vet tech. All my activities which I have been involved in for years have been horseback riding centered simply because its my sport of choice.. would you tell someone who coached little league adn competed at a national level to remove this from their app because it makes them seem like they just want to be a baseball player? I dunno I'm not trying to argue.. but many of my personal activities have involved equine sports, yes, but alot of them offered me opportunity to develop leadership roles and give back to my community as well plus showcases a "non-science" part of who I am which I excell at. I don't want to be a horse trainer for a living but I am a passionate person about my sport.

As I said, I appreciate the criticism, but I am wondering what exactly I should remove or if I should just remove anything that deals with the equestrian sports.
 
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if i were you i'd not say that i was a vet tech and i'd not say the focus of your majors. just say Animal and Biotechnology.

paint a picture of someone fascinated by all animal physiology, including humans.
and with a special interest in horses on the side.

i would not take out any other extra curricular activities.
good luck.
 

jadealer

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if i were you i'd not say that i was a vet tech and i'd not say the focus of your majors. just say Animal and Biotechnology.

paint a picture of someone fascinated by all animal physiology, including humans.
and with a special interest in horses on the side.

i would not take out any other extra curricular activities.
good luck.
In my actual application, I didn't put down the focus of my majors.
 

DrMidlife

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As I said, I appreciate the criticism, but I am wondering what exactly I should remove or if I should just remove anything that deals with the equestrian sports.
I don't think you should remove it at all. I can't see how you're presenting yourself in your app, but what I'm guessing is that every aspect of your app has an animal focus, and that this detracts from your ability to make the sale, ie that the adcom wants you for his/her doctor. Before they meet you, they may be picturing Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet (if you're female).

You can certainly choose to sidestep this issue: you have a great GPA, you're probably going after a higher MCAT, and you've already got some interviews. Furthermore, I could be dead wrong, and your passion for horses is a strong positive in your app.

Should you choose to invest time in your packaging, I'd look at things like this:
- can you present your activities with stronger focus on community, rural settings, and the disabled, in such a way that the reader won't see "on a horse" in every activity you list?
- in your research, can you play up the science and what you learned, and downplay the "equine"?
- can you convey the sense that you leveraged your passion for horses to reach out, to be involved, to be of service?
- can you order your activities so that there's an animal story in every other one, or similar?
- can you lead with your role and provide the context as a detail, such as "Managing Lead Group Coordinator with responsibility for 14 members in club activities, 4H 1998-2004."

In other words, dial down equine/horse/vet a bit, and dial up passionate/compassionate/service/leader/initiative.

Best of luck.
 

dragonfly99

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I think Drmidlife is right.
I also think that the OP needs more clinical volunteer and shadowing experience. It can't hurt...it can only help.

I agree about dialing down the horse stuff. I like them too, but you're applying to a physician for humans, not a 4H president or to vet school.