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FinPreMed2020


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*A long post... You might want to get a glass of Coke and popcorn to enjoy while reading this*:laugh:

Hey fellow SDNers!

I've recently spent a lot of time contemplating what new ECs I should start and I wanted to discuss it here with all of you! So here's my thing; I want to start something but can't decide what. Adding the pre-med pressure of having all those pretty things on my application (volunteer, research, underserved, random non-medical etc) does not help!

(I recently posted a thread about underserved VS hospice but wanted to have a discussion of the topic in a broader sense. Maybe this will help me).

My current situation: Right now, I have medical volunteering (which I truly enjoy!) and will continue to volunteer. I also have medical experience abroad so that's that.

I'm really conflicted as some people say things like research and/or experience with the underserved aren't necessary but the MSAR tables indicate otherwise. For example, over 94% of matriculants at UCLA and USC (dream school! :love:) have had research. Some other statistics that I have come across with show that familiarizing yourself with the underserved is important. Being accepted to a medical school already requires a lot thus I wouldn't want to make it even harder by excluding myself from the 95% who have had research. In other words, I don't really know what's the dealio with, for instance, research and underserved and their importance. (I'm situated in Los Angeles).

Now, there are many things I'd love to start doing;
-Hospice
-Teaching golf (possibly to the underserved)
-Teaching my rare native language (I.e. Volunteering at a language center)
-Being involved with some local animal shelters
-Research (A topic that I'm truly passionate about)
-Being a Big Sister
Etc. the list goes on. I'm aware that most of those activities listed above help the AdComs create a better sense of what kind of a person I am, but those activities do not check the typical checkbox qualities that, according to statistic, great majority of medical school matriculants have.
If only I had endlessly time, I would do all of them AND add more medical related ECs like shadowing, abroad programs assisting people in poor countries, etc but I'm a human and I need sleep and most importantly I'm a busy student ! Thus the decisions that I'll make are very important.

My next semester will be a killer with 18 units (want to get pre-reqs done for my MCAT) and so I can't possibly start doing billion different things. That's where the importance of the "checkbox material" comes to play. What would You do if you were me? I'm trying to find shadowing opportunities but I still can start one more thing as of this semester. Next fall, who knows! Maybe I have lots of more time to continue building my CV but as for now, I can only start two things (hopefully one of them is shadowing) and either a medical "checkbox" activity or one of those things I listed above. Which would you choose?

I've been reading some threads about having a checkbox mentality and SDN users like LizzyM advised to avoid this. I understand where LizzyM is coming from but then again all the statistic show otherwise. So, if checkbox mentality is so bad, then why do most schools accept students who almost all have that typical checkbox ? I'm 99.9% sure that these people don't all unconditionally love what the checkbox ECs they did; instead they knew what had to be done and they did it.

I know this post is very long. I really appreciate your time for reading this and replying!
Thank you for your help!! Good luck to everyone! :highfive:
 

Goro

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The powerhouses like research, but it is over-rated as an EC among pre-meds. It's nice to understand something about the scientific method, at least.

Service to others, especially those less fortunate than yourself, is highly valued. Ditto clinical exposure of some sort.

Do what you love, love what you do.
 
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FinPreMed2020

The powerhouses like research, but it is over-rated as an EC among pre-meds. It's nice to understand something about the scientific method, at least.

Service to others, especially those less fortunate than yourself, is highly valued. Ditto clinical exposure of some sort.

Do what you love, love what you do.
Hey Goro,
Thank you for replying! I've actually met with my current professor and talked about research opportunities but this wouldn't happen until next fall due to my hectic schedule !
When you said "Ditto clinical exposure of some sort", did you mean that I should have medical related experience with the underserved ? Could you please give me some examples of this? Homeless shelter, Meals on Wheels etc aren't really clinical experiences but they'd at least be with the underserved. Although, if I had to choose a non-medical activity with the underserved, it'd be teaching golf! Thumbs up or down?
Thanks again for replying! Your effort in helping us stressed pre-meds is highly appreciated!
:highfive:
 
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FinPreMed2020

Hah I have a love/hate relationship with the ECs! There are many "nontraditional"/non-checkbox things I would love to do but at the same time, I don't wanna play this game and be dumb! If a checkbox-activity will get me accepted way more likely than a thing I'd genuinely love to do, well then it's smarter for me to do the checkbox thing.
I'm an honest person and that's why a little upset over the fact that "check boxing" aka lying and misrepresenting one's personality seems to be the way to go with ECs! :(

EDIT: Obviously I don't know every applicant and their personalities but let's all be real here; I'm very sure applicants don't do research and volunteering and all the fancy stuff because their hearts desire to do it. They do it because that's expected from a strong MD applicant!
 
