Mr. Rosewater

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Time to expose this as the lie that it is. Saying "this process is random b/c I got an interview at X Highly rated school, but rejected from Y lower rated school" is misleading. It's like saying you can't predict the results of a coin flip. Sure, you can't be certain about the results of any particular coin flip, but the overall results are quite predictable. I look at it this way:

I applied to maybe 5 or 6 top 10 schools. I got 1 interview and no acceptances.
I applied to a few 10-20 schools, got a couple of interviews and 1 acceptance.
Applied to some schools in the 20-60's. I got plenty of interviews, and overall got in or got waitlisted to a good number of them.
Applied to a handful of unranked schools and got multiple outright acceptances.

So, yes, i could say "I got interviewed by duke but rejected by downstate. this is SOOO random," but in reality that's BS. Just thougt i'd bust this all too common myth.
 

lyragrl

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So what you're saying is that your anecdote is more statistically significant than other people's anecdotes?
 

ventulus18

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it is random. overall trends in your application do nothing to disprove the randomness with somebody that hypothetically gets an interview out of state at UCLA but rejected from a SUNY school pre-interview. your own example shows that higher end schools generally require higher qualifications for interviews and acceptances while less competative schools offer these to students with less spectacular quals. i think almost everybody on this message board can attest to the randomness ie. interview/accept at school X(competative school) while no interview/reject at school Y(less competative)
 
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exmike

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Originally posted by lyragrl
So what you're saying is that your anecdote is more statistically significant than other people's anecdotes?
hehe, good one :)
 

Mr. Rosewater

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ugh, i tried to edit, but was timed out. basically, this is common sense. we all know that our chances are better at podunk u than they are at harvard. that's just the way it is. so, what i'm saying is that the DETAILS of the process are unpredictable, but that does NOT make the process random.
 

Mr. Rosewater

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Originally posted by exmike
hehe, good one :)
although an obvious misinterpretation......

....it was a good one.
 

No Egrets

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it's random. unless you have a perfect gpa/35+ MCAT--then the randomness is just in what combination of harvard/stanford/UCSF you will get into.
 

Gleevec

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Originally posted by lyragrl
So what you're saying is that your anecdote is more statistically significant than other people's anecdotes?
LOL exactly what I was thinking.
 

kingcer0x

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i would classify it as a wide sense stationary random process. noone can reasonably say where an individual will end up, but in general the average outcomes of the process are fairly similar from year to year.
 

JohnHolmes

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Originally posted by lyragrl
So what you're saying is that your anecdote is more statistically significant than other people's anecdotes?
LOL
 

Mr Reddly

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I sent apps almost everywhere. (~30 apps per cycle for 4 cylces)
funny that three schools decided to interview me twice.
Makes me think its less random.
:oops:
*falls off of soap-box*
 

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Yeah, it's umm..random. That's uhh....why the dean's nephew got in with much lower academic qualifications. Yeah, random. That's the ticket. Spread the message to your friends.
 
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Mr. Rosewater

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OK, let's look at it this way. Take the AVERAGE applicant (3.5, 29, fair ec's, good recs). Let's say that student applies to every school in the country except those that only take like 1 out of stater per year. So, let's say that comes to 90 schools (i'm guessing here). I'm suggesting that applicant will experience:

A. Very little interest from the top 30 schools. However perhaps enough to reinforce the "random myth." But let's give him/her 3 interviews and a waitlist in this cat.

B. A fair response from the next thirty schools. Let's say 10 interviews, 3 accepts and 2 wl's.

C. A good response from the bottom thirty, with perhaps 15 interviews, 6 acceptances and 4 wl's.

Now, is there anyone who feels this is a ridiculous, or unlikely outcome in such a situation? I doubt it, it's pretty much common sense. My point is this, "Random" is a misnomer. Pointing out that this model applicant was rejected from X school in the bottom 30 and wl'ed by Y school in the top 30 is just the exception to the rule. Instead, this misnomer has become the rule (on this board only, i think. In my premed office they seem to be pretty willing to make predictions). Again, i don't think anyone can both agree that my model is reasonable and continue to assert that this process is "random."
 

Alexander99

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I agree. This process is random. You can stack the odds either for or against you by having great or bad numbers but if you're anywhere in the middle, where you get in will be pretty much the luck of the draw.
 

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Originally posted by Mr. Rosewater
OK, let's look at it this way. Take the AVERAGE applicant (3.5, 29, fair ec's, good recs). Let's say that student applies to every school in the country except those that only take like 1 out of stater per year. So, let's say that comes to 90 schools (i'm guessing here). I'm suggesting that applicant will experience:

A. Very little interest from the top 30 schools. However perhaps enough to reinforce the "random myth." But let's give him/her 3 interviews and a waitlist in this cat.

