KNightInBlue

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My profile and background for posting this


When I decided to apply to med schools, I looked all over to find pertinent information. I found some and didn’t find the rest till it was too late. The thing I hated most about it was that it was all piecemeal. Meaning, I’d get a word of advice here and another someplace else.

So, for future premeds who will be applying to med schools, I thought I could post the following as a rough guide, something to get you guys started. Most of it is based on the mistakes made and lessons learned by my friends, peers and mostly by me when we applied.

Also, I only applied to MD programs at US allopathic medical schools, so the following applies to them only. As far as osteopathic (DO) /Caribbean/foreign medical schools or other programs (such as MD/PhD, MD/JD, MD/MBA) are concerned, I am not the best person to talk about them.


So, here goes -
TIPS ON APPLYING TO US ALLOPATHIC MEDICAL SCHOOLS

1) First and foremost, research the different schools starting freshman/sophomore year. Buy a copy of MSAR!!! (Medical School Admissions Requirements). It’s a book published by AAMC (American Association of Medical Colleges) that has all the med schools in the country describe themselves and what they are looking for in applicants. This is practically the best guide to have. It has numbers (GPA/MCAT) and other aspects of previous matriculates (students accepted and attending) so you can compare yourself.

Talk to your premed advisor (I’ll explain how to get an advisor in #7 a little further down). They know previous students from your college who got into med schools, so they have experience enough to give advice. They can tell you which schools could consider you competitive and which ones are pipe dreams.
By the same token, their word is not god speak. There are those who love to belittle for some reason, and then there are those who genuinely want to help. Point is - take what they say with a grain of salt. Talk to seniors above you and find out who’s the best advisor around. Even if you don’t get assigned to him, just go to him. That’s what I did. My actual advisor sucked nuts, so I went to someone else who was reputed to be far better. And he truly was.

Establish a list of potential schools. Different people have different priorities, so no one can tell you a definite list of schools to apply to. My priority was to stay in NY so I only applied to schools in NY (and a few pipe dreams out of state just because it would have been lovely to say “I got into Haaaa-vuhd!”).

Make a list of things you are looking for in a school – location, cost, rank (or prestige), curriculum, what specialties students match into (by looking at the residency match lists that are posted on the websites of each med school) etc.
The average # of schools ppl apply to is about 15 - 18.

Here’s a good thread on what to look for when choosing schools to apply to

Then, as application time comes around, finalize your list by researching the schools a bit more. The best way to do this is to go the schools near you and talk to the ppl in the admissions office and more importantly – the med students. I live in New York City which has 8 med schools in and around it. I went to almost all of them and got valuable info from most (if not all).

Whatever you do, do NOT pick schools based on rankings in US News & World Report or Time Magazine or the Gourman Report. The factors that go into these rankings are so arbitrary it’s practically impossible to say that Harvard would be the place where you will be the happiest just because US News ranked it #1.

For example, US News weighs research and grant funds allotted to med schools from the NIH highly in their ranking, but if you are never going to enter a lab (or never even have to begin with), then who cares? Even if the school was getting one billion research dollars each day, it wouldn't matter to you because you don't care about research.
In the same line of thought, US News doesn’t take into account certain factors which matter to most students, like location, financial aid or residency placement for example, when coming up with their rankings.

Point is – use the rankings as a rough guide and as a jumping board to figure out what’s important to YOU and then make your choices as to where to apply.
For example, one of my top choices is Stanford. Not because US News ranked it as a top 10 school but rather because of its many unique and attractive characteristics

I’ll go into more detail about picking schools in #10a.




2) Work, beg, borrow, or rob. Just make sure you have at least $2500 in your pocket before you apply. This is a VERY expensive process. AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service – provided by AAMC) charges $150 for the first and $30 for each additional school thereafter. So if you apply to 10 schools, that’s $420 right there. Then, each school charges an avg of $80 to review your application. That’s $1220. If you interview at 4 schools, with an avg of $300 per trip, that’s $2420.
($2500 is actually my being extremely conservative. There are ppl who have spent upwards of $6000!) So make sure you got the cash.
(There’s a way to escape this financial burden. It’s called EDP. I’ll explain it in #11, but just know that it’s fraught with risk)



3) Dealing with fellow premeds. I should probably tell you about them now and get it out of the way. Once in a while, you’ll meet people genuine enough to help you. If you do, grab on and don’t let go! Then there are those who’ll stab you in the back for a point on their test. Unfortunately, for me, this was the case. I guess there’s a reason for the premed stereotype. I have met people who would run to the library and take out all the necessary books and hide them from others. Then there were others who would sabotage lab experiments. Premeds who’d complain to the professors that you cheated. There’s a poster on this very forum who went to my college and fits the bill of a resentful premed. He badmouthed me to a girl saying that I told people I went out with her and dumped her, just to get in her good graces hoping that maybe she’d fall for him (Yeah, I know. How that hell would it have made her run into his arms?). Not that it worked anyway, ‘cuz he looks like an extra from Planet of the Apes and she likes her men to pass for at least average looking. What sucked was I thought he was a good friend. Had no idea he talked smack behind my back until she told me.

Ok, that last part had nothing to do with grades, but I just wanted to tell you that there are all kinds. Point is - honestly helpful premeds, from what I’ve seen, are few and far in-between. So when you find some, stick with them and just ignore the rest.
Most of my good friends are outside of pre-medicine and I therefore lucked out by not having to deal with all the unnecessary drama and resentment.

P.S. If someone tells you that they caught a glimpse of the next test, and that the answers to 8, 13, 17 and 24 are all A, be skeptical.
 
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KNightInBlue

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4) Complete the prerequisites needed. You do NOT have to be a bio, chem or physics major to apply to med school. You can be a music major if that’s what interests you, as long as you complete the required courses, which generally are – 1 year of bio w/ lab, 1 year of chemistry w/ lab, 1 year of organic chemistry w/ lab and 1 year of physics w/ lab. Some schools have additional requirements. For example, Harvard requires a year of calculus in addition to the above while some others require a year of English. The best place to find out which schools require what courses is the MSAR.
You do not have to finish ALL of the prerequisites in order to apply. You do however have to indicate that you will finish them before you matriculate into medical school. In my opinion, finish them before you apply. This way, all your grades will be seen plus they will help you prep for the MCAT (what the hell is that you ask? I’ll explain later in #9)
Also, get an A in Organic Chemistry, and keep up the science GPA. If you messed up in a couple of classes, don’t kill yourself. Take upper level courses in the area, like advanced Organic if you bomb Organic 1 or 2 (this is what I did) and ace them. As long as you show a decent, strong upward trend, you should be fine.
Students sometimes enter college with AP credits. While these do fulfill some course requirements, it’s DEFINITELY advisable to take advanced courses in that area. For example, Genetics or Physiology if you have AP credit for a year of biology. The reason being that AP credits don’t tell the schools how well you fared in that class. There are colleges that give credit for getting 3s on AP tests. So if you want to impress the med schools, take advanced level courses. After all, you don’t want it to come down to between you w/ AP credits and someone else who actually took the course and got an A in it.

As for picking a major, in my opinion, you should do what interests you. If you like English, do an English major. If anything, the variety of being a non-science major (which is the general minority at med schools) can only help you.
I would also advise checking out the # of credits needed at your college for different majors/minors. For example, I was a Bio/English double major with a triple minor in theology, chemistry and physics. People thought I lived at school. Let me assure you, I didn’t, and yes, I had a life; it’s just that my school made minors notoriously easy to finish. (For example, I was already taking 24 credits of chem for my bio major, so I took one additional chem class to get 28 credits, which is what my school required for a chem minor).
I would definitely recommend looking into your college requirements regarding credits needed for various minors. It never hurts to say you completed a dual major w/ a triple minor (especially if you GPA isn’t so hot).
I would also advise that you take a few science courses in addition to the required ones above (1 yr bio, chem., org chem., phys), such as genetics, physiology, biochemistry and cell/molecular biology. These classes would definitely help you when you prep for the MCAT. Not to mention, if you ace them all, your BCPM GPA (I’ll explain this in #10) will be that much more impressive.
If you can’t fit these classes into your fall/spring schedule, take them in the summer.



