Medical How can I improve for a third application cycle?


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Goro

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CA ORM here with a 3.9/513 (125 in C/P) from UC Berkeley. I applied in the 2018-2019 cycle to MD schools only and received 2 late IIs -> 2 WLs (1 top 50, 1 unranked) that were not fruitful. This year I applied to a much broader set of schools, including DOs, and received 4 MD IIs -> 3 WLs (1 top 10 II -> R // 2 top 50s and 1 unranked II -> 3 WLs). For context, this cycle I rewrote my PS and secondaries and had them vetted heavily. I also added 2 LORs and a new meaningful volunteer opportunity that supported my secondary responses of wanting to help the vulnerable community I am a part of. I practiced a lot and did mock interviews before each II and was even told by my interviewer at the top 10 -> R that she gave me the highest score and that my LORs were strong.
My ECs are below, with the bolded being new additions for my next application cycle. I was originally planning on retaking the MCAT because I was breaking 520's in the past and 130+ in C/P. But now that my test date of 7/7 will likely be canceled from my area's extended stay at home orders, I am lost as to whether I should reapply now or not. I would really appreciate any advice for where I can improve and when I should reapply again.

Clinical Experience:
Scribe - 3500 hours over 2 years
Shadowing - 20 hours over 1 week

Research Experience:
Clinical Research Coordinator at a pharma company - 800 hours over 6 months (will have LOR from sub-I I worked closest with)
Research Assistant - 300 hours over 6 months during undergrad

Volunteer Experience:
Tutored underserved students, president of org - 400 hours over 4 years
LGBT community volunteering - 200 hours over 1 year
Hospital volunteer - 300 hours over 1 year

Paid non-clinical experience:
Manager - 2000 hours over 3 years
Technology assistant - 100 hours over 6 months
Private tutor - 200 hours over 2 years

School List:
2019-2020 Cycle (complete mid to late July): UCSF, UCLA, UCR, UCI, UCSD, UCD, Jefferson, Rosalind Franklin, Albany, EVMS, VCU, CUSM, Nova MD, Seton Hall, Tulane, Albert Einstein, U of A Tucson, U of A Phoenix, Georgetown, George Washington, NYMC, NYU-LI, Penn State, Rutgers NJMS, Loyola, Rush, Temple, Colorado, Vermont, St Louis, Indiana, Hofstra, USC, Wayne State, Tufts, PCOM, KCU

2018-2019 Cycle (complete mid to late August): USCF, UCLA, UCR, UCI, UCSD, UD, Jefferson, Rosalind Franklin, CUSM, Albert Einstein, U of A Tucson, U of A Phoenix, Georgetown, George Washington, NYMC, Colorado, Loyola, Rush, Hofstra, USC, Tufts, Mt. Sinai, Yale, Rochester, Michigan, Miami, Pittsburgh, SUNY Downstate, Drexel, Ohio State
Of your last cycle list, UCR was a donation unless you're from the Inland Empire.
Ditto donations for U of A Tucson, U of A Phoenix, Mt. Sinai, Yale, Michigan, SUNY Downstate, Drexel,

No love from DO schools?

I'm surprised by your lack of success. You may have a number of weak LORs as opposed to having one bad one. No IAs that you're not mentioning?
Your essays may be suspect, and you should also work on interview skills.

IF you haven't shadowed a DO, do so when possible, and get LOR from same.
Thank you so much for the response! I actually received an II from U of A Phoenix my first year so that was my reasoning for keeping both Arizona schools on my list this past cycle; otherwise, I removed Mt. Sinai, Yale, Michigan, Drexel and SUNY Downstate.

I got nothing from DO schools but absolutely intend to apply to more next cycle. My brother is attending a DO school and my 20 hours of shadowing are with an osteopathic physician. Also no IAs. I definitely have 3 very strong LORs from my LGBT volunteer, MA doctor, and manager experiences but my professor ones are probably not the strongest. However, one of my interviewers did comment that my LORs were strong. Would I need to take additional classes to improve my professor LORs and would a school ever tell me my LORs were weak during an application feedback session?

My first cycle, my essays were definitely not up to par; but this cycle I had medical students, friends, family, and tons of sdn users review them. For interviews, I've done 4 mock interviews the past two cycles (all with positive feedback) along with practice interviews with friends. I also had a T10 interviewer tell me she gave me the highest score.
 
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MCAT 513 is high enough to get admitted to an MD program so retaking is a risk. I agree something else is afoot with your application if you haven't gotten any DO responses and your MD responses have been lackluster. Of course, you haven't disclosed any details about your activities so we are limited to give you any more insight. We also are not privy to how you present yourself in your application, but somehow you are coming across as not being a great fit or addition to the learning environment in spite of your GPA.

What's striking is that you "just" started shadowing, so somehow your 3500 hours of scribing aren't helping you among screeners and interviewers. You have probably vetted everything with your application but have gotten no where. How about your networking with admissions recruiters, student services administrators, AMSA officers at various chapters?

OP said, "wanting to help the vulnerable community I am a part of." Could you be more specific (you disclosed ORM)? How do your activities show your ability to expand beyond just the community you are most comfortable with?
Thank you as well for the response! The only "networking" I've done with admissions recruiters outside of my interview days was to ask for application feedback and send update letters/letters of interest. Is there something more I should be doing on that front?

