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Impact of COVID-19 on Medical School Applications 2021

Saintman41

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Due to the unexpected events these last few months, have any medical schools mentioned how they will approach the next application cycle in 2021 (given that this continues for at least another few months)?

My biggest issue is a lack of EC's. I was volunteering at a therapeutic horse ranch for disabled children (20 hours), about to start shadowing a MD, and had a potential scribing position all before the pandemic shut all of these activities down. As far as academics are, I have a 3.81 sGPA/ 3.76 overall, and I'm preparing to take the MCAT this September. My hopes were to apply in 2021, however I'm unsure if me applying with a serious lack of EC's would hurt me.

UT-San Antonio told me that if that was the case then they would just focus on my academics and essays. Are any other schools adopting this method?
 
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gyngyn

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To me, this begs the question if the Personal Statement will take on a high degree of importance this cycle as well
Given how many of them are bought and paid for, I doubt it.
 
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KnightDoc

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Due to the unexpected events these last few months, have any medical schools mentioned how they will approach the next application cycle in 2021 (given that this continues for at least another few months)?

My biggest issue is a lack of EC's. I was volunteering at a therapeutic horse ranch for disabled children (20 hours), about to start shadowing a MD, and had a potential scribing position all before the pandemic shut all of these activities down. As far as academics are, I have a 3.81 sGPA/ 3.76 overall, and I'm preparing to take the MCAT this September. My hopes were to apply in 2021, however I'm unsure if me applying with a serious lack of EC's would hurt me.

UT-San Antonio told me that if that was the case then they would just focus on my academics and essays. Are any other schools adopting this method?
Are you talking about applying now for entry in 2021, or applying this time next year for entry in 2022? If it's the latter, it's too soon to know what schools will do, since that will totally depend on how long it takes to get back to "normal" and what the rest of the pool will look like at that time. Applying with a serious lack of ECs would definitely hurt you, no matter what schools say about looking at you "holistically," unless that is the rule rather than the exception for the majority of the pool at that time.

All we know for now is that people who are applying now who waited until the last minute to participate in ECs in a meaningful way are kind of screwed since things shut down in March, with no visibility as to when and to what extent they will be able to fill in gaps while many in the pool do not find themselves in that situation. For what it's worth, although I have not yet made a final decision, I am probably going to hold off for a year myself for this very reason.
 

penguinsfan71

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I don't think a school telling you that they'll focus on your academics and essays means that they'll ignore your lack of EC's. You're going to be going up against applicants who have 1000's of hours worth of EC's despite also living through the covid crisis.
 
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KnightDoc

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I don't think a school telling you that they'll focus on your academics and essays means that they'll ignore your lack of EC's. You're going to be going up against applicants who have 1000's of hours worth of EC's despite also living through the covid crisis.
I think that totally depends on how long the current situation lasts. If nothing has changed by this time next year, progressively more and more applicants are going to have progressively fewer and fewer hours, precisely due to the COVID crisis.

For this cycle, yes, people who waited until the last minute will be SOL, but when last minute is defined as 16+ months instead of 4+ months, schools' expectations are going to have to change as relatively fewer applicants have 1000s of hours of ECs.

Just like changes were made to the MCAT and the timing of the cycle to accommodate the 1000s of people who otherwise wouldn't be able to apply, things will change if and when it turns out in June 2021 that the only people with 1000s of hours of ECs are those who completed them prior to March 2020.
 
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What's really sad is that they're often quite weak (even though they charge thousands).
I'm not surprised.The personal statement is meant to be 'personal'.

I asked one of my English major friends to look over my personal statement and she ended up instead rewriting all of it. It was one of my worst drafts in terms of voice. Mechanically it was great but it had little to do with me.
 
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KnightDoc

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Just out of curiosity, how would you know which PS are “bought and paid for” vs those that might be genuine?
I can't presume to answer for @gyngyn, but I would be surprised if they didn't all have a similar structure since they probably all work off similar templates. It would be naive to think whoever is cranking these out is starting with a blank screen each time, and, if they are working off a first draft submitted by the candidate, they probably use similar checklists to edit them.

