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I would like to offer advice to California residents applying to medical school, or to anyone applying to a California medical school.

After following threads on this forum for a while I am aware that some people who comment regularly here are quite skeptical about the credibility of anyone who claims to be a medical school administrator.

That in itself, I believe, is a good reason for an administrator to weigh in on issues that concern so many of you. I think you could use some frank commentary from someone who is responsible for judging your applications.

I have served on the admissions committee of a California medical school for the last twelve years. I currently serve as one of the deans in our clinical education program and recently authored a book about going to medical school. I believe I am very well aware of the dynamics of medical school admissions in general, and California issues in particular.

I welcome your questions and will do my best to keep up. My job is quite consuming and I have young children, which might explain why a day or so might go by without a response from me. But I'll try.

California residents in general are up against odds that do not pertain to residents of other states. I want to help you understand those odds and put your best applications forward.
 
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I would like to offer advice to California residents applying to medical school, or to anyone applying to a California medical school.

After following threads on this forum for a while I am aware that some people who comment regularly here are quite skeptical about the credibility of anyone who claims to be a medical school administrator.

That in itself, I believe, is a good reason for an administrator to weigh in on issues that concern so many of you. I think you could use some frank commentary from someone who is responsible for judging your applications.

I have served on the admissions committee of a California medical school for the last twelve years. I currently serve as one of the deans in our clinical education program and recently authored a book about going to medical school. I believe I am very well aware of the dynamics of medical school admissions in general, and California issues in particular.

I welcome your questions and will do my best to keep up. My job is quite consuming and I have young children, which might explain why a day or so might go by without a response from me. But I'll try.

California residents in general are up against odds that do not pertain to residents of other states. I want to help you understand those odds and put your best applications forward.

I hear it tossed around a lot that the UC schools are looking for "something special", more than just high stats. What kind of things can be done to give our application that "something special"?
 

DrSmooth

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How does a premed student who is a resident of CA know when a poster posing as a med school admin is full of crap?
 
Jan 27, 2010
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The UC programs can afford to select more specifically because of the high number of qualified California resident applicants. Each UC program 'leans' toward applicants who best fit their mission. In this sense, IN GENERAL, UCD and UCI prioritize applicants who seem likely to practice primary care medicine in California. UCSD prioritizes applicants interested in biomedical research, again IN GENERAL. UCLA is more about disease treatment and state of the art therapies. UCSF is far and away the most eclectic, and least likely among the five to admit only state residents.

These are simplistic statements for the sake of a short reply, but they are based on matriculant outcome patterns that have accrued over time.

To address another post, non-traditional applicants are not biased against on that single basis, in my opinion. But it is true across all admissions committees that non-traditional applicants should meet a threshold of 'cognitive capacity', an expression that refers to indicators that you have not lost any of your knowledge prowess. We recently interviewed a 38 year old applicant successful in marketing with a very high post-bac GPA and a 36, triple double MCAT. Abundant evidence of no knowledge decay. IN GENERAL, osteopathic programs are less selective on the numbers when it comes to non-traditional applicants.

Time for bed. Best wishes.
 
Mar 19, 2010
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I am a foreign medical graduate but will be a resident of california next month. i am inquiring if a foreign graduate can have a US clinical experience/observership/externship in your affiliated hospitals to boost my application for the matching program. what are the requirements if it is possible? i am currently reviewing for step2Ck. thank you
 
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I am also interested in Family medicine practice. what are the chances that a foreign graduate but a california resident can get into california hospitals for residency training? thank you
 

CaliGirl14

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I must ask, what are the UC takes on doing 2 years at a community college and then transferring over to a UC for undergrad?
 

leeyuhang

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Is it better to have experience in a UC sponsored/affliated program/job or is it still the quality of experienced gained from any program/job that would matter more?

edit:

thank you very much for your answers!
 
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Jan 27, 2010
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To catch up here:

In the 2008 match (the data I happen to have in front of me now) FMGs in California for Family Medicine matched 33 of 284 available positions. In general, historically, FMGs place into fewer allopathic residency positions in California, across the board, than do DOs. In New York it tends to be the other way around. Several practices (Emergency Medicine) for example, are extremely difficult for DOs and FMGs to match in California, mostly due to the academic history and quantitative strength of the allopathic applicants.

UC programs, in my experience, discriminate on the basis of consistent evidence of academic capacity. So whether you started in the state or cc system and then transferred into a UC, or graduated from outside the UC system, the major factor in your academic history is consistency and positive momentum. That is my way of saying that the ADCOM people understand how higher education works in California, and many of us are very impressed by applicants who "climb" up the collegiate scale through hard work and consistent performance. As in all other parts of the admissions process, however, it is not appropriate to ignore applicants who did not struggle (economically or academically) and put up stronger numbers. We have to search for the balancing factors in those applicants as well. I do not want any sympathy, but it can be difficult in our position as well when we have to choose between a student with a great story and a hint of potential and a student with superior numbers all around and nothing wrong except that they had a privileged life.

