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Harvard? Yale? John Hopkins? What does it take?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Southern Gentleman, Oct 2, 2001.

  1. Southern Gentleman

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    I know by posting this I will probably get some "It doesn't matter what school you go to" replys but here it goes! Right now I feel I'm in a position that if I wanted to work toward the goal of getting into a "top" school, I could! I'm staring at the fork in the road!!! My question is, what does it take to get noticed by the top schools? I'm not talking about the obvious reasons such as flawless grades and MCAT scores, or things that you can easily find on a website ("make sure you take two semesters of calculus")! I know there isn't some generalized standard for getting into these schools (example: "Do this, this,......and this, and you will definately gain admission to this school"), but what do past experiences show? Is it Medical Missions? Research? Creating world peace? Single handedly destroying communism? Any of you that have attended, are attending, and will attend a school of this "type" I would love some insight (and anyone else who can shed light on the matter)! One more thing (sorry to ramble)! I'm sure I will recieve a reply that tells me to "follow my heart, find something I like, and just go with it!!!". I can't argue with that! It's a great answer, and however right it may be please just humor me on this one! Thanks for the help everyone! :confused: :mad: :( :eek: :D
     
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  3. TwoSteveSquared

    TwoSteveSquared Senior Member
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    Follow your heart, find something you like, and just go with it!!! :D
     
  4. Scooby Doo

    Scooby Doo IEatShavedPussyCats
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    I am guessing you go to Baylor in Waco, TX...right?

    Talk to the guy on this site named "Baylor21"...whatever he has done..he sure has done a good job.... he's racked up the interviews at a number of great universities without having a "tremendous" MCAT or other stats. He must have many other good qualities that took him that far.

    Secondly, ask yourself why you would really want to go to Harvard, JHU, or Yale?
    Personally, yale is the only one I think that has a unique program and you will notice a difference between there and another school. JHU...well, that's just a name...my friend just interviewed there and he said the only good thing that students could say about it was "Well..it's Johns Hopkins!!"....yea..sure...not my type of school..even if it is ranked 2nd in the nation. Harvard, you just have to catch their eye...try flying to outer space...I am sure that will improve your chances.
    Why do you limit your scope to these ivies? In fact, Stanford is harder to get into than Yale...so why not add that to your list? Don't go to a school just b/c of it's prestige...at least like the people and area around the school.
     
  5. lady in red

    lady in red Senior Member
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    Scooby, you are funny! I'll try repairing the Hubble Space Telescope for starters.
     
  6. praying4MD

    praying4MD 2K Member
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    Exactly. ;)
     
  7. Sonya

    Sonya Senior Member
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    okaaaaaayyyy....

    Let's say we want to get in to a Top medical school. forget why. Top, washu, hopkins, harvard, UPenn, etc. Top 5 to ten. You want to include stanford? Okay. whatever.

    What medschools are looking for.
    GOOD GPA! number one.

    and the rest of that stuff, good mcats, good rec letters,etc. In extra activities, show a commitment to one thing, and well developed in that. Everyones volunteered at a hospital. What did you do in that, extrodinarily well. Even if it's somethign not related to medicine, if you followed something in DEPTH, eg. top athlete at school. that looks really good.

    maturity, social skills, hospital experience, those are also important.

    GPA is number one. MCAT is number two. Rec letters are number three.

    Hope this helps.

    What is good about hopkins, harvard, wahu, etc. First of all I go to washu undergrad, and I LOVE it and would without thinking go to WashU medschool if i got in. The atmosphere, profs, etc is great. a Lot of top schools (i had friends who left hopkins and trasferred here) don't have good atmosphere. too competitive, etc. But top schools have good funding. This means better facilities and lot more opportunities for research.

    If you're going into primary care, i would say, top schools don't really help. There are top primary care schools, and those are diff from top schools overall. Look at each school, think about what's important to you, and decided which you want. IMAGE IS DECEIVING!! But what i described will help in admission to any school. Top schools, have all of those well developed. Eg. 4.0, 38 mcats, peace corps, EMT, star gymnast.

    In terms of follow your heart... yeah that's what everyone tells me. Follow your heart, yeah, but go into one thing and excel. So that, you have something unique about you.
    -Sonya
     
  8. tidy_kiwi

    tidy_kiwi Senior Member
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    Learn how to make balloon animals....then use these to make home video recreations of Hollywood blockbusters like Star Wars and Jurassic Park. Send these to the Adcoms.
     
