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Don't apply to Harvard unless it's your top choice?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by unicorn06, Nov 19, 2005.

  1. unicorn06

    unicorn06 Senior Member
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    I was talking to two of my friends who go to HMS, and they told me that they think other schools don't like accepting students who are admitted to HMS because these other schools think these students will turn them down.

    My HMS friends told me that almost everyone they know who got into Harvard was waitlisted at Penn, Yale, and other schools that send acceptances out after Harvard. Anyone else heard this rumor or know if there is any truth to it? I find it hard to believe, but that doesn't mean it's not true.
     
  2. Saluki

    Saluki 1K Member
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    My gut tells me this is urban legend or coincidence. But what if it was true? If your top choice is UPenn, and that's truly the reason you get waitlisted there, then you can write a letter saying that although you were accepted at Harvard, UPenn is your top choice and you would gladly withdraw from Harvard if they were to bump you up. In any case, I wouldn't worry too much about it. If your biggest problem is that you think you might get into Harvard and that will hurt your chances at Yale, I'm not feeling a terrible amount of pity. Good luck though! :luck:
     
  3. Wahina

    Wahina Senior Member
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    Schools do pay attention to which schools they normally lose students to. For instance, I remember a study a few years ago that Stanford was doing where they kept track of students who were accepted by Stanford and Harvard, Stanford and UCSF, and Stanford Harvard and UCSF. They studied the data to see how many students chose each school in those situations. Stanford lost the majority of those students to the other two schools, but the point is that schools do pay attention to those things.

    On the other hand, am I wrong in thinking that these schools should not be aware of an acceptance to Harvard prior to May 15? So maybe it would hurt your chances of getting off the waitlist (Thinking about it, I definitely think it would hurt unless you write them a letter telling them you will withdraw your Harvard acceptance in favor of the other school, because schools don't want to let people off the waitlist that aren't going to attend and if you are holding an acceptance to Harvard you probably need to convince them you are going to attend.) But if they all do acceptances in March, it shouldn't affect that.
     
  4. TheMightyAngus

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    I think you're putting Harvard on an unnecessary pedestal.
     
  5. dajimmers

    dajimmers Hedgehog!
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    I'm just pulling this out of who-knows-where, but I though April (15th?) was when schools release who they've accepted so far to the other schools. So, as long as you're admitted by mid-April, you should be OK.

    And, sure- send a letter of Intent if post-interview you decide one of the schools blew the others away.
     
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  6. 06applicant

    06applicant Senior Member
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    I doubt that has any truth at all.

    First, I don't think other schools can even see where you were accepted/rejected, only which spots you hold after May 15. Second, the schools you listed send out acceptances at almost the same time as Harvard, leaving no real time for them to make adjustments. It sounds crazy to me.
     
  7. Rebs

    Rebs Senior Member
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    Does anyone know how schools can find out about other acceptances?

    Also, if they can find out if you are holding multiple accepatces after May 15 then what is stopping them from finding out before that date?
     
  8. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    I thought schools could find out where you'd gotten in after March 15.
     
  9. Rebs

    Rebs Senior Member
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    Is there a database that it shows up on? How does this work?
     
  10. gujuDoc

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    Not really related, but does anyone find it funny that all the major dates for happenings in the med school application process, always take place on the 15th of such and such month.

    I mean, for the first acceptances, it was Oct. 15th, for the deadline to give up seats at other schools, it is May 15th, and supposedly if you guys are correct, then March 15th is another important date.

    Maybe we should get REL to come out here and see if he can answer this question.

    As an admissions director, he would know the answer to such a question.

    REL,

    If you are reading this, can you confirm when schools get to see what other schools you are accepted to? Is it March 15th? Or is it after the May 15th deadline?

    Also, can you comment on why med schools often ask you where else you applied in interviews?? It seems to be a common question, and I was curious as to why this question comes up a lot.
     
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  11. Severus

    Severus FTSM!
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    I didn't think applicants were actually supposed to answer this question.


    Dodge. Dodge. Dodge. :cool:
     
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  12. gujuDoc

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    Hmmmm.......I don't know if they are or not. This is why I asked our admissions director to comment on it. He has been pretty good about answering these sort of questions in the past, here on SDN.

    So let's see what he says.