5) Volunteer work – Clinical experience is crucial if you are applying. They want to see that you have worked in the field and have some knowledge about it, rather than blindly applying. Volunteer work is also an aspect of your application which admissions committees can see right through. So don't do it as some sort of requirement. They want meaningful, rather than perfunctory participation. Practically everyone volunteers in the ER, and while that’s excellent exposure, try to supplement it with additional experiences (no, that doesn’t mean you have to redefine the healthcare system of Uganda single-handedly…..just something that took more time and effort than volunteering once a week in the ER). If you do shadow a doctor in the ER, try to get a letter from him/her. It’s ok if you don’t, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt your application.



6) Research - This used to be considered as an asset but has now almost become a requirement, if applicants want to be considered competitive. If you are interested in doing research, just go to one of your favorite science professors and ask if you can join any ongoing research project (usually, they have a multitude going at once) or start one of your own and have them as a supervisor. Just be warned – it can get boring and quite tedious at times, so try to go in with some modicum of enthusiasm. I myself am not a fan of poring over microscopes, running incessant PCR chains or scrutinizing and evaluating myriad mindnumbingly dreary data (nevertheless, I still did it to be competitive of course).
Also, admissions committees absolutely LOVE it if you get published in a scientific journal, which can serve as an asset towards getting in.
By the way, getting published is NOT easy. It requires a lot of research and time, not to mention money (this is where grants come in). Couple people I know joined projects that were close to getting published and therefore got their names on the paper. This can be a double edged sword. First, they would expect you to be EXTREMELY knowledgeable about the research at your interview and if all you did was clean test tubes, it will show (as it did at their interviews). Second, it carries weight only if you are the first author (the person who pretty much did the majority of the work), second author (the next person to do the most work) or third author (you get the idea). Anything after that will pretty much be assumed as credit for menial work such as cleaning up apparatuses.

So choose wisely. If you claim research, be prepared to talk about it, because the interviewers will most probably ask you about it.
 
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KNightInBlue

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7) Letters of Recommendation – Undergrad colleges have PreHealth Committees. Go to your biology or chemistry dept and inquire and they’ll direct you. Apply to become an advisee of the committee in your freshman or sophomore year and get a premed advisor (why should you get a premed advisor? Scroll up and read #1).
Another very important reason to get a premed advisor is – LORs (Letters of Recommendation). The way it usually works is - you ask for letters from individual professors from your classes, who forward those letters to the committee. Your advisor on the committee then writes up a composite letter based on the individual letters forwarded to him (Your advisor will tell you how many letters the committee needs to write up a composite letter since requirements vary from college to college). But the key thing to remember here is that - ALL MED SCHOOLS ASK FOR THIS COMPOSITE LETTER!!
If your college has a PreHealth Committee, you MUST get a letter from them. It looks shady if you don’t (unless you really have a problem with them and are afraid that they will write negative comments about you). Get to know your advisor on the committee. There’s nothing worse than strolling in on the last day of senior year and asking for a composite letter to be written up. Plus if you know your advisor, and it turns out that the individual letters you received are lukewarm, s/he can spice up the composite for you.

Also, try not to go the Professors 2 years after taking their class asking for a letter. If they don’t remember you, the letter will be lukewarm, so there’s no point. “He was able to maintain a very knowledgeable discourse on the effects of anti-diuretic drugs on the Loop of Henle in the nephron” sounds far more detailed and positive than “He was good at Biology” which is incredibly vague. Point is – KNOW your Professors and make sure they know YOU.

Make sure all your letters are forwarded to your advisor by spring of the year you apply. In order for your application to be considered “complete” and reviewed, med schools need your committee letter, which can’t be written up if your individual letters aren’t on the desk of your advisor. You can have a 4.0/36 MCAT, but if med schools don’t get the almighty committee letter, they wont review your file.
Moral of the story – STAY ON TOP OF YOUR WRITERS!!! A lot of them forget (yes, that’s right, you are not their #1 priority, the HORROR!!). Try to give them a date to finish them by (but don’t say “this is the deadline Bitch! Get it done!!”) A rough date is sufficient. Follow up REPEATEDLY till they are done and forwarded to your advisor.

KNOW THE DEADLINES OF YOUR COMMITTEE!! They can be incredibly quirky. A buddy of mine had all his letters in by April of the year he was applying but didn’t ask for the composite to be written up till July. The advisor then told him that they don’t write composites over the summer and he’d have to wait till September. Needless to say, he lost a good 10 weeks of application time.
Try to have all your letters forwarded to your advisor by February (or March at the latest) of the year you are applying. Then IMMEDIATELY ask your advisor to write the composite. Stay on top of it to see that it’s written by April (or May at the latest) of the year you are applying, so it can be sent out in July.

Also, if you get a lot of letters, say 7 or 8, have 5 or 6 turned in to the committee for your composite and give envelopes to the other 2 or 3 professors to have them sent in directly to the school. What’s the point of sending additional letters if all they ask for is a composite you ask? That’s like asking “What’s the point of having a really big dong when I can make do with a needledick?” Do I really have to explain? (In case I do, it’s better to have to have a composite plus 2 or 3 additional letters rather than just one composite letter. It’ll only strengthen your file)


8) Affirmative Action (AA for short) – Might as well get this out of the way now. AAMC strongly encourages US med schools to practice AA. Basically, Under Represented Minorities (URMs) are actively recruited even if their numbers are sub-par. What races are considered URM? Native Americans, African Americans, Mexican Americans and Mainland Puerto Ricans are all URM. If you fall under one of these, you can have lower than average numbers (GPA and/or MCAT) and still get admission to med schools.

AA tends to be a very touchy topic to discuss (especially on SDN) because being that the system is not perfect, it has lots of cons along with its pros. I am not even gonna bother getting into these pros/cons, much less whether its right/wrong, should it exist or not……..all this crap is pointless. Fact of the matter is that AA is here and more importantly, its here to stay. So deal with it and move on.

As for all the innumerable threads/posts on SDN dedicated to supporting or bashing AA - Stop wasting your energy trying to argue for or against it because you really can’t change anything about it.


P.S. The idea that women have a slight edge over men when it comes to applying (since they are fewer in number) is antiquated. This may have been the case in the past (a distant one at that) but definitely not anymore. If you look at student profiles for med schools, most show a 50/50 ratio (some actually now show a 60 women/40 men ratio!)

Point is, when it comes to gender, everyone’s on a level playing field. There’s NO AA for gender, just race.
 
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KNightInBlue

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9) MCAT (Medical College Admissions test) is a test administered by the AAMC. It’s like the SATs for med schools, but the comparison ends there. While the SAT is a test you can take cold and still ace, MCAT is a test you need to be prepared for. It’s one of the hardest and longest tests out there. Trust me, it’s an assraping session that lasts at least 8 hours. So do yourself a favour and be prepared.

My personal advice would be to take a prep course like Kaplan a good 4 months ahead of the test. Not that everyone needs it, but the main factor in acing the test is PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! And then some more practice on top of that. Being that the MCAT is a standardized exam, it only tests certain topics. Your best strategy would be to familiarise yourself as well as possible with questions that test these topics so that come test day, you won’t find yourself murmuring over and over “What the f*** is this???”
These prep companies offer loads of practice materials on these topics. I myself teach for Kaplan right now and I tell my students all the time to make use of the TONS of practice material provided for them.

