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Knocked Up

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I was recently inspired by a WAMC thread to compile my theory on how medical school admission is done. It may not be an exact formula, but I think it runs along the lines of the following for the "most prestigious" schools (heck, maybe all schools???).

Every year adcoms set certain "criteria" for how their class will be composed. The "criteria" never really changes, it just adapts to what the dean has to work with. Let me explain.

Medical admission to the most elite programs in the nation is like movie "The Cabin in the Wood". Adcoms are the wardens who hibernate underground and seek out the applicants (ala: victims). The applicants are carefully chosen by MCAT scores and molded to fit certain "categories". Low GPAs are, of course, weeded out, but you can get back into the mix with a tremendous MCAT. The converse cannot be said. Once the adcoms have the 35+ MCATers in a pool, they sort them out to fit certain "roles". You see, they are trying to build a diverse class of high achieving standardized test takes. They hope these students will play the "game" and contribute to the overlord (in this case it is the dean and board of directors who handle the financial stability of the institution). The MCATers contribute to ranking and alumni donations (high MCAT = high board = specialist = $$).

So after a manual or electronic screening of MCATs, the dean and his committee seek to fill certain roles (roles are assigned and waitlists are set by categorical demographics):

1) The technical and nerdy engineer type. The hope here is that they will excel in biomedical research and device a stellar medical device. They will profit tremendously and hopefully the university can get a patent on that (research under their roof = their kickback). If, not, hopefully alumni $$ will follow.
2) The hot chick(s). Every school I visited this year had at least a few. Now, they can be medical school "pretty" or just plain old hot. A few schools I applied to asked for pictures both during secondaries and pre-interview. Also, obviously, the dean can make mental notes of appearances during interview day.
3) The jock(s). If there is anything that can innumerably increase your chances in the EC department, Division 1 athletics is the key. Even if you were the water boy, list it (well not that you were the water boy, but that you were affiliated with the team).
4) The token old dude (or girl). Again, every school had at least a few. I though one guy was a professor, turns out he was a 1st year. They are looking for life experiences here. It's ok that you screwed up during undergrad. Your MCAT means you are smart and it is really cool that you were a cop for 15 years. Try to married with kids if possible.
5) The typical undergrad. Yeah, you excelled in undergrad and did your cookie cutter ECs to the max. Well, guess what? There are the least of your kinds here. What, why? It is extremely competitive in this category. Coming straight out of college without fitting any other categories, you need tremendous MCATs and pedigree to match (undergrad degree from same school may help).
6) The publication wizard. This person can also be the old fart nontraditional (overlap). Typically already have a PhD and 5+ publications. Again, no need to explain what this means to an academic powerhouse.
7) Mother Teresa. Most of the time, this will inevitably be a girl. Key things to look out for including naivitiy, purity (a la the virgin in the "Cabin in the Woods"), and a strong sense of saving the world. She probably has bumper stickers for the Invisible Children. We need her to help organize student medical missions.
8) Gordon Gekko. Medicine is after all a business. These seats are typically taken up by 1st year analysts in New York who turn to medicine. They typically have pedigree behind them.
9) The URM(s). No need to debate here. Not trying to beat a dead horse, but this category probably gets it's own pile in addition to category. Numbers are less scrutinized here.

Now, I definitely missed a few. The point here is that you are weeded out by MCAT scores. You THEN need to fit a certain category. If Alex with a 40 applies with Sal with a 36, but Sal is a better fit for that category, Sal get the seat. If Rebecca is a Mother Teresa but only has a 29, whereas Sara has a 37 with less experiences, Sara still gets the seat. MCAT first, and then you need to fit the seat category second. If you don't get in, you get the "second" team or wait list until the first team recruit goes to another team (school).
 
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NickNaylor

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This is way overly simplified though it does somewhat get to the point (I assure you that your "categories" of people aren't what's being used - what you wrote sounds like it should be on this month's Disney movie). Also keep in mind that each school varies in its admissions philosophy, which may fit closely with what you've described or be completely different.
 
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music2doc

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I was recently inspired by a WAMC thread to compile my theory on how medical school admission is done. It may not be an exact formula, but I think it runs along the lines of the following for the "most prestigious" schools (heck, maybe all schools???).

Every year adcoms set certain “criteria” for how their class will be composed. The “criteria” never really changes, it just adapts to what the dean has to work with. Let me explain.

Medical admission to the most elite programs in the nation is like movie “The Cabin in the Wood”. Adcoms are the wardens who hibernate underground and seek out the applicants (ala: victims). The applicants are carefully chosen by MCAT scores and molded to fit certain “categories”. Low GPAs are, of course, weeded out, but you can get back into the mix with a tremendous MCAT. The converse cannot be said. Once the adcoms have the 35+ MCATers in a pool, they sort them out to fit certain “roles”. You see, they are trying to build a diverse class of high achieving standardized test takes. They hope these students will play the “game” and contribute to the overlord (in this case it is the dean and board of directors who handle the financial stability of the institution). The MCATers contribute to ranking and alumni donations (high MCAT = high board = specialist = $$).