On the question of UC-sponsored activities or quality of experience gained, absolutely the bias is toward quality of the experience gained. And this raises an important point, which is that many CA communities offer EXTRAORDINARY opportunties for patient contact and humanistic outreach. Applicants who involve themselves in these agencies and clinics and service groups definitely have an advantage over applicants who speak to these issues in their application, live less than a mile from a nationally-recognized service organization, but never participate. You would be surprised how many applicants are unaware of the opportunities that exist all around them. That does not mean that we reject an applicant just because they did not volunteer at the Berkeley Men's and Women's Clinic. What it means is that we accelerate applicants who did.

Time to go home to the family. I'll try to check in after my kids go to bed. Best wishes.
 

CaliGirl14

No worries.
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To catch up here:

In the 2008 match (the data I happen to have in front of me now) FMGs in California for Family Medicine matched 33 of 284 available positions. In general, historically, FMGs place into fewer allopathic residency positions in California, across the board, than do DOs. In New York it tends to be the other way around. Several practices (Emergency Medicine) for example, are extremely difficult for DOs and FMGs to match in California, mostly due to the academic history and quantitative strength of the allopathic applicants.

UC programs, in my experience, discriminate on the basis of consistent evidence of academic capacity. So whether you started in the state or cc system and then transferred into a UC, or graduated from outside the UC system, the major factor in your academic history is consistency and positive momentum. That is my way of saying that the ADCOM people understand how higher education works in California, and many of us are very impressed by applicants who "climb" up the collegiate scale through hard work and consistent performance. As in all other parts of the admissions process, however, it is not appropriate to ignore applicants who did not struggle (economically or academically) and put up stronger numbers. We have to search for the balancing factors in those applicants as well. I do not want any sympathy, but it can be difficult in our position as well when we have to choose between a student with a great story and a hint of potential and a student with superior numbers all around and nothing wrong except that they had a privileged life.

On the question of UC-sponsored activities or quality of experience gained, absolutely the bias is toward quality of the experience gained. And this raises an important point, which is that many CA communities offer EXTRAORDINARY opportunties for patient contact and humanistic outreach. Applicants who involve themselves in these agencies and clinics and service groups definitely have an advantage over applicants who speak to these issues in their application, live less than a mile from a nationally-recognized service organization, but never participate. You would be surprised how many applicants are unaware of the opportunities that exist all around them. That does not mean that we reject an applicant just because they did not volunteer at the Berkeley Men's and Women's Clinic. What it means is that we accelerate applicants who did.

Time to go home to the family. I'll try to check in after my kids go to bed. Best wishes.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions! We really appreciate it.
 

DbDan

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I posted this in the Osteopathic forums as well but it pertains to both and I'm not sure you will be checking both threads so....

In your opinion how favorably or unfavorably do California admissions committees look upon performance in Special Masters Programs. Essentially, in your opinion, what do you consider the best way to recover from a poor undergraduate performance and be able to remain in Ca. Do Ca residents even stand a chance after the damage has been done?

EDIT: Answer from the Osteo thread in case anyone was wondering.

On the question of special masters programs or poor undergraduate performance, your best hedge is to show that you are peaking at the time of your application. We look for evidence of momentum. And nothing speaks to momentum more than having very strong letters of recommendation from the spectrum of authorities that work closely with you NOW. From our point of view the logic is straightforward. If you are not the person now who accrued the less than stellar record THEN, then surely you are impressing everyone around you to the point of affirming that you are right for medicine and/or for our program. In my experience it is the best way for someone with a compromised record to be admitted from within a population of people without those same compromises. Fit to mission can also help you, but it would need to be specific (consider the bases of Loma Linda and Touro, for example).
 
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randombetch

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My question is a bit more trivial - it's about course requirements. I noticed that many of the UC's don't accept any AP credit. How strict are they that you take X semesters of _____ with lab? For example, if a school requires 2 semesters of general biology with lab, then can I instead take one semester of gen bio with lab and one semester of an upper division biology course without lab?

I was also wonder if public California schools take the applicants' undergraduate institutions with less regard than, say, Hopkins or Penn. The acceptance rate from my undergraduate university (Princeton) seems to be a lot higher for Hopkins and Penn (relative to their acceptance rates for other undergraduate schools) than for UCLA and UCSD.

PS: It is really amazing that we get the privilege of getting our questions answered by someone with so much experience, and for no charge. Thank you so much for your time!
 