Plus, like I said before, it doesn’t hurt to have taken a few science courses, such as Genetics, Physiology, Cell/Molecular Bio etc, in addition to the required ones. They will only reinforce your knowledge base and help you when you get questions way out of left field.

And now, the million dollar question – When should you take the test?
It’s given twice a year – April and August. Take it at the latest in April of the year you are applying, or if possible, even before, like August of the previous year.

TRY TO AVOID TAKING IT IN AUGUST OF THE YEAR YOU APPLY!!!

Even the med schools themselves say in the MSAR – “We encourage students to take the MCAT in April (or Spring) of the year of application.”
Why? So you can beat the tidal wave of applications from November onward. April test takers have a DEFINITE advantage over august test takers in this respect. Your MCAT score is needed in order for your application to be complete and ready for review. An April test taker gets his/her scores in late June and can have his application complete as early as July. An August test taker gets his/her scores in late October, and can have his application complete the earliest in late October. Since most med schools go by rolling admissions (first come, first serve policy – they review your application and immediately make a decision), this difference of 3 months could mean the difference between an acceptance and a rejection. (In fact, last year, some schools filled up their class by December!.......which meant all subsequent interviews at those schools were already designated for waitlist spots!)
This is because when you apply early, your competition is not as intense as it would be later on. As the year progresses, the schools have less time to choose qualified applicants and will be more likely to choose interviews strictly on numbers so that they can get through all of the applications sitting on their desk. A student who applies with a 27 MCAT is only competing with few 30s in August. Come November, the competition becomes INTENSE. If you want more personalized attention, turn it in early. I am positive that this is one of the main reasons I got interviews at some of the schools I did.

The usual argument I hear AGAINST taking the MCAT in April (or FOR taking it in August) is – “It’d be too much to study for both school AND the MCAT at the same time. I want to take my time and spend the summer studying for the August test.” Unless you also happen to work/volunteer/research/pimp for 40 hours in addition to school, this argument is totally ridiculous. If you can’t handle college courses and MCAT prep at the same time, how do you plan to keep up with med school which is incredibly harder?

Keep in mind that every year, a considerable number of August test takers get admitted. So I am not saying you are completely screwed if you take it in August. It’s just that you have very little leeway to mess up. If you take it in August, make sure you ace it.
April test takers, on the other hand, do have leeway if they mess up on the MCAT. One, they can apply early when the competition is not as intense and two, they have an option to retake in August if necessary.
August test-takers on the other hand, have to wait till NEXT April if they want to retake which will put them in running for the NEXT application cycle (basically they lost a year).

The exception to the above “April vs August” rule is non-rolling admissions. There are some schools, like Harvard, Yale, Columbia, that are non-rolling. Meaning they receive applications beginning in June and interview starting in September just like rolling schools, but they do not make final decisions on which students to accept/reject/waitlist until March (as opposed to rolling schools which make final decisions as soon as the interview season gets under way.)
Basically, for non-rolling schools, April MCAT takers who finish their applications early and August MCAT takers who finish a little later are all on the same footing. The advantage of TIMING is nonexistent (but the catch-22 here is that in order to be competitive at these schools, you gotta have stellar numbers anyway).

Keep in mind that this does not mean you should wack off till November and then turn in your application to these schools. You should still apply early in the game. Why? ‘Cuz regardless of rolling vs non-rolling, if you have low numbers, your competition is gonna be lower in August than it would be in December, so you still stand a chance of INTERVIEWING. You won’t get a decision till March but at least you’ll be in the running.

Get the MSAR to know which schools are rolling and which are non-rolling.

What if you take the MCAT and are not happy with your score? This and other questions like this can be answered by # 17 a little further down.
 
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10a) Virtually every allopathic med school in the country utilizes a centralized application service called AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service). After the MCAT, begin filling out the AMCAS application, (available at AAMC’s website – www.aamc.org), in May and have it ready to be submitted in the first allowable week, which is generally around June 2. This AMCAS application is your primary application. They allow you to work on it starting in May since it takes a while to fill everything out, and trust me, there’s a LOT!

You also need to send AMCAS your transcripts from ALL colleges you have attended – undergraduate AND graduate (if applicable). As you begin filling out the AMCAS, you will come across a section of the application which allows you to print out a request (with AAMC’s mailing address on it) for your college registrar asking for a copy of your transcript. Use this request page to have your college registrar send your transcripts in mid-May to AAMC. Call AAMC at the end of May to make sure they have them. Without your transcripts, your AMCAS application can’t be processed. AAMC is notorious for losing transcripts, so call TWICE if you have to, and talk to different representatives to make sure they have them. (AMCAS phone # - 202 – 828 – 0600)

The AMCAS application is where you list all your Extracurriculars (ECs for short). These are all the activities you were involved in through college and up until the time of application.
A note about ECs – If you think that all successful med school applicants gave up ECs they were truly interested in to do groundbreaking cancer research and to volunteer in the slums of Calcutta during their summers, disabuse yourself of this notion right now. Yes, research and volunteer work are important, as far as showing your dedication and exposure to the field. However, that does not mean you have to give up activities you like. Remember, med schools look for diversity along with excellence. Perseverance and achievement don’t necessarily have to be in medically related activities. If you are passionate about something, even if it’s non-medical, as long as you give it your all and pursue it adamantly, your dedication and commitment will be clearly visible. (The key point here being that you should pursue it adamantly enough to achieve something. If you started something to be unique and then dropped it after 2 weeks, that’s not really distinctive. It was just a waste of time.)
So if you like karate, go for the black belt. If you like music, keep playing the drums in the band you started with high school friends. Point is – If you can show your dedication for something (once again, the key here is that it doesn’t have to be medically related), med schools will pick up on your drive.
Don’t give up who you are in order to make time for “activities guaranteed to get you into med school”. ‘Cuz quite frankly, there are none. The AMCAS application has space for 15 ECs. Only 5 of mine were “medical” related. The rest were activities that defined who I was. (I won’t list them here, but you can check my mdapplicants profile to see them).

The irony of the matter is that this process, which is supposed to allow you to enter a field that cares for the sick, is pretty dehumanizing. Point - don’t lose sight of who you are. If you are involved in something meaningful, don’t sacrifice it to make time for a “med school activity”.


(You may think my use of the word “dehumanizing” to describe the admissions process is a bit strong. But come ON!! TWELVE weeks to get back with a decision after an interview???. What the F*** is that about?? I have made life altering decisions, such as “which girl to go home with for the night?” in under 2 min and they can’t decide if I am a worthy enough applicant for their oh-so-prestigious medical school for 12 weeks???
At a certain point, I began compulsively clicking refresh on my inbox every 2 min and panting like a rabid dog everyday (except sunday) at 1PM waiting for the mailman. Once in a while, I even lunged for his jugular when I saw no med school correspondence.
Then suddenly, on my 1,678,543rd click of the refresh button, I saw a new email with the word "Decision" in the subject line which stimulated a pavlovian response of whooping with joy and hitting the ceiling in elation. It wasn’t until I read the entire subject line that I realised it was only an update about an upcoming admissions meeting where a decision on my file could be made. That was when I drove my fist through the screen).


Anyway, I digress.

