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Applying from Africa

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Skye04, Dec 29, 2001.

  1. Skye04

    Skye04 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 15, 2001
    Two quick questions on applying...

    1) How much of a time commitment does applying to medical school require? Would you say it is comparable to applying to college?

    2) How much correspondence goes on between the applicant and the school? Like, once you submit the first part of the application is that it until you submit secondaries? How quick is the turnaround? It most correspondence by mail or can it be done by e-mail?

    I will probably be applying to medical school from Africa, but I will be able to return to the states for a short time during which I can have my interviews. I would welcome any advice from people who have applied from overseas (Americans or others) as to how complicated a process this really is. Thanks in advance! :)
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  3. shorrin

    shorrin the ninth doctor 7+ Year Member

    Dec 21, 2001
    the tardis
    Ay yi yi, where to start?!

    I'll take a stab at number 1:
    "How much of a time commitment does applying to medical school require? Would you say it is comparable to applying to college?"

    First off you're asking smart questions. I think the most important questions to ask about application process are how much time (which you have done) and how much money (that is very important as well).

    About the process, I don't think it is at all comparable to applying to college. It takes much, much longer. For example when filling out your amcas application you'll have to chronicle all of your work experiences, extra-curricular activities and provide contact info and descriptions for each. You also have to enter the name, grade, number of credit hours and type of course for every post-secondary class you have ever taken at every institution.
    After that you have to write a personal essay (why you want to be a doc) and a practice vision essay (where you see yourself in ten years).
    Then you pick your schools and pay $150 for the first school and $30 for each additional.

    That is the first part. Note that I am completely ignoring the amount of time involved in preping for the MCAT.

    I sent my amcas in on july, 28. I began getting secondary applications about a month later. Each secondary will have it's own requirements. Some schools will want you to write essays for as few as one and as many as twelve questions. Some schools will simply say sign this form and send 100 thanks very much.

    I started this whole process when the online amcas application was available to fill out (I think june1?)and didn't finish until my secondaries were done on sept, 26.
    It is a very long time consuming process much worse than this long answer to your quick questions.
    I hope this helps. I think I have to take a nap now and let someone else answer number 2. :D
  4. SMW

    SMW Grand Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 12, 2001
    anchorage, ak
  5. Skye04

    Skye04 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 15, 2001
    The main reason that I would like to apply from Africa if possible is that I will (hopefully) be there for 27 months after college for the Peace Corps, and if I don't apply while there I will have to retake the MCATs as they only last 3 yrs and I would be taking them April of my senior year of college. As for interviewing I would be coming home for about a month probably, and I was hoping (perhaps naively) that some schools would be accommodating, considering the situation, with interview scheduling. Applying is still a few years down the road for me so I am just trying to figure out some of these difficult details now.

    Thanks for the comments so far, and keep em coming :)
  6. reesie0726

    reesie0726 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 23, 2001
    arlington, tx
    I really do not see how you can do the application process while in Africa under the Peace Corps. This process is terribly time consuming and expensive. The interview invitations come in sporadically. You might be able to group a couple but the reality is if you are lucky you will have to make several trips. Will the Peace Corps let you make trips back to the US as needed? I would apply after I came back from Africa. If you schedule the MCAT the April or August before you leave then you should be fine. Most schools will let the MCAT scores be good up to 3 years before you apply not before you matriculate. I did Teach for America an Americorps program before applying to medical school and trust me, the schools loved the additional experience and insight that such experiences bring. So have fun in Africa.
  7. Skye04

    Skye04 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 15, 2001
  8. jdub

    jdub Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2001
    Albany, NY

    first off, i definitely don't want to say that this couldn't be done, but you are looking at a very arduous process that would only be extremely escalated by your absence and tenure in africa.

    even with great mcat scores and a very good gpa, the timeline between involving interviews can be sporadic and unpredictable.

    i made the mistake of applying to medschool last year when i was in ecuador with an exchange program. the two interviews that i went to cost a lot ($1300 ticket to seattle, and a $800 ticket to philadelphia, this didn't even include lodgings). also, the stress of not knowing if i was going to get more interviews or make it into med school added a lot pressure to an already intense experience. to be quite honest, i didn't get to enjoy the experience and relax as much as i would have liked to do.

    if you are really convinced that the peace corps is for you and that you will go through with it (the only reason i say this is because i was all signed up and ready to go and i opted to do a year exchange program instead) then i would take the mcat before you go and then apply when you get back, if you time it right, you should be able to use those same mcat scores.

    applying to med school for a lot of people is close to a year long process and unless you have the drive and the money to make multiple trips to and from africa i just highly advise against it. i also really think that it is a good idea to put things to the side and try to live the experience in africa as much as possible and the whole med school thing can really get to you.

    anyhow, best of luck and i hope things work out how you want them to.
  9. omores

    omores sleep deprived 10+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2000
    Hullo Skye

    You've received some accurate assesments of the application process here. The most difficult part will be the interviews. Invitations arrive arbitrarily, and some of them will say things like "Congratulations! You've been selected for an interview. Please arrive at the admissions office at 9:30 AM on 18 December," and you'll get the letter on December 11th (no kidding, this kind of thing happened to me a few times.) You'll generally be given an option to reschedule, but the alternative dates may be very limited.