B. A fair response from the next thirty schools. Let's say 10 interviews, 3 accepts and 2 wl's.

C. A good response from the bottom thirty, with perhaps 15 interviews, 6 acceptances and 4 wl's.

Now, is there anyone who feels this is a ridiculous, or unlikely outcome in such a situation? I doubt it, it's pretty much common sense. My point is this, "Random" is a misnomer. Pointing out that this model applicant was rejected from X school in the bottom 30 and wl'ed by Y school in the top 30 is just the exception to the rule. Instead, this misnomer has become the rule (on this board only, i think. In my premed office they seem to be pretty willing to make predictions). Again, i don't think anyone can both agree that my model is reasonable and continue to assert that this process is "random."

what are your thoughts for the above average applicant? 3.85+ 35+. If these students applied to the top 10 schools, theres a pretty good chance (i think) they wont be admitted to any top 10s. I think its harder to categorize these types than the 'average' 3.5 29.

perhaps the seemingly randomness only applies to the outliers (very good and very bad), and not for average folks.
 

camstah

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if you want to see the randomness of the process, just look at mdapplicants.com, and look at who individual schools choose to interview....this process IS random, and it SUCKS!!!!!!
 

Sean2tall

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Ok nobody's going to argue with you that your successes will increase as the selectivity of the school you apply to decreases . . because well . . that's why the school is considered less selective in the first place.

But there are a lot more things that go into a school's decision than how qualified you are. A whole lot more.
 

xanthines

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Disclaimer: I am not an adcom member!

Although the process may seem random based on your particular criteria, in reality it really comes down to how the adcoms view your application. Think about the 10-20 people that look through hundreds of applications on top of their day jobs which may or may not be very demanding anyways. After a hard day in the clinic/office/OR/ER/whatever and you're on your 10th app for the day, you start to get cranky. You see something that disagrees with you and you voice your opinion. The other members also being tired, voice no objections and your app goes into the reject pile.

On a certain level, it really is random: What little detail is going to up as a red flag in someone's opinion? Did you do you some hard core research? Maybe there's an old-school primary care doc that thinks research should be left up to PhD's or other schools. Maybe they got a bunch of jocks or musicians or blondes this cycle and they want to mix up the population. Who knows why they reject and why they accept? It really could come down to just one person and since there's no defecit of applicants, your app gets thrown out.

Kind of like jury trials except you lose when this happens!

-X
 

elias514

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The process is random. An individual in a different thread claimed that a trained monkey was integral to the admissions process. I think so, too.
 

traumamonkey

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i'm willing to accept that the process is not completely random, but the element of randomness is certainly there...and working in full force.
as someone pointed out, you have no control (or knowledge) of what kind of mood X interviewer will be in when s/he reads your app. you don't know WHO that interviewer is and what kind of background s/he brings to the table. one interviewer might be really impressed by my app, while another doesn't give it a second look. so whose desk your app ends up on (or under) is extremely important in this process (assuming that your numbers are not abnormal and your mom or dad is not the dean of admissions, etc) and it is completely and utterly random.

certainly you increase your odds as your gpa/mcat and number of schools applied to goes up, but you can't account for everything, especially those RANDOM nutjobs out there giving interviews (please see the "weirdest interview experience" thread for a huge amount of anecdotal evidence if you didn't get any on your own).
so that's my vote anyway

and i'm pretty damn sure there's a monkey involved
:wow:
 

XCanadianRagwee

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Could I see your linear regression model and some p values with confidence intervals?

Thanks.
 
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TheRussian

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Originally posted by Mr. Rosewater
what i'm saying is that the DETAILS of the process are unpredictable, but that does NOT make the process random.
Isn't that the same thing? If things were predictable then they wouldn't be random and if you can't predict it then it is random.

And yes when you flip a coin the result of the flip is random too. You can't predict a head or a tail.

Your logic doesn't make sense.
 

Mr Reddly

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Originally posted by TheRussian
And yes when you flip a coin the result of the flip is random too. You can't predict a head or a tail.
Your logic doesn't make sense.
Sorry to weight in here, but I think it does... 1 flip is random. But as the flips ->infinity, the random nature is all but gone.
 

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until we get to your flip, and then the probability of tails is fitty... and that's the flip that counts.

But you're correct because, ultimately 50% of applicants find seats and 50% don't.

I really think they let a monkey play in the pile of applications. If the monkey chews on one of the applications, it's an automatic acceptance. If he urinates on an application, it earns the applicant a rejection. If the monkey is not too familiar with the name of the college or university on the application, it's a waitlist. Some monkeys are trained to go right to the "parents occupation" section of the application. They train em good.
 