    I never understood why it matters. But I guess I'll wait and see what REL says.
     
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  13. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    What are you going to do, claim that answering the question would be self-incriminating? How do you plan to dodge it if your interviewer flat out asks you to name names? I had that happen at one interview. Sure, I could have refused to answer the question, and yes, I thought it was completely unprofessional for the interviewer to even be asking it, but you have to pick your battles in life. I named some names, said I wasn't prepared right now to start ranking the schools (I was also asked how I ranked that school compared to the others :eek: ) and then we moved on.
     
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  14. Severus

    Severus FTSM!
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    Well, I guess that's my problem... I don't normally pick my battles, I just fight them all. :smuggrin: :oops:

    As I'll apply next year, I'm not sure exactly how I'd answer the question. I've just been advised that this and the "women/family" questions are absolutely off-limits and that the interviewer should be made aware of this fact should they decide to stray into illegal territory.

    I guess I won't be getting too many acceptances. :laugh:
     
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  15. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    I don't know how or if refusing to answer would affect your chances. But I can tell you that you will be under tremendous pressure to answer if this question comes up during an interview. Talking to an interviewer is not like talking to a friend, because there is a major imbalance of power in an interview situation. You are trying to present yourself as positively as possible and avoid angering or turning off the interviewer. Things get sticky if the question is simply unprofessional or inappropriate (like asking where else you've applied or how you intend to balance a family with school), but not downright discriminatory or illegal (like telling you that s/he doesn't believe blacks/gays/women/whatever should be allowed into med school, so s/he's not going to recommend admitting you because you are a member of one of these groups). I had one secondary ask me to list the other schools where I had applied, and I chose to leave that question blank. No repercussions came of it. But I did not feel pressured to answer the question on paper like I did at an actual interview with a living, breathing interviewer sitting across the table waiting expectantly for my answer.
     
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  16. JDWflash44

    JDWflash44 Workin it...
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    From the concensus last year, this is true. After March 15th, schools can see, through AMCAS I believe, all the schools to which you have been accepted/are holding an acceptance. Hope this helps

    Jim
     
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  17. DrBowtie

    DrBowtie Final Countdown
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    Hmm... it seems strange that schools would be able to see which schools they were also accepted at if they didn't also accept the student. The only reason why such information would be pertinent is for scholarship offers and making sure they are only holding one acceptance after May 15th. Seems unfair to the applicant if they are basing their decision on your other acceptances.

    I guess we will see what REL says.
     
  18. DeadorAlive

    DeadorAlive Senior Member
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    Even among the tiny sample presented on mdapplicants, there is enough anecdotal info that those accepted to Harvard can also be accepted to Penn and Yale despite what is cited above. I would be very skeptical of this rumor in particular. Would schools like you mentioned - Yale, Penn - really deem themselves so "below" Harvard so as to assume that NO ONE who got into Harvard would choose them? Doubt it.

    (I'm assuming that the theory behind this rumor is that the schools chat, not that they actually find out ahead of time through some other process).

    Regardless... just a sampling:
    http://www.mdapplicants.com/viewprofile.php?id=2390
    http://www.mdapplicants.com/viewprofile.php?id=2347
    http://www.mdapplicants.com/viewprofile.php?id=520
    http://www.mdapplicants.com/viewprofile.php?id=176
     
  19. unicorn06

    unicorn06 Senior Member
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    Yeah, the questions might be illegal, but I've gotten them anyway. I've had two interviewers ask me if I plan to have kids and how I plan to balance being a mother with a career in academic medicine. I have also been asked if I've been admitted anywhere, and when I replied yes, where exactly I had been admitted.
     
  20. REL

    REL Senior Member
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    I just answered this same question on the DO THEY KNOW thread, but I'll repeat.

    MED SCHOOLS will NEVER see your application list unless you show your copy of your AMCAS application to them or you tell them. They SHOULD NOT ask you and if they do, you are in a bad spot, think of some coy response --- "several schools, none in Massachusetts," etc. Then talk about their lack of ethics on SDN. Med schools will have access to an AAMC database in mid-March which will only show if applicants to your program were accepted somewhere else. This is generally after most interviews have been completed and also med schools helps prepare for the May 15 deadline for multiply accepted applicants.
     
  21. DrBowtie

    DrBowtie Final Countdown
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    Thanks for the clarification.
     