The AMCAS primary application is also where you write a PERSONAL STATEMENT. Basically, it’s your admissions essay. The strongest piece of advice I can give you about the PS is – DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!!! Have it written, critiqued, rehashed, proofread, spellchecked and ready to be entered into your AMCAS application by the end of May. The biggest reason people get backed up on their applications is their PS. The first drafts almost never work out, so by the time revisions and rerevisions are finished, it’s Christmas.
Ok, that was an exaggeration, but the year I applied, there were people polishing up the final drafts of their PSs all the way through September! Don’t be one of them. Finish it up by the end of May.
Having said that, please don’t sacrifice quality for time. The PS is your time to shine. For some reason, people tend to gloss over this aspect thinking that its numbers that count. What they are forgetting is that your entire application is just that – numbers. It’s the PS that allows them to get a glimpse of who you really are on a personal level. While numbers do carry considerable weight, there have been cases where borderline numbers were pushed towards an interview, and subsequently admission, on the merit of the PS. So make it stand out in the eyes of the reader!! Have it critiqued by friends, family, advisors, English professors, veteran SDN’ers, strangers on the subway…….just make sure it’s the best one you can write. The best ones, in my opinion, are ones that tell a story. Something that ties your experiences, motivations and passions neatly together. I am saying it again – even if you have a 3.4/26 MCAT, if you show how much you care about medicine thru your PS, you could land interviews.

At the end of the application, you will be asked to designate the medical schools you are applying to. This is where the whole expense factor begins to come into play. So choose wisely. If your numbers are strong, I’d say apply to 8 – 10 schools. If average, 12 – 18 schools. If borderline or below average, 25 – 30 schools (This last one can really gouge you financially, so be prepared)
What’s average you ask? In 2003 – GPA of 3.6 and MCAT of 30. (Keep in mind that starting in 2003, there has been an upswing in the # of applicants to med school, so expect the GPA and MCAT numbers to go up as competition increases.)

If you want to see how competitive you are, use this formula – (GPA * 10) + MCAT. If that number is between 60 - 65, you’re on the borderline, so apply to lots of schools to maximize your chances. If it’s between 65 – 72, you are in good shape, so you can apply to about 15 - 20 schools. If it’s over 73, you can relax. You can apply to as few as 9 or 10 and still be ok. (In fact, if you’re over 70, I’d say apply to all your favorites in the top 10 med schools, especially “number whores” such as Washington University if that’s your calling.)

Keep in mind that the above is only a rough formula!!! The admissions committees do NOT use such a cut and dried method. It’s only to be used by YOU to see how competitive you are. Also keep in mind that there are always exceptions, meaning even if your numbers are really low, if you are truly dedicated to medicine (and this would come across in your extracurriculars and personal statement) you can make it.

And if you are URM (see #8 above), you can shave off 5 - 7 points from the total of GPA*10 + MCAT and still be competitive. (Basically, a URM with 3.4/28 is just as competitive as I am, if not more.) In fact, if you’re URM and using the formula, hit a 65 and above, you can even apply to Harvard and stand a much better shot there than the rest of us non-URMs even if we are above 70.

Once your MCAT scores come out, they are attached to your AMCAS application and automatically sent with it to the schools.
However, there are some schools that are NON-AMCAS (like the schools in Texas). They have their own application system and don’t participate in AMCAS.
Translation – you’ll have to contact them directly for an application.
You’d also have to log into your Testing History System (THX) account, which is on the AMCAS website, once your MCAT scores come in and have your scores sent to these NON-AMCAS schools. This is crucial. AMCAS will not send your score to NON-AMCAS schools that you apply to. You have to have them sent via THX. On the plus side, I think this is the only service provided by AMCAS that’s free.
(P.S. Baylor is the one school in Texas that you can apply to through AMCAS)
 
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10b) After you select your schools, it’s time to submit the application to AMCAS. This is where the concept of “the early bird gets the worm” comes into play. It takes anywhere from 1 to 6 weeks for AMCAS to process your application once you submit it. So the sooner you submit, the sooner it’s processed and sent to med schools.
Sometimes people wait for their April MCAT score which comes out in mid to late June to decide what schools to apply to and then submit the application. DON’T! Submit and apply to the schools you were definitely going to apply to regardless of the scores. Once they come out, you can ADD additional schools. But do NOT wait to submit for this reason.

The only time you should wait to submit is if you are unsure of applying this year and need your MCAT scores to decide. Then, by all means, wait. But if you are definitely going to apply this year, then your MCAT score is no reason to wait. If it’s low, you can take it in August.
Either way, just make sure you submit your AMCAS application by the end of June, on the EARLIEST day possible!!!!

After submitting your application, AMCAS verifies it by double-checking your grades using your transcript(s) (I outlined above how to have your transcripts sent to AMCAS). Then, they designate it as being PROCESSED. This means it’s ready to go out to the med schools you listed on the application. They also have 3 GPA’s listed on your processed application –
a) BCPM GPA - cumulative average of all your bio, chem, physics and math classes. AKA Science GPA.
b) AO GPA - cum avg of your All Other, basically, your non-science, classes.
c) OA GPA (cum avg of the previous 2 – Over All GPA).
BCPM and OA GPAs carry the most weight. So try to keep them high (but then again, if you are at the point of applying, there’s really nothing left to do about them).

As you are filling out the AMCAS application in May, call your prehealth committee and make sure your committee letter is ready to go out. I’d say its safe to have your letter(s) mailed to the medical schools 6 weeks after you submit your AMCAS application. So if you submit in the 1st week of June, have the letter(s) sent in the 2nd week of July. Call or go to the medical school’s website to get the address the letter(s) should be mailed to.

People usually tell you to “wait to send out the letter(s) till the med schools ask you to fill out a Secondary” (what the hell is a secondary you ask? I’ll explain in #12). But you should be ok if you send the letters in 6 weeks after you submit the AMCAS application. Why? ‘Cuz by then, the schools have received your processed AMCAS application and when they receive your letter(s), will create a folder for you and keep them on file. I had my composite and additional letters sent to all the schools I applied to before my secondaries, and none were lost/thrown out.
(By the way, some Prehealth Committees charge for sending out the committee letter to med schools. Mine charged $5 per school. So keep this in mind when applying.)

Also, if you have an additional $100 lying around, apply to either Ross or St. George’s in the Caribbean. Applying to these schools serves a dual purpose. The first is that you have a backup in case you aren’t accepted in the US. Being that they are offshore medical schools, their admissions criteria is far lower than that of US med schools and therefore, they accept virtually everyone who applies (keep in mind that their ‘standards’ are also slowly going up).
The second reason I’ll explain in #14 a little further down.
You will have to contact Ross/SGU directly for applications and forward your MCAT scores to them (thru your THX account of course).



11) If you recall, I brought up the concept of EDP before as a method of bypassing the extremely expensive application process. EDP stands for Early Decision Process. Basically, you are choosing to apply to just ONE school through AMCAS by August 1 and that school will get back to you with a decision by October 1. The pros are - you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on the process and you will get a decision by October 1st. The cons are – you CANNOT apply to any other schools until you hear back from the EDP school. If they reject you, you will have to BEGIN applying to additional schools via the regular process in October which means this can put you behind the August MCATers!

This is a VERY crucial decision, so if you are thinking about EDP, make SURE you talk to both your premed advisor AND the admissions office of the school you want to apply for EDP. Generally, if you say that you are considering EDP, they will sit with you and openly discuss your chances.
In my opinion, I would consider EDP only if my numbers were stellar and I have kept in contact with the school for a while and got the “Ok, go ahead!” from the admissions director.
The process to apply for EDP is pretty much the same as outlined in #10. The major difference is that everything (your AMCAS w/ MCAT score, Recommendations and Secondary) has to be in by August 1st.

P.S. If you choose to go with EDP, keep in mind that you do NOT have the option to take the MCAT in August. At the latest, you will have to take it in April (because everything has to be in by Aug 1st.)
 
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12) Secondary applications (AKA Supplemental Applications). These are applications sent from the med schools themselves for you to fill out, after they receive your primary from AMCAS. They start rolling in around July/August.

