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Apply? In need of some advice


Hater of Biochemistry
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Aug 9, 2003
Austin, TX
So, I've got a bit of a problem - I was planning on applying this year to medical schools, but I don't feel like my application is strong enough this year. I'm considering waiting a year before applying, but wanted to get some advice from the people here on SDN (God knows my PreMed advisor couldn't actually advise her way out of a paper bag)...
At any rate, here's my situation -

1. I only decided recently that medicine is the path for my life, and I don't have the awesome resume alot of schools expect. I worry about what I will do during my year off since I've got school loans to repay once I get out of school.

2. 20 y.l. 3rd Year Neurobiology major at University of Texas -- a fairly competitive school, but not an Ivy of course.
GPA ~3.5 MCAT-- Take it in two weeks, but assume 30-33
I'm a Texas resident, and really would prefer going to a Texas school, assuming one will accept me.

3. EC's -- This is where is problem lies; I don't really have much. I've done some volunteering around campus, but nothing extensive and nothing at a hospital. I do plan on getting busy in this department this summer, and hopefully starting research in the fall. I don't really like joining clubs, so this area of ECs is pretty poor as well. It's not like I've done nothing in college so far, but my involvment in things types of things has been casual and not a product of membership in a club.

4. I'm white and middle-class, so I'm definitely not an URM and AA can't possibly help me.

5. Good stuff about me: I interview well, and think that this part of my application would be much better than average. I'm well rounded, have diverse interests and enjoy trying new things. I just got my SCUBA certification; I've enjoyed fencing; I'm an avid reader and a movie buff; I play serious poker at least twice weekly.

6. Letters of recommendation are going to be a problem. Our class sizes here are freaking huge, and I haven't made much of an effort to get to know my professors since I didn't know I'd be needing these letters. I've only got one prof in mind so far, and I'm especially worried about this part of the application.

I feel badly that my resume is in such bad shape. I guess I'd like to hear some suggestions about what I can do at this point in the game, and if others agree that it would just be a waste of money to apply this year. I really don't have the resources to do two years of applying; that's a heck of alot of money for applications, secondaries, travel, etc. especially if I don't get accepted

Summer plans - I'm taking at least 9 hours of summer school, and will probably be working in a psychology lab, and getting started on volunteering in the hospital.

So, advice? What do I do? Go ahead and apply now or wait a whole year and try to improve? :confused:
Well, numbers-wise, a 3.5 GPA is very respectable! As for your MCAT, how are you sure you're going to get a 30-33?

So you're planning on taking the August MCAT this year, then applying to med schoolduring your senior year, then taking a year off before matriculating?


Hater of Biochemistry
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Aug 9, 2003
Austin, TX
In response to the last post, I'm planning on taking the April MCAT (two weeks away, arggh) and I'm reasonably sure I'll make at least a 30, I'm pretty consistant on the practice tests and I'm a good test taker. I think that my actual numbers and my interviews (if I get any) will be the strongest part of my application. I'm mostly just worried about fleshing out the ECs and the LORs before applying. My original plan was to apply this summer as soon as I finish finals, but I'm worried that I'll spend a ton of money on apps, and still not get in anywhere because of too few ECs and LORs.
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10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Nov 25, 2002
  1. Attending Physician
so i'll go in order....

1. well taking a year off is not a bad idea at all. many of us do it and are still successful. i graduated 2002 and will be entering med school this fall 2004. so i took a year off to do what i had to do and then the other year to apply. you should take the time to do whatever it is YOU need to do as well. and about the student loans, you can always do your best to pay off some of it or apply for a economic hardship deferrment (where no interest accumulates and you make no monthly payments) or a forebearance (where interest does accumulate but do not have to make monthly payments).

2. you have an excellent gpa from a good tx school and since you are looking to attend a texas med school you are in great shape numbers wise at least...this is of course assuming you can around a 30 on your mcat to have competitive numbers.

