Getting organized for 2017 application cycle and suggestions on EC improvement

Jan 13, 2013
93
3
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
I have decided to apply during the 2017 cycle with the caveat that I will be a late applicant. The reason is that I decided to invest this whole summer in research so I opted out of the MCAT. Come next cycle, my MCAT score will be the only thing that is submitted late. I plan to have all LORs, essays, and etc. submitted in a timely manner when the applications open.

Besides the personal statement, are there any essays that I can begin working on this winter, or do I need to wait until the applications are available in order to know the topics?

As far as ECs go, I have:
- one summer of research doing organic synthesis of small molecules
- one summer of research learning peptide chemistry (this will be on-going at least until the end of this fall semester )
- right under 400 hours of volunteering in a clinical setting
- will be starting another volunteer opportunity initiating call to patients ensuring everything has been going well since discharge to prevent unnecessary readmissions
- 40 hours of shadowing medicine in Nicaragua
- 20 hours of shadowing in an Oncology clinic
- 8 hours of shadowing in ED
- will shadowing more in the next year
- co-leader of a peer-led study group for my genetics course

Other than that, I don't have much else for EC's. I'm not part of any typical pre-med groups on campus, but that is not to say I don't interact with anyone. In lab, I collaborate with my undergrad peers many times throughout a week. Can I just keep on doing what I'm doing or do I need some extravagant EC?

Lastly, as far as LOR's go, both of my PI's will write a letter. I took a class with one of the PI's and he knows me very well. Additionally, he and my second PI have been friends since grad school so that is a plus because for my peptide chemistry project, I've only interacted with grad students/post docs. For the 3rd letter, I have the option of having a former physician, who is now in administrative duties, write it. I schedule meetings with him from time to time to update him on where I'm at as a pre-med and to talk medicine. I've read that you may not want a physician to write your letter, but I feel like this case may be slightly different.
 
May 4, 2015
916
374
Status
Medical Student
why would you want to delay the mcat for next cycle if you already know a year in advance that this is what you want to do?
 
OP
C
Jan 13, 2013
93
3
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
why would you want to delay the mcat for next cycle if you already know a year in advance that this is what you want to do?
I did this because my spot in lab is only guaranteed until the end of this fall. My grad student is leaving for post-doc work and there is no certainty that another grad student will pick up his work. My thought was that if I did research all weekdays and some weekends throughout the summer, it would increase my chances of remaining in the lab since I could interact with other grad students.
 
May 4, 2015
916
374
Status
Medical Student
I did this because my spot in lab is only guaranteed until the end of this fall. My grad student is leaving for post-doc work and there is no certainty that another grad student will pick up his work. My thought was that if I did research all weekdays and some weekends throughout the summer, it would increase my chances of remaining in the lab since I could interact with other grad students.
I wish you well but you're seriously letting yourself being used. Please listen to this advice: if they want you, even if you work there for 3 days per week they will offer for you to continue. What type of lab is this? I would highly and most genuinely suggest you start preparing for the MCAT. You are not going to graduate school so stop with this oogling over research and wasting time. You will find this out next year if you go with same trajectory.

Are you getting paid btw?
 
OP
C
Jan 13, 2013
93
3
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
I wish you well but you're seriously letting yourself being used. Please listen to this advice: if they want you, even if you work there for 3 days per week they will offer for you to continue. What type of lab is this? I would highly and most genuinely suggest you start preparing for the MCAT. You are not going to graduate school so stop with this oogling over research and wasting time. You will find this out next year if you go with same trajectory.

Are you getting paid btw?
Unfortunately, I'm not getting paid. For the fall, it will just be for course credit, but I will only be doing about 10 hours a week. Recently, I've begun to regret not preparing and taking the MCAT this summer as I had originally planned.
 