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d1ony5u5

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My question is a bit more trivial - it's about course requirements. I noticed that many of the UC's don't accept any AP credit. How strict are they that you take X semesters of _____ with lab? For example, if a school requires 2 semesters of general biology with lab, then can I instead take one semester of gen bio with lab and one semester of an upper division biology course without lab?

I was also wonder if public California schools take the applicants' undergraduate institutions with less regard than, say, Hopkins or Penn. The acceptance rate from my undergraduate university (Princeton) seems to be a lot higher for Hopkins and Penn (relative to their acceptance rates for other undergraduate schools) than for UCLA and UCSD.
When I was applying this cycle, most UC's were understanding of my situation. I took AP chem in high school and scored a 5 on the exam. My undergrad institution doesn't give credit for equivalent courses taken when one has a passing AP score. When I explained this, most UC medschools said it would be ok since taking Ochem and biochem confirmed I had a good grasp of the material. UCLA, however, was the only one that was super strict with the "no AP policy." I talked to the admissions office at length, and was told that no exceptions were made. In the best of cases, I was told, after being accepted I'd have to file a special petition with the director of admissions to have my AP credit accepted, but that this was a gamble. According to them, my best bet was to retake all general chemistry in the summer, or something of the sort.

Needless to say, I withdrew my app from UCLA. I wasn't willing to wager the whole cost of application (factoring in 2ry fee, possible interview costs, emotional invesment, etc) to find out at the very end whether they would give me credit for my AP. I was also not willing to retake a whole year of gchem for just one school. I feel this was a bit ridiculous on their part.

The point of that story is: if you want to apply to UCLA, you'd better check with them specifically. They seem to be a whole lot stricter than the other UC's. It also sounds like your case is different, since most biology courses are usually allowed to count toward the bio requirement...

Anyway, I'm curious to hear the official position of the admins on this issue!
 

t3705

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Doctor School....can a high MCAT score make up for a lower gpa?

For example...can a MCAT score of 38 make up for a gpa of 3.3?

And it is very hard for a student to know which field of medicine he/she really wants to pursue before the medical school experience...but if a student thinks he wants to pursue internal medicine...should that be noted in the application?

Thanks
 
Mar 26, 2010
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What are some things that set an applicant apart from all of the other qualified California residents?

Also, a general adcom question: Is there a preference between having mini essays for the 15 activities versus just using bullet points? Should we be including what we learned from the experience or just what we did? How much time is spent by the schools reading these?
 
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Doctor School, I have a quick question. I finally have enough money for a medical mission trip that I've been wanting to take for awhile. The trip is in May and I'll be applying this upcoming June. Would this trip look like "padding my application?" If I had a good experience I may want to talk a little bit about it in my personal statement and tie it in with my whole personal statement. Would admission boards in general look down upon this as "padding the personal statement and application?" Thanks a bunch.
 

Naijaba

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Rather selfish question, but what happened to me this application cycle? Several amazing interviews (Harvard, Stanford, Northwestern MSTP), but NO UC interviews. I realize that each UC is looking for something different, but did I totally fall off of all their radars? I think it must be my GPA, but I'd like to confirm that.
 

dbeast

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This isn't admissions related, but definitely important to CA residents. I heard that because of all the budget cuts, it's taking students 5 or 6 years to finish their medical degrees at several UC's. Is this true?
Also, because tuition is obviously more expensive for out of state applicants, would UC schools be inclined to favor them just from an economic perspective?
Gracias!
 

ILikeDrugs

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Hello, I was wondering if you knew of any hands on clinical volunteer sites in the Orange County area? I can't find any and did not think that hands on clinical experience in CA even existed because of all the red tape that our state is shrouded in.

Thanks for your help.



This isn't admissions related, but definitely important to CA residents. I heard that because of all the budget cuts, it's taking students 5 or 6 years to finish their medical degrees at several UC's. Is this true?
During my last year of undergrad in 2007, there was an article in the school newspaper that talked about the number of years that it takes someone in the Cal State system to graduate. I don't remember the exact percent, but a very large percent took 5-6 years to graduate. I'm not sure about the UC system though, but I would think it was be similar.
 

Appless

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Hello, I was wondering if you knew of any hands on clinical volunteer sites in the Orange County area? I can't find any and did not think that hands on clinical experience in CA even existed because of all the red tape that our state is shrouded in.

Thanks for your help.