TheRussian

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Originally posted by Super Rob
until we get to your flip, and then the probability of tails is fitty.

I really think they let a monkey play in the pile of applications. If the monkey chews on one of the applications, it's an automatic acceptance. If he urinates on an application, it earns the applicant a rejection. If the monkey is not too familiar with the name of the college or university on the application, it's a waitlist. Some monkeys are trained to go right to the "parents occupation" section of the application. They train em good.
Right on
 

patzan

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If a dean flips a coin in the middle of the woods and no one is around to see it, do I get into medical school?
 

Mr. Rosewater

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Originally posted by TheRussian
Isn't that the same thing? If things were predictable then they wouldn't be random and if you can't predict it then it is random.

And yes when you flip a coin the result of the flip is random too. You can't predict a head or a tail.

Your logic doesn't make sense.
Can i ask a question. Is your serious contention that the application game is RANDOM?? it's said here often, but that's an innane statement. that basically implies that the difference between the harvard student and the guy at Doc'sRUs is luck. sorry, i don't believe that, and neither does anyone else (i suspect that includes you). so really, this thread is a crusade to take this stupid misstatement out of SDN vernacular.
 

Mr. Rosewater

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Originally posted by XCanadianRagwee
Could I see your linear regression model and some p values with confidence intervals?

Thanks.
I'll show you mine if you show me yours.
 

TheRussian

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Originally posted by Mr. Rosewater
Can i ask a question. Is your serious contention that the application game is RANDOM?? it's said here often, but that's an innane statement. that basically implies that the difference between the harvard student and the guy at Doc'sRUs is luck. sorry, i don't believe that, and neither does anyone else (i suspect that includes you). so really, this thread is a crusade to take this stupid misstatement out of SDN vernacular.
You are right, this process is not that random.
The cream de la cream (I flunked spelling) will get into the top schools while the worst candidates will not get in anywhere at all

The problem is that those in the middle are extremely similar. How do you differentiate between hundreds 3.7+ gpa 32+ MCAT students with three years of clinical experience and oodles of other great EC? If you have a limited number of spots you can't. All these candidates that to the committee seem indistinguishable. How do you decide which ones get in? Flip a coin? Throw Darts? A Monkey? Who the hell knows.

With the top and the bottom students the predictability is quite good. For those in the middle, luck and randomness plays just as big a role as their application.
 

jedirampage

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Originally posted by Mr. Rosewater
OK, let's look at it this way. Take the AVERAGE applicant (3.5, 29, fair ec's, good recs). Let's say that student applies to every school in the country except those that only take like 1 out of stater per year. So, let's say that comes to 90 schools (i'm guessing here). I'm suggesting that applicant will experience:

A. Very little interest from the top 30 schools. However perhaps enough to reinforce the "random myth." But let's give him/her 3 interviews and a waitlist in this cat.

B. A fair response from the next thirty schools. Let's say 10 interviews, 3 accepts and 2 wl's.

C. A good response from the bottom thirty, with perhaps 15 interviews, 6 acceptances and 4 wl's.

Now, is there anyone who feels this is a ridiculous, or unlikely outcome in such a situation? I doubt it, it's pretty much common sense. My point is this, "Random" is a misnomer. Pointing out that this model applicant was rejected from X school in the bottom 30 and wl'ed by Y school in the top 30 is just the exception to the rule. Instead, this misnomer has become the rule (on this board only, i think. In my premed office they seem to be pretty willing to make predictions). Again, i don't think anyone can both agree that my model is reasonable and continue to assert that this process is "random."
It's random in the sense that those things are all well and good for getting an interview but getting ACCEPTED depends a lot on, for instance, the interviewer you get placed with. If they don't like you, that's it. You could have interview the next day, hit it off with the other interview and had been accepted. It is the subjective part, as with anything, that adds the randomness to the process.
 

musiclink213

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if you think about it, i hear more people saying the process is random because they got accepted into a top 10 university and rejected by their state U. Getting accepted into a lower ranked school and waitlisted or rejected at higher ranked schools is just common sense.
 

patzan

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If you put thirty red balls and thirty black balls into a bag and pull ten out at random, the ratio of black to red balls will be distributed in a regular bell curve, just like the 3.5, 29 student will get his acceptances, WLs, etc. Would everyone agree that this process is random? The better your stats, ECs, etc. are, the more black balls you get in your bag. The 3.5, 29 will draw the Harvard ball once in a while (Sorry, WUSTL is not a random ball, you only have to have 3.99, 37 to get in) and sometimes the 3.8, 30 will not get a black ball at all.

