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Female Army Veteran - rejected 2019 cycle - need advice

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by HopefulMD111, Dec 7, 2018.

  1. HopefulMD111

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    I apologize if this isn’t the appropriate forum, I just signed up on the site.

    I’ve seen a few posts from veterans that were accepted and I’m trying to figure out what went wrong with my application and get feedback.

    I served 7 years as an officer, honorable discharge. Went to a big 10 school for undergrad, and went to a small school for pre med requirements

    GPA: 4.0 - straight A’s in everything including Orgo 1 and 2.
    MCAT score was 495 (I get it - no bueno)

    I did not have volunteer work on my application but I do have a year of physician shadowing. I had all my letters of recommendation including one from a colonel I worked for before resigning from the Army.

    Any veterans out there that were able to get interviews or accepted with a low MCAT? I sent secondaries to 3 schools - one of them was ECU which is considered “less competitive” than most schools. I didn’t submit secondaries to any other schools because they had minimum MCAT scores that I did not reach.

    I didn’t get an invite for an interview. I know it sounds silly - obviously 3 secondaries aren’t a lot. I just want to know if maybe my MCAT was a total show stopper and even though some schools claim a holistic approach, my MCAT didn’t make an unofficial cut off?

    I thought being a female veteran would help me stand out but of course I know that’s not a free pass for a bad MCAT. Please help and brutal honesty is welcome.
     
  2. lilsebastian18

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    I think your MCAT is a huge problem compounded by the fact that you only completed 3 secondaries. The average med school applicant submits an upwards of 15-20 secondaries. You'll need to retake the MCAT, luckily you have a good 6 months before the next cycle starts up again so you have plenty of time to study.

    As a re-applicant, I myself definitely had to re-frame my understanding of "holistic", just because you have x, y, z in life experiences does not mean schools are going to overlook any deficits in your metrics. So while you have a good life story why take a chance on you, when they possibly have a handful of female veterans with higher MCAT scores. This is the approach you'll have to take. Med school applicants with awesome life stories are becoming a dime a dozen. This is not to say that you are not unique or can't bring a lot to the school, you just have to give them a reason to let you in the door. That will start with the MCAT and a much bigger school list.

    Your lack of volunteering is also another issue I see. Granted you're a vet so the whole "doing for others" might be mitigated. I suggest if you have the time to look into your local food bank or really anywhere you can help those less fortunate.
     
  3. APA 32

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    Veteran here accepted with a low MCAT. Was pretty much rejected from every med school I applied to preinterview except 2. Went on two interviews and rejected from one and waitlisted with eventual acceptance at the second. In my experience the MCAT was what held me back. One interviewer even told me your application is great but this MCAT is a problem. Look at ETSU and EVMS next cycle I've heard they are pretty friendly to veterans . Figure out a way to increase your MCAT and you will likely get accepted.
     
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  4. HopefulMD111

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    Thank you for your reply!! I’ve since started volunteering weekly with the Red Cross. I was considering getting an EMT 1 in the spring, but I’m trying to decide if it’s worth it or if I should log more volunteer hours. Maybe that’s a different topic for a different thread. Would still love to hear your thoughts.
    Yeah - I shot myself in the foot with the MCAT. Took it 25 days after 8 weeks of summer organic chemistry (hardest classes ever!) needless to say, I was absolutely burnt out and did not make enough time for myself to study effectively. Won’t be making that mistake again.
     
  5. lilsebastian18

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    I'm going to tag a couple vets from some threads I follow (don't hate me fellas) to maybe help you with the volunteer question and any other advice they could dish out. I'm completely ignorant when it comes to veterans and volunteer hours. I'm always on the side of logging as many hours as you can if you enjoy it. It definitely won't hurt.

    @Matthew9Thirtyfive @esob
     
  6. sb247

    sb247 Doer of things
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    Don’t bother with emt1, just study for a better mcat
     
  7. MusicDOc124

    MusicDOc124 MS-III
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    Being a veteran will only give you the edge over another applicant given you have the minimum qualifications met - being the MCAT essentially. As was also already noted by another above, shadowing doesn't cut it without volunteering. Start volunteering and study for the MCAT again (maybe take a course if needed?) and retake it. Once you get at least over a 500 (i dont know the new scoring system - i took the old one out of 45 or whatever), then reapply. With the higher MCAT and some volunteering sprinkled in, you'll most likely get more than a few interviews and be able to get in from those with your background and increased MCAT and volunteer hours.

