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How to get into a top 10 med school

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Jugador75, Jan 11, 2002.

  1. Jugador75

    Jugador75 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    New York
    I am a sophomore at an ivy league school, I have a 3.8 GPA (both science and regular), volunteer experience, research, tutorring little kids, very good references, etc. Havent taken the MCATs yet, but I plan on working my A$$ off to do whatever is necessary to get a competitive score. I am not really concerned about getting into medical school, but rather I very much would like to get into one of the top 10 schools - perhaps columbia or UCSF. What else do I need to be doing? Distinguish myself somehow? But how? Would going to a 3rd world country for a summer to show humanitarianism be good? How about becoming an EMT? Taking a leadership position in an activity at my college? What are some things that you have done, or have heard of others doing, that you think are really impressive?

    Thank you very much for your input.
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  3. derisivewords

    derisivewords Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 19, 2001
    parts unknown
    Sell your soul to the devil. Don't look back. You'll get into the Top 10 no problem.

    Either that, or you can feed starving refugees in Afghanistan. That might give you a shot.
  4. none

    none 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2001
    I'm not sure you'll find much help here with that specific goal in mind. Sorry.
  5. Skye04

    Skye04 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 15, 2001
  6. Incendiary

    Incendiary Fantabulous Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 12, 2001
    Most people on this board will tell you that there is no formula, that you should just do what you want and it doesn't matter at all where you go to medical school.

    I can empathize with your concerns, however, so I'll list some advice I've heard over the years. By no means is it necessary to do/be all this stuff, so take what I say with a grain of salt. And by the way, I know that I'm going to set off a hail of protests to the contrary with this list, but oh well...

    1) Have a high GPA. The number I've heard to be included in the "top pile" of applicants is something like a 3.85.

    2) Get a 36 or higher on the MCAT. 40 or higher is best.

    3) Found a club.

    4) Be a leader in at least one of your activities/organizations. In particular, it's good to be a leader in a medically/clinically/volunteer type group.

    5) Get strong letters of recommendation from your PROFESSORS. That means get to know them in office hours, ask them questions, etc. I suggest 6 letters. Two from science professors, one from a humanities, and one each from volunteer work, research experience, and clinical activity.

    6) Have research experience, preferably in a natural science field, but not necessarily. Do it for a few summers at least.

    7) As a result of 6, publish a paper or two.

    8) Have clinical experience. If possible, shadow doctors, and not just one, but a range of doctors in different fields. Don't only do that, though. Also do something where you get some more hands-on experience.

    9) Volunteer. A lot. Show your compassion.

    10) Write solid essays that demonstrate you have all the necessary qualities to be a physician and that are interesting/original enough to make you stick out.

    11) Related to 10, have a common theme/thread that ties together your entire application. Catching the eye of an admissions committee member by being unique in some way is very good.

    12) Win some awards and honors, like election to Phi Beta Kappa or stuff like that.

    13) When you interview, be fun and warm, yet professional. Hit it off with your interviewer. Make them remember you, like you, and think that you'll be a great addition to their school and a great physician someday. Above all, make them realize that you want to go to their school, and for all the right reasons. If a student, make them want to have you as a classmate.

    14) Above all, love what you're doing, while you're doing all of this. Like everyone will say (mostly because it's very true), you have to do things you like and that reflect yourself, because if you hate all that you do, it'll show very clearly in your essays, your recs, the rest of your application, and your interviews.

    I could go on, but I have finals. Feel free to PM me, though.

    (And yes, I am serious about all 14 items.) :)
  7. Scooby Doo

    Scooby Doo IEatShavedPussyCats 10+ Year Member

    Jul 9, 2001
    For once I agree with "none"....

    Prolly the only time too...

    I would say drop out of the ivy league school and go to a public school....that way the medical schools will know that you are cool....
  8. loverboy

    loverboy Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 23, 2001
    Hi! Jugador....I never really went to any ivy league but my sister went to stanford, I went to UC Davis..their Bio dept is rated around #4 in nation. I wanted to tell you that what ever school you would apply, they will know the overall picture. Your GPA looks good but MCAT's is a real thing. My Cousin got into yale and northwestern and he graduated from davis in exercise science major with 3.5 and 32, but he said both schools knew that 3.5 from davis is equivalent to 4.o or 4.0 plus at stanford cause they supposively are not big on grades and most people get mostly A's or B's. I personally know two professors and UC Davis med school, they said the same thing. So My point here is, Focus on Mcats and kick ass, they'll know fake or real A's or B's. good luck
  9. dustinspeer

    dustinspeer Who's your daddy? 7+ Year Member

    Oct 6, 2001
    Conway, AR
  10. ussdfiant

    ussdfiant Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jul 31, 2001
    I can see from your post and location that you go to my alma mater. Is Jouille still teaching Orgo? I had her 11 years ago and am still tramatized.
  11. killerrabbit

    killerrabbit Junior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jan 9, 2002
    I have to make the general comment that you always have to remember a certain % of the class has absolutely fantastic grades, recs, activities, letters of eval...and a certain % of the class may have below average but have shown outstanding leadership and initiative. Your starting this thread some what surprised me because you have become a cookie cutter applicant (although a very excellent one) show some initiative, find something your passionate about (and honestly it doesn't even have to be volunteer) and go and do it! That is what is going to make you stand out and that is what is going to get you in a top ten. And even if you don't break into the golden ten be happy you got in anywhere because there are many people that have worked probably as hard if not harder and still will not get in!
  12. Sonya