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FinPreMed2020

Teaching golf to the underserved? Why not sign them up for a Regatta while you're at it.


Sent from my iPad using SDN mobile
Urghh!! I play golf myself and that's the only sport I could teach to anyone. Also, this idea was brought to me by a fellow SDN user!
Don't hate! :O
 

gonnif

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Teaching golf to the underserved? Why not sign them up for a Regatta while you're at it.

Urghh!! I play golf myself and that's the only sport I could teach to anyone. Also, this idea was brought to me by a fellow SDN user!
Don't hate! :O

This would be excellent for the Trump University Medical School and Casino Resort.

On a more serious note, premeds seem to lose sight of basic "admissions" equations which in its most simplified form

Applicant's record (Academic/EC) + Applicants expression of what these show = Adcom's search for motivation, commitment, and achievement. Applicants get caught up in the "acts" (the EC) and do not see its their job to take these acts and explain/express/evidence of what it says about you as a candidate.
 
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FinPreMed2020

This would be excellent for the Trump University Medical School and Casino Resort.

On a more serious note, premeds seem to lose sight of basic "admissions" equations which in its most simplified form

Applicant's record (Academic/EC) + Applicants expression of what these show = Adcom's search for motivation, commitment, and achievement. Applicants get caught up in the "acts" (the EC) and do not see its their job to take these acts and explain/express/evidence of what it says about you as a candidate.

I'm not sure whether people on SDN have been too much around competitive people and that's why have become so nasty to other people or if I'm just being lame and too new to SDN to understand the "funny" jokes here...

Anyway, thanks for the serious part of your reply. Makes me see things differently.
 

RogueUnicorn

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Start with research, it needs time to bear fruit. All the other stuff sounds interesting; realistically you can probably only pursue 2 at most, likely 1, after you're done with this busy semester.
 

The Knife & Gun Club

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As Ron Swanson famously said:

Don't half ass two things, whole ass one thing

My humble (not an adcom) Med student view is it's better to throughly develop 1-2 ECs than try to check every box.

It's way more personally rewarding too
 
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BombsAway

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On a more serious note, premeds seem to lose sight of basic "admissions" equations which in its most simplified form

Applicant's record (Academic/EC) + Applicants expression of what these show = Adcom's search for motivation, commitment, and achievement. Applicants get caught up in the "acts" (the EC) and do not see its their job to take these acts and explain/express/evidence of what it says about you as a candidate.
So true. Having your application written as one compelling story, all leading to a goal/theme is worth the equivalent of several MCAT points.
 
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gonnif

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Teaching golf to the underserved? Why not sign them up for a Regatta while you're at it.
This would be excellent for the Trump University Medical School and Casino Resort.

I'm not sure whether people on SDN have been too much around competitive people and that's why have become so nasty to other people or if I'm just being lame and too new to SDN to understand the "funny" jokes here....

Joke Explanation:
1) Trump University was a seminar series that charged thousands of dollars for nearly worthless lessons. It was closed after a lawsuit of the Attorney General NY State and they paid $25 Million dollars
2) The off-shore Caribbean schools are for profit institutions with aggressive marketing
3) Trump has gone on 30+ golfing trips since becoming president for a taxpayer cost approaching $75 million dollars (see Trump Golf Count)

Hence that a golf EC would be perfect for Trump University Medical School and Casino Resort
 
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FinPreMed2020

Start with research, it needs time to bear fruit. All the other stuff sounds interesting; realistically you can probably only pursue 2 at most, likely 1, after you're done with this busy semester.
Hi! Yes I'm planning to start research (if I'm granted with a position!) next fall when I'm a junior. Hopefully that one year+ will be good!
Thanks for your comment! :)
 

gonnif

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So true. Having your application written as one compelling story, all leading to a goal/theme is worth the equivalent of several MCAT points.

