• Set Yourself Up For Success Webinar

    October 6, 2021 at 2 PM Eastern/11 AM Pacific
    SDN and Osmosis are teaming up to help you get set up for success this school year! We'll be covering study tips, healthy habits, and meeting mentors.

    Register Now!

  • Funniest Story on the Job Contest Starts Now!

    Contest starts now and ends September 27th. Winner will receive a special user banner and $10 Amazon Gift card!

    JOIN NOW
  • Site Updates Coming Next Week

    Site updates are coming next week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Click the button below to learn more!

    LEARN MORE

Applying to fewer schools than golden standard of 15-20?

GarbanzoMD

Full Member
Sep 6, 2019
56
54
56
  1. Pre-Medical
As I'm getting ready to submit my primary application, I'm rethinking a few of the schools I added to my list, partly to reach that fabled 15-20 range. Since one of the main reasons I'm rethinking several of them is location, the specific reason being that my spouse would likely be unable to find meaningful employment there, and may end up miserable, I'm wondering if other non-trads out there have had similar thought processes, or decided to go with a shorter, more focused (less financially catastrophic) school list?

I know that expanding your pool may increase your chances of an acceptance, but if you're not enthusiastic about the school, it's got to be difficult to keep that from showing in your secondaries, if you even end up with the funds or energy to complete them. For instance, it would be disappointing to not have a successful cycle, but it wouldn't kill me to take another year to strengthen my application, then try again to get into one of the 6-10 schools I really want to attend. I also have seen that students who send their primary application to x number of schools often complete fewer secondaries, so I'm wondering if I can avoid some wasted money by thinking more critically, earlier in the process.

I get that you have to play the game to some extent, and that attending any medical school is a huge privilege you need to be willing to sacrifice for. I also know that having an unsuccessful cycle isn't great, regardless of how many rejections you get. I'm really curious to hear other perspectives from this community.
 

JanetSnakehole

I’m a very rich widow with a terrible secret.
2+ Year Member
Jun 18, 2018
806
1,856
126
the West Coast
  1. Medical Student
As I'm getting ready to submit my primary application, I'm rethinking a few of the schools I added to my list, partly to reach that fabled 15-20 range. Since one of the main reasons I'm rethinking several of them is location, the specific reason being that my spouse would likely be unable to find meaningful employment there, and may end up miserable, I'm wondering if other non-trads out there have had similar thought processes, or decided to go with a shorter, more focused (less financially catastrophic) school list?

I know that expanding your pool may increase your chances of an acceptance, but if you're not enthusiastic about the school, it's got to be difficult to keep that from showing in your secondaries, if you even end up with the funds or energy to complete them. For instance, it would be disappointing to not have a successful cycle, but it wouldn't kill me to take another year to strengthen my application, then try again to get into one of the 6-10 schools I really want to attend. I also have seen that students who send their primary application to x number of schools often complete fewer secondaries, so I'm wondering if I can avoid some wasted money by thinking more critically, earlier in the process.

I get that you have to play the game to some extent, and that attending any medical school is a huge privilege you need to be willing to sacrifice for. I also know that having an unsuccessful cycle isn't great, regardless of how many rejections you get. I'm really curious to hear other perspectives from this community.

Totally dependent on your stats. I was pretty darn close to median MD matriculants in both GPA and MCAT, so I completed applications at 28 schools. I didn’t think I could afford to be more choosy. Result: 7 IIs > 4 As. I then had some breathing room to choose the best fit in terms of location and curriculum. Would I do it again? Probably. But if I had better stats, I might have narrowed down my list to about 20 and saved myself a thousand dollars.

I am also married, and I let my husband have some veto power over schools in locations where he truly could not find work. I was still able to find over two dozen programs in places where I thought we could be happy. Are there really ONLY 6-10 programs in places you two are willing to live? Maybe the answer is yes, and if so, then so be it - don’t apply to programs you wouldn’t attend. But limiting your options is limiting your options. There are just no guarantees at all in this process and the choosier you are, the harder it will be to earn that A. You said it yourself - this is a numbers game.

I really do think that, unless you are a STELLAR applicant, you should apply to as many schools as you can afford. You and your spouse are also going to need to have this conversation all over again when it comes time for residency, so maybe be thinking ahead in that respect as well.