During my last year of undergrad in 2007, there was an article in the school newspaper that talked about the number of years that it takes someone in the Cal State system to graduate. I don't remember the exact percent, but a very large percent took 5-6 years to graduate. I'm not sure about the UC system though, but I would think it was be similar.
I dont see why it would take longer to graduate because you have to take more loans. All the budget cuts cause is increased debt for us.

and i went to UCI ilikedrugs if you are interested i can give you some ideas of some decent places or at the very least what I and others did (i assume u go to uci?) just pm me if youre interested.
 

Naijaba

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Hello, I was wondering if you knew of any hands on clinical volunteer sites in the Orange County area? I can't find any and did not think that hands on clinical experience in CA even existed because of all the red tape that our state is shrouded in.

Thanks for your help.
The Clinical Care Extenders Program is going to be your best bet:

http://copehealthsolutions.org/hwt/cce.html
 

DbDan

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the one at hoag ugh, its one option but id certainly not call it the best:p.
:laugh: I work at Hoag and see the CCEs all the time. They all sound reasonably happy, granted they don't do too much and alot of them also have an in through it to get a tech job if you have a gap year and want to work in a clinical setting. I was lucky enough to get in without it but 1 of the 3 current techs was CCE and all of the people being considered for hire for the 2 remaining spots were CCEs from what I understand
 

Appless

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:laugh: I work at Hoag and see the CCEs all the time. They all sound reasonably happy, granted they don't do too much and alot of them also have an in through it to get a tech job if you have a gap year and want to work in a clinical setting. I was lucky enough to get in without it but 1 of the 3 current techs was CCE and all of the people being considered for hire for the 2 remaining spots were CCEs from what I understand
the "in" your talking about imo is the only reason to even go through hoag. Everyone of my friends who did it hated it and would always tell me they wish they never did it lol. They either left or wanted to leave but didnt because they already put too much time in/needed to keep a long activity for the application.
 

starl3tte

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You might also want to check out Western Medical Center in Santa Ana. From what I remember as of a couple of years ago, the collegiate volunteers are allowed in the ICU/CCU, ER, or pharmacy. They also have weekly Collegiate Council meetings - good way to take on a leadership position. The patient population also gives you ample opportunity to practice your Spanish. I never did the Clinical Care Extender program at Hoag, but I know some friends who did.
 

Tots

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Wow. So many people from UCI.
 

randombetch

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When I was applying this cycle, most UC's were understanding of my situation. I took AP chem in high school and scored a 5 on the exam. My undergrad institution doesn't give credit for equivalent courses taken when one has a passing AP score. When I explained this, most UC medschools said it would be ok since taking Ochem and biochem confirmed I had a good grasp of the material. UCLA, however, was the only one that was super strict with the "no AP policy." I talked to the admissions office at length, and was told that no exceptions were made. In the best of cases, I was told, after being accepted I'd have to file a special petition with the director of admissions to have my AP credit accepted, but that this was a gamble. According to them, my best bet was to retake all general chemistry in the summer, or something of the sort.

Needless to say, I withdrew my app from UCLA. I wasn't willing to wager the whole cost of application (factoring in 2ry fee, possible interview costs, emotional invesment, etc) to find out at the very end whether they would give me credit for my AP. I was also not willing to retake a whole year of gchem for just one school. I feel this was a bit ridiculous on their part.

The point of that story is: if you want to apply to UCLA, you'd better check with them specifically. They seem to be a whole lot stricter than the other UC's. It also sounds like your case is different, since most biology courses are usually allowed to count toward the bio requirement...

Anyway, I'm curious to hear the official position of the admins on this issue!
Thanks a lot for this info!!!!!!
 
Jan 27, 2010
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On the matter of what to write about your experiences on the AMCAS form, most ADCOM people are very familiar with what the range of experiences is likely to be, so what we are looking for mostly is the TYPE of experience it was. We evaluate this against what we perceive to be your motivation for medicine. If your motivation is helping people, for example, then someone who volunteered as a caregiver to an adult with cerebral palsy wins over someone who raised money for cancer research by creating a 10k run.
 
Jan 27, 2010
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On the matter of padding an application, it may please or disappoint you to know that ADCOM veterans believe that they can see sincerity "in minutes and from a mile away". That is, if you decided to do something because you really love it, chances are you will have a glowing letter from it in your file. If you are trying to cover your bases chances are there is no letter. And this is an important point. We are not discounting your application because you went overseas and did not get a letter from the program director. Rather, we are accelerating the applicant who did.

And this is a key point at the heart of admissions that applicants cannot see. It is less important that we actually read the letters in detail, as it is that we can tie the letter back to your decisions about how you spent your time and invested your energy.
 
Jan 27, 2010
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On the matter of getting interviews at prestigious private programs but not UC programs, I would have to ask the basic two questions - are you a CA resident and when did you submit your application?
 