So after a manual or electronic screening of MCATs, the dean and his committee seek to fill certain roles (roles are assigned and waitlists are set by categorical demographics):

1) The technical and nerdy engineer type. The hope here is that they will excel in biomedical research and device a stellar medical device. They will profit tremendously and hopefully the university can get a patent on that (research under their roof = their kickback). If, not, hopefully alumni $$ will follow.
2) The hot chick(s). Every school I visited this year had at least a few. Now, they can be medical school “pretty” or just plain old hot. A few schools I applied to asked for pictures both during secondaries and pre-interview. Also, obviously, the dean can make mental notes of appearances during interview day.
3) The jock(s). If there is anything that can innumerably increase your chances in the EC department, Division 1 athletics is the key. Even if you were the water boy, list it (well not that you were the water boy, but that you were affiliated with the team).
4) The token old dude (or girl). Again, every school had at least a few. I though one guy was a professor, turns out he was a 1st year. They are looking for life experiences here. It’s ok that you screwed up during undergrad. Your MCAT means you are smart and it is really cool that you were a cop for 15 years. Try to married with kids if possible.
5) The typical undergrad. Yeah, you excelled in undergrad and did your cookie cutter ECs to the max. Well, guess what? There are the least of your kinds here. What, why? It is extremely competitive in this category. Coming straight out of college without fitting any other categories, you need tremendous MCATs and pedigree to match (undergrad degree from same school may help).
6) The publication wizard. This person can also be the old fart nontraditional (overlap). Typically already have a PhD and 5+ publications. Again, no need to explain what this means to an academic powerhouse.
7) Mother Teresa. Most of the time, this will inevitably be a girl. Key things to look out for including naivitiy, purity (a la the virgin in the “Cabin in the Woods”), and a strong sense of saving the world. She probably has bumper stickers for the Invisible Children. We need her to help organize student medical missions.
8) Gordon Gekko. Medicine is after all a business. These seats are typically taken up by 1st year analysts in New York who turn to medicine. They typically have pedigree behind them.
9) The URM(s). No need to debate here. Not trying to beat a dead horse, but this category probably gets it’s own pile in addition to category. Numbers are less scrutinized here.

Now, I definitely missed a few. The point here is that you are weeded out by MCAT scores. You THEN need to fit a certain category. If Alex with a 40 applies with Sal with a 36, but Sal is a better fit for that category, Sal get the seat. If Rebecca is a Mother Teresa but only has a 29, whereas Sara has a 37 with less experiences, Sara still gets the seat. MCAT first, and then you need to fit the seat category second. If you don't get in, you get the "second" team or wait list until the first team recruit goes to another team (school).

Absolutely idiotic. Yes, some things you said here are commonsense, but about 90% of it is so idiotic as to be utter garbage and the other 10% is so obvious as to be absolutely useless.

Basically, I give you...

[YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAOxY_nHdew[/YOUTUBE]
 

194342

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Yeah... Maybe this formula works for making the next High School Musical but not so much for medical school. Sorry.
 

RedSox10

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Honestly, I don't know anyone who doesn't fit into one of those categories--unless, perhaps "The Legacy" or "The Underachiever" who wont get in in the first place.
 

LizzyM

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As I said last winter, it is like a tossed salad.

We could pretty much pick at random from among the gpa >3.5/MCAT 35+ and end up with a pretty diverse bunch. If it doesn't work out that way, (ther aren't that many "green olives" in the bowl), then we go back for a little spoonful of just olives.

Of course, it isn't random... there are adcom members who would prefer to admit only Division 1-A athletes, those who are looking for Mother Teresas, those who are seeking the future Nobel winners. We compromise and end up with a little of everything.
 

Aerus

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I actually disagree that the weeding out depends solely on MCAT. GPA is a HUGE part of the weeding out process. If you have a 2.6 and a 39 MCAT, most (if not all) schools would have weeded you out of the preliminary rounds already.

You REALLY need to stop hyping up the MCAT. GPA is just as important. Saying "MCAT>>>>>>>>>>>>>>GPA" is completely untrue. They're both around the same spot.

Otherwise, I'm quite confident that, while they do have categories in mind, they don't have a list of it where they throw people's applicants into certain piles. There are different Adcom staff looking for certain qualities, but it's not all written on paper. For example, physical attractiveness (hot chicks category) is really based on opinion.
 

LizzyM

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I actually disagree that the weeding out depends solely on MCAT. GPA is a HUGE part of the weeding out process. If you have a 2.6 and a 39 MCAT, most (if not all) schools would have weeded you out of the preliminary rounds already.