  9. coop

    coop Senior Member
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    the reason people say do what you like is because that's what you will do best. if you spend time getting in depth into something you enjoy, you will be motivated to take it farther, and when you talk about that thing (no matter what it is, ems, painting, research, whatever) you will speak about it with heartfelt passion. I'm not in anywhere yet, but from my interviews I get the feeling that they are just looking to weed out the people who try to be fake. I think they can see the type of people who do something to impress them instead of doing it cause thats what they want to do. So it doesn't matter if you like to hear it or not, doing what you enjoy, taking that and pushing it to new levels, that's what it's all about. Do that and you'll be happy, and if adcoms see you're happy with the things you've done then they'll look favorably on you.... ok, I'm off the soapbox, goodnite :)
     
  10. ken

    ken Member
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  11. sandflea

    sandflea Senior Member
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    huh?! you assume that because baylor21 is racking up the interviews with strong but reasonable stats, then it must be because he's a URM and is thus receiving preferential treatment??? you imply that you believe he's a URM because you don't think there's any other way that he could be getting so many interviews. that's a loaded statement if i ever heard one, and pretty damn presumptuous. his stats are very competitive--a 30 MCAT is above the average for accepted applicants. MD/PhD programs don't necessarily look for the same things that regular MD programs do. whether he's a URM or not is really pretty irrelevant: maybe he's done a ton of research, with publications to boot--that's going to factor in very heavily. maybe he's done many other impressive things. grades and MCATs aren't everything. not every URM gets into med school and not every non-URM who interviews at top schools is a superstar.

    besides, why do you feel the need to apologize for calling him a URM? are you actually apologizing for possibly mistakenly calling him a minority? why is this something for him to be ashamed of and how is it something that can be 'taken the wrong way'? for crying out loud, he is who he is--do YOU ever make apologies for who YOU are?

    i'm not trying to be harsh but i really took offense to your post. and no, i'm not a URM, just someone who hopes you read your posts a little more carefully before you submit them.
     
  12. Rumit

    Rumit Senior Member
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    I don't really want to get into this URM discussion, but MD/PhD admissions reqs are usually higher. Many schools say that on average people have 3.7 or 3.8's and 33+ MCATs. So, to have lower stats you'd have to make up for that somehow...that doesn't you have to be URM though. It could be with phenomenal research experience or any number of other ways.

    Adam
     
  13. kobe8

    kobe8 Member
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    It doesn't matter what school you go to as long as it provides the resources you personally need (i.e. accessibility to research, first year patient contact, excellent support staff, etc.). In the end, residencies for the most part are going to look at your board scores and evaluations during your 3rd and 4th year rotations.
    With regards to Ken's statement and Rumit's inference, I will let ignorance speak unwarranted.
     
  14. praying4MD

    praying4MD 2K Member
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    Actually, I think he has a 31 MCAT, and although he has some Native American blood in him, I am pretty sure that he DID NOT claim URM status because he said he felt that he was not disadvantaged. He has a lot more dignity than to use that to his advantage.

    I could be wrong, but I think that's the story on Baylor21. Also, he is a pretty amazing guy and probably has great experiences elsewhere. There are a million other ways to stand out in the eyes of adcoms.
     
  15. med_skool_fool

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  16. praying4MD

    praying4MD 2K Member
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    UnderRepresented Minority.
     
  17. AJM

    AJM SDN Moderator
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    I feel like this discussion has digressed a bit... ;) I'd like to reply to Southern Gentlemen's post from my perspective as a Stanford medical student who has been doing interviews and secondary reviews for my school for the past three years.

    First off, I know you're not specifically asking about Stanford, but there are a lot of similarities between how a lot of these schools approach admissions. Secondly, I can only speak for Stanford's process -- many of the aspects of the selection process is very school-specific. But I'll just tell you what I know.

    For some reason, many people think that the primary thing that these schools look for is GPA and MCAT. That is simply not true. Stanford, just like Harvard, Yale, JHU, etc, can easily fill up their entire class with people who have 4.0 GPAs and 42 MCATs, but they choose not to, because it makes for a very boring class. So what purpose do your scores serve you? They are there to get your foot in the door. Stanford has a complex formula that they don't tell any of us that takes into account things like GPA, MCAT, what school you got these from, number of extracurriculars, etc. They make some arbitrary cut-off, and those who get above it get a secondary.