These secondaries ask questions about “additional info not present on AMCAS” which can range anywhere from additional essays (like Columbia and Stony Brook for example) to a postcard asking for your name and social (like Boston University for example).
They usually also ask for your photo. (No, its not to base their decision on how good you look, but to make sure you are who you claim you are if invited for an interview. This is where they match up the photo you used to take the MCAT with the photo you send in with your secondary.)

I like to think of the secondaries as MoneyGougers since they charge anywhere from $75 - $100 per secondary. So get ready to write out checks.

Find a med school applicant from previous years. Generally, they keep copies of the secondary applications. Also, a lot of schools post their secondaries on their websites. Visit them and find out everything you can. They may be from past years, but very few schools change their secondaries drastically from year to year.

This is a good thread where you can check out secondaries for various schools from past years

Start working on the secondaries right after your April MCAT, so that when you actually begin receiving them in July/August, you are ready to cut, paste and send them right back. Try to send back each secondary within a week or two of receiving it.
Once again, this secondary is needed to “complete” your application. So it pays to send them out as early as possible.


13) Don’t freak out over the little things like “Should I smile and show my teeth or not smile for the photo in my secondary?”, “Should I staple or paperclip my secondary?”……. you get the drift. These and other moronic questions are answered on SDN by other neurotic premeds (If indeed you do have these questions, if not, never mind). I doubt an admissions director will see your face in your photo, fall in love with you and offer you a spot w/o an interview or cut himself trying to separate the papers in your application and bleed to death from the gash.
Point is, there are far more important decisions to make, so don’t nitpick.
 
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14) These are the 4 parts needed to “complete” your application –
a) AMCAS primary
b) MCAT scores which are automatically attached to your AMCAS primary (Remember!! You need to send your MCAT scores to NON-AMCAS schools yourself!! AMCAS will not do it for you. I outlined how to do this in #9 above)
c) Letters of recommendation and
d) Secondary (aka Supplemental) Application.

Once your application is complete, it’s reviewed by admissions committees at the schools you applied to. If they feel that you are competitive, they will invite you for an interview. This is the next step to shine.

I have lost track of how many stories I have heard about students with borderline scores getting accepted because they kicked ass on their interviews and students with 3.7+/33+ getting rejected because they make staring at paint dry seem exciting.
How you come across to your interviewer can very well decide your fate at that school. So try to make your interviews memorable. Obviously, don’t be fake. Be yourself and, at the risk of sounding terribly clichéd, show your passion.

First, check out - http://www.studentdoctor.net/interview/index.asp for med school interview feedback. Students who go to interviews at different med schools post experiences/questions/general information here. It’s like having the questions to a test given to you beforehand. In short, it’s PRICELESS!! (2 MOST popular questions – “Why medicine?” and “Why did you apply here?” Know the answers to these 2)

Second, arrange your interviews appropriately. Everyone picks a couple schools that aren’t at the top of their list and would only consider attending if they are the only ones that accepted them. (it seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Why apply to a school if you don’t want to go there? But ask yourself this – what if it’s the only school that accepts you? Would you rather go to the Caribbean or this “last resort” school?).

Since the first interview is the most nerve-wracking, interview at this “last resort” school first (my last resort school was SUNY Downstate after hearing so many negative comments about it. So I scheduled it as my first interview). If you bomb, big deal, it was a last resort anyway (surprisingly enough, I ended up liking Downstate. Just goes to show that you shouldn’t go in with predispositions but instead judge for yourself.)
This is also where the whole applying to Ross or St. George’s in the Caribbean comes into play. Try to interview at Ross/SGU before the rest. No, you don’t have to fly down to the Caribbean. They will interview you here in the states. If you bomb, big deal, it was only a backup. Use this “mock” interview as prep for the real interviews coming up later.
(Keep in mind that you still have to pay money to apply to Ross/SGU, so if you can’t afford it, have your premed advisor mock interview you.)

By the same logic, do NOT schedule your “safety schools” last (I put those two words in quotes because there’s no such thing as a safety school. There are too many factors involved which make the whole process unpredictable. Check out this website )
I guess you can call a school your “safety” if your numbers are higher than its average numbers. Also, notice the distinction b/w ‘safety’ and ‘last resort’.

I say don’t interview at these “safety” schools last because they wouldn’t serve the purpose of that name if you get rejected by interviewing in February (not that you most certainly will be!! It’s just a scenario).
What about the “reach schools” (hard to get into – like Harvard, Wash U, Columbia)? It’s hard enough to get an interview, so when do you do it?
Honestly, after the first couple, it really doesn’t matter. Just schedule them all as early as possible!!

This is the way I did it –
Last Resort (Downstate)
Safety (SUNY Upstate)
Safety (New York Medical College)
Reach (Albert Einstein)
Reach (University of Rochester)
….and the rest followed…….


I was pretty relaxed starting from my 4th interview, ‘cuz I had already interviewed twice and got the general vibe.

Third, MAXIMISE YOUR SCHEDULE!! Interviews can be expensive, especially if they involve traveling to other parts of the country. If you do get an interview in a different city, and there are additional schools you applied to nearby, see if you can interview at them all at once (not that it will actually happen, but you can always try). For example, if you get an interview at Temple in Philadelphia, and you also happened to apply to Jefferson and UPenn, call them and say “I am going to be in Philadelphia the week of XX, would it be possible to interview that week?” This doesn’t always work, especially if they are not interested in you. But if they are, it would be far cheaper than flying out to Philly twice, or even thrice.

As far as traveling is concerned, keep in mind that planes aren’t the only way to go. Check out trains and buses also (Greyhound, Amtrak etc). The cheapest plane ticket I could find from New York to Philadelphia was over $100. There’s a bus from New York to Philadelphia that costs $12! (http://www.2000coach.com/) The trip by bus is actually shorter than the plane ride to Philly since there’s a lot of security to go thru in the airport.
Point – check all available avenues of transport.
If flying is what you want, join as many airline miles programs as possible. Most are very favorable towards students. Some even offer miles for graduation.
Also, check out Southwest, Orbitz, Travelocity, StudentUniverse. Try to get your tickets a month early, they are cheapest then.
People try to fly all over the country to different cities in one stretch. Good luck with that! It almost never works, not to mention the expense since most one-way tix cost almost as much as round-trip tix. Plus you’ll be so tired by the end of the stretch that you might actually end up cursing out your last interviewers for nudging you awake. Not a good experience.

As far as staying for the day(s), the cheapest and best option, in my opinion, is to see if the school offers student hosts. These are students who allow you to stay with them for the duration of your visit. Its cheap (cuz it’s free) and its best ‘cuz, well, who better to give you all the inside scoops and dirt on the school than a student who goes there? There is a flip side though – you could end up sleeping on the floor/couch, which could affect your interview the next day adversely.
P.S. If you do end up staying with a student host, be nice and get them a gift. Doesn’t have to be a handcrafted swarovski crystal mantelpiece, but put some thought into it.

What’s next best you ask? Why, a hotel within walking distance of the school of course. Call the school or check out its website to find out which ones are closest.
Keep in mind that some schools, such as Temple and Downstate, are located in shady areas. When interviewing there, pick a hotel in a different area from the school and just take a cab to the school. For example, if you are interviewing at Temple, pick a hotel in Center City of Philadelphia, like The Crowne Plaza and hop a cab to Temple.
I would DEFINITELY advise this for Downstate since I have actually heard stories of students getting mugged when walking en route to their interview!
Next step – Priceline.com!! By far the cheapest way to find decent hotels (there are students who have gotten rooms for $40 a night at 4 star hotels like Crowne Plaza thru Priceline, so check it out. Another option if you are interviewing at Temple would be to stay in the Conwell Inn, a hotel located ON the campus of Temple U. Basically you can get up, shower, dress up and walk right over.)