You REALLY need to stop hyping up the MCAT. GPA is just as important. Saying "MCAT>>>>>>>>>>>>>>GPA" is completely untrue. They're both around the same spot.

Otherwise, I'm quite confident that, while they do have categories in mind, they don't have a list of it where they throw people's applicants into certain piles. There are different Adcom staff looking for certain qualities, but it's not all written on paper. For example, physical attractiveness (hot chicks category) is really based on opinion.

A 2.6 and a 39 in a non-trad with an excellent post-bac and a very good back story might actually have a shot. Stranger things have happened.
 

Aerus

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A 2.6 and a 39 in a non-trad with an excellent post-bac and a very good back story might actually have a shot. Stranger things have happened.

That's very true.

What I meant was the average applicant. I'm just trying to make the point that OP keeps trying to say "MCAT>>>>>>>>>>GPA" in the way that he implies that the GPA is close to zilch as long as there is a high MCAT to supplement it. This is not to account any amazing back stories or an awesome post bac.

The point I was trying to make was: When you're looking through an applicant, does a 35+ MCAT overcome a sub-3.0 GPA in just about every case? Does the MCAT really get considered MUCH MUCH more than GPA (Again, the OP always says "MCAT>>>>>>>>>GPA"), assuming all other factors aren't out of the ordinary?
 

NickNaylor

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I actually disagree that the weeding out depends solely on MCAT. GPA is a HUGE part of the weeding out process. If you have a 2.6 and a 39 MCAT, most (if not all) schools would have weeded you out of the preliminary rounds already.

You REALLY need to stop hyping up the MCAT. GPA is just as important. Saying "MCAT>>>>>>>>>>>>>>GPA" is completely untrue. They're both around the same spot.

The only problem with this argument is that GPAs are wildly non-standard. A 3.9 isn't a 3.9 isn't a 3.9. The MCAT, on the other hand, is standardized: you can rest assured that a person who scored a 35 performed as well on the test as someone else that also scored a 35.

Of course GPA is a factor, but if you're reviewing an application from someone that attends a small liberal arts college that you've never heard of and they have a 3.1 GPA but a 39 MCAT, are you going to reduce their "score" (so to speak) because of a nominally low GPA? The argument that the GPA is equivalent to the MCAT score is just as fallacious. GPAs only become comparable once you get a feel for a particular school's grading distribution and, thus, know roughly how "well" a person did compared to his or her peers at a particular school. Otherwise a college GPA is only a little more useful than a high school GPA.
 

Praefectus

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Absolutely idiotic. Yes, some things you said here are commonsense, but about 90% of it is so idiotic as to be utter garbage and the other 10% is so obvious as to be absolutely useless.

Basically, I give you...

[YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAOxY_nHdew[/YOUTUBE]

Who would steal 30 bagged lunches???
 

Aerus

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The only problem with this argument is that GPAs are wildly non-standard. A 3.9 isn't a 3.9 isn't a 3.9. The MCAT, on the other hand, is standardized: you can rest assured that a person who scored a 35 performed as well on the test as someone else that also scored a 35.

Of course GPA is a factor, but if you're reviewing an application from someone that attends a small liberal arts college that you've never heard of and they have a 3.1 GPA but a 39 MCAT, are you going to reduce their "score" (so to speak) because of a nominally low GPA? The argument that the GPA is equivalent to the MCAT score is just as fallacious. GPAs only become comparable once you get a feel for a particular school's grading distribution and, thus, know roughly how "well" a person did compared to his or her peers at a particular school. Otherwise a college GPA is only a little more useful than a high school GPA.

I definitely agree with you that GPA is one of the more unreliable, overanalyzed part of an application. My life would be much better off if standardized tests received much more weight.

However, if you look at the admissions for each school, they don't vary a whole lot. Why is it that MIT and Berkeley have GPA admits averaging in the high 3.6's to 3.7's? I'm quite confident that an engineering major with a 3.2 at MIT worked many times harder than a 3.9 at a state school with a communications major. Why is it, then, isn't MIT or Berkeley's GPA average for admitted students lower? They deserve a lot of GPA sympathy.

GPA is still an incredibly important component of the application. I'm not saying it's much more important than the MCAT, as the OP has mentioned the reverse, but it's definitely almost equivalent to the MCAT, give or take some.

As for the part of the 3.1 GPA and 39 MCAT, of course not. They definitely passed the "computer" stage with those stats and will get a close look to as their reason for the 3.1 and their academic record (post bacs?). But, if they didn't have a good reason, then well that GPA is going to hurt their chances a whole lot.

What I'm trying to say is: GPA is just as important as MCAT. If you have a good reason for a low GPA, then you're factoring in a back story, but the GPA (in and of itself) is IMPORTANT.
 

ljpm8224

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paranoid diatribe

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