It is random. How many black balls do you have?
 

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What I mean when I talk about the randomness of the process is that there's an element of chance to it. Will you get into X school? Will you get in at all? These are questions that have some probability to them. With enough data, I bet we could make pretty good predictions (thanks MDapplicants.com).

Then again, we also say "the process is random" to help those who aren't sucessful feel better. Why them? Bad roll of the dice I figure sometimes.

I don't think anyone thinks this process is totally random. If it was, why would GPA, MCAT, and ECs matter at all?
 

Mr. Rosewater

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I agree w/ N-nix that there is an ELEMENT of chance to the equation. whoever said you can't tell how you'll get along w/ your interviewer was also right (although this is not quite random either). however, that doesn't change the fact that there are certain platitudes that get thrown around SDN alot.

Apply early.
Major in what you like.
The process is random.

It just seems to me that the "random" platitude is just stupid and misleading.
 

lukeday99

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Originally posted by Mr. Rosewater
OK, let's look at it this way. Take the AVERAGE applicant (3.5, 29, fair ec's, good recs). Let's say that student applies to every school in the country except those that only take like 1 out of stater per year. So, let's say that comes to 90 schools (i'm guessing here). I'm suggesting that applicant will experience:

A. Very little interest from the top 30 schools. However perhaps enough to reinforce the "random myth." But let's give him/her 3 interviews and a waitlist in this cat.

B. A fair response from the next thirty schools. Let's say 10 interviews, 3 accepts and 2 wl's.

C. A good response from the bottom thirty, with perhaps 15 interviews, 6 acceptances and 4 wl's.

Now, is there anyone who feels this is a ridiculous, or unlikely outcome in such a situation? I doubt it, it's pretty much common sense. My point is this, "Random" is a misnomer. Pointing out that this model applicant was rejected from X school in the bottom 30 and wl'ed by Y school in the top 30 is just the exception to the rule. Instead, this misnomer has become the rule (on this board only, i think. In my premed office they seem to be pretty willing to make predictions). Again, i don't think anyone can both agree that my model is reasonable and continue to assert that this process is "random."
As something of a complete aside, let's say someone out there decided to do this to guarantee acceptances.
AMCAS: $2900

Secondaries, at an average price of, oh, $75? : 6750

Postage for the seventy or so secondaries which were not submitted electonically:$140

If interviewed at the number our poster suggests (28), and he is flying to the 25 not within driving distance at an average interview cost (flight and hotel and food, based on my experience) of $500: $12,500

So kids, you would only need to spend $22,290 to absolutely guaruntee acceptance at an accreditted US medical school. And they say this process is hard. Sheesh!
 

Sean2tall

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Originally posted by Neuronix
Will you get into X school? Will you get in at all? These are questions that have some probability to them. With enough data, I bet we could make pretty good predictions (thanks MDapplicants.com).

I don't think anyone thinks this process is totally random. If it was, why would GPA, MCAT, and ECs matter at all?
Ok . . I've said it before and I'll say it again. Nobody is trying to pass off that the admissions process is totally random. Of course your qualifications skew the odds one way or another. I didn't think I was good enough for an interview at Penn or Hopkins and I was right. I predicted that.

But saying that "we could make pretty good predictions" is far from the truth. You might be right more often than not, but who cares if you predicted correctly 75% of all the applications in the world? What people here care about is what will happen to themselves and their friends. And you can never ever say, "Sean2tall . . . there is an excellent chance you will get into ____ school." Several people have said that to me (including the faculty member who interviewed me!) and they were all wrong. "But that's just an anecdote," someone will say. That's what we care about here, what will happen with us and our friends, which will always be anecdotal info.

If it makes you guys feel better, maybe we should start a movement to say "arbitrary" instead of "random". But your qualifications will never be the single deciding factor.
 

Neuronix

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Originally posted by Sean2tall
You might be right more often than not, but who cares if you predicted correctly 75% of all the applications in the world?
How good are those who predict the weather? We listen to them all the time...

Anyways, it's important to be able to give students a realistic picture of how likely they are to get in and to what kinds of schools they should be applying. That's why it's important to look at these trends. It's obvious that there's a subjective quality to this process that cannot be captured through data reporting. Everyone knows that. Nobody is trying to say they can predict with 100% certainty what is going to happen. However, it's good for those applicants who want the service to look at the data and collect the opinions of those who care about this sort of thing, than to go into the process blind and get burned.