Bear in mind the 6 figure opportunity cost of delaying your application by a year. You’d be losing out on a year of attending salary. If I offered you $200,000 to attend medical school in a less than desirable area, would you take it?
 
  • Like
Reactions: 4 users

GarbanzoMD

Full Member
Sep 6, 2019
56
54
56
  1. Pre-Medical
Totally dependent on your stats. I was pretty darn close to median MD matriculants in both GPA and MCAT, so I completed applications at 28 schools. I didn’t think I could afford to be more choosy. Result: 7 IIs > 4 As. I then had some breathing room to choose the best fit in terms of location and curriculum. Would I do it again? Probably. But if I had better stats, I might have narrowed down my list to about 20 and saved myself a thousand dollars.

I am also married, and I let my husband have some veto power over schools in locations where he truly could not find work. I was still able to find over two dozen programs in places where I thought we could be happy. Are there really ONLY 6-10 programs in places you two are willing to live? Maybe the answer is yes, and if so, then so be it - don’t apply to programs you wouldn’t attend. But limiting your options is limiting your options. There are just no guarantees at all in this process and the choosier you are, the harder it will be to earn that A. You said it yourself - this is a numbers game.

I really do think that, unless you are a STELLAR applicant, you should apply to as many schools as you can afford. You and your spouse are also going to need to have this conversation all over again when it comes time for residency, so maybe be thinking ahead in that respect as well.

Bear in mind the 6 figure opportunity cost of delaying your application by a year. You’d be losing out on a year of attending salary. If I offered you $200,000 to attend medical school in a less than desirable area, would you take it?
Thanks for your response, and congrats on the acceptances! Definitely food for thought. It's been an ongoing conversation that usually ends in "cross that bridge if we come to it," and now that I'm staring down the barrel of $200 per school I'm getting more anxious. Like you said, though, an extra thousand bucks isn't that much in the grande scheme of becoming a doctor.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
About the Ads

JanetSnakehole

I’m a very rich widow with a terrible secret.
2+ Year Member
Jun 18, 2018
806
1,856
126
the West Coast
  1. Medical Student
Thanks for your response, and congrats on the acceptances! Definitely food for thought. It's been an ongoing conversation that usually ends in "cross that bridge if we come to it," and now that I'm staring down the barrel of $200 per school I'm getting more anxious. Like you said, though, an extra thousand bucks isn't that much in the grande scheme of becoming a doctor.

This is a ridiculously expensive process, no doubt. All in all, I spent over $10,000 on applying/interviewing. Our investment very fortunately paid off, but oof. The good news for you is that your cycle is unlikely to be this expensive, assuming virtual interviews in the fall - perhaps another reason to not delay.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

GreenDuck12

Full Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2014
2,107
2,271
226
  1. Medical Student
I agree with @JanetSnakehole. I am also married and had initially planned on applying to 15+ programs. However, due to a family health matter, my wife and I decided it was best to only apply to the local MD program and risk reapplying the next year. While it worked out in my case, it is not something I would ever recommend unless one is willing to accept a high likelihood of needing to reapply. Keep in mind that reapplicants have a lower chance of admission at many programs. If there really are only 6-10 programs you would choose to attend if offered a seat then you have your answer. But if you are offered a seat at a school you are initially hesitant about but would still attend, then you should apply to more. In my case, we were willing to turn down acceptances from any other program, so applying to one school made sense.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

GarbanzoMD

Full Member
Sep 6, 2019
56
54
56
  1. Pre-Medical
I agree with @JanetSnakehole. I am also married and had initially planned on applying to 15+ programs. However, due to a family health matter, my wife and I decided it was best to only apply to the local MD program and risk reapplying the next year. While it worked out in my case, it is not something I would ever recommend unless one is willing to accept a high likelihood of needing to reapply. Keep in mind that reapplicants have a lower chance of admission at many programs. If there really are only 6-10 programs you would choose to attend if offered a seat then you have your answer. But if you are offered a seat at a school you are initially hesitant about but would still attend, then you should apply to more. In my case, we were willing to turn down acceptances from any other program, so applying to one school made sense.

Thanks for your post! My last transcript came in today and I hit submit on 21 schools, so I definitely took what @JanetSnakehole said to heart. We will just see what the rest of the cycle brings! Congrats to you on your acceptance!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
About the Ads
This thread is more than 1 year old.

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  7. This thread is locked.