Naijaba

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On the matter of getting interviews at prestigious private programs but not UC programs, I would have to ask the basic two questions - are you a CA resident and when did you submit your application?
Yes I'm a CA resident and I submitted my application at the end of July, with my UC secondaries complete by the end of August (I received a secondary from every school). Also, I applied MSTP and I have to say it *seemed* like UC Davis, UC Irvine, and UC Los Angeles simply forgot to review MSTP applicants for MD-only. This is based upon discussions over in the MD/PhD thread where almost nobody received MD-only interviews at these schools.
 

Appless

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hey doctor school, had a question about my current cycle. So I guess I would say I have a "good story" as you stated in another post and honestly, I feel its probably the main reason i even got interviews at UC schools even though my stats are pretty averge to maybe even below average (mcat <30, GPA 3.5+, not URM but applied disadvantaged). I wonder though how that sorta plays out post interview. For example, near every out of state school i interviewed at I was accepted at. These schools were schools with more moderate averages and I guess you would call them for the most part not as competitive as CA schools. I interviewed at 3 UC schools and was only accepted to one. Being that I had so many acceptances post interview, im guessing my interview skills are probably not whats holding me back. So would it just be that no matter my "story" or how good my interview is, when the entire committee votes does my subpar to average mcat/gpa really prevent me from being accepted? I have 1 acceptance and 2 WL from the UC interviews.

I was just sorta wondering how that all works and why it seems im having such great luck OOS but not so much at a UC. Though dont get me wrong to even have one acceptance with my stats im thrilled at!:).
 
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May 27, 2009
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hey doctor school, had a question about my current cycle. So I guess I would say I have a "good story" as you stated in another post and honestly, I feel its probably the main reason i even got interviews at UC schools even though my stats are pretty averge to maybe even below average (mcat <30, GPA 3.5+, not URM but applied disadvantaged). I wonder though how that sorta plays out post interview. For example, every out of state school i interviewed at I was accepted at. These schools were schools with more moderate averages and I guess you would call them for the most part not as competitive as CA schools. I interviewed at 3 UC schools and was only accepted to one. Being that I had so many acceptances post interview, im guessing my interview skills are probably not whats holding me back. So would it just be that no matter my "story" or how good my interview is, when the entire committee votes does my subpar to average mcat/gpa really prevent me from being accepted? I have 1 acceptance and 2 WL from the UC interviews.

I was just sorta wondering how that all works and why it seems im having such great luck OOS but not so much at a UC. Though dont get me wrong to even have one acceptance with my stats im thrilled at!:).
I haven't heard of such a story before (mcat <30, GPA 3.5+, not URM but applied disadvantaged) for a CA med-school applicant. Either it must not be that tough to get admitted to med-schools even with those numbers, or you might have been hiding something from us which let you "slide in" among so many strong applicants (without even considering the possibility of that you've fabricated that story by yourself).

So, I'm curious, what else did you have in your application folder to UC schools which let you in with these numbers? No offense, please, I'm serious.
 

Appless

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I haven't heard of such a story before (mcat <30, GPA 3.5+, not URM but applied disadvantaged) for a CA med-school applicant. Either it must not be that tough to get admitted to med-schools even with those numbers, or you might have been hiding something from us which let you "slide in" among so many strong applicants (without even considering the possibility of that you've fabricated that story by yourself).

So, I'm curious, what else did you have in your application folder to UC schools which let you in with these numbers? No offense, please, I'm serious.
Im not sure what you mean that you have never heard of such a story before? Meaning you have never heard of a applicant with these stats admitted in ca? Regardless no offense taken, if you look at the msar youll see basically every school but ucsd took some <30 mcat applicants:). I also didnt fabricate anything. I dont really want to post my whole life story but i just had some things that were very unique that helped me stand out as far as what i had to get through to get where i am today.

If you notice doctor school said in one of his posts

"but it can be difficult in our position as well when we have to choose between a student with a great story and a hint of potential and a student with superior numbers all around and nothing wrong except that they had a privileged life."

basically i assume they felt i fell under the bolded category or something who knows. I have no idea how this process works or why some have success while others dont. :)
 
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Pewl

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There are typically way too many qualified CA applicants applying for way too few CA spots.
 
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Im not sure what you mean that you have never heard of such a story before? Meaning you have never heard of a applicant with these stats admitted in ca? Regardless no offense taken, if you look at the msar youll see basically every school but ucsd took some <30 mcat applicants:). I also didnt fabricate anything. I dont really want to post my whole life story but i just had some things that were very unique that helped me stand out as far as what i had to get through to get where i am today.