    That's where I and the other file reviewers come in. We do review a number of secondaries of applicants who have MCATs of 30 or less, and they are not all URMs. Often those applicants have done some amazing extracurriculars or something along that line. But at that point, scores are not the primary thing we're evaluating. We do also take a look at rec letters, but I'll tell you a little secret: everyone's rec letters always look the same. Recommendations are SUPPOSED to be good, so good recommendations don't tell us anything except that the applicant is not bad. ;) We look for exceptional recommendations as well as negative recs. A negative rec raises a huge red flag. An exceptional rec (ie. "this student is one of the 5 best students I have worked with in my 20 years as a college professor") can do a huge amount for an applicant. A typical rec won't hurt or help an applicant.

    As far as what we look for, it's pretty much the same for the secondaries as well as the interviews. We are looking for students who would fit in well at Stanford, and who we feel would significantly contribute to the medical school. That's kind of a general statement because the people who have been accepted here stand out in very different ways. As far as what Stanford emphasizes, leadership and initiative are #1. Things such as starting a club or organizing a community service activity, for example, are looked upon very highly. After leadership and initiative are things such as: research, creativity (may be expressed in many different ways), teaching, significant community service, significant clinical experience, potential interest in academic medicine.

    Stanford is not really looking for applicants who have a little bit of everything, but they are looking for people who have really excelled in one or two things, and have some experience in a few of the other aspects. Also, you don't need to have every characteristic I listed above. I have many classmates who have no interest in academic medicine, several who had no real research experience when they applied, etc. Last but not least of these qualities, you HAVE to be a nice and mature person! This is true for every school. I can't tell you how many people have been rejected soley for the reason that they came across either in the secondary or interview as arrogant or immature. That's not to say you shouldn't promote yourself, because that's what this whole process is about. But you should definitely not carry the attitude that you're better than everyone else (believe it or not, I have come across a number of applicants who seemed to have that attitude!).

    So many of the above posters gave you good advice. Do what you are interested in. If you are really interested in it, you will develop a much more significant involvement in that area, and have an overall better application in the future.

    Sorry for such a long post! :)
     
  18. Hopkins2010

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    For the record, I did NOT claim URM status. I do have some Cherokee blood, but not enough to make me look distinctively Native American (whatever that means). Technicaly I have enough of a blood percentile to be considered a Native American URM, but it would really be misleading to claim URM status for me, even though its not outright lying. I look like the typical white guy. Just ask Scooby, he's seen me in person.

    Yes, it is true that I only have a 31 MCAT. And yes, it is also true that I am applying MD/PhD to many programs.

    I guess I dont fit the classic mold of what a typical MD/PhD applicant has in terms of stats, but I feel very fortunate to have the interview opportunities that I have gotten.

    Now, I might not get accepted to a single program. But this process has revealed to me anyways that even the top MD/PhD programs in the country arent all about stats.

    In my personal case, I think what has really helped me is research experience. On the interviews that I've had so far, I have gotten very positive comments about it.

    I can personally comment that programs like Pitt, Yale, Wash. U, UVA, JHU, and Michigan MD/PhD programs look at more than just numbers, otherwise they would NEVER have even considered offering me an interview in the first place.

    I cant say specifically that they arent looking for 33+ MCATs because I havent been accepted anywhere yet. But I can say with confidence that they are at least open to the idea of considering applicants who do not have such high stats.

    If I get rejected from all these programs, I doubt it has to do simply with a somewhat low MCAT score, but probably has more to do with my application as a whole.

    Good luck to everyone, and please dont rely so much on what you hear about competitiveness in these forums, for I have found that it tends to be one dimensional on numbers, and does not accurately reflect the sum total that med schools use to evaluate applicants.

    Before this process started, I also believed that I had very little chance of making MD/PhD or getting into a top med school simply because of my rather mediocre MCAT and the fact that I dont go to an Ivy League school. But, I knew that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didnt even attempt to try for it. So, I am giving it my absolute best shot, and if that isnt good enough for these top programs, then I can live with that. But what I cannot live with is wondering someday what my potential could have been.
     
  19. Southern Gentleman

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    Thank you everyone for the informative opinions! Just to clear one thing up, I am not excluding any school (such as stanford) as an option. I simply chose "Harvard? Yale? John Hopkins?" to spark some interest! Thanks again, this certainly helped!!! :D
     
  20. Sarena

    Sarena Member
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    Baylor21,

    From reading many of your posts I get the impression that you really have it together (intelligence, common sense and compassion,etc. etc.). If your personality came through on your applications like it does on your posts, that would explain why you have so many interviews. I'd wish you luck but somehow I don't think you will need it.
     
  21. SIXTHSENSE

    SIXTHSENSE Junior Member
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    Wow, everyones so positive here, such a contrast to the people at Princeton Review's message board...
     
  22. none

    none 1K Member
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    Baylor21, what exactly do you consider a "blood percentile" worthy of claiming to be a URM? Enough for the tribal card?
     
