Nov 16, 2014
7
0
24
Los Angeles
Status
Pre-Medical
First off, I posted this somewhere else but thought SDN is also a good place to get help.

My story: I'm an international student studying in a US college. Will be a senior in 2 days. I have almost everything ready at this point, volunteering, shadowing, research experience, etc., except my citizenship. According to the stats I've been gathering since freshman year, getting into med school in the US as an international student is close to impossible. My plan was getting a green card before graduation, and starting from there. Everything was going well until this summer, where **** hit the fan. Things changed and I was told the green card won't be available until 4-5 years after.

Now the best thing for me is to stay in the US after graduation (~3-5 years), do something meaningful and improve my chance of getting in. I tried to talk to the pre-health advisors in my university, and they're extremely indifferent/don't care much, because of my status, which is understandable. Now I have to figure out what to do by myself. I listed some choices I come up with below. With the help of kind strangers on the internet, I eliminated some off the list (see parentheses for reasons).
  • Post-bacc to improve GPA (Currently 3.63 overall, 3.81 major. This choice is eliminated since I've completed all the premed pre-reqs and am unlikely to enroll in any post-bacc program. Plus my GPA is not particularly low for such program.);
  • Master degree (Most feasible plan for now. But not sure if this would help my application. Some posts say MPH won't help much; MA in psychology, which I love, is basically wasting time if my ultimate goal is getting into medical school.);
  • Research (As far as I know, this can only be a part time thing, since virtually no lab would give me a visa to legally stay in the US. But I'd love to do some research work if possible.);
  • OPT/working for 1 year;
  • Medical related volunteering (same as research).
My question: Given that I'm certain in getting into medicine, what is the best thing to do to improve my chance post graduation? If pursuing a master degree, what area would benefit me the most? (I'm a psychology major and have some research and internship/volunteer experience in psych. I really love clinical psychology and always want to be a psychiatrist. But MA in psych doesn't seem to be a good choice.)

Thank you so much, kind human beings!

tl;dr: I'm an international student studying in the US. Have to hold application for 3-5 years b/c of citizenship, despite of otherwise good status. Need advice on what to do in said 3-5 years.
 

NotASerialKiller

2+ Year Member
Jul 7, 2015
1,457
6,866
Status
Medical Student
If your GPA isn't bad and you already have your other med school bases covered, then do whatever you want. I'd continue volunteering as you have been, but the bulk of your time can just be spent working in whatever job you can get and enjoy. There's no magic job that will make you an ultra-competitive applicant, just see what you can get and save up. Your volunteering and other ECs can show your continued interest in health care. Also you didn't mention the MCAT, so obviously spend a few months studying for that and do as well as you can.

edit: Look into schools that regularly matriculate international students. While it's a lot harder, it's not impossible. I wouldn't apply to all your IS schools as an international if you're willing to wait until you're a citizen, but you can try your luck at some schools that you wouldn't care if you were listed as a reapplicant at in a few years.
 
OP
C
Nov 16, 2014
7
0
24
Los Angeles
Status
Pre-Medical
If your GPA isn't bad and you already have your other med school bases covered, then do whatever you want. I'd continue volunteering as you have been, but the bulk of your time can just be spent working in whatever job you can get and enjoy. There's no magic job that will make you an ultra-competitive applicant, just see what you can get and save up. Your volunteering and other ECs can show your continued interest in health care. Also you didn't mention the MCAT, so obviously spend a few months studying for that and do as well as you can.

edit: Look into schools that regularly matriculate international students. While it's a lot harder, it's not impossible. I wouldn't apply to all your IS schools as an international if you're willing to wait until you're a citizen, but you can try your luck at some schools that you wouldn't care if you were listed as a reapplicant at in a few years.
Thanks for the reply!

As for the MCAT, I took it this past summer before my citizenship situation went south. Haven't had my score back yet, but don't think it matters that much at this point.

For application: From my other post, people suggested that I should 100% *not* apply before I become a citizen. I'm a little confused... Is the concept of "reapplicant" specific to school? Can I be a reapplicant to school A, but a first time applicant to school B in a given application cycle?

Also, you mind explaining what "IS schools" are?

Thank you!
 

Hospitalized

5+ Year Member
Sep 8, 2014
1,923
2,611
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
Thanks for the reply!

As for the MCAT, I took it this past summer before my citizenship situation went south. Haven't had my score back yet, but don't think it matters that much at this point.

For application: From my other post, people suggested that I should 100% *not* apply before I become a citizen. I'm a little confused... Is the concept of "reapplicant" specific to school? Can I be a reapplicant to school A, but a first time applicant to school B in a given application cycle?

Also, you mind explaining what "IS schools" are?

Thank you!
Yes it does.
 

Gibbward

2+ Year Member
Jan 11, 2015
804
836
Status
Medical Student
As a former international student who got a green card a few years after graduation, I'd say wait until after you get your green card before applying. There are just so many obstacles you have to go through if you applied as an international student.

I'd say try to get the OPT and get a job and make money while you continue with other volunteer activities. Then maybe you'll get sponsored for a working visa, and then you can stick around that position until you get your green card. Maybe you'll find an interest in some masters programs while you're doing your OPT and then you can apply to those after!

Also you have to prepare yourself if you don't get your GC in 4-5 years. Immigration is tricky and confusing and there's not a lot you can do to expedite the process. You just wait and see what happens. So would you want to try and stay in the US when you're waiting? can you even stay in the country if you're not in school? There's a lot of factors to consider that you might need to figure out.
 
