How big of a role do you think connections play in terms of admissions?

Oct 31, 2010
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Say you know someone personally who is on the committee, or you know a department head affiliated with the medical school. If your stats are average (or even below average), does this connection give you a favorable advantage?
 

CrimsonKing

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Say you know someone personally who is on the committee, or you know a department head affiliated with the medical school. If your stats are average (or even below average), does this connection give you a favorable advantage?
Depends on the school.

At Emory? That can make a huge difference (known from personal anecdotes).

At UTSW? Won't help you much (also known from personal anecdotes).
 

Doctor Strange

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I think at some (most?) places, that would count as a conflict of interest, and they would be obligated to remove themselves from the committee. Not too sure on this one...
 

PreMedOrDead

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I think at some (most?) places, that would count as a conflict of interest, and they would be obligated to remove themselves from the committee. Not too sure on this one...
I believe conflict of interest depends on a lot of things though.

If your interviewer is your father? Probably a conflict of interest. Now, if your interviewer knows the PI you worked with at the school and the doctor you shadowed is his FP? Probably not a conflict of interest, but probably going to help you. Especially if they are school affiliated. I can't imagine having a history with a school would ever be a bad thing. You're probably much more likely to matriculate there.
 

Plue00

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My PI is a pretty high up person in the radiation oncology department at my school. I was joking around telling him "blah blah blah, you should just let me into the med school here haha" and he said "I can if I want to. You just need to be average for the medical school"

Well... the average accepted person has a 3.8/35 at this med school... so that won't help me. But this can give you guys info that having connections can help a lot. It won't help you if you're a a below average applicant, though.
 

GorillaPanic

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LizzyM has made mention in the past that applicants in this situation typically get a courtesy interview, so the committee is definitely cognizant of the relation. After the invite, I still bet that the decision weighs on the interview performance just as other applicants. However, depending on the importance and seniority of the person on the committee, it could make a mediocre candidate more likely to be accepted.

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music2doc

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LizzyM has made mention in the past that applicants in this situation typically get a courtesy interview, so the committee is definitely cognizant of the relation. After the invite, I still bet that the decision weighs on the interview performance just as other applicants. However, depending on the importance and seniority of the person on the committee, it could make a mediocre candidate more likely to be accepted.

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A mediocre candidate doesn't get accepted. There are too many stellar candidates for this to happen. A somewhat less outstanding one who was borderline, sure, but a truly below average candidate, not likely. You don't want to be the guy that committee comes to know as "brings our school mediocre candidates." Connections do help, though. Even as an M1, I've been personally asked (1 on 1) by our Director of Admissions if there were any applicants I wanted to see interviewed. I asked for a rain check. I think it helps more pre-interview than post.
 
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A mediocre candidate doesn't get accepted. There are too many stellar candidates for this to happen. A somewhat less outstanding one who was borderline, sure, but a truly below average candidate, not likely. You don't want to be the guy that committee comes to know as "brings our school mediocre candidates." Connections do help, though. Even as an M1, I've been personally asked (1 on 1) by our Director of Admissions if there were any applicants I wanted to see interviewed. I asked for a rain check. I think it helps more pre-interview than post.
mediocre in terms of what? Stats alone?
 

KinesiologyNerd

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I mean it can't hurt. For me, one of the docs I work for used to be on the adcom when he was a student at the local med school. So I made sure to build up a good rapport with him, and he sent a "strong" letter to the dean. A week later I got an II. Who knows if that's why, but I'll take it. I want to get in because of me, but I'll take what I can get at this point.
 

txMed7

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A mediocre candidate doesn't get accepted. There are too many stellar candidates for this to happen. A somewhat less outstanding one who was borderline, sure, but a truly below average candidate, not likely. You don't want to be the guy that committee comes to know as "brings our school mediocre candidates." Connections do help, though. Even as an M1, I've been personally asked (1 on 1) by our Director of Admissions if there were any applicants I wanted to see interviewed. I asked for a rain check. I think it helps more pre-interview than post.
I think he meant mediocre in terms of the student body at that school as determined by previous classes. By definition (at least by numbers alone), let's say the 25th percentile to the 75th percentile of any given medical class is "mediocre" relative to the top 25 percent.

On an absolute scale, nobody is mediocre. Relatively speaking? Some subset of any given medical school class is going to be mediocre relative to some other subset of the class by definition.
 

MusicJunkie

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I can't really speak to how much of a factor it can play, but I'm sure in some cases, it can give an applicant an edge. On some secondary applications, you also have to indicate whether or not you had family members who attended that school or to indicate whether or not you have ties in any way.
 

txMed7

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Also, n=1 but my father knew the prior president of UT Houston's medical school. When I facetiously asked if he could get help get me in, he asked for my stats and then said that I probably don't have a great shot. I'm a very poor student with very low/mediocre numbers, and he was honest and said I had <<< 50% chance of making it. Turns out he was right (I'm a re-applicant who will likely have to apply a 3rd time in the near future).

But you know I'd never want to get into a medical school by this method anyway. I firmly believe that medical school should be a meritocracy. The best candidate should get in - no exceptions.

Instead of fishing for nepotistic connections, I'm determined to make my application much stronger for future rounds. Nepotism would completely undermine the implied social contract physicians have with society.
 

OCDOCDOCD

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LizzyM has made mention in the past that applicants in this situation typically get a courtesy interview, so the committee is definitely cognizant of the relation. After the invite, I still bet that the decision weighs on the interview performance just as other applicants. However, depending on the importance and seniority of the person on the committee, it could make a mediocre candidate more likely to be accepted.

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Keep in mind that LizzyM is also only speaking from her own experiences at her one school. Other schools may not have as much integrity. I suspect that this is the reason why you see extreme outliers on the low end when looking at school stats.

It'd be a pretty silly practice though. If you admit someone who's not qualified to be there then it's their funeral.
 

txMed7

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Keep in mind that LizzyM is also only speaking from her own experiences at her one school. Other schools may not have as much integrity. I suspect that this is the reason why you see extreme outliers on the low end when looking at school stats.

It'd be a pretty silly practice though. If you admit someone who's not qualified to be there then it's their funeral.
I've always assumed that one outlier (GPA or MCAT) is always made up for by an outlier in the opposite direction of the (presumably) countervailing measure (GPA or MCAT).

A 3.3 GPA is almost always made up for by a 37 or 38 MCAT (98th-99th percentile), or so it seems.
 

VictorAlpha

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Say you know someone personally who is on the committee, or you know a department head affiliated with the medical school. If your stats are average (or even below average), does this connection give you a favorable advantage?
From my experience, it wasn't like an "in or out" thing. It would have just ensured that I would have gotten a "more serious" look at my application (my "connection" was just someone that knew someone...not direct ADCOM aquaintance) As it happens I turned down the interview for this school because it was the best thing overall.

I would guess if you had a very good connection though it might be more important.