    Sonya Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 12, 2001

    I'd say i'm in the same position as the poster(3.8 to 3.9 GPA, one article published w/ my research, volunteered in ER, shadowed physician, tutored/volunteered on Hotline, trying to start AMSA chapter here). except, i'll be graduating in a few months, and then working two years (and working hard on MCATs and admission).

    Anyway, Thanks for the suggestion Incendiary. I would agree with all of them.

    We did a little analysis of statistics at WashU pre-med office (I go to WashU). We looked at percent admission (or some number resembling that) to top ten schools (or maybe it was top 25? i can't remember). Anyway, above about 3.75 GPA there was practically a linear correlation between GPA and Admission. I'm not trying to say GPA is all that matters (obviously those students had more than GPA, there was a 4.0 student with 0 admissions), but that does say a lot.

    Do well in the MCATs. Get good rec letters. The top ten schools are still guessing games... it can often end up being very random.

    For GOD's sake! do NOT go to some third world country and help out medically (or teach english, or educate them on AIDS, or whatever) if that doesn't sound interesting to you, ASIDE from getting medschool admission. There are a LOT of interesting things you can do... you listed them, EMT, Third world country. maybe you can work for some senator/congressman who does health care related stuff.

    ANY of them are fine. and they are also great. Choose one where you will excel at and enjoy.

    For normal activities during the school year ( i guess the EMT thing could be during the school year, but I would imagine the other stuff would be in summers), do a couple of activities where you can really excel as opposed to tons of activities where you are okay in all of them.

    Leadership looks good. But if is really NOT in you to start clubs and such... well think about it. maybe you can show leadership in something you're already doing (help make improvements to the tutoring program/ etc...)

    It's also good to sell yourself on one or two things than to be extremely well rouned. I'm not saying being a total GPA nerd, or going excessive with one activity. But you need to distiguish yourself, but keep you other stuff reasonable (at least slightly above average in your case).

    And keep in touch with profs that you are going to use for references. Let them know you're headed for top ten schools, ask them for advice and keep them updated on your plans. Let them know rec letters are VERY important in the process (if they aren't familiar with the process).

    But don't let your GPA or MCATs slip. Remember, number one priority for schools: GPA #2: MCATs #3: Rec Letters.

    Are you serious about those rec letters?? I mean, one from volunteer, one from a doctor I shadowed? I mean, i will no doubt have one from my res prof. I will have several from my biology/engineering profs.

    But one (really good LOR that is) from my volunteer/hospital activities would be hard... let alone two. the ER I volunteered in was so disorganized and their volunteer program not well established. tutoring was a while ago... i could get excellent LORs form there, but they would be old... (how bad does that look, I finished working with them in '99). this hotline i'm volunteering for.. i don't talk to the people who run it that often, b/c it's all done from home. I do try and talk to them when we're telling our shift times and such.
    so, i see it as difficult in my situation to get LOR from people I participated in extra activities in. I try to keep contact with the physician i shadowed (that was recent).

    Don't have this same problem I am for LORs, Jugador.

    !!And I got to stress number 11 in the list!!
    How you do it, depends on your interest and ablity to excel in different things.

    Incendiary or Jugador, (or anyone for that matt er) you can PM me (if you do, give me your e-mail address) or better yet, e-mail me [email protected])

  13. Incendiary

    Incendiary Fantabulous Member 10+ Year Member

    Nov 12, 2001
    Sonya brought up a good point, one which I forgot to include.

    15) Everything on the list so far is very medically related. So when you do 3 and 9, incorporate non-medical school activities too. Join an orchestra. Take part in plays on campus. Get active in your Fellowship. Show that you are very well-rounded.