    Good luck!
     
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  8. puahate

    puahate Probationary Status
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    MCAT way too low.
     
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  9. esob

    esob Protomolecule
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    Your MCAT, coupled with applying to so few schools is definitely a problem. The median matriculant MCAT is around about 509 for MD schools. Veteran status helps, but it won't get you a free pass, even at the super military friendly schools. I had a 4.0 and median MCAT and ETSU rejected me and EVMS has given me silence, so mil friendly is not necessarily a free pass.

    If you got straight A's in everything, you are easily capable of a 509+, which, if you apply broadly, should give you several invites. Did you take a prep course for the MCAT? If not, that would be my first plan on action. My advice would be to focus on the MCAT, I know several other vets that got in with zero community service hrs and no clinical hrs outside of what they did on active duty and some shadowing, but they had good MCAT scores. Thus, I suggest focusing on raising that MCAT and then having a successful reapplication cycle. You already possess the discipline to get a good MCAT score, you perhaps just need a method of content review and testing strategies to bring that good score to the surface.
     
  10. HopefulMD111

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    Thank you for the feedback - I signed up for Kaplan and am giving myself until May to retake. Not planning on taking any coursework at the university in the spring (I’m finishing up Biochem and statistics and that’s really all the rest I needed anyway) - just shadowing, volunteering, and serious MCAT study.
    Someone above mentioned maybe EMT wouldn’t be worth it. (Of course any certification is worth something,) I’d be curious about your opinion on that. Do you think adding more volunteer hours in lieu of getting a cert would be the route to go? I suppose you can’t really go wrong either way.
     
  11. esob

    esob Protomolecule
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    I was a combat medic and had my NREMT cert. I had 7 interviews and no one asked about it. I've seen adcoms on SDN describe EMT's as glorified transport drivers. I don't personally have that opinion but EMT cert would be at best, slightly helpful for your application, and if you used the time instead for MCAT study, it will benefit you tremendously. I highly recommend the Khan Academy 100 page doc for psych soc. I scored in the 90th percentile for that section using only this document. I took Jack Westin's course for CARS prep and scored in the 82nd percentile using his techniques (and I was scoring in the 90th on all my practice tests). I recommend Berkely for gen chem and the bio stuff.
     
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  12. Goro

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    First off, many thanks for your service to our country.

    No med school is doing you any favors by admitting you when you are at high risk for failing out and/or failing Boards. That's where your MCAT score puts you.

    So just prepare well , take multiple diagnostics, and retake the exam, but only when you're 100% ready.

    And you have to apply to 15-25 schools. Three is foolish.
     
  13. Matthew9Thirtyfive

    Matthew9Thirtyfive Not actually 935 years old.
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    It’s your MCAT. It’s just way too low. I see you’ve signed up for a course. That’s a good idea. Your gpa is great. If you can improve your MCAT to a 510+, you’ll be golden. If you can get a 4.0, you can do well on the MCAT. But you need to figure out why you did poorly the first time and do things differently.

    Being a female vet will help, but it doesn’t overcome the MCAT or gpa (in general I mean—your gpa is perfect). You have to have the door open before you can walk through, and a 495 is going to keep most of the doors closed, as you’ve seen. You’re going to need to significantly improve that score and then apply smartly and broadly.

    Also agree with skipping the emt and focusing on the MCAT. At least for now. If you don’t have any clinical experience and you have time after the MCAT, doing something clinical wouldn’t hurt. I would suggest getting some non-clinical volunteering if you can without hindering your studying. The military is good service, but to be honest even with almost 7 years in the military and tons of clinical experience, what they cared about in interviews were my extracurriculars and my non-clinical, non-military volunteering. Only one of my interviewers wanted to hear about my military career (even at USUHS, they only touched on my military experience and then wanted to talk about my writing/music and volunteering).
     