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Goro

7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
53,560
78,739
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
These degrees will not help you become a better candidate.
  • Master degree (Most feasible plan for now. But not sure if this would help my application. Some posts say MPH won't help much; MA in psychology, which I love, is basically wasting time if my ultimate goal is getting into medical school.);

  • You can always volunteer to work in a lab.
  • Research (As far as I know, this can only be a part time thing, since virtually no lab would give me a visa to legally stay in the US. But I'd love to do some research work if possible.);

  • Working with patients is always good.
  • OPT/working for 1 year;
  • Without this, you won't be a doctor, IF OPT doesn't work out.
  • Medical related volunteering (same as research).
Umm, lose the hubris. International students are rare amongst MD matriculants. You have to be Harvard/Stanford caliber. Your best way of getting IIs (aceptance is 100% on you) is to have stellar grades and MCAT score, and EC bonafides. And $300K in a bank account because you can't qualify for federal loans.


My question: Given that I'm certain in getting into medicine, what is the best thing to do to improve my chance post graduation? If pursuing a master degree, what area would benefit me the most? (I'm a psychology major and have some research and internship/volunteer experience in psych. I really love clinical psychology and always want to be a psychiatrist. But MA in psych doesn't seem to be a good choice.)
 
OP
C
Nov 16, 2014
7
0
24
Los Angeles
Status
Pre-Medical
As a former international student who got a green card a few years after graduation, I'd say wait until after you get your green card before applying. There are just so many obstacles you have to go through if you applied as an international student.

I'd say try to get the OPT and get a job and make money while you continue with other volunteer activities. Then maybe you'll get sponsored for a working visa, and then you can stick around that position until you get your green card. Maybe you'll find an interest in some masters programs while you're doing your OPT and then you can apply to those after!

Also you have to prepare yourself if you don't get your GC in 4-5 years. Immigration is tricky and confusing and there's not a lot you can do to expedite the process. You just wait and see what happens. So would you want to try and stay in the US when you're waiting? can you even stay in the country if you're not in school? There's a lot of factors to consider that you might need to figure out.
Thanks for the reply. And congrats on your green card!

What type of job do you recommend? If I don't continue my study and go to the job market, I will be competing with others with a BA in psychology, which may not be very favorable...
 
OP
C
Nov 16, 2014
7
0
24
Los Angeles
Status
Pre-Medical
These degrees will not help you become a better candidate.
  • Master degree (Most feasible plan for now. But not sure if this would help my application. Some posts say MPH won't help much; MA in psychology, which I love, is basically wasting time if my ultimate goal is getting into medical school.);

  • You can always volunteer to work in a lab.
  • Research (As far as I know, this can only be a part time thing, since virtually no lab would give me a visa to legally stay in the US. But I'd love to do some research work if possible.);

  • Working with patients is always good.
  • OPT/working for 1 year;
  • Without this, you won't be a doctor, IF OPT doesn't work out.
  • Medical related volunteering (same as research).
Umm, lose the hubris. International students are rare amongst MD matriculants. You have to be Harvard/Stanford caliber. Your best way of getting IIs (aceptance is 100% on you) is to have stellar grades and MCAT score, and EC bonafides. And $300K in a bank account because you can't qualify for federal loans.


My question: Given that I'm certain in getting into medicine, what is the best thing to do to improve my chance post graduation? If pursuing a master degree, what area would benefit me the most? (I'm a psychology major and have some research and internship/volunteer experience in psych. I really love clinical psychology and always want to be a psychiatrist. But MA in psych doesn't seem to be a good choice.)
Thank you for your reply!

Seems like the best thing is to work with patients, and do some research and volunteering in the meantime.

And sorry if I didn't make it clear. I said "I'm certain in getting into medicine" as in I know this is what I want to do with my life, and don't need additional program/time to explore my options at this point. I understand that citizenship is a huge obstacle, and ready to deal with it the best I can. I don't think I'm Harvard/Stanford caliber. Assuming money is not an issue, what do you recommend to approach "Harvard/Stanford caliber"?
 

Goro

7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
53,560
78,739
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
Excell academically!


Thank you for your reply!

Seems like the best thing is to work with patients, and do some research and volunteering in the meantime.

And sorry if I didn't make it clear. I said "I'm certain in getting into medicine" as in I know this is what I want to do with my life, and don't need additional program/time to explore my options at this point. I understand that citizenship is a huge obstacle, and ready to deal with it the best I can. I don't think I'm Harvard/Stanford caliber. Assuming money is not an issue, what do you recommend to approach "Harvard/Stanford caliber"?
 
OP
C
Nov 16, 2014
7
0
24
Los Angeles
Status
Pre-Medical
Excell academically!
Well, I've already finished all my pre-reqs. Should I go back to retake and ace the ones that I didn't excel at the first time? Or should I take more upper division science courses to boost my sGPA?
 

Gibbward

2+ Year Member
Jan 11, 2015
804
836
Status
Medical Student
Right... That's definitely tough. Do you mean for an OPT or just general? If I remember correctly, any job (even an unpaid internship) can count for your OPT as long as it's related to your major. So I guess anything psych related clinical work would be fine. You should confirm with your international student office to make sure though.

For regular employment, I'm not too sure... I know you'll have lots of competition and I don't know anything about psych related work that could sponsor you for a working visa. Additionally, you should also look into whether even getting a working visa could do something to your GC petition. Im not too familiar with that process.

Thanks for the reply. And congrats on your green card!

What type of job do you recommend? If I don't continue my study and go to the job market, I will be competing with others with a BA in psychology, which may not be very favorable...
 

Goro

7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
53,560
78,739
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
Take some rigorous upper level courses this year and ace them.


Well, I've already finished all my pre-reqs. Should I go back to retake and ace the ones that I didn't excel at the first time? Or should I take more upper division science courses to boost my sGPA?