This is so, so important. A medical school application is coherent, concise, and compelling narrative showing a strong pattern of motivation, commitment, and achievement. Your PS and secondary is where you can set the theme and your academic record and ECs are pieces of evidence supporting that theme
 
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FinPreMed2020

As Ron Swanson famously said:

Don't half ass two things, whole ass one thing

My humble (not an adcom) Med student view is it's better to throughly develop 1-2 ECs than try to check every box.

It's way more personally rewarding too
HAH I love parks and rec!! The office is better though :D

Thank you for replying! I've always thought of the same thing. My pre-med brain just gets to me sometimes and I get worried over these things... Thankfully there are people like you who make me feel better and give insightful advices! :)
 
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FinPreMed2020

So true. Having your application written as one compelling story, all leading to a goal/theme is worth the equivalent of several MCAT points.
That's exactly what my friend at USC always says!
Thanks for commenting! :)
 
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FinPreMed2020

This is so, so important. A medical school application is coherent, concise, and compelling narrative showing a strong pattern of motivation, commitment, and achievement. Your PS and secondary is where you can set the theme and your academic record and ECs are pieces of evidence supporting that theme
Now that's a helpful response!! Thank you! :)
 

altblue

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My ECs are definitely not unique, and might be perceived as box checking, but there isn't an EC I have now I don't like and could talk at length about how each has helped me grow as a person OP. As long as you're getting your nonclinical, clinical, and some semblance of research you'll be fine. If you're going to boost your app you might as well enjoy doing it and not overload yourself, life's too short yo
 
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The Knife & Gun Club

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HAH I love parks and rec!! The office is better though :D

Thank you for replying! I've always thought of the same thing. My pre-med brain just gets to me sometimes and I get worried over these things... Thankfully there are people like you who make me feel better and give insightful advices! :)

Another good point is that virtually any EC can be contorted to fit any checkbox.

Way I see it there's 3 mandatory check boxes:

1) have you done meaningful things outside of school? (Aka Are you not a robot?)

2) do you know really, really what doctors actually do?

3) do you know how science works?

If you can honestly, truthfully answer those 3 questions I feel like you've checked all the boxes.

Leadership, clinical, volunteer/altruism, research, etc can all be answered if you can answer those questions.

Edit: thanks! :) you can do this!
 
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FinPreMed2020

My ECs are definitely not unique, and might be perceived as box checking, but there isn't an EC I have now I don't like and could talk at length about how each has helped me grow as a person OP. As long as you're getting your nonclinical, clinical, and some semblance of research you'll be fine. If you're going to boost your app you might as well enjoy doing it and not overload yourself, life's too short yo
That is so true!
Thank you!
 
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FinPreMed2020

Another good point is that virtually any EC can be contorted to fit any checkbox.

Way I see it there's 3 mandatory check boxes:

1) have you done meaningful things outside of school? (Aka Are you not a robot?)

2) do you know really, really what doctors actually do?

3) do you know how science works?

If you can honestly, truthfully answer those 3 questions I feel like you've checked all the boxes.

Leadership, clinical, volunteer/altruism, research, etc can all be answered if you can answer those questions.

Edit: thanks! :) you can do this!
Thanks! Wow I'm so happy that this thread has received so many good, different advices!
Thank you! Wish you all the best!!
 
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calivianya

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I'm really conflicted as some people say things like research and/or experience with the underserved aren't necessary but the MSAR tables indicate otherwise. For example, over 94% of matriculants at UCLA and USC (dream school! :love:) have had research.
Right there with you. I find it hard to believe people who say research isn't that important when some schools have up to 100% of first year matriculants with research experience, and there are plenty of mid to high 90% schools too.

Honestly, I'd tailor your ECs to your dream schools. If you're saying your dream schools have a very high percentage of applicants doing research, I'd do significant amounts of research. If your dream schools aren't that research focused, I'd only do a little research.

If I could have changed anything, it would have been finding time to do research while I was in school. I just had no time for it.
 

BombsAway

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Right there with you. I find it hard to believe people who say research isn't that important when some schools have up to 100% of first year matriculants with research experience, and there are plenty of mid to high 90% schools too.

Honestly, I'd tailor your ECs to your dream schools. If you're saying your dream schools have a very high percentage of applicants doing research, I'd do significant amounts of research. If your dream schools aren't that research focused, I'd only do a little research.

If I could have changed anything, it would have been finding time to do research while I was in school. I just had no time for it.
Don't just "do research". Find a project that aligns with your interests, what you've been doing, and what you intend to do in the future. This way, you are adding another dimension to your story, rather than random tangents that detract from it.
 
