Introduction/ How do you choose which schools to apply to?

dtrainer

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-This is also posted on the OldPreMeds website. Sorry for the redundancy.-

I will be applying to medical school this summer and am curious how others are choosing which schools to apply to.

Since this is my first post it is perhaps helpful if I provide some background information. To make a long story short- I was a horribly inconsistent student when younger. I did very well some semesters and horrible at other times (I have a number of F’s on my transcript). I changed majors many times, dropped out of school several times- basically I created maximum academic carnage. At 24 I joined the Air Force although I was only six credits from getting my degree. The Air Force was exactly what I needed. I gained direction and spent six enjoyable years as an X-ray technologist. While in the Air Force I discovered my interest in medicine. Unfortunately I am burdened with my previous academic indiscretions. Following my separation from the Air Force in January 2005, I enrolled in a small public university in Texas. While there I completed my long delayed degree in biology. In the process of completing my degree I completed approximately 50 semester hours of biology and chemistry courses earning all ‘A’s except for one class in which I got a ‘B’. I took the MCAT last April. Currently I am working toward my MSPH in parasitolgy at Tulane and will complete this degree in May 2008.

My stats are:

GPA- 3.25
Science GPA- 3.25
MCAT-32R (13V, 10B, 9P)

I am retaking the MCAT this May. I have been told by several Texas schools that they would like to see at least a 35 given my low GPA. Since the first MCAT was taken without any preparation I am confident I can increase my score with the necessary preparation. I know a 32 is a decent score but I do not like that 9 in the physical science section.

I am a Texas resident so I will obviously apply to all the Texas allopathic schools. I will also apply to Tulane. Beyond that, I am having difficulty deciding which schools to apply to. Are there schools that are more forgiving of past indiscretions? Are some schools traditionally non-traditional friendly? What is an appropriate number of schools to apply to?

Any advice anyone can provide would most appreciated.

Don
 

Pemberley

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I'm also a Texan (prior Air Force) with about a 3.3... I got into one school, which (thankfully) is all it takes, because only that one school separates me from being a very, very unhappy person right now. I'm a little terrified by how close I came to a very bad outcome, but all I really can do is tell you what I did and how it worked out for me. No magic rules of thumb here.

Well, one rule of thumb: if you're asking yourself whether to apply to a particular school or category, envision yourself holding only one acceptance at the end of the cycle. If you'd rather take it than take a year off, apply there. A good example is osteopathic schools: would you rather wait a year on allopathic, or go this year to an osteopathic? Unless it's totally incompatible with your career goals, apply at least to the Texas osteopathic school, and maybe to other osteopathic schools as well.

Apply widely. The low GPA put us seriously behind the 8-ball. I really got the feeling that many OOS schools did a spreadsheet-sort, and people with a sub-3.X GPA (where 3.X>>3.3) just kind of fell off the list. No reading personal statements, no considering what major or anything else. Just gone.
Do an mdapplicants search for TX residents with <3.4 who got in somewhere. See which schools they got into. I think you can even bias it to older applicants if you want.

The common wisdom is to apply to schools with a range of numbers. I can't really confirm that approach did me any good, but it's worth a try.

I let some applications slide when I got a rush of early interviews. Don't do that. The early interviews weren't followed by early acceptances. Get used to opening your wallet -- my 15 apps cost me about $5,000 -- and that was probably not as many as I should have sent in.

I don't know whether you were Texan during the screwing-around phase of your life. If you were, investigate the Hazelwood Act (or is it spelled Hazlewood?) and the Fresh Start provisions in the UT system. I don't really know anything about the latter; I've just heard that it exists.

Do you have good research credentials? If not, try to apply to schools that put less emphasis on those. For example, the Vanderbilt secondary devoted some space to talking about research. I had none -- no love for me.

Finally, have a little fun with it. If I were still young and single I would just love to go to Mount Sinai and live in the dorms right by central park. Most of the schools in the country will give you pretty much the same education, so find a place you'd love being. I tried to prioritize small class sizes. You might go for urban areas or rural areas -- whatever your particular thing is. (Mine was places where my husband might be more employable. Not so entertaining. :oops: )

Sorry to ramble -- hope this helps. :)
 

dtrainer

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....your rambling was very informative.

I must admit that am somewhat frightened by the cost of all of this. Just another reason to do things right the first time. If I had a strong application then I wouldn't have to throw the net so wide. C'est la vie.

Just out of curiosity- did you apply to USUHS? If so, what was your experience with them?

Thanks again for your rambling thoughts.

Don
 
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Pemberley

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....your rambling was very informative.

I must admit that am somewhat frightened by the cost of all of this. Just another reason to do things right the first time. If I had a strong application then I wouldn't have to throw the net so wide. C'est la vie.

Just out of curiosity- did you apply to USUHS? If so, what was your experience with them?

Thanks again for your rambling thoughts.

Don

I didn't -- would have loved to if I'd still been single, but we aren't really sure how my husband's career would fare with active duty movings-around, so I'll be sticking with Guard/Reserves.
 

oldpro

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I'm also a Texan (prior Air Force) with about a 3.3... I got into one school, which (thankfully) is all it takes, because only that one school separates me from being a very, very unhappy person right now. I'm a little terrified by how close I came to a very bad outcome, but all I really can do is tell you what I did and how it worked out for me. No magic rules of thumb here.

Well, one rule of thumb: if you're asking yourself whether to apply to a particular school or category, envision yourself holding only one acceptance at the end of the cycle. If you'd rather take it than take a year off, apply there. A good example is osteopathic schools: would you rather wait a year on allopathic, or go this year to an osteopathic? Unless it's totally incompatible with your career goals, apply at least to the Texas osteopathic school, and maybe to other osteopathic schools as well.

Apply widely. The low GPA put us seriously behind the 8-ball. I really got the feeling that many OOS schools did a spreadsheet-sort, and people with a sub-3.X GPA (where 3.X>>3.3) just kind of fell off the list. No reading personal statements, no considering what major or anything else. Just gone.
Do an mdapplicants search for TX residents with <3.4 who got in somewhere. See which schools they got into. I think you can even bias it to older applicants if you want.

The common wisdom is to apply to schools with a range of numbers. I can't really confirm that approach did me any good, but it's worth a try.

I let some applications slide when I got a rush of early interviews. Don't do that. The early interviews weren't followed by early acceptances. Get used to opening your wallet -- my 15 apps cost me about $5,000 -- and that was probably not as many as I should have sent in.

I don't know whether you were Texan during the screwing-around phase of your life. If you were, investigate the Hazelwood Act (or is it spelled Hazlewood?) and the Fresh Start provisions in the UT system. I don't really know anything about the latter; I've just heard that it exists.

Do you have good research credentials? If not, try to apply to schools that put less emphasis on those. For example, the Vanderbilt secondary devoted some space to talking about research. I had none -- no love for me.

Finally, have a little fun with it. If I were still young and single I would just love to go to Mount Sinai and live in the dorms right by central park. Most of the schools in the country will give you pretty much the same education, so find a place you'd love being. I tried to prioritize small class sizes. You might go for urban areas or rural areas -- whatever your particular thing is. (Mine was places where my husband might be more employable. Not so entertaining. :oops: )

Sorry to ramble -- hope this helps. :)

Good Advice! :thumbup: I agree You only need one acceptance but you need a net not a one fishing pole in this game to reel in the one catch....................................
 
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