If you notice doctor school said in one of his posts

"but it can be difficult in our position as well when we have to choose between a student with a great story and a hint of potential and a student with superior numbers all around and nothing wrong except that they had a privileged life."

basically i assume they felt i fell under the bolded category or something who knows. I have no idea how this process works or why some have success while others dont. :)
Among thousands of applicants each year, I expect there must be a pre-screening process working much earlier than adcoms' reading someone's "great story" (in bolds) about his/her suitability to the program. IMHO, this is a must for medical schools to stay "fair" and consistent in each application cycle for all of the past, present and future applicants. It'd be bitter otherwise if things are working some other ways around.

Hence, if there's some cutoff numbers, which we've been hearing for CA med-schools are very high, for "normal" applicants (not URM, or having "great stories" behind the scenes) which eliminates thousand of applicants during pre-screening by the computer (not even by real adcom people), then I really wanna learn your "great story" behind. If it's something delicate to not mention in here, then I'm not gonna insist. Otherwise, I'd love to hear your great story you mentioned in bold along with which UC school you got admitted (recalling that you said you aren't a URM).
 

Appless

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Among thousands of applicants each year, I expect there must be a pre-screening process working much earlier than adcoms' reading someone's "great story" (in bolds) about his/her suitability to the program. IMHO, this is a must for medical schools to stay "fair" and consistent in each application cycle for all of the past, present and future applicants. It'd be bitter otherwise if things are working some other ways around.

Hence, if there's some cutoff numbers, which we've been hearing for CA med-schools are very high, for "normal" applicants (not URM, or having "great stories" behind the scenes) which eliminates thousand of applicants during pre-screening by the computer (not even by real adcom people), then I really wanna learn your "great story" behind. If it's something delicate to not mention in here, then I'm not gonna insist. Otherwise, I'd love to hear your great story you mentioned in bold along with which UC school you got admitted (recalling that you said you aren't a URM).
its not something too delicate but id rather just not post it here:). Regardless being admitted with my stats certainly happens a lot more then you would think in CA:). UCSD seems to be the only school that is very stat heavy and wont consider applicants with the less then say a 32 mcat or so. This is anecdotal but just from my experience and others this seems to be the case.
 

d1ony5u5

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Ceng, there is a screening for CA schools in which a computer automatically looks at your numbers and either sends you a secondary or puts you in a "potentially rejected" pile. What you may not know is that the "potentially rejected" group actually gets re-screened manually by someone in the Admissions office... The idea, as I've heard from UCI's dean of admissions, is to salvage those students with "a good story". If they see something in your PS or, I imagine, if you identified yourself as a URM or disadvantaged and can substantiate it, they look at your app more closely for mitigating factors, and may offer you a secondary.

So it is not like you are automatically screened out with lower numbers... Right doctor school? Elijah's case is an example that this happens.
 
May 27, 2009
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Ceng, there is a screening for CA schools in which a computer automatically looks at your numbers and either sends you a secondary or puts you in a "potentially rejected" pile. What you may not know is that the "potentially rejected" group actually gets re-screened manually by someone in the Admissions office... The idea, as I've heard from UCI's dean of admissions, is to salvage those students with "a good story". If they see something in your PS or, I imagine, if you identified yourself as a URM or disadvantaged and can substantiate it, they look at your app more closely for mitigating factors, and may offer you a secondary.

So it is not like you are automatically screened out with lower numbers... Right doctor school? Elijah's case is an example that this happens.
Curios, I just analyzed two of the UC medical schools' data below:

Data for 2007-2008

UCLA David Geffen SOM
(CA resident) (CA non-resident) (international)
Applied : 5013 2548 263
Interviewed : 500 215 2

Analysis: Among 7824 applicants in total, only 717 were interviewed, which makes ~9.2% of all the applicants. Therefore, in order for the adcom to catch a "good story" among the pre-screened crowd's PS documents, they need to go over ~91.8% of all the applicants again, which means to them to read 7107 PS documents.


UCI SOM
(CA resident) (CA non-resident) (international)
Applied : 3749 726 61
Interviewed : 455 18 0

Analysis: Among 4536 applicants in total, only 473 were interviewed, which makes ~10.4% of all the applicants. Therefore, in order for the adcom to catch a "good story" among the pre-screened crowd's PS documents, they need to go over ~89.6% of all the applicants again, which means to read 4063 PS documents.

The reason for pre-screening applicants has long been told as

  • that there's way more highly qualified applicants than the available spots, and
  • that there's no sufficient resources and amount of people to evaluate that huge applicant pool each year.
Well, if that's the case, then what in the world makes them to U-turn and march to read the pre-screened applicants' PS documents for the sake of finding a "good story" among them? Are they selecting them in random, or are there some "tangible" criteria?

It'd make sense if they'd have had more spots left to fill in, but the reality is the opposite.