Testimonials for one popular dude who does these all talk about how the "flow" is so markedly improved. I love how every single person seems to key in on "flow," as though they all came up with that one precise word on their own. :)

Just out of curiosity, @gyngyn -- how important is PS "flow" in scoring a coveted II?
 
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Due to the unexpected events these last few months, have any medical schools mentioned how they will approach the next application cycle in 2021 (given that this continues for at least another few months)?

My biggest issue is a lack of EC's. I was volunteering at a therapeutic horse ranch for disabled children (20 hours), about to start shadowing a MD, and had a potential scribing position all before the pandemic shut all of these activities down. As far as academics are, I have a 3.81 sGPA/ 3.76 overall, and I'm preparing to take the MCAT this September. My hopes were to apply in 2021, however I'm unsure if me applying with a serious lack of EC's would hurt me.

UT-San Antonio told me that if that was the case then they would just focus on my academics and essays. Are any other schools adopting this method?
You'll just be crowded out by candidates with better apps.
 
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RJ McReady

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I think the danger here lies in assuming that a PS is “bought and paid for” because it may contain certain themes, which is in itself an inherent bias which might lead to an otherwise perfectly suitable candidate being placed at a disadvantage. Agreed, certain PS’s may be formulaic or weak, but to assume that these are not genuine PS’s may not be correct.
 

KnightDoc

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You'll just be crowded out by candidates with better apps.
My point, and assumption, is that as time goes on, if things don't change, is that there will be fewer and fewer candidates with better apps. For example, right now, the only people with seriously deficient ECs are those who didn't focus on them until this past January, or maybe even August, and then had their legs cut out from under them in March. Yes, tons of candidates have years of ECs to fall back on, and the late comers are SOL for this cycle.

On the other hand, by next year, a significant number of otherwise excellent candidates will have been shut out of EC opportunities for over a year if things don't get back to "normal" really soon, and many of the candidates with expansive reservoirs of EC hours will be people rejected this cycle, although, sure, some will be people with a lot of EC hours who were always planning to take a gap year in 2020-21.

My question is, where are all of the candidates with better apps going to come from in future cycles if everyone is equally shut out of meaningful, in person EC experiences during the pandemic?
 

gyngyn

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I think the danger here lies in assuming that a PS is “bought and paid for” because it may contain certain themes, which is in itself an inherent bias which might lead to an otherwise perfectly suitable candidate being placed at a disadvantage. Agreed, certain PS’s may be formulaic or weak, but to assume that these are not genuine PS’s may not be correct.
I often find out after the fact, when the parent complains that the "perfect" essay cost him $4K.
It's just another example of how those with means try to beat the "system."
 
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Saintman41

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You'll just be crowded out by candidates with better apps.
A year from now I could have had a substantial amount of volunteering, shadowing, etc. I have a feeling quite a bit of applicants will be in a similar situation next year given the way things are going. You don't think medical schools won't start considering people who lack EC's but have other solid parts on their application next year?
 

penguinsfan71

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I think that totally depends on how long the current situation lasts. If nothing has changed by this time next year, progressively more and more applicants are going to have progressively fewer and fewer hours, precisely due to the COVID crisis.

For this cycle, yes, people who waited until the last minute will be SOL, but when last minute is defined as 16+ months instead of 4+ months, schools' expectations are going to have to change as relatively fewer applicants have 1000s of hours of ECs.

Just like changes were made to the MCAT and the timing of the cycle to accommodate the 1000s of people who otherwise wouldn't be able to apply, things will change if and when it turns out in June 2021 that the only people with 1000s of hours of ECs are those who completed them prior to March 2020.

Agreed. I'm sure adcoms will understand people who have slightly less hours than usual because of covid, but doubt that they will have any sympathy for those who waited til the last minute to get them.
 