I would be happy to disclose additional information about my activities--what details would help? The "vulnerable community" I volunteered with and am a part of is the LGBT community. I have volunteered (5 years) with people who come from different backgrounds than me through my tutoring volunteer experience (4 years, 400 hours) and experience with opening a food bank for transgender minorities with intersectional identities (1 year).
 
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How many DO schools did you apply to? I only recognize one on your 2019-2020 list. How many did you network with before you submitted your application? Your brother being at a DO school should help you a little with that school.

Networking is more than asking for help or feedback about your application. It's about establishing a relationship and knowledge base about the school, its curriculum, its student support, and its alumni support (among more things). It's your insight on how comfortable you would be at a specific school whose name will be attached to your education for the rest of your practicing career.

This is why I warn everyone, you never know what happens in deliberations on your file. You could have the highest interview score and yet be undermined for no reason in confidential discussion.
I applied to only 2 DO schools which I regret and will definitely increase to 6+ DO schools my next cycle. How would you recommend going about networking with med schools? I always thought your application was what determined your fate and reaching out to admissions offices should only be done for legitimate questions?
 
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TheBoneDoctah

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There absolutely has to be something in your completed application that schools are seeing and not jiving with. Your scores are competitive (especially for DO) and you should have gotten interviews at PCOM and KCU. This cycle, you say you are applying to at least six DO...I would apply to more. It will cost you a bit more, but in the long run, this is just a drop in the bucket and you could very well have your acceptance sitting at a school you didn't apply to.
How do I find out what this "something" is? Also if there was a "something" in terms of LORs and essays, wouldn't I not receive interview invites and/or be rejected flat out post-interview? I am really confused on how to move forward since I am having a hard time finding an obvious weakness to work on. Should I just keep reapplying then? And that is a good idea, I will add a lot more than 6 DO schools.
 
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There is also one other thing that sticks out a bit with a reapp, and that is a lack of continuation with community service/volunteering. I'm not sure if that's really a dealbreaker, and it is challenging with a job. But you have got to have done something else other than work for the last year. I always use 2000 hours as a yardstick for full-time work (50 weeks times 40 hours). So where are your other 1000 hours that hasn't been bolded in your above description?

Your application does determine your fate, but your strategy and school research in the application process also give you better insight and guide your journey. As admissions recruiters, we're used to getting emails and most are more than happy to talk about their programs or connect you to others who can promote them. The students you connect with will be your future colleagues who you will rely on for study notes or insight on residencies, etc.
I added about 50 hours of community service with the LGBT community since submitting my app from July to Oct 2019 before I started my job but otherwise I was working full time as a CRC (will get a new LOR here) while tutoring part-time from October to April. I sewed face masks for the LGBT center this past month and was planning on either delivering groceries or calling LGBT seniors as a new volunteer endeavor. Is this an adequate change to my application for reapplying this cycle?

I've never heard of admissions recruiters--is this something that could make or break my application? Do you just contact them through the regular medadmit emails for each school? I've connected with current students at my interview days though and have exchanged phone numbers/emails to stay in touch.
 
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Great, thank you! I will go ahead and try to network with admissions recruiters before I reapply. I actually just got off the phone with an admissions counselor who provided super insightful application feedback that was specific to her school and wanted to see if you all would advise the same:
- retake the MCAT since my score is low for OOS
- enroll in BCPM grad courses since I graduated in 2018
- I was devastated to hear that one of my professor LORs whom I volunteered with for >6 months beyond the course accidentally included a different student's name at the end of his letter. I used his letter for all of my II -> WL schools both years. From an admissions point of view, is this something I can remedy for my WL schools now by sending a strong LOR from my gap year job?

For OOS California applications, you have to be a stronger scorer, especially if seats are extremely limited. Check with any in-state recruiters because 513 is okay. Private OOS may operate differently.

With a 3.9 GPA (I presume undergrad overall or science), I don't know about needing to take postbac courses without seeing what you took before. If you were advised to take more biomedical science upper-level courses, I'd file the suggestion, but the 3.9 GPA tells me you should not need to do it unless you need more.

LOR: this happens with faulty mailmerges. If it's a professor letter, you should try to verify with the author that your name is properly disclosed in your reapplication; this is not a breach of confidentiality to point out the bookkeeping mistake to the author. (Best practice: As a director of admissions, whenever I catch one of those mailmerges, I contact the author to point out the mailmerge error and request a new letter be sent to me directly to replace in the file before interviews or deliberations.) Do I think this causes you to be prevented from an offer? Not really.
 
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Thank you so much for the feedback, I have been trying to digest everything and come up with a gameplan. I plan on retaking the MCAT in late June, correcting that LOR, and gaining more shadowing experience along with either Americorp or research. I applied the past two cycles in a row (2 IIs, 4 IIs) so do you think I should reapply this June or wait a year?
If you are taking the MCAT for the second time, I would roll the dice and send in an early application (I'd only wait if this were a third attempt to be sure for most cases). Be on top of all of your secondaries.
 
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Hi @Mr.Smile12, I don't mean to bring this thread back but I had one last question: my new LOR writer from my CRC job for my third app just canceled since he can't meet my request for letterhead.. is it okay to apply a third time if the only addition to my app since my second application is this CRC job that I don't plan on listing it as most meaningful and I won't have a LOR from? I do plan on talking about it in my PS though. Basically I will be submitting the same LORs and most meaningful activities as my second application. Aside from this job, the only changes to my app will be new MCAT and rewritten essays.
Clarify: he is not allowed to submit a letter on letterhead from the company? Is that the only reason?

Otherwise the new MCAT would be a significant update as would your work over the last year.

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