  23. Hopkins2010

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    Well, I'm just going by what my premed advisor told me. I had to write an essay for my premed committee, and I referred in that essay about participating in the Red Earth festival in Oklahoma City, which is the largest Native American celebration and festival in the country. I didnt specifically mention anything more about my ethnic makeup.

    The chair of the premed committee read my essay, and he asked about my background. He also asked what percentile of Cherokee blood I have. Many years ago, my mother acquired a CDIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood), issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Cherokee tribal card for my family. So, according to that CDIB, I am 1/8th blood, which my premed advisor stated made me a URM.

    I didnt agree with him, so I just blew him off. I do have some exposure to Cherokee culture through my mothers side of the family, which has a heavy descendancy from the original Cherokee who were forced to move to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears. But my PERSONAL experience and life history is an aberration from most Cherokee. I lived in a large urban area and went to the best public high school system in the state. My family was not relegated to being dependent on the government for the monthly stipend they give out to official BIA tribal families. Due to these facts and the fact that I am not greater than half blood, I knew it would be a farse to claim URM status, even though TECHNICALLY I do qualify for it according to my advisor.

    Note that I did not independently check his assertion that 1/8th blood is enough to claim Native American URM status. He might be wrong about that.

    The ultimate authority is of course AMCAS. I dont remember the web app giving a good description of what constitutes claiming URM status. I dont remember any specific blood percentile given though.
     
  24. none

    none 1K Member
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    In general, I don't think it's the best advice to ignore the advice of the chair of a premed committee.
     
  25. Hopkins2010

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    In general, I agree. But with this specific situation, I feel I did the right thing, even if it was against his advice. That would look pretty embarrasing showing up for interviews, claiming URM status. Sure, I could have whipped out my CDIB and Cherokee card, but then I would have to answer lots of questions about why I dont "look" Native and why I claimed URM status. The admissions committees would have looked suspiciously at me right from the start, not exactly a good way to increase your chances and get someone on the committee to push your case for acceptance.

    Sure, I could have checked the box, and it might have helped my app, but just because I CAN do it doesnt mean that I necessarily SHOULD do it.

    Let me just add to the discussion above that I think letters of rec are very important. It is true that most people have good letters, and you need a really outstanding letter to look good amongst all these well qualified people. I dont want to brag or sound cocky, but I think my letters were not just good, but truly exceptional. I didnt realize that at the time I was actually asking for letters, but got a glimpse later thru a conversation with a faculty member.

    In my case, I found out that my recommenders were going to say not just good things about me, but great things. One professor told me later (even though I didnt ask about his letter) the following:

    "What I attempted to do, was to sit down and write the VERY best letter that I have ever written"

    I think this may have helped me over the top in getting some interviews, although it might not mean very much when it comes time to determine if I get accepted or not. I guess I will find out soon enough.

    The letters of rec thing was a nice surprise that I hadnt really counted on beforehand when I was trying to get a good feel of how I stack up against such a highly intelligent, motivated group of individuals.

    Truly, there is no one thing about me that dictates why I would be successful with this process. I think I'm a good example that you dont have to be an absolute superstar on numbers or go to 3rd world nations to start health clinics. You also dont have to be the President's Medalist at the University of Washington (groundhog, you crack me up
    :D ). It is certainly possible that I might not get a single acceptance, which would be extremely troubling and disappointing, but possible and not unheard of nonetheless.

    Somebody said that Pitt only sent out 150 of those early interview letters, which really surprised me since I saw all the people on this forum (including me) who got those letters. SDN tends to have a lot of the upper crust applicants, and its easy to be discouraged hearing about the exploits of others. I hope everyone keeps that in mind.

    Good luck to you all, hopefully I will have a chance to meet more of you this interview season.
     
  26. Rumit

    Rumit Senior Member
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    Baylor21: When are you interviewing at UMich MSTP? I just got invite for the 15/16th of November...just e-mailed to confirm. I'm just looking forward to getting this stage over and getting to know some of my possible future classmates.

    Adam
     
  27. MacGyver

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    Hey Adam,

    Congrats on the interview. I will see you there because mine is also on Nov. 15th and 16th. Michigan is a top program, I cant wait.

    Good luck.
     
  28. nochaser

    nochaser Senior Member
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    Baylor, you remind me of a friend--he's biracial,looks 100% white, but he's got nothing to "whip out" to prove that he's African American, other than family pix, but his white mom and black dad could be anyone! I say you could have used URM status...but, coulda woulda shoulda...
     

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