I agree that it's impossible to say "You will get into X school." People PM me all the time and ask me if I think they can get into some school. Some assume "well it's my state school, I'm a shoo-in!" Wrong. I tell them that it's hard to say, and don't count on it. After all, this is why most applicants apply to a dozen or more schools and get into one or two of them. However, you can say with a much better certainty who is going to get in at all or you can help applicants pick the caliber of school they should apply to, rather than having them waste their time, or applying to too few schools or the wrong schools. One example is when I meet MD applicants or pre-meds who want to apply MD/PhD but are convinced, wrongly, that they'd never get into a MD/PhD program. Another example is when you need to tell someone whether they should be spending their time and money applying to med school, or whether they should be post-baccing or improving their app.

Obviously, I don't have a crystal ball I look into. Obviously, these applicants could just not listen to me or the others who answer these kinds of questions and defy us all. But, it's important to have a realistic sense of what odds you have of success or failure. These help you make important decisions about your future. We do this with statistics and experience. Doctors do the same thing to predict the course of disease. If I tell someone some day that they have a 90% chance of dying, they could defy me and go right on living. But, they better be prepared. The same goes in my mind if I tell someone they have a 90% chance of not getting into med school if they apply right now. Of course, you could ask, well who the hell are you? Just a silly first year MD/PhD student... But, I don't see many others around helping people to make these decisions, so it gives me an opportunity to help those who need it.

As for why advisors and others seem to be so bad at this. They either are too far removed from the process such that things have changed or they just don't remember what it was like or they have ulterior motives. Many undergrad advisors discourage applicants they don't think have a >75% chance of getting in. Many older physicians entered med school at a time when it wasn't as competitive and/or numbers mattered alot more than they do now. Etc...

Off my soapbox now...
 

markus21

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looking up the mdapplicant website, average GPA and MCAT score of people get acceptance from following schools are...


US News Ranking
1. Havard ~MCAT 34.8, ~GPA 3.82
2. JHU ~MCAT 36.0, ~GPA 3.84
3. Wash U ~MCAT 38.0, ~GPA 3.84

11.Univ of Wash ~MCAT 32.3, ~GPA 3.73
12. Baylor ~MCAT 35.5, ~GPA 3.81
12. Cornell ~MCAT 36.5, ~GPA 3.79

21. NU ~MCAT 34.3, ~GPA 3.71
21. U of Chicago ~MCAT 33.1, ~GPA 3.67
21. UNC ~MCAT 33.0, ~GPA 3.63

40. BU ~MCAT 33.3, ~GPA 3.73
40. UM ~MCAT 33.0, ~GPA 3.73
40. Wake Forest ~MCAT 32.4, ~GPA 3.60

49. Jefferson ~MCAT 32.9, ~GPA 3.66
49. MCW ~MCAT 32.1, ~GPA 3.71
49. UMass Worcester ~MCAT 33.6, ~GPA 3.67

I really depends on what your definition of "randomness" means. It doesn't take a second look at these numbers to realize that despite some randomness in the process on several factors already mentioned on this board, there is a general consistency that as schools have more reputation, numbers will matter more than others. But it seems though that from 21-49, the averages don't differ by much. Also considering that these numbers are just averages and everyone is on a curve, it seems that your ECs play a role more... or how you will fit in a particular school better than other candidates... where you are from.... whether you are a URM... etc.....
 

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IMHO, as an MS4 three weeks from graduation, who has served on an ADCOM for three years - IT IS RANDOM! I have seen so many people come through the interview process who earned identical marks as one another on their interview, their application - absolutely everything. I know (for a fact) that one acceptance letter was given based on the date the application was recieved as there was no other way to decide. But my best story is from my days as an applicant...

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I was a paramedic instructor at a medical center directly affiliated with a medical school. As such, I was asked to teach the third year students "ward skills", e.g., how to defibrillate, start IVs, etc. I would have done so happily, except I had recieved a rejection letter (before interview!) the day before! Yep, I can teach there - just can't go there! And not even a courtesy interview...

Even better - the next year when I was teaching an EMT-B course at another facility, I gave my usual talk on "not using an EMT cert. as a tool to get into medical school as I've been a paramedic for years and can't get in", and I had two students who were in the post-bac program at the school that rejected me. They said "that's nothing, one of our teachers told us about a paramedic who got asked to teach ward skills to our M3 class the day after he got a rejection letter from our school. (The teacher) told us that just goes to show how ridiculous the admissions process is..." I wish I had a camera when I confirmed the story firsthand - their faces were classic!

Apparently, word of my story got around. I really would have loved to be a fly on the wall at that adcom meeting.

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Don't worry, medical school admissions is a game of chicken - just don't be the first to quit and you are golden. In other words, if I got in anyone can!

*SIGH*

I don't miss the days of med school apps.

- H
 
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