    Again, don't think that you have to do all these things. Nor would I suggest thinking that doing all these things will guarantee you a spot in a top 10 school period. But it sure can't hurt... ;)
  15. EpiII

    EpiII Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Oct 26, 2001
  16. Dr. Don

    Dr. Don Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Dec 15, 2001
    Los Angeles
    does it really matter where you go? an MD is an MD no matter offense to anyone but people that just focus on getting into a top medical school should really set their priorities straight....
  17. Sonya

    Sonya Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 12, 2001
  18. SocialistMD

    SocialistMD Resident Objectivist 15+ Year Member

    Jan 29, 2001
  19. penelope

    penelope Member 7+ Year Member

    Nov 28, 2001
    Jugador75, I'm convinced your post is making fun of those irritating premed clones who think that ivy league + good grades + high MCAT + token travel to a "3rd world country" = ticket to top 10 + keys to new Mercedes = happy life. At least, I hope you're joking, cuz if I ever serve on my top 10 school's admissions committee, that kind of person would be shown the door. FYI, when you're trying to make your application look good, please don't say "3rd world country."
  20. ExistentialistPhilosopher

    ExistentialistPhilosopher Member 10+ Year Member

    Jan 6, 2002
    It sounds like you're doing fine as you are. Are you sincerely asking us to gauge your probability of being accepted into a top ten (or help you improve that possibility)? To tell you the truth, you seem pretty confident of that possibility anyway. At the same time, it seems like all of your activities are geared solely toward getting into medical school and nothing else. Yours is the profile of the typical, usually successful, applicant who has made all of his life choices according to med school admissions guides. Just remember that life isn't about who has the bigger reputation or the higher rank. And definitely do something that makes you stand out more, that makes you unique.

    I'm starting to realize that adcoms must be sick of seeing the same qualifications on paper each day. I mean, how many premed students have done things besides shadow a doctor, volunteer in a hospital, do biomedical research, join the premed society? How do you distinguish between applicants who all start to look the same?
  21. brandonite

    brandonite Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Oct 19, 2001
    Manitoba, Canada
  22. Kirk

    Kirk Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 20, 2001
    Kansas City
    I suggest sticking your finger up your ass and screaming "FIRE!!"
  23. derisivewords

    derisivewords Member 7+ Year Member

    Dec 19, 2001
    parts unknown
    "DON'T hate da playa, hate DA GAME."
  24. SocialistMD

    SocialistMD Resident Objectivist 15+ Year Member

    Jan 29, 2001
  25. Sonya

    Sonya Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Aug 12, 2001
    It DOES make a quite a bit of difference for competitive residencies. even w/o academic focus.
  26. SocialistMD

    SocialistMD Resident Objectivist 15+ Year Member

    Jan 29, 2001
    I would say that whatever studies you want to show that people take top ten grads over other schools are simply artifact. Generally speaking, top ten schools draw the "smarter" students. As a result, their graduates will get more of the top residencies, not because of the school, but because of the student.

    Let's look at a competitive residency-ophthamology. You pretty much have to be AOA to get a spot. How many AOAs will come out of the top 10 schools? Maybe 150 total (AOA is ~top 15% in class). You also have AOA at all other schools. If you graduate in the middle of your class at a top ten you will not get the residency over one who graduates AOA at a non-top ten school. In fact, if you graduate in the middle of your class in a top ten school, you will most likely not get one of the ultra-competitive residencies that all but require AOA status.

    See, what you are not realizing is that the material covered in all med schools is the same. While it may be taught differently, what I am taught is the same as what is taught across the street which is the same as what is taught all over the country. It is all done in an effort to prepare you for the boards. Let me give you a little example...

    Last semester in anatomy, I kind of didn't spend any time in the lab during the first two blocks and had a 78% going into the final. Our final was a national board shelf exam. Even though I had a 78 in my class, I scored a 98% on the shelf exam. That means that out of everyone in the nation who took the exam, I scored in the 98th percentile. I still ended with just a "pass" in the class because the "high pass" cutoff in anatomy at my school is 85% (and "honor" is even higher), but I scored higher on the "equalizing" exam than 98% of the rest of the country. One could even say that I "learned" more than 98% of everyone else in the country last semester in anatomy, despite going to a non-top ten school. There were probably more people in the top ten schools that were also in the 98th percentile than at non-top ten schools, but it is because they are generally "smarter" people. Their scores had nothing to do with where they go to school because their school is not what took their test, the students did. Thus, artifact.

    Residency programs know the material is the same at all schools. They also know the grading scales are different at all schools. They know at some schools a 90% is an "A" where as at others it is not. Board scores are what are important because they show how much you know in relation to every other residency applicant across the country.

    You seem to think there is some fantastical point that comes where it is down to a student at a top ten school with the same scores as a student at a non-top ten school who are competing for the last spot in a competitive residency. Truth of the matter is, this will probably never happen. The spots at those competitive residencies will already be filled. If the situation ever arises, the student at the top ten will not get the spot simply because they went to a top ten. If they do get it, it will be because of some other factor the residency committee deems more important. If there is no distinguishing factor like that, the residency committee will choose the applicant who best fits in with the personality of the program (a factor that is considered much more oten anyway than you would probably expect).

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