3. no need to join clubs. i didnt and neither have many applicants who feel those clubs are basically useless and an unnecessary expense of membership fees that do basically nothing in the end. if you dont have much meaningful volunteering experience in any type of setting...then you should get some...esp of the clincal variety...but anything that you enjoy is good. but again some exposure to some type of work in a hospital can only help. ie...i was volunteer at a childrens hospital where i directly dealt with the kids everyday without the complaints of other volunteers have at other places about just doing paperwork or other clerical stuff...if you are interested in research then you should take the time to pursue this as well.

4. you are like most applicants being white and middle class. this will in no way hurt you. unfortunately there arent too many minorities applying or being accepted into medical schools anyway so your race and economic background shouldnt even be a concern.

5. you have awesome cool stuff to talk about. fun and interesting med students make for the best interviews and for the best scores when interviewers grade you.

6. LORs are tough for most people but in the end we find a way to get them. Maybe you can find a TA you were close to that could write a letter for you and then have it co-signed by the professor. Or better yet you can go talk to the professor and tell him or her that the TA that you got to know very well can send the professor some notes and comments about your performance and attitude and have the prof incorporate that into the letter. make sure you provide the professor with your personal statement on why you want to enter the field of medicine along with any other necessary paperwork they need to help you out.

remember a good rule of thumb is to have 5 LORs. 3 from science profesors. 1 from a humanities professor. and 1 from a volunteer/research/work experience. If you can get more then go for it and you can pick and choose which letters to send to which schools that have different requirements.

since you are a texas resident and you want to attend a tx med school you wont need to apply to that many schools unlike what a cali resident has to do. apply to all the tx schools and some outside schools you would be interested in attending as well. around 15 schools might seem like a nice number and be nice for your wallet as well. to ensure the best application why not wait a year? that gives you enough time to get LORs and you wont have to stress during the summer. LORs can be a pain since some professors can get busy and forget about you and take months and months to get them out to you. I dont think it will hurt to wait a year unless you have a need to attend asap. the application process is stressful enough. apply your sr. year.


2K Member
15+ Year Member
Dec 15, 2002
  1. Attending Physician
Try to start a volunteer program tomorrow. At least one or two days a week. Really focus this summer on it even if you have to borrow money. By the time you start med school you will have well over a year of volunteering and something to talk about in your update letters to the school. You can always back out or defer if you feel you need another year or a year off. If you would like time off now is the time to take it before you start this 7 year grueling journey.


7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 7, 2004
Brooklyn, NY
Hey Mo. Like you I went to a large, well-respected public university where I was very concerned about LORs. I know how difficult it is to get a LOR from prof of 300 person lecture. At the end of my junior year I had exactly one letter of rec in my file and no prospects for additional ones. I decided to take a year off and was able to get a good LORs my senior year, since I had a lot more flexibility in my schedule (not having to cram all those premed classes and distubutions in) and some good smaller upper-level seminars. Obviously, this is not the only reason I took a year off, but it did definitely influenced my decision.


Life Size Mirror
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Mar 19, 2004
Boston, MA
Originally posted by jlee9531
remember a good rule of thumb is to have 5 LORs. 3 from science profesors. 1 from a humanities professor. and 1 from a volunteer/research/work experience. If you can get more then go for it and you can pick and choose which letters to send to which schools that have different requirements.

5 LORs? I've never heard that before. I only got 3 and two of them were from professors with whom I've only spoken like twice. I simply gave them a copy of my personal statement, my resume, and my activities list and asked them to whip something up for me. From my interviewers it sounded like that worked out and the LORs were pretty good.

Actually I got one LOR from work but I'm not counting that cause I wrote that one myself ;)

But to the OP if you are worried about getting an LOR, then make a point of taking a small size class next semester and participate in class. If that's not possible then force yourself to go to office hours the first month or two and then ask for your LOR.

Bad Mojo

Cold as Ice
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jul 12, 2003
I shouldn't be giving a 't-sip' advice, but I will anyway. One thing I'd recommend that I don't think has been mentioned is research. Even if you can only get into a lab for a short period of time, you can get a good LOR out of it. Adcoms like it because it demonstrates a different type of thinking than is stressed in undergraduate course-work and the MCAT, and they are always trying to replenish the ranks of academia. Also, Texas medical schools rule. You can't beat the bang for your buck. UT Southwestern forever.
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