    Some schools are much more flexible and allow you to select your own dates several weeks in advance, but this, alas, is not universal.

    Then again, most people going through the application process are based in North America, so the admissions offices don't have to be particularly accommodating. It's entirely possible they'll make some kind of provision for you in consideration of your geographic remoteness.

    Your best bet is to talk to some of the medical schools you're interested in and ask them how they'd handle your situation. Don't be shy about calling; they'll probably be delighted to address something other than the "when can I expect a decision on my file"-type inquires that plague them at this time of year. Chances are, they've dealt with a situation similar to yours at some point, and they'll be able to let you know just how flexible they're willing to be about interviews.

    Best of luck!
  10. modelgirl

    modelgirl Junior Member

    Dec 1, 2001
    Ok, applying to U.S graduate schools ,especially medical school, from countries far away from the U.S. is not easy at all. I lived in Africa last year and I found it extremely difficult and expensive to get in contact with schools about applications and paperwork. However I do think you should talk to other students who applied to medical school during their Peace Corp stay. I heard of one Peace Corp student taking the MCAT in a village in Malawi and getting accepted to medical school the following year, although this was before the Online AMCAS (disaster).

    You must understand though that when you make such a dramatic change in living arrangements (like the rural arrangements Peace Corps offers) it will not be easy to just jump on flights back to the U.S on a moments notice. When I lived in Ghana I was on campus so I had internet access and Post Office access, however Peace Corp usually places people far away from the city in when placed Africa . I really think you should give this more thought because it could be a disaster. I hope this helps
  11. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jan 17, 2001
    Portland, OR
    I also agree that applying while in the Peace Corps is not a good idea. Although the Peace Corps gives you vacation, you get 24 days per year. How those 24 are counted depend on how lenient the country director is. In some Peace Coprs countries, they count weekends away from your site as part of your vacation time. Some Peace Corps country directors would give you special permission to leave for medical school interviews but I think it would be quite expensive. During my Peace Corps service I knew of people that were trying to apply to law school and that was difficult...the medical school application process is much more complex than law school. This person would travel 10 or more hours each way on a bus every weekend to get to the capital city just so they could check their e-mail.

    One thought might be to apply Early Decision to your top choice school. Then there is only one interview and you will know it will be sometime between July and October so you can plan accordingly. If you don't get in there, hold off one year and apply in the cycle from when you get back.

    Do you know your country of service yet? Most likely the easiest country do to all of this in would be South Africa as they have the most developed infrastructure in Africa. I knew volunteers there that had internet at their home. I was in Zimbabwe and most volunteers didn't have electricity or telephone much less a computer. Even in the capital city the internet connections were unreliable and expensive.
  12. CoffeeCat

    CoffeeCat SDN Angel 10+ Year Member

    Jun 3, 2001

    I plan to do the same thing! I think it all comes down to how you plan your timeline. I've already graduated and am leaving for the peace corps this june 2002 and am going to apply june 2004. I'm taking the MCAT this year so that the scores will still be good when I apply. I'm going to get everything together before I go - letters of rec, transcrips, etc. I plan to save up some vacation time before June to get my application together and hopefully I'll be able to do some secondaries. Since the peace corps is two years, three months, I'll be back in september...early enough to finish up on secondaries and start interviews. Plus, that gives a year to readjust to the US before med school. Keep in mind that I haven't done this yet, but I think with enough planning and realistic goals that it will work out. Also you and I may or may not have computer/internet access, it all depends on location! Good luck.
  13. CoffeeCat

    CoffeeCat SDN Angel 10+ Year Member

    Jun 3, 2001
    Let me know if you have any questions about the application process, etc.
  14. Original

    Original Ogori-Magongo Warrior 7+ Year Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Like Coffeecat mentioned, the likelyhood of success will depend highly on the location. If you're in a big city, you'll undoubtedly have internet and express-post access. If however you're in a village waaay out there; it might be very very difficult. You also don't want to rob yourself of the experience by conceding too much in favor of communication access.

    I'll be in Africa during this spring break; but I'll have it a bit easier since I partly grew up in Africa and I'm somewhat past the application process. But hey! in case you need a local tour guide just give me a shout. We can both get lost, robbed, sun-burned, and catch malaria together while we're at it :D . It's not that bad. You'll LOVE the experience and talk about it the rest of your life.

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