  22. SailCrazy

    SailCrazy I gotta have more cowbell
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    I've never actually seen anyone show where it is listed that the "where else have you applied" question is against a simple rule, let alone illegal. If anyone can show us a law (unikely) or a rule (is there one?), please share. It could put a cap on much of this speculative debate! Anyway...

    I think that people get too worked up about this question. Here's my experience with the issue:

    I received an early interview from a mid-level school. At that point I hadn't completed a number of secondaries, but hadn't withdrawn from any schools either. When my interviewer asked where else I'd applied, I said something like "too our state school and a number of others." To which he replied "and those schools are...?" :eek: So I ran off my list of 20 schools, many/most of which were more highly ranked than this school. According to the common paranoia theory I often read here, I don't know how I could have had a "worse" answer to that question, short of saying "a bunch of schools better than this one and you are my safety school." (which wasn't true anyway.)

    Guess what... it didn't make any difference. I was accepted shortly therafter. :thumbup:

    Don't sweat it so much. Be prepared for the question, be ready to list a few schools and also to talk about why you like their school. Don't throw a hissy fit. Don't tell them its "illegal" - especially if you have no solid reason to know that it is. View it as another opportunity to tell them why you like their school, smile, and move on! :idea:

    That's my $0.02
     
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  23. zeephro

    zeephro Member
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    At an interview today(not at harvard), I had a talk with an admissions officer, and she said that they get periodic reports from AMCAS with a list of students and the schools that the were accepted to.
     
  24. DeadorAlive

    DeadorAlive Senior Member
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    I don't understand why there are 2 pages on this topic. It seems that the debate is "can they find out where else I've been accepted"? Regardless of the answer to that question (REL provided the answer; I guess the debate exists if if you're thinking of less official theories - you spill the beans, schools talk, etc?) the issue is not whether schools know, but how they respond.

    The basic assumption in the original post was: if a school finds out you got into Harvard, you won't get in there, because you are going to choose Harvard.

    THAT logic is specious at best, especially as many of the schools discussed are similarly top-tier. Perhaps Penn and Yale are incredibly self-depricating or believe that the yield statistics have NO exceptions, but I find that hard to believe. If Penn, for example, thinks a student is a great match, how does it hurt them to accept, Harvard option or not? Worst case for them: student chooses Harvard instead. Best case: student chooses Penn over Harvard. I get that they may be worried about having a low yield number, but I cannot think that they would make the choice for you.

    I would probably buy a theory that, if the schools chat, they decide who is a fit at which great institution. This is the sense I always took from the undergrad rumor of the same vein: H/Y/P deciding who fits better where. Of course that rumor is also false, at least anecdotally I know folks accepted at more than one of the schools. And since the "character" of each school is MORE different for undergrad, I think the chances of it happening are less great for med school.

    Not to mention that.... it's med school applications. Not an assassination conspiracy theory. If you're interested in a school, apply! Trying to out-think the system just seems to cause needless anxiety....

    Here's to hoping that many of you get in to Harvard and lots of other schools to debunk the myth.
     
  25. gujuDoc

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    Sorry if I asked a question that was already repeated elsewhere. I think I missed that post. :p

    Thanks for the clarification!!!!!!! Very good to know, cuz this question has been debated many times in the past.
     
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  26. ny skindoc

    ny skindoc Senior Member
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    I agree this is a common question.I dont see a problem with it being asked as its a natural question to ask an applicant.Med schools are not stupid they know you are applying to many schools and could probably guess most of them. They likely dont care ...its all about how you handle an uncomfortable question.If they want you they will accept you regardless. I would suggest not being negative about other schools as it may reflect poorly on you.
    If you have already been accepted to more "prestigious" school than the one you are interviewing at be fully prepared to discuss why you are at the interview.Dont allow them to force you to rank schools on your list that would seem unfair.
     
  27. gujuDoc

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    If I was in the position of answering this question, I think I'd answer by telling them the schools and a brief overall reason why I chose the schools. Meaning, I'd tell them that the schools I applied to are schools that interest me because of their unique approaches to the curricula, patient diversity if they are in a huge diverse area, etc. etc.. And then I'd say that I applied to their school because their program interested me quite a bit and talk about aspects of their school that made me interested in going there.
     
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