Also, try to see the different sights of the area. If you’re gonna be spending 4 yrs there, it should be somewhat attractive to your tastes.

After the interview, get your interviewer’s email and postal address. When you return home, send a thank you note by regular AND e-mail. This is an absolute MUST! This can help you down the line if you get waitlisted. If you actually do get waitlisted, you now have a means of contact to send further materials like letters of intent, additional letters of rec, grades…etc.


P.S. Please note that I am in NO way saying that Temple and Downstate are not good schools. They both have their own draws and attractions (in fact, the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded for research done at Downstate). You have to keep in mind that location is only ONE factor when it comes to evaluating a med school. This doesn’t mean that they won’t knock your socks off, so do your research on them before deciding whether or not to apply to them.
 
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15) Decisions - After you interview, within 2 weeks to 6 months (this is where the whole waiting game comes into play), you will receive an offer of acceptance (HOORAY!!), or a waitlisted spot (that’s ok, many get waitlisted) or a rejection (quite alright, there are other schools).

If you get waitlisted at your top choice, start sending out letters of intent and additional letters of rec in April. If you are finishing up your last year of school or master’s, send in your grades. If your MCAT was a little weak, you can try taking it in April and if it goes up, show the med schools your new score and tip the scales in your favor.
Most importantly, SHOW YOUR INTENT! Write a letter every few weeks listing all the reasons why the school is your #1 choice and that you’d drop all other offers of acceptance (even if you don’t have any) if accepted here.
Also, START SOMETHING! Volunteer, Work, Research, run a marathon, something you can write to the schools to show that you are not just sitting on your ass hoping you’ll jump off the waitlist.

May and June are the months with the most waitlist movement, since May 15 is the deadline to make a final choice among multiple acceptances and after that date, spots open all over the place.

P.S. Due to the upward trend in # of applications in recent years, with the applicant pool getting larger, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if there’s less and less movement on the waitlists.



16) If you do receive an acceptance at your top choice, please be considerate enough to withdraw any and all spots from other schools, so others can jump off the waitlist. You have till May to make a final choice, but the earlier you do it, the better.

After all, if you were waitlisted, wouldn’t you want others to do the same?

Keep in mind that I am not saying it’s inconsiderate to hold more than 1 acceptance at any given time (at the time of writing this, I held 6 acceptances). Being that financial aid plays a HUGE part in the final decision as to where to attend, it’s not only understandable, but definitely advisable to hold on to acceptances from schools you are considering till spring when financial aid packages are offered.
It’s just that if you are holding offers from places where you know you wouldn’t end up, I ask that you withdraw so that they can be offered to other applicants.



17) “I got XX on the MCAT. Should I retake it?”, “My science GPA is not so hot because I messed up in a few classes. What can I do to rectify this?”, “These are my numbers, am I competitive enough at School Y?”, “I got into my safety school, but got waitlisted at my top choice. What should I do?”, “Should I send my applications by regular mail or FedEx Express?”

Go here if you want answers to these and other burning questions regarding medical school admissions straight from the horse’s mouth.
Click on the forum entitled “Round Table with Judy Levine”. Judy Levine is a former admissions director of New York Medical College who is answering any and all admissions related questions for FREE!! She is a truly valuable resource. Talk to her!!!
 
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18) And last, but definitely not the least (granted, most neurotic premeds will probably ignore me on this) - ENJOY YOUR TIME BEFORE MED SCHOOL!!! Once you start, its gonna be a dog’s life (or so I hear). So do something memorable. People always say “Oh, I’ll have time after med school” Yes, you will. But you will also be too fat, bald and unattractive to (in)decently charm the pants off of a hot girl on the Riviera.


I myself don't want to jump straight to med school after graduating from college and so am taking a year off to teach/work for the first half and spend the 2nd half of the year traveling in Europe and Asia. (After spending the last 6 months at the gym, I am finally ripped enough to take off my shirt at the beach. Hopefully, I’ll get back to my freshman days of fraternizing with the ladies, but this time, on a global level :) )

I highly recommend doing this - taking some time off. Travel, work, sail the pacific, do something, ANYTHING! But make sure you live it up.

Overall, don’t lose faith. No one’s perfect. Practically everyone has negative experiences to overcome. Few bad grades or even a year don’t summarily reject you. I got off to a bad start (damn the women!! ), but I finished strong, got into one of my top choice schools and can now look forward to working on my MD.


Good Luck



P.S. DISCLAIMER - the aspects listed above are not a surefire prescription to gain admission. There are plenty who have had them all and got rejected, while at the same time, there are people who had none but still got accepted.
The aspects outlined just make a more competitive applicant. There are many other variables, such as extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, geographic location, undergraduate institution, personal statement, quality of interview, RACE (sometimes being the deciding factor b/w acceptance and rejection….you can thank affirmative action for this) which play a significant role in admissions. So take the above with a grain of salt. It is NOT the end all/be all rulebook.

P.P.S. No, I did not sit and write this in one setting. I maintained a word document on all my experiences beginning with the first visit to my advisor’s office in sophomore year. Since then, I have kept track of everything that happened, but mostly focusing on my mistakes. Now that I won’t ever have to go thru this again, I figured it’d help if I posted it for others before I deleted the document.

P.P.P.S. I only ask one thing. Can someone who’s a 4th year or about to start residency write a similar guide for med school? I know I am going to have to get information all over the place piecemeal again, but it’d be nice to have a rough “When to do what and how” guide. Thank You.

P.P.P.P.S. This is the last postscript., I promise :) I am leaving on my Europe trip soon and wont be back for months. So if you PM me regarding anything, try not to get pissed off if I don’t get back to you immediately.

EUROPE BABYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!
 
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KNightInBlue

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CharlieVN said:
Wow...I don't think I could write that much if I tried my hardest...

I didn't sit and write this in one setting. I maintained a word document on all my experiences beginning with the first visit to my advisor’s office in sophomore year. Since then, I have kept track of everything that happened.

Now that I won’t ever have to go thru this again, I figured it’d help if I posted it for others before I deleted the document.
 

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OMG. I think that is the record for longest post ever on SDN :D

Great information, I agreed with almost everything you said in it, and would just like to add a few things.

IMO- for people with around a 27-30 MCAT and a 3.4-3.6 GPA-I don't believe its necessary to apply to 25-30 schools. This is only necessary if you reside in a state where the in-state medical schools are very competetive. With scores around 28 MCAT and a 3.5 gpa that your best chances are usually with state schools or mid-range private schools. This is what I did (my scores were within that range) and it worked for me. What IS necessary is to get your app in on June 1st if you aren't that hot of an applicant. I applied last year late (after August), and I didn't get in. This year the only thing I had done to change my application was some ECs, but I applied in June, interviewed in Oct and November, and was accepted to several schools by November.

Having just completed the admissions process and applied to 11 schools total and only completed 8 of the secondaries...I found that it is very time consuming and draining to fill all those secondary materials out. So, for those borderline applicants, don't commit to more than you can handle seeing thru, or it will just be wasted money. Apply to schools that are within your range, and don't apply to more schools than you will have time to complete secondaries at. I wasn't working or going to school while I filled out secondaries, and I found it overwhelming :eek: . I only know of a few people who actually have followed through on filling out 25-30 secondaries (and I know of even fewer who can afford it!). Definitely maximize your chances, but be reasonable. If you are considering applying to every school in America, it might be more efficient to work on bringing your GPA and MCAT score up. Unless you are related to the Hilton sisters, of course. :D
 
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priyanka

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Thanks a lot, this is all gonna come handy :) Goes into my word document folder, " Me and Med school" now :)
 

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yeah, a sticky would be nice - could anyone put this on a semi-permanent website?
 