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penguinsfan71

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A year from now I could have had a substantial amount of volunteering, shadowing, etc. I have a feeling quite a bit of applicants will be in a similar situation next year given the way things are going. You don't think medical schools won't start considering people who lack EC's but have other solid parts on their application next year?

To be honest, there are plenty of applicants who didn't wait until the year before applying to try to get their EC's.
 
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A year from now I could have had a substantial amount of volunteering, shadowing, etc. I have a feeling quite a bit of applicants will be in a similar situation next year given the way things are going. You don't think medical schools won't start considering people who lack EC's but have other solid parts on their application next year?
Agreed. I'm sure adcoms will understand people who have slightly less hours than usual because of covid, but doubt that they will have any sympathy for those who waited til the last minute to get them.
This!
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Med16484

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What if for our activities section, we listed 180 hours for hospital volunteering which includes anticipated hours for the upcoming school year (120 already completed), but now the hospital is unsure if they will allow volunteers this semester. Will medical schools question us about this?
 

penguinsfan71

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What if for our activities section, we listed 180 hours for hospital volunteering which includes anticipated hours for the upcoming school year (120 already completed), but now the hospital is unsure if they will allow volunteers this semester. Will medical schools question us about this?

They won't question it. Anticipated hours aren't given much weight anyways.
 

Med16484

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They won't question it. Anticipated hours aren't given much weight anyways.
Yea only thing is I'm not sure how they can differentiate whether I already did those 180 hours or if the 180 hours included anticipated hours. When I was filling out my primary, I read a few posts on Reddit saying to include anticipated hours so I did. Is there a standard adcoms go by?
 

KnightDoc

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Would it be more realistic for me to get plenty of EC's done and wait for the 2022 cycle instead of next year?
Next year IS the 2022 cycle! Are you talking about 2023? Personally, I just don't think that will be necessary, because by next year, either things will have returned somewhat to normal, or more people will be impacted by the lack of EC opportunities than will have stocked up 1000s of hours prior to March 2020, and lacking a ton of EC hours won't be fatal.

Some here disagree, but it remains to be seen. People who waited until the last year are being burned now. Will that be true next year for people who waited for the last two years? The year after for people who waited the last three? At some point, expectations will change as the crisis drags on, and no one will know for sure until it's over and things get back to the way they were.
 

Saintman41

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Are you talking about applying now for entry in 2021, or applying this time next year for entry in 2022? If it's the latter, it's too soon to know what schools will do, since that will totally depend on how long it takes to get back to "normal" and what the rest of the pool will look like at that time. Applying with a serious lack of ECs would definitely hurt you, no matter what schools say about looking at you "holistically," unless that is the rule rather than the exception for the majority of the pool at that time.

All we know for now is that people who are applying now who waited until the last minute to participate in ECs in a meaningful way are kind of screwed since things shut down in March, with no visibility as to when and to what extent they will be able to fill in gaps while many in the pool do not find themselves in that situation. For what it's worth, although I have not yet made a final decision, I am probably going to hold off for a year myself for this very reason.
I was hoping to apply for entry into the 2022 school year. Fortunately, I still might have a tutoring job next semester (remotely). However, most volunteering opportunities are shut down and will most likely still be shut down for the foreseeable future (I'm in Texas). Same goes for shadowing. I'm fine taking a gap year because I'm interested in doing research when things hopefully go back to normal. My only concern is starting medical school too late.
 

KnightDoc

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This is wrong. Anticipated hours don't differ from hours already completed as there are no separate fields on AMCAS to differentiate them.
Actually, this is wrong. If you include anticipated hours, you are also including an anticipated time period. If the person reading it is sharp, they will ask you how you can do 180 hours during a pandemic, and you will be forced to say that 120 were done before March 2020, and the balance have been on hold since then, but you "anticipate" completing them before next summer, at which point they will certainly differ from the hours already completed.

To get in front of this, many people break out in the description which hours have already been completed and which are anticipated, if a particular activity has both.
 