May 4, 2015
916
374
Status
Medical Student
Unfortunately, I'm not getting paid. For the fall, it will just be for course credit, but I will only be doing about 10 hours a week. Recently, I've begun to regret not preparing and taking the MCAT this summer as I had originally planned.
I would have a meeting with the PI and discuss your hours. You really should not be wasting your time like this when MCAT is the single biggest factor in admissions. Trust me: you will love this advice if you end up taking the MCAT on time and doing well in it too due to early preparation. I am figuring this out the hard way but obtaining a decent MCAT score is way more important this cycle than any actually. There are people with like 3.4 gpas that absolutely crushed the MCAT and are getting interviews from numerous places this cycle. There is not enough research in the world that you can do to make up for a bad MCAT score. I have been in your seat before. PIs can be very moody. It doesn't matter how hard you work 1 semester before. They will assess you based off your efforts in more recent times. I would say that if you don't get paid at the end of this, there is no reason to risk your future for something that doesn't gaurantee money/publication/even a spot for semesters to come for that matter. Even if you were paid and gauranteed $10/hour is not worth the opportunity cost you are missing out on.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Chadori

Catalystik

The Gimlet Eye
10+ Year Member
Sep 4, 2006
32,834
12,601
The Other Side of the Portal
I have decided to apply during the 2017 cycle with the caveat that I will be a late applicant. The reason is that I decided to invest this whole summer in research so I opted out of the MCAT. Come next cycle, my MCAT score will be the only thing that is submitted late. I plan to have all LORs, essays, and etc. submitted in a timely manner when the applications open.

Besides the personal statement, are there any essays that I can begin working on this winter, or do I need to wait until the applications are available in order to know the topics?

As far as ECs go, I have:
- one summer of research doing organic synthesis of small molecules
- one summer of research learning peptide chemistry (this will be on-going at least until the end of this fall semester )
- right under 400 hours of volunteering in a clinical setting
- will be starting another volunteer opportunity initiating call to patients ensuring everything has been going well since discharge to prevent unnecessary readmissions
- 40 hours of shadowing medicine in Nicaragua
- 20 hours of shadowing in an Oncology clinic
- 8 hours of shadowing in ED
- will shadowing more in the next year
- co-leader of a peer-led study group for my genetics course

Other than that, I don't have much else for EC's. I'm not part of any typical pre-med groups on campus, but that is not to say I don't interact with anyone. In lab, I collaborate with my undergrad peers many times throughout a week. Can I just keep on doing what I'm doing or do I need some extravagant EC?

Lastly, as far as LOR's go, both of my PI's will write a letter. I took a class with one of the PI's and he knows me very well. Additionally, he and my second PI have been friends since grad school so that is a plus because for my peptide chemistry project, I've only interacted with grad students/post docs. For the 3rd letter, I have the option of having a former physician, who is now in administrative duties, write it. I schedule meetings with him from time to time to update him on where I'm at as a pre-med and to talk medicine. I've read that you may not want a physician to write your letter, but I feel like this case may be slightly different.
Two summers of research is more than enough for general application purposes.

Adding some off-campus nonmedical community service to those in need will broaden the appeal of your application.

It is a common request to provide LORs from two science faculty who taught you and one nonscience.

I suggest some office-based primary care Shadowing. A total of 50 US shadowing hours is sufficient.

How late did you intend your MCAT to be?
 
OP
C
Jan 13, 2013
93
3
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Two summers of research is more than enough for general application purposes.

Adding some off-campus nonmedical community service to those in need will broaden the appeal of your application.

It is a common request to provide LORs from two science faculty who taught you and one nonscience.

I suggest some office-based primary care Shadowing. A total of 50 US shadowing hours is sufficient.

How late did you intend your MCAT to be?
I will try to get a primary care connection. What I am foreseeing is that I will take a prep course next summer and have it end right at the beginning of August. I'm assuming there are always early August MCAT dates, from which I will chose an earlier date. This would allow me to get my score early/mid September. It will get submitted immediately and from there I will try my best to get all secondaries submitted in time.

You need some non-medical volunteering--right now, your application reads more MD/PhD or grad school (which is great if you want to go that route). Also, I know that the PS is important in learning more about who you are, but just from your ECs, you seem very into the sciences (and little else). Do you have any significant hobbies or something cool to write about as well?

+1 on LORs, 2 science and 1 nonscience

Good job on planning so early though! After you make your list of schools (which will be sort of difficult with a late MCAT date), you can find past secondary prompts in the school-specific threads/Google. They sometimes change but mostly they stay the same.
My hobbies are more centered around motor sports. I like to go to the track with my motorcycle, mainly because you can practice getting faster without worrying about getting ran over. I like working on bikes and cars as well - I worked on cars during high school on the side. In high school, I would be all over car forums trying to learn and I'd actually skip out on homework. Also, I'm beginning to workout again, but utilizing more powerlifting principles. It's a small hobby so probably not very impactful.