    #13 Matthew9Thirtyfive, Dec 8, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2018
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  14. futuremdforme

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    I think that whatever keeps you motivated to get a great MCAT score is the way to go. Really, that and only applying to 3 schools were your only obvious application flaws.
     
  15. EasyEveryoneWouldDoIt

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    like everything iterated its your MCAT score that is hurting you and also only applying to 3 schools. medical schools is so competitive no school should be considered a "safety" school or guarantee. i would dedicate whatever energy you have on MCAT retake right now. put volunteering and EMT certification in side mirrors and focus on that. unless you need those to get you focus on your goal getting a high MCAT. I would go to the MCAT forum and look for what helps with other people. For myself, I did a review 3 months before my test date and the last month and a half was practice problems. During that time, I was putting in 2-3 hrs a day every weekday and 8 hrs a day every weekend and got a decent score (513). its a lot of work but that's what you need to do. I was also trying to balance the demands of being an NCO in charge of a signficant section in my duty station while doing this, but I still made it happen. Also next cycle you applly considere D.O schools as well. good luck!
     
  16. esob

    esob Protomolecule
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    This can't be reiterated enough. I applied to so many "safety" schools that simply balked at my application. Applying broadly, even if you have a really strong application, is just good sense. If you have any weak spots, applying broadly becomes even more important.
     
  17. Matthew9Thirtyfive

    Matthew9Thirtyfive Not actually 935 years old.
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    One of my "safety" schools waitlisted me, and the other one has given me radio silence. My MCAT is above the 90th %ile for both of those schools too. There's no such thing as a safety school in med school admissions.
     
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  18. HopefulPilot

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    What three schools did you apply to?
     
  19. BC_89

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    I had a couple soldiers in my company that took 9 years on active duty and clep’d classes to get a degree and pre-reqs finished. They had decent GPAs and 510 MCAT scores and applied very broadly and took out loans to do so. ~ 30 schools with one getting one interview and the other two.

    What I also found interesting chatting with them was that their was no mention of their combat medic background or a battered eye of service (but discussed their ages). Point is, they expected a lot more interview offers and it didn’t happen.

    You have an edge with your service ONLY if your MCAT is higher and apply to ~ 20 places. Service alone won’t do it but you can flip this around quickly and use it in your favor.
     
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  20. Matthew9Thirtyfive

    Matthew9Thirtyfive Not actually 935 years old.
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    This. Military service helps, and it really helps at a small number of schools that really value it. But it is not the rockstar EC that people say it is (including adcoms on this site). You still need to apply broadly and have good stats.

    Edit: I will say that individual experiences in the military that you can use to demonstrate leadership, performance under pressure, teamwork, etc. can be extremely useful. But it's not like they'll say, "Oh, a Soldier/Sailor/Airman/Marine--she's in for sure!"
     
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  21. Gastrapathy

    Gastrapathy no longer apathetic
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    Why do you need biochem?

    Was your 4.0 from both undergrad and prereqs?
     
  22. Matthew9Thirtyfive

    Matthew9Thirtyfive Not actually 935 years old.
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    A small number of schools require it, but I'm guessing she's planning on retaking the MCAT, and it's a huge part of the new test.
     
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  23. HopefulMD111

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    Yes - taking Biochem for retaking the MCAT. Although I think the material is straightforward and I learned a lot from Kaplan, a class is always better than self-teaching in my opinion. I easily could have made 500 if I had taken this class before the MCAT!

    Thanks everyone for your posts - I actually got some great feedback from my undergraduate institution about other things on my primary application.

    The goal going forward is a May 31st exam date. From now until then it’s tons of MCAT studying with some volunteer hours here and there along the way.



    Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
     
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  24. B4y 4RE4 N4Tiv3

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    I think you should consider taking the MCAT late April/early May because it takes 30 days to get your scores. Also you want to get your application in ASAP and getting your scores will help you pick the appropriate schools.
     
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  25. samualjhatfield

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    If you wanna hop on that March 29th train, get your MCAT scores back on the day the application opens....Really though, take all the time you need to study. And you are absolutely right, biochem alone would easily push you up to 500. Hell, just memorizing the Amino Acids alone will get you a couple points on the B/B section...
     
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