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That's great info. The only thing that I would add is about letters of rec for non-trads. Typically, after you've been out of school for longer than three years they relax the requirements. So for many schools, you won't have to go back with your fingers crossed that your professors are still there and may somehow vaguely remember who you are - though this can work. However, you'll still need letters that count as science, non-science, etc.
 

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sfbear said:
That's great info. The only thing that I would add is about letters of rec for non-trads. Typically, after you've been out of school for longer than three years they relax the requirements. So for many schools, you won't have to go back with your fingers crossed that your professors are still there and may somehow vaguely remember who you are - though this can work. However, you'll still need letters that count as science, non-science, etc.
You are right, but it's definitely advisable to contact individual schools and find out what the proper letter requirements are for non-trads.
 

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KNightInBlue said:
I didn't sit and write this in one setting. I maintained a word document on all my experiences beginning with the first visit to my advisor’s office in sophomore year. Since then, I have kept track of everything that happened.

Now that I won’t ever have to go thru this again, I figured it’d help if I posted it for others before I deleted the document.
Good stuff dude. I agree with just about everything you've said. I would emphasize in particular the fellow premeds: DON'T LISTEN TO THEM. Don't ask them what classes they're taking, don't ask them what they got on last week's quiz, don't ask them to help you with a certain lab question, because in most cases, they'll lie to you just to make you feel like crap.

Trust me, I did this my freshman year and was stressed out all the time. Now I see those same people on campus today, and most of them are not even pursuing medicine. Pace yourself.

You know yourself better than anybody. You know what you can and cannot do. Imam Ali once said, "One who does not realize his own value is condemned to utter failure." In other words, don't take on too much than you can handle, or you'll faulter. Don't take on too little than you can handle, or you'll never reach your full potential.

Always think to yourself, what will happen, will happen. You will reach your destiny eventually.
 

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Shaz said:
Good stuff dude. I agree with just about everything you've said. I would emphasize in particular the fellow premeds: DON'T LISTEN TO THEM. Don't ask them what classes they're taking, don't ask them what they got on last week's quiz, don't ask them to help you with a certain lab question, because in most cases, they'll lie to you just to make you feel like crap.

Trust me, I did this my freshman year and was stressed out all the time. Now I see those same people on campus today, and most of them are not even pursuing medicine. Pace yourself.

You know yourself better than anybody. You know what you can and cannot do. Imam Ali once said, "One who does not realize his own value is condemned to utter failure." In other words, don't take on too much than you can handle, or you'll faulter. Don't take on too little than you can handle, or you'll never reach your full potential.

Always think to yourself, what will happen, will happen. You will reach your destiny eventually.
I know what you mean. I used to feel pressured by what other students were attempting and after a couple years, those same students weren't even premed anymore.

Just goes to show that you have to do your own thing.
 

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Thanks to MDhopeful2010 for reminding me about this thread.

To the top with you!

*waves magic wand*
 
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KNightInBlue said:
Whatever you do, do NOT pick schools based on rankings in US News & World Report or Time Magazine or the Gourman Report.

He badmouthed me to a girl saying that I told people I went out with her and dumped her, just to get in her good graces hoping that maybe she’d fall for him (Yeah, I know. How that hell would it have made her run into his arms?). Not that it worked anyway, ‘cuz he looks like an extra from Planet of the Apes and she likes her men to pass for at least average looking. What sucked was I thought he was a good friend. Had no idea he talked smack behind my back until she told me.
I disagree with not picking schools based on rankings. You are more likely get the residency match you want by attending schools higher in ranking. Medical school is only four years, so you have to choose a school that will give a best chance. It should not be a priority but it would matter.

Sorry about your personal experiences with other premeds. But I also think these things happen to students/people who are non premeds. This is why I believe premeds should take a year off and experience the real world.
I worked before applying to a medical school.
I can tell you that the cutthroat competition in business world is much worse than the competition among the premeds. More importantly, mistakes are not tolerated. Office politics, gossips, backstabbing, sexual harrassments, discrimination...etc. Real world is harsh and cold, much more so than in college.

Premeds may believe that they are competing against neurotic, selfish, egoistical classmates, but it is minor compared to what I experienced in business sector.

I am just saying, you are very lucky to go to a medical school, when you experience other jobs, you realize that becoming a doctor is not a hard work after all.
 

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KnightInBlue, thanks for the detailed info and insights. This is one of the best post I have ever seen on this board. I am bookmarking your advice for my application to medical school for 2006.
 

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This belongs in a 'guide to medical school admissions' book - Truly informative and very helpfull. Great Post!
 

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I just wanted to add that while med school is tough, your life doesn't end. As a first year medical student, I am surprised by how manageable school is. I know it will get tougher second year because of the sheer amount of information to absorb, and from what I understand, third year is a little rough because it is packed with clinical rotations and you have to do your learning in your off hours. But fourth year is supposedly pretty easy - you get a lot of discretionary time to do externships or work on your residency applications and interviews.

I mention this because the OP made a comment about enjoying premed because med school is going to be really tough. This hasn't really been the case for me, but I still think you should make the most of your time and enjoy life.

The one thing I will note is that you don't have as much vacation time in med school and very little at all in residency so if you have something that you've always wanted to do, do it now. I did a lot of traveling when I was in undergrad and during my postbac and I'm so glad I did. I probably won't ever have the same freedom of schedule ever again, although we do have this first summer off and I'm taking full advantage of it.

Enjoy! And try not to let your work interfere with your play!
Laurie
 

priyanka

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NYCDesi said:
I know what you mean. I used to feel pressured by what other students were attempting and after a couple years, those same students weren't even premed anymore.

Just goes to show that you have to do your own thing.


so do you guys mean, not to group study ? I think there is some truth in you guys' opinions,well I guess I am just very optimistic that they can't do me any harm. I don't know.
 

AxlxA

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I love you OP. I am printing this out and posting it on my "wall of med school horror" I already got the 2 USNEWS list of rankings on there (primary care/ research). I'll make a time table for application as well.
 

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I'm short on the requirments/suggestions for med school, luckily I've started early and I have time to fulfill all of them. I'm interested in having some research published but I have no idea what magazines I should look to be published in, or what topics would be practical. I'm going to talk to some of the bio/chem teachers and get some imput this week. I was wondering if there was a list of magazines that publish student's research work.. any links or ideas?
 

clinick

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KnightinBlue - maybe the take home lesson for all future pre-meds is to go to a school with a pre-med board. I think it sucks that you had to figure out all of this on your own. Some schools (including mine) have a committee designated to helping you through this process and tell you all of this stuff as you go.
 

clinick

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JMHarrington said:
I'm short on the requirments/suggestions for med school, luckily I've started early and I have time to fulfill all of them. I'm interested in having some research published but I have no idea what magazines I should look to be published in, or what topics would be practical. I'm going to talk to some of the bio/chem teachers and get some imput this week. I was wondering if there was a list of magazines that publish student's research work.. any links or ideas?
As a neuroscience major, I only know about getting published in scientific journals. The fact that you are an undergrad shouldn't matter - if you do the work, you are the first author (and your PI is last author - they will give you the concepts for your research). However, this takes a lot of time and effort on your part, and it usually only happens with kids that have spent 3-4 years in the same lab. My advice is to find a good PI (Private investigator - who the lab belongs to) who is willing to work with you, and start you on a project in the first few months you work in their lab. Read academic papers to aquaint yourself with the subject matter and ask the grad students in your lab all of your questions regarding it. Work work work work your ass off, and you may have a paper in a decent journal by your senior year.
 
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anavistas

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Really which is the most important?ur MCAT or ur GPA?
I myself think that it's not fair to compare ppl with their GPA's when it's among different kindda majors and universities i mean different systems!!but MCAT really shows ur abilities !maybe one with lower GPA (with many reasons)shows h** can get a very good mark on MCAT!!
can a GPA 2.8 for physics +pity+ (the max is 3.5 in this class ) outta U.S system with a good MCAT 35+(hope so!) enters to a med univ?!
 