I'm confused, yet am happy that there are guys/gals we're hearing here finding "smooth corners/passages" into medical schools, even in a such state well known of it's high competition in this game.

Life is such...:cool:
 

ucladoc2b

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its not something too delicate but id rather just not post it here:). Regardless being admitted with my stats certainly happens a lot more then you would think in CA:). UCSD seems to be the only school that is very stat heavy and wont consider applicants with the less then say a 32 mcat or so. This is anecdotal but just from my experience and others this seems to be the case.

UCSD looks for good background, as well. I got an interview there with a 32 MCAT, 3.7 GPA. And FYI, I am white and grew up upper middle class. However, the more I looked at what the school offered in terms of research and programminng, the more I realized why they would offer me an interview. Overall, I think the "fit to mission/school" mantra is pretty accurate.
 
Jan 27, 2010
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I have a moment here between child and holiday activities, so I'll try to put in a perspective. Yes it is true that CA schools receive a large number of good applications. And timing is important. But we do not experience all 4000, or 3000, total applications all at once. Applicants tend to submit secondaries in a very staggered fashion (my program annually receives some its best "numbers" candidates' secondaries after our program is already full and overbooked).

So, yes, each program has its own method of putting applications into boxes of priority for interview. That priority can shift as the season progresses, but most of the pulse of activity in an admissions office is a function of the flow of secondaries. So two candidates of equivalent "good story" and numbers may experience different results in terms of being invited for interview if their secondaries were reviewed in different two-week or week cycles.

I think that maybe one of the most useful things I could impart in this forum is that our minds, our psyches, are positioned in the direction of who we invite and accept, not in the direction of who we do not. So the fate of any given application is first a function of its numbers (to rate a secondary), then a function of when its secondary comes in (as a matter of our capacity), then a function of its other qualities, as prorated against the other secondaries in the hopper at that moment.

If there is any advice to be offered on that point it would be to get your secondaries in as soon as possible, and encourage all those less appealing than yourself to do the same...

Best wishes.
 

d1ony5u5

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Curios, I just analyzed two of the UC medical schools' data below:

Data for 2007-2008

UCLA David Geffen SOM
(CA resident) (CA non-resident) (international)
Applied : 5013 2548 263
Interviewed : 500 215 2

Analysis: Among 7824 applicants in total, only 717 were interviewed, which makes ~9.2% of all the applicants. Therefore, in order for the adcom to catch a "good story" among the pre-screened crowd's PS documents, they need to go over ~91.8% of all the applicants again, which means to them to read 7107 PS documents.


UCI SOM
(CA resident) (CA non-resident) (international)
Applied : 3749 726 61
Interviewed : 455 18 0

Analysis: Among 4536 applicants in total, only 473 were interviewed, which makes ~10.4% of all the applicants. Therefore, in order for the adcom to catch a "good story" among the pre-screened crowd's PS documents, they need to go over ~89.6% of all the applicants again, which means to read 4063 PS documents.

The reason for pre-screening applicants has long been told as

  • that there's way more highly qualified applicants than the available spots, and
  • that there's no sufficient resources and amount of people to evaluate that huge applicant pool each year.
Well, if that's the case, then what in the world makes them to U-turn and march to read the pre-screened applicants' PS documents for the sake of finding a "good story" among them? Are they selecting them in random, or are there some "tangible" criteria?

It'd make sense if they'd have had more spots left to fill in, but the reality is the opposite.

I'm confused, yet am happy that there are guys/gals we're hearing here finding "smooth corners/passages" into medical schools, even in a such state well known of it's high competition in this game.

Life is such...:cool:

Ceng, interesting effort, though misguided. I heard from very good authority (again UCI's Dean of Admission), that they do review the pre-screened apps looking for the salvageable ones. From there they offer SECONDARIES. Since I didn't say they were reviewing to offer interviews, all your analysis is kind of irrelevant... From the numbers she presented, I believe it was half (or maybe a third?) of all applications received that were invited to submit secondaries. That's not extremely competitive. I don't know how they review the pre-screened apps. Maybe just a quick look at PS of only those that self ID as disadvantaged/URM? That I did not find out... I'm pretty sure they don't put more effort than they need to in that process, but I do believe it happens.

In summary, that is one way in which people with lower numbers but good stories can advance their application and presumably gain eventual acceptance. That is all I meant to say.
 