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Saintman41

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Next year IS the 2022 cycle! Are you talking about 2023? Personally, I just don't think that will be necessary, because by next year, either things will have returned somewhat to normal, or more people will be impacted by the lack of EC opportunities than will have stocked up 1000s of hours prior to March 2020, and lacking a ton of EC hours won't be fatal.

Some here disagree, but it remains to be seen. People who waited until the last year are being burned now. Will that be true next year for people who waited for the last two years? The year after for people who waited the last three? At some point, expectations will change as the crisis drags on, and no one will know for sure until it's over and things get back to the way they were.
I was asking them if it would be more ideal to take a year off and work on EC's in order to apply for entry into the 2023 school year. I apologize if I'm not using the correct year for the cycles I'm mentioning.
 

KnightDoc

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I was hoping to apply for entry into the 2022 school year. Fortunately, I still might have a tutoring job next semester (remotely). However, most volunteering opportunities are shut down and will most likely still be shut down for the foreseeable future (I'm in Texas). Same goes for shadowing. I'm fine taking a gap year because I'm interested in doing research when things hopefully go back to normal. My only concern is starting medical school too late.
No such thing as too late, but I really think you'll be fine. If this is still going on this time next year, you'll be far from the only candidate dealing with this issue.
 
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KnightDoc

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I was asking them if it would be more ideal to take a year off and work on EC's in order to apply for entry into the 2023 school year. I apologize if I'm not using the correct year for the cycles I'm mentioning.
You're fine, and that's what I thought. I don't think there will be a ton of people in 2022 with the same level of ECs as this year if things don't get better soon, so I don't think you'll need a gap year to avoid competing with them.
 
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mdapplicant2024

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Actually, this is wrong. If you include anticipated hours, you are also including an anticipated time period. If the person reading it is sharp, they will ask you how you can do 180 hours during a pandemic, and you will be forced to say that 120 were done before March 2020, and the balance have been on hold since then, but you "anticipate" completing them before next summer, at which point they will certainly differ from the hours already completed.

To get in front of this, many people break out in the description which hours have already been completed and which are anticipated, if a particular activity has both.
I attended 9 medical school interviews last cycle and never not once got asked to differentiate completed and anticipated hours for several activities that were ongoing for me. If you want to disclose the difference in the description, go ahead, but I didn't as it's not required. Interviewers and committees are too busy to care about the difference
 
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gonnif

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This is wrong. Anticipated hours don't differ from hours already completed as there are no separate fields on AMCAS to differentiate them.
However, AMCAS has start and end dates, Any activity that has an end date listed past the AMCAS primary submission. Indeed, adcoms execpt applicants to be transparent and clearly state in the narrative of the W&A for what is completed and what is planned. We do look for that especially those trying to cram things in
 
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Saintman41

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However, AMCAS has start and end dates, Any activity that has an end date listed past the AMCAS primary submission. Indeed, adcoms execpt applicants to be transparent and clearly state in the narrative of the W&A for what is completed and what is planned. We do look for that especially those trying to cram things in
Would it have looked bad if I started EC's about 14 months before I originally planned to apply? Also, what if I spent my first year in college solely attending class, studying, and working in order to make ends meet for me and my family?
 

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This is wrong. Anticipated hours don't differ from hours already completed as there are no separate fields on AMCAS to differentiate them.

I've only ever heard directly from med school admissions feedback and pre-med advisors that anticipated hours are completely and utterly disregarded as you have not yet completed them. Anybody can write that they'll shadow for 100 hours and volunteer for a few hundred and not actually get those hours..
 
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gonnif

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Would it have looked bad if I started EC's about 14 months before I originally planned to apply? Also, what if I spent my first year in college solely attending class, studying, and working in order to make ends meet for me and my family?
And the absolute, definative answer is: it doesnt matter. Unless you can turn back time or decide not to apply to medical school, your past actions cannot be changed, you cant impact them, and therefore, all you can do is cause yourself worry and stress. move on
 
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