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Pampelmuse
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Hello.
This post is concerning application for med school in 2010. I'm not so sure what my chances are of getting in yet, because I haven't taken the MCATs, but I've gotten a 3.8 overall GPA and 3.8 science. I've done really well in my classes (in my opinion) and I've had less trouble than most of my other pre-med friends. I go to a private school that has a med school (and so also a hospital). My real problem is with extracurriculars, because I haven't really done any, which is horrible, because I'm going to be a junior. I did some volunteering in a hospital in my senior year of high school, but I have been working full time in the summer (also, I had to do Gen Chem II last summer due to getting only Gen Chem I from AP credit) and I am a double major-double degree (BS+BA) with a minor, so I have loads of work during school (I know: excuses, excuses).

I'm planning on volunteering this August and maybe doing some shadowing if I can still get it. When I get back to school I plan on volunteering 3-4hrs/wk at the med school hospital for this and next semester. I am doing independent research as a course in the spring and I plan on getting connections so that I might work in a lab and/or at the hospital this summer. I live extremely far from my school, so I'll just stay there. I'm planning to take the MCATs in June 2010 and I'm already worrying about preparation (buying TBR books in a few days).

Besides all that, what are my chances if I do what I project to do, and how can I improve my chances? I know that I really screwed up extracurriculars, but my school has hardly any good clubs and I didn't even think about volunteering at the hospital until this summer. I've otherwise been busy working retail in the summer because my school is expensive.

I hope I didn't post this in the wrong section. I saw a lot of replies giving advice, which seemed pertinent to me. Thanks!

Edit: I forgot to mention that I am going to be a TA for Organic Chemistry in the fall and spring semesters (I and II, respectively), teaching mostly sophomores. I also applied for an intensive pre-med program at my local hospital for next summer, which I might or might not attend depending on what I could do at my school's hospital. I'm shooting as high as I can, and I also live in Pennsylvania (I'd love to be considered at UPenn, since it is both conveniently located near me and it is a great school...please tell me anything I could do to shine on their application.)
 
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redlight

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my advice would be to do extra curriculars which interest you. if there are no clubs that do things you enjoy, start your own.

so applying with some volunteering, research and shadowing is pretty standard but i think you are still in good shape due to your gpa. a solid mcat score (>32) would put you in the top half of all matriculants so i think you'd be in good shape for middle to low "tier" schools.
 

Stratego

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Median stats for those accepted to UPenn are GPA 3.8 and 35 MCAT. They are a research powerhouse, so besides great stats, two years of substantive research and possibly a publication will help you get in, too. Med schools generally have similiar expectations for ECs. Besides the research, get in at least a year of clinical experience at a rate of 3-4 hours per week, though a year and a half seems average. For shadowing, 8-40 hours for each of 2-3 different types of doctor would be good. Other community service, leadership, and teaching (like TA) are also desirable.
 

camaras2480

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Am I missing something? You can't take the June 2010 MCAT for admission to medical school in 2010.
 
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Pampelmuse
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Sorry, I guess that was confusing. I'm taking the MCAT June 2010 (my best guess), I'll be applying that year and I graduate in 2011...so applying to be class of 2015.
 

camaras2480

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Sorry, I guess that was confusing. I'm taking the MCAT June 2010 (my best guess), I'll be applying that year and I graduate in 2011...so applying to be class of 2015.
ohhh ok :)
 
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Pampelmuse
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Hello.

A few more questions are here so that I keep up with the game. I'm very anxious to get into the best school that I can. I don't want to take a year off unless I get into a very good fellowship or research opportunity (or possibly an extra year to go abroad for research).

Do schools consider research if I were continuing it past the date of application (that is to say, I plan on continuing it into senior year, although I've only done research for junior year)? Also, does being trilingual hold any water, considering English is my native language? What are some examples of "middle tier" and which "top tiers" might I have a chance out, considering I keep my GP of 3.8, get a 35+MCAT and complete 40hrs. shadowing 3 professions of MD, 3-4hrs/week clinical for 1.5-2yrs (into senior year), and research for at least the spring and summer semesters before application (and hopefully continuation into senior year)? Again, I live in PA.

Thanks so much!
 

Stratego

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Along with stats and other ECs, whatever research you list on your application, that is what will determine if you receive an interview. Schools can be advised later in the cycle that you continued with research, like in an update letter, but that information is more likely to help you get off a waitlist if you already interviewed.

Being trilingual looks good, but don't claim fluency unless you are capable of interviewing in that language, as sometimes med schools pick interviewers to do just that.

With your proposed stats you'd have a shot at the top 20 schools if you wait an extra year to apply and get that extra year of research (presumably of substantive quality) on your application. Otherwise, aim below that level and you'd have a decent chance of getting an acceptance. Look at the school selection spreadsheet stickied at the top of this forum for other school ideas.
 

camaras2480

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Along with stats and other ECs, whatever research you list on your application, that is what will determine if you receive an interview. Schools can be advised later in the cycle that you continued with research, like in an update letter, but that information is more likely to help you get off a waitlist if you already interviewed.

Being trilingual looks good, but don't claim fluency unless you are capable of interviewing in that language, as sometimes med schools pick interviewers to do just that.