Jan 27, 2010
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On this point I would just add that we do not read the personal statements at this stage. We are looking for consistency in more superficial ways. For example, an applicant with numbers that are at or below our modal matriculant profiles is considered appealing if they have high consistency factors. LORs are very important here. We are not reading them, necessarily, but looking at what TYPE they are. Are they two paragraphs long, or do they end with "Please call me if you would like more information..."? A candidate with less than stellar numbers is appealing if three or four of our peers step out of the box and write killer letters for them. And, again, the issue is not that we look at your file and say "no". The issue is that we look at files until we say "yes". Other measures of consistency would be hours spent in service. Candidates with 200-500 hours of service get noticed at UCD and UCI, moreso than maybe at UCSD or UCLA. Those kinds of hours are consistent with an outcome in primary care, for example. You are not dinged if you lack those hours, but we see enough applicants with those kinds of hours.

Each school will press the secondaries for interviews with its own method, but the direction is the same. Within each weekly or biweekly batch of secondaries we will invite based on capacity, consistency, and fit to mission. Only for the last of these might we scan a personal statement. We have other ways of determining your fit to mission, but that is for another post when I have more time.

Please know that I am motivated here because over the years I have interviewed too many great candidates whose outcomes turned on things that could have been avoided or fixed. What is average for a California applicant basically kicks the ass of every other state average. Not fair. I want to see a generation of 2500 CA resident physicians a year, even if enrollments in our state are far from that.
 

d1ony5u5

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On this point I would just add that we do not read the personal statements at this stage. We are looking for consistency in more superficial ways. For example, an applicant with numbers that are at or below our modal matriculant profiles is considered appealing if they have high consistency factors. LORs are very important here. We are not reading them, necessarily, but looking at what TYPE they are. Are they two paragraphs long, or do they end with "Please call me if you would like more information..."? A candidate with less than stellar numbers is appealing if three or four of our peers step out of the box and write killer letters for them. And, again, the issue is not that we look at your file and say "no". The issue is that we look at files until we say "yes". Other measures of consistency would be hours spent in service. Candidates with 200-500 hours of service get noticed at UCD and UCI, moreso than maybe at UCSD or UCLA. Those kinds of hours are consistent with an outcome in primary care, for example. You are not dinged if you lack those hours, but we see enough applicants with those kinds of hours.

Each school will press the secondaries for interviews with its own method, but the direction is the same. Within each weekly or biweekly batch of secondaries we will invite based on capacity, consistency, and fit to mission. Only for the last of these might we scan a personal statement. We have other ways of determining your fit to mission, but that is for another post when I have more time.

Please know that I am motivated here because over the years I have interviewed too many great candidates whose outcomes turned on things that could have been avoided or fixed. What is average for a California applicant basically kicks the ass of every other state average. Not fair. I want to see a generation of 2500 CA resident physicians a year, even if enrollments in our state are far from that.

Oh, really interesting. So PS is only read immediately before inviting for an interview? Does this mean that, at least from what is done at your institution, Secondary essays are more important than primary PS? What I mean to say is that the AdComs pretty much pick who they are going to interview based on EC's and 2ries, and maybe a superficial reading of the 1ry PS? That's what I'm getting from your post, and I wish I had known that before applying...

BTW, thanks for doing this Dr. School!!

PS: I'd also be interested in hearing -along with others here, I presume- what are your thoughts and insight on the information posted in another thread about the UC's opening up another 2 schools (UCR, which is further along the accreditation process, and UC Merced which is in the discussion stage)?
 

alibai3ah

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I haven't heard of such a story before (mcat <30, GPA 3.5+, not URM but applied disadvantaged) for a CA med-school applicant. Either it must not be that tough to get admitted to med-schools even with those numbers, or you might have been hiding something from us which let you "slide in" among so many strong applicants (without even considering the possibility of that you've fabricated that story by yourself).

So, I'm curious, what else did you have in your application folder to UC schools which let you in with these numbers? No offense, please, I'm serious.
I believe Elijah is a non-trad from what I remember? (Although I'm not 100% sure). With non-trads, the focus is not grades/mcat scores. They have been out of school for years and so the focus is what they have done in the 4-5+ years that they have been out.

Strong is also a subjective term. those people you are talking about could have strong numbers but lack in other areas (that are less quantifiable).
 

ILikeDrugs

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I believe Elijah is a non-trad from what I remember? (Although I'm not 100% sure). With non-trads, the focus is not grades/mcat scores. They have been out of school for years and so the focus is what they have done in the 4-5+ years that they have been out.

Strong is also a subjective term. those people you are talking about could have strong numbers but lack in other areas (that are less quantifiable).
Not everyone who is a non-trad has been out of school for years. I graduated with my degree and then started the pre-med courses the next semester. I will have spent 3 years completing them (I'm in CA and it's difficult to get the schedule that I've needed). By the time I apply I will be 27 and won't matriculate till I'm about 28 if all goes smoothly. So I don't see why my grades and MCAT wouldn't count. I basically never stopped going to school.