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Planes2Doc

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I don't think there is any shame in box-checking to get into medical school. There are written and unwritten requirements in place. Your motivations for doing or not doing activities and how you really feel about them are between you and whatever higher power you may believe in. I would advise against saying things like "I did this activity because I actually wanted to" since it is opening a whole can of worms. The last thing you'd want is for ADCOMs to question your intentions. No matter what, you will have a plethora of applicants that suddenly become the second coming of Mother Teresa immediately after starting college, and then somehow these activities get discontinued when an acceptance is in hand. No one should outright say they are doing these things for the sole purpose of medical school, but at the same time, no one should try to say that they are doing these activities because you genuinely want to while inadvertently being condescending to others and trying to come off as being morally superior. This isn't an attack on you, I hope you don't take it that way. I hope you're hopefully understanding what I'm trying to say.

Thus I'll leave it at this. Do what you genuinely enjoy, because you probably would have been doing it in the first place. For things that you weren't going to do unless you were planning on medical school, plan them out accordingly so that they best fit your schedule, life style, and look best for ADCOMs.
 

Goro

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Another good point is that virtually any EC can be contorted to fit any checkbox.

Way I see it there's 3 mandatory check boxes:

1) have you done meaningful things outside of school? (Aka Are you not a robot?)

2) do you know really, really what doctors actually do?

3) do you know how science works?

If you can honestly, truthfully answer those 3 questions I feel like you've checked all the boxes.

Leadership, clinical, volunteer/altruism, research, etc can all be answered if you can answer those questions.

Edit: thanks! :) you can do this!
Add 1a: do you like being around sick and injured people?
 
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FinPreMed2020

Right there with you. I find it hard to believe people who say research isn't that important when some schools have up to 100% of first year matriculants with research experience, and there are plenty of mid to high 90% schools too.

Honestly, I'd tailor your ECs to your dream schools. If you're saying your dream schools have a very high percentage of applicants doing research, I'd do significant amounts of research. If your dream schools aren't that research focused, I'd only do a little research.

If I could have changed anything, it would have been finding time to do research while I was in school. I just had no time for it.
Yeap. I already have discussed research with a professor (she has given me info about possible research projects etc) and I'll start focusing on research at the beginning of my junior year. I will find a topic that I truly enjoy and not something that looks not but I have no heart to do it. In other words, I'll combine my genuine interest with the "research looks good" -thing.
Thanks for commenting !
 
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FinPreMed2020

Don't just "do research". Find a project that aligns with your interests, what you've been doing, and what you intend to do in the future. This way, you are adding another dimension to your story, rather than random tangents that detract from it.
That's exactly my plan! Thanks for replying!
 
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FinPreMed2020

I don't think there is any shame in box-checking to get into medical school. There are written and unwritten requirements in place. Your motivations for doing or not doing activities and how you really feel about them are between you and whatever higher power you may believe in. I would advise against saying things like "I did this activity because I actually wanted to" since it is opening a whole can of worms. The last thing you'd want is for ADCOMs to question your intentions. No matter what, you will have a plethora of applicants that suddenly become the second coming of Mother Teresa immediately after starting college, and then somehow these activities get discontinued when an acceptance is in hand. No one should outright say they are doing these things for the sole purpose of medical school, but at the same time, no one should try to say that they are doing these activities because you genuinely want to while inadvertently being condescending to others and trying to come off as being morally superior. This isn't an attack on you, I hope you don't take it that way. I hope you're hopefully understanding what I'm trying to say.

Thus I'll leave it at this. Do what you genuinely enjoy, because you probably would have been doing it in the first place. For things that you weren't going to do unless you were planning on medical school, plan them out accordingly so that they best fit your schedule, life style, and look best for ADCOMs.

I couldn't agree with you more! It's so funny how some people pretend that all med school applicants suddenly become Mother Teresa Vol. 2 and all the fancy stuff in their applications are for the sole purpose of doing what their heart desire and not because they look good on the apps... Like I understand that nobody wants to advise to do the morally wrong thing (box-checking) but you gotta what you gotta do. With that being said, I do NOT mean that I will do things that I have no passion. Instead, I'll take the box-checking and shape it to fit my interest, just like you said.
Thanks for your comment!
 
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