With your proposed stats you'd have a shot at the top 20 schools if you wait an extra year to apply and get that extra year of research (presumably of substantive quality) on your application. Otherwise, aim below that level and you'd have a decent chance of getting an acceptance. Look at the school selection spreadsheet stickied at the top of this forum for other school ideas.
Yeah don't claim fluency if you can't interview. Just say you can "communicate." Then, later, you can say that you can "communicate," just not effectively. lol
 

Stratego

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If one of your languages is Spanish, i think you get bonus points in a lot of states.
 
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Pampelmuse
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Well, I'm starting to learn Spanish as a hobby. I'd consider myself fluent in German, although the degree of expression required in an interview might be hindered by my lack of specialized terminology (I haven't taken a course on professional German). German is my second major, by the way. I definitely have a much better English repertoire.

Also, Stratego, by substantive do you mean that I presented a paper on it at a conference or that it was published in a respectable scientific journal, etc.? I'm trying to get an idea of what good it might do me.
 

camaras2480

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Well, I'm starting to learn Spanish as a hobby. I'd consider myself fluent in German, although the degree of expression required in an interview might be hindered by my lack of specialized terminology (I haven't taken a course on professional German). German is my second major, by the way. I definitely have a much better English repertoire.

Also, Stratego, by substantive do you mean that I presented a paper on it at a conference or that it was published in a respectable scientific journal, etc.? I'm trying to get an idea of what good it might do me.
General scheme:
Publication is the highest scoring research accomplishment.
Next tier is poster/presentation/funding.
Then it is long term commitment/internship.
Next is research assistant/gofer - not real research.
Last is no research.
 

Mobius1985

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Here is LizzyM's posting on how to judge the level of research you've attained. LizzyM is an adcomm for one of the highly-selective med schools who posts on SDN regularly.
I'd rank research experience in this way:


11. Housekeeping and supply ordering.

10. Helping others with projects, serving as a research assistant or technician.

9. Animal surgery.

8. Pilot work prior to writing a proposal for a testable hypothesis.

7. Responsibility for testing a hypothesis.

6. Funding of your project (not your PI's funding)

5. Poster presentation at a student event

4. Podium presentation at a student event

3. Poster presentation at a regional or national meeting in your specialty (published abstract)

2. Podium presentation at a regional or national meeting in your specialty (published abstract)

1. Authorship in a peer reviewed, national publication.
 

camaras2480

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Here is LizzyM's posting on how to judge the level of research you've attained. LizzyM is an adcomm for one of the highly-selective med schools who posts on SDN regularly.
Nice, thanks!

I'm glad my guesses were more or less in line, lol
 
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Pampelmuse
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I'm not exactly sure how my school runs its independent research course, but which # would this be considered under LizzyM, if at all? I'm looking to use the course as a launchpad for further research in the lab I'll be conducting it under, if I've not already found a lab on my own by that time. I'm curious to know the magnitude of the course on a decision by a school, anyway.

Thanks guys. You've given me a lot of great answers so far. It's really giving me some adrenaline about applying to med school.
 
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I just scanned through the thread, so this may have already been mentioned, but from what I've gathered you want some of your ECs to be unique and give a WOW factor. That is, you want something beyond the standard 2 years research, 300 hours volunteering, 150 hours shadowing, blah, blah, blah. The latter get you in the door and everyone has them (at the better schools), the former make you shine. Think about activities that you have been truly passionate about that also demonstrate a connection to valuable characteristics in medicine.
 

camaras2480

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I'm not exactly sure how my school runs its independent research course, but which # would this be considered under LizzyM, if at all? I'm looking to use the course as a launchpad for further research in the lab I'll be conducting it under, if I've not already found a lab on my own by that time. I'm curious to know the magnitude of the course on a decision by a school, anyway.
I'm not sure I understand your question - what?
 
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Let me reword the question: I'm taking an independent research course as part of my major. What level of research would this course be considered? Is it like #8 on the list?
 

Stratego

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It depends on what you do. Some people take such a course and end up washing glassware for the post-doc they're assigned to. Others learn to run assays or do other procedures and act as a lab tech helping with someone else's idea. Some have an original idea, write their own grant with the help of a mentor, get funding, and do a complete project with no help from anyone (but still with the blessing of a sponsoring faculty member). Others do the latter and get published as well. Your description of the extent to which you are involved in a project and the description of the project will help determine how "substantive " the project was.

Without talking to the person who will oversee your course, you don't know the extent of the responsibility you'll be allowed to take on. Generally, everyone starts by helping others first, then gains the tools (and confidence of the PI) to eventually move on and do a truly independent project.

So you don't have to publish or present to have a project be considered "substantive." What you do need is to take on responsibility for as many aspects of the project as possible. At least, that's my opinion. Does that help?
 

camaras2480

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Let me reword the question: I'm taking an independent research course as part of my major. What level of research would this course be considered? Is it like #8 on the list?
Read what Stratego said. But also, don't try to adjust your plans to try and move up that listing from #1-11. You can reach #1 (publication) from any given position - it is a matter of time, commitment, and success. Yes, some people start as a gofer/dishwasher, and others start as a research tech, so they are a little ahead starting out.
 
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Pampelmuse
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Ok, thanks to both of you guys. You've been very helpful. I've planned to meet with my adviser about getting a head start this semester to build credentials, so that I can make the best of my independent research course. I'm also planning on a very selective summer program, which I hope won't interfere with MCAT. I'm very excited about the idea, so I hope I can make it come true.

WSH
 

Moebius

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Mobius1985,

Thank you for posting the quote form LizzyM! It was very helpful.