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I'm thinking about calling the library of the more prestigious colleges on the East coast and ask them what topics are most likely to be published. Or, should I do research on something that interests me rather than looking for an easier way to being published on a common topic? Also, were could I read some of the work done by others that has been published, do I need to buy a magazine or can I find it online? :thumbup:
 

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Random question related to the Afirmative Action program.... I did not see Asian-Americans on there. Is that something that Med schools do not see as an underrepresented minority anymore? I know that from looking through research opportunities that are specifically aimed at underrepresented minorities that they still list them as people who are eligible to apply.
 

kc123

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All great info, thanks! Of course, I found it after applying..... :) Good info for future applicants, though. The one piece of advice I haven't stumbled upon yet is to send a written thank-you and an email thank-you. Have others done this as well? I just interviewed last week at a school, and put a written thank-you in the mail 2 days later, and I am really hoping to maximize my chances for an acceptance. I was really impressed with the school, its students, and curriculum. Do you say essentially the same thing in the email thank-you? My interview went really well (my best one to date).....interviewer was extremely helpful, and handed me his card at the end of the interview. Any feedback would be helpful. Thanks!!
 

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Hi everyone,
I have a question. I am 24 years old and I have been considering going to college for about a year now. I am going to start this fall. I am planning on going into pre-med and hopefully on to med school to become a doctor. My mother is very ill with end stage liver disease. She is awaiting a liver transplant. When she became ill, I began to read everything I could get my hands on about Hep C and liver disease, so that I would be better able to understand what was happening with her. I am now a computer programmer, but I do not have a degree it is just something I picked up. My friends think that I have waited to late to start the long road to becoming a doctor, but I want to be one with all of my heart. I have a lot of natural drive and determination. I think I can do it. My question is, do any of you think that I have waited too late to start? Any advice?
 

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sweetpea1980 said:
Hi everyone,
I have a question. I am 24 years old and I have been considering going to college for about a year now. I am going to start this fall. I am planning on going into pre-med and hopefully on to med school to become a doctor. My mother is very ill with end stage liver disease. She is awaiting a liver transplant. When she became ill, I began to read everything I could get my hands on about Hep C and liver disease, so that I would be better able to understand what was happening with her. I am now a computer programmer, but I do not have a degree it is just something I picked up. My friends think that I have waited to late to start the long road to becoming a doctor, but I want to be one with all of my heart. I have a lot of natural drive and determination. I think I can do it. My question is, do any of you think that I have waited too late to start? Any advice?
You are most definitely not too late! You have the rest of your life ahead of you, and you should pursue what will make you happy. I wish you luck in your endeavors, friend. :thumbup:
 

sweetpea1980

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Swenis said:
You are most definitely not too late! You have the rest of your life ahead of you, and you should pursue what will make you happy. I wish you luck in your endeavors, friend. :thumbup:
Thank you very much for your words of encouragement. I am going to try. I hope someday I will make a great doctor. I just know that I have a lot of work ahead of me, but nothing is worth having unless you work for it.
 

fotolilith

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Nah, sweetpea1980 definitely not too late. I know quite a few ppl who started after 30 - just keep your eye on your goals and don't let the whipper snappers get you down. :) :thumbup:
 

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KNightInBlue said:
After submitting your application, AMCAS verifies it by double-checking your grades using your transcript(s) (I outlined above how to have your transcripts sent to AMCAS). Then, they designate it as being PROCESSED. This means it’s ready to go out to the med schools you listed on the application.
Question....if I sent my transcript to AMCAS in mid-May, it's not going to have my spring semester grades on it yet (grades aren't usually in until the last week of May). Do I need to wait until all those grades are in before I sent my transcripts to AMCAS?

KNightInBlue said:
But you should be ok if you send the letters in 6 weeks after you submit the AMCAS application. Why? ‘Cuz by then, the schools have received your processed AMCAS application and when they receive your letter(s), will create a folder for you and keep them on file. I had my composite and additional letters sent to all the schools I applied to before my secondaries, and none were lost/thrown out.
Does this mean you'll be sending letters to schools that might not even be giving you a secondary?
 

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TheProwler said:
Does this mean you'll be sending letters to schools that might not even be giving you a secondary?
Sending transcripts and letters to schools before they ask for them can sometimes piss them off. Wait until they ask.
 
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TheProwler said:
Question....if I sent my transcript to AMCAS in mid-May, it's not going to have my spring semester grades on it yet (grades aren't usually in until the last week of May). Do I need to wait until all those grades are in before I sent my transcripts to AMCAS?


Does this mean you'll be sending letters to schools that might not even be giving you a secondary?
Wait till all your grades are on the transcript and then send it in to AMCAS. Yes, this will put you a couple weeks back, but that's quite alright, you should still get processed fast enough to be far ahead in the admissions game.

As for the letters, I disagree with patzan. I'd send them in. This is because the secretary in the admissions office won't see your recommendations (which if weren't yet asked for), get pissed at your indignace and throw them out. All she will do is put them in a file and wait till your application is complete and then forward the file to the committee.
The only exception would be for schools that have special requests (like WVU for example. They have this ******ed system for letters one has to follow. For schools like this, follow their instructions.) Other than that, send them in 6 weeks after your AMCAS is processed. They will be kept on file.
 

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KNightInBlue said:
Wait till all your grades are on the transcript and then send it in to AMCAS. Yes, this will put you a couple weeks back, but that's quite alright, you should still get processed fast enough to be far ahead in the admissions game.
If I have my primary AMCAS app done, along with the letters, BCPM, essay, MCAT and everything, would I still need to send in my transcript to AMCAS before they will submit anything to the universities? I'm asking because I want to send the transcript in with the best possible average on it before they look at it. Would waiting until mid-December to send my transcript hurt me?
 
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starforce_chips said:
If I have my primary AMCAS app done, along with the letters, BCPM, essay, MCAT and everything, would I still need to send in my transcript to AMCAS before they will submit anything to the universities? I'm asking because I want to send the transcript in with the best possible average on it before they look at it. Would waiting until mid-December to send my transcript hurt me?
Mid-December??

You can't have your primary AMCAS app complete unless you send in your transcripts and the earliest you can send in your transcripts is in May (how do you think they verify the grades you put down on your AMCAS app w/o looking at your transcript?)

They need your grades to process your AMCAS primary. So if you get your best grades in Mid-December, you may have to wait till the following May to send them in to AMCAS and apply.

Good Luck
 

Akshay

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Hey Knight
had a quick question......say I was to take the August MCAT....could I put off turning in my applications until say July or August.....because I've heard the adcoms dont look at your applications until is completed??
 
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Akshay said:
Hey Knight
had a quick question......say I was to take the August MCAT....could I put off turning in my applications until say July or August.....because I've heard the adcoms dont look at your applications until is completed??
Try to still submit the AMCAS app in June. While they don't look at it till October, it's better to send it in for 2 reasons - one, the earlier you submit, the earlier it's processed (AMCAS takes 1 - 6 weeks to process, if you submit in June, it'll be done in a week as opposed to submitting in say, august or spetember, which is when everyone else does it thus making the processing time longer).
Two, if there are any mistakes, you till have time to take correctionary measures.

Best advice I can give you, work on the app in May and submit it on the first allowable week in June. This way, you will still have a solid 10 weeks of MCAT prep time left.

As for the secondary apps, yes, for them, you can wait till after the MCAT since they don't take as long to fill out and also, there's no "processing" time for them. When the schools get them, they just add them to your file.

Good Luck
 

Akshat

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Does it look bad if your Science GPA is higher than your Cum. GPA?
 
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