As far as non-medical volunteering, I'm sure my 9th grade summer camp volunteering is a bit far off.
 

Catalystik

The Gimlet Eye
10+ Year Member
Sep 4, 2006
32,834
12,601
The Other Side of the Portal
1) I will take a prep course next summer and have it end right at the beginning of August. I'm assuming there are always early August MCAT dates, from which I will chose an earlier date. This would allow me to get my score early/mid September. It will get submitted immediately and from there I will try my best to get all secondaries submitted in time.

2) My hobbies are more centered around motor sports. I like to go to the track with my motorcycle, mainly because you can practice getting faster without worrying about getting ran over. I like working on bikes and cars as well - I worked on cars during high school on the side.

Also, I'm beginning to workout again, but utilizing more powerlifting principles. It's a small hobby so probably not very impactful.

3) As far as non-medical volunteering, I'm sure my 9th grade summer camp volunteering is a bit far off.
1) This timing is far from optimal. If you hang out on this forum for awhile, you'll see posts repeatedly commenting on how becoming Complete (all Secondaries, LORs, and supplemental submissions sent in) at schools after Labor Day is a terrible idea that decreases your chances.

2) Mechanical expertise and lifting are great hobbies to mention. Having stress-relieving leisuretime activities is a plus.

3) Yep.
 
OP
C
Jan 13, 2013
93
3
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
1) This timing is far from optimal. If you hang out on this forum for awhile, you'll see posts repeatedly commenting on how becoming Complete (all Secondaries, LORs, and supplemental submissions sent in) at schools after Labor Day is a terrible idea that decreases your chances.

2) Mechanical expertise and lifting are great hobbies to mention. Having stress-relieving leisuretime activities is a plus.

3) Yep.
Should I still try to apply anyways? If I'm lucky, I'll matriculate by 24. If I hold it off until the 2018 cycle, I be matriculating when I'm 25.

I know medicine is a long road, but being in my early 30's and finishing up residency, is that normal for someone who hadn't had a prior career?
 

Catalystik

The Gimlet Eye
10+ Year Member
Sep 4, 2006
32,834
12,601
The Other Side of the Portal
1) Should I still try to apply anyways?
2) If I'm lucky, I'll matriculate by 24. If I hold it off until the 2018 cycle, I be matriculating when I'm 25.
1) The answer would depend on your overall application stats and your state of residence. With great numbers and ECs you might (MIGHT) get an acceptance, but it would likely be a less-selective school than you might have aspired to.

2) I work with guy who started med school in his fifties.
 
OP
C
Jan 13, 2013
93
3
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
If you really don't feel ready for the MCAT any earlier than August, then I think you should wait another year. If you apply and don't get in anywhere, then you really have to improve your app significantly (as you'll be a re-applicant the next time around).

And don't be worried about age. The average matriculant age is now 25-26. I shadowed a resident who took 5 years off between undergrad and med school. If you're worried about money, you can get a full-time job and save up a little too.

As always, take advice with a grain of salt. It's ultimately your decision. (also...I'm pre-med, so it's not like I've gotten into any schools to give me credibility ha)
What I could do is take an easier course load next spring and begin integrating MCAT studying and follow that through the whole summer and take the test in August. This would probably be the path of least resistance seeing as how I could always retake between that point and the 2018 app cycle.

1) The answer would depend on your overall application stats and your state of residence. With great numbers and ECs you might (MIGHT) get an acceptance, but it would likely be a less-selective school than you might have aspired to.

2) I work with guy who started med school in his fifties.
My state of residence is Texas. My GPA just peaked into the 3.8x's. Given my upward trend, I expect it to hover or increase slightly. As far as schools that I aspire to go to, four years ago, I only aspired to attend community college. I did well and got into a great state school. Now, I'm not so sure what kind of med school I would like attend. It seems that Texans like to stay in Texas. However, I don't want to sell myself short and not apply to a top school. I remember applying for a University during my community college days and how anxious, yet confident I was of getting accepted. I realize it's different this time, but I'd like to try and get into a top school for the hell of it.