Feb 16, 2010
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I have been volunteering at a center for physically and mentally challenged for 8+ years (it will be the start of my 9th year in may) I started volunteering since middle school, and have never stopped volunteering. (*Note: I used to volunteer weekly for 3-4 hours the first 5 years or so. But ever since I started college, Ive been volunteering about 1 hour per week, which isn't much.. but I guess it shows commitment?)

1) I was wondering how good this will look in my application. This experience has definitely shaped who I am today and solidified my goal of becoming a physician. Assuming I have stellar GPA (3.9x) and hopefully a balanced high MCAT with great research + EC's

2) Do you guys suggest using this experience as a theme in my PS? I am starting to think about how I am going to write my PS.

3) Will this experience help me get attention in the top tier schools, such as Harvard, Yale, etc.? I've noticed that you need a 'memorable' EC to get in to the top schools... or do you guys think the adcoms won't put much weight to this EC?
Thanks.
 
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Narmerguy

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It'll definitely reflect extremely well on you to have a commitment to volunteering for so long. I would recommend making it a theme in your PS if you can really work in what you just said (how it has changed you etc). I'm not the best to take PS advice from so take it with a grain of salt.

As far as Ivies...your guess is as good as mine. My hunch is that it'll give you an edge over most applicants but it isn't quite the "mmf" that their acceptees often have. For example, rather than just being a volunteer, they may be looking for how you took ownership of your experience and contributed on a different level, especially if you were involved for 9 years. So perhaps you changed the way they do things or took on a major role in influencing and supporting the organization it's through. Something that shows some leadership and a special factor that shows you aren't just seeking volunteer experiences but taking it to another level. I don't know if you did anything like this and omitted it from your post but it's something I would think they would look for.
 

GoodmanBrown

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1) It will look good.

2) If you feel that strongly about it, then yes. If you'd have to manufacture some situation where it showed you the true meaning of life, probably not.

3) Yes, it will. It won't get you in though. You'll need your 3.9x GPA, research, other ECs, a balanced MCAT above a 35, and a lot of luck. They're Harvard and Yale, so they're not hurting for stellar applicants.

I feel like I haven't been very useful here, but are any of these questions that you didn't already know the answer to? You've volunteered for 8+ years and that shows a lot of commitment and dedication. So, that's great. On the other hand, commitment is only one aspect of an applicant that's considered.
 
Feb 16, 2010
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It'll definitely reflect extremely well on you to have a commitment to volunteering for so long. I would recommend making it a theme in your PS if you can really work in what you just said (how it has changed you etc). I'm not the best to take PS advice from so take it with a grain of salt.

As far as Ivies...your guess is as good as mine. My hunch is that it'll give you an edge over most applicants but it isn't quite the "mmf" that their acceptees often have. For example, rather than just being a volunteer, they may be looking for how you took ownership of your experience and contributed on a different level, especially if you were involved for 9 years. So perhaps you changed the way they do things or took on a major role in influencing and supporting the organization it's through. Something that shows some leadership and a special factor that shows you aren't just seeking volunteer experiences but taking it to another level. I don't know if you did anything like this and omitted it from your post but it's something I would think they would look for.
Hi there, thanks for the reply.

I am not sure if I played a major role in influencing the organization though and that worries me. Do you think not doing something extraordinary for the organization will be seen in a negative light? However, I was nominated for a very prestigious volunteer recognition a few years back, but I ended up not getting the award.

BTW can you explain what MMF means?
 

Narmerguy

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Hi there, thanks for the reply.

I am not sure if I played a major role in influencing the organization though and that worries me. Do you think not doing something extraordinary for the organization will be seen in a negative light? However, I was nominated for a very prestigious volunteer recognition a few years back, but I ended up not getting the award.

BTW can you explain what MMF means?
Oh it was just a noise I meant to convey. Kinda like mph pronounced as it's spell, not miles per hour. Lol, ignore it.

No it will not be negative for you at all. I was simply suggesting that often what they look for in applicants show that they find deeper opportunities within experiences like volunteering and can impact these experiences. These top research schools are usually looking for future leaders in medicine, individuals who will have impacts on their fields.

In the case of your volunteering, it doesn't have to be extraordinary per se, it just has to show that you dug deeper into the volunteer experience and did more than just the surface volunteering that most applicants would do. Not to say that your near decade of working won't be a huge plus!!! It will, I'm just saying that your working against a super elite group of students and often times they want to see you dig a little deeper. You're still competitive provided you get all the other things you mentioned.
 
Feb 16, 2010
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Does anyone else have any other opinions?

By the way, I am a Canadian who will be applying to the states, and I go to University of British Columbia. Thanks!
 
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Top schools will be looking for extraordinary accomplishments, beyond great numbers: years of substantive research with plus points for pubs, strong community service (1 hour per week might not qualify you there), solid leadership above and beyond club president or student senate member. I agree that the dedication you've shown to this activity is remarkable. If it shaped your reasons for going into medicine, it has a greater value if you articulate it well. I'm not convinced it makes you a better candidate for a top school, but it is an excellent EC regardless.
 

justdoit31

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Top schools will be harder to get into as a Canadian. Also the application will ask the average number of hours so you will have to say only 1/wk.

Do you do any other EC's? I would try to have a couple other things on the application to- study abroad, student organizations, playing intramural sports, tutoring etc. Remember that you can enter up to 15 EC's- things like working, research, etc are included but if all you have is research/and 1 volunteer experience it might not look as strong.