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is it me, or is this process seem so arbitrary?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by spike22, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. As I read people's posts, I can't help but look at their medical profiles as well. I am baffled to read that someone with a 3.97 GPA (both science and total) with a 35 MCAT got rejected by Vanderbilt for an interview, or some other schools. EC's looking bomb digity. I don't get it? :confused: This whole process seems crazy to me, what are your thoughts??
     
  2. GoSpursGo

    GoSpursGo Allons-y!
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    Yeah, it definitely SEEMS arbitrary to us on the outside who don't see the whole picture. Assuredly, each school DOES have its own system though, and I'm sure they each have a semi-reasonable way of evaluating applicants... it's just so darn frustrating to those of us who aren't privy to it!
     
  3. funkymunkytoes

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    A veritable crap-shoot indeed. You want me to tell you how to get into medical school? Just fall through the hole in a privy and come out smelling like a rose.
    _______________________________
    "For all sad words of tongue and pen,
    The saddest are these: It might have been."

    Never forget it.
     
  4. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna
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    Schools have between 50 and a few hundred seast per year and they get THOUSANDS of applicants. Each school is going to be looking for a very specific type of person to fil that seat. Its not just about the GPA and MCAT. Even if you have a 4.0/45 you probably wouldnt get accepted to EVERY school that you applied to. Its not at all surprising that he/she got a rejection.
     
  5. Bacchus

    Administrator Moderator Physician 10+ Year Member

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    Remember:

    1. Some people lie about their stats
    2. Some people are just numbers
    3. Some people apply to schools that are very, very, very far stretches
    4. Some people can't shed their God complex once on the school's turf
     
  6. Dr Lyss

    Dr Lyss Professional Student
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    it amazes me... especially looking at sdn one will feel inadequate very quickly, but there must be something about us "ordinary" people that med schools can't get enough of!
     
  7. officedepot

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    don't forget that these people may have very bad essays on their AMCAS application. Also, they may not have very good recommendations. And another thing that is possible is that a lot of medical schools are looking for diversity. Nobody can be sure why someone got rejected. remeber too that Vandy is pretty selective.
     
  8. nick_carraway

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    Yes, it is an arbitrary process that depends upon human whims and computer cutoffs.

    Although 44.6% of applicants will get accepted somewhere, 55.4% of them will not.

    They need to trim out those 23,457 applicants some how.
     
  9. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy
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    I dont think its arbitrary at all, its just we dont know what the specific schools are looking for.
     
  10. Forthegood

    Forthegood ProcrastinationAficionado
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    Well of course it's arbitrary. But it WORKS. They take more good candidates than bad, and the people who really want it end up getting in with very few exceptions.

    How would you prefer them to do it? If the MCAT didn't matter, then there would be no other level playing field than the interview. If the GPA didn't matter, then how would they see our work ethic? If EC's didnt matter, they'd get people with sense of what they were getting into (they don't anyways). If interviews didn't matter they'd get zombies who took tests well and just wanted to go interventional radiology to make money.

    Point is, everything matters. And it should.
     
  11. nick_carraway

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    What's wrong with interventional radiology hopefuls?


    ... is this why I was rejected... ?
     
  12. GoSpursGo

    GoSpursGo Allons-y!
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    This. It's fairly rare for someone to "bomb" the essay, but it does happen; I had one friend apply with a 3.7/37, and not get a single INTERVIEW (that's right, not acceptance- INTERVIEW), and this is in Texas where we have 7 public schools. We read her PS, though, and it essentially read like, "I don't like sick people, but I'm gonna do this anyways"- no joke. Not surprisingly, she eventually decided medicine wasn't for her, and she's much happier following her own dreams than her parents'. So those essays that you spend countless hours on actually do matter...
     
  13. Lukkie

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    because the 3.5/29 guy might have done research in cardiovascular disease which influenced him to go into medicine, and this app was read but a cardiologist in vanderbilt who wanted to meet this applicant. another 3.8/35 guy might have done research in cancer, whose app was read by the same cardiologist in vanderbilt but this might not have interested him as much. thats why you gotta apply to a lot of schools.
     
  14. funkymunkytoes

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    I did field research on an invasive species growing on riverbanks in West Virginia. Anyone interested?
     
  15. Lukkie

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    apparently vandy, hopkins and duke were
     
  16. MeatTornado

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    wouldn't computer cutoffs be the LEAST arbitrary way to do it??

    i would say the people who really want it and are capable of succeeding in it end up getting in with very few exceptions....if you can't prove that you can handle the academic rigor it doesn't matter how much you "want it"
     
  17. nick_carraway

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    Unless a human tells it what numerical or percentage cut-off to use.

    Besides, the result from that filtering is then subject to the whims of a human, so it all evens out.
     
  18. Forthegood

    Forthegood ProcrastinationAficionado
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    Hahahahha... that's just the current scapegoat because according to the latest figures, they make the most on average with the steadiest gains in recent years (although, not the largest gains)


    I am. Ecology can be interesting. Depends on what your doing. Anything productive come as a result?

    No.

    Hence the rest of my post.
     
  19. Excelsius

    Excelsius Carpe Noctem
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    I know that many premeds here say things are random, but they are not. Saying that something is random is like assuming that an adcom closes his eyes and just picks a student. Note that being a doctor is more or less a social job - someone with 3.99 and a huge social ineptitude is not going to get in unless he lets someone else write his PS. Then he will get an interview, but will get rejected. One of the med school admissions books talked about one such peculiar case - someone with 40+ mcat and 4.0 did not get into a single school. The author of the book was so perplexed that he contacted that student. Right away, over the phone, he realized why the student did not get in anywhere - he sounded very listless, didn't seem to have any goals, mumbled, and had feelings of grandeur (Ivies, no less).

    And yes, the other factor, unfortunately, is that some people may be lying on SDN. That especially occurred to me when I read the Rose Petal thread, where apparently some people were able to solve the puzzle in a matter of seconds, and almost everyone else was able to come up with solutions within minutes. That was disappointing to find out, but it it what it is. Just like most premedical students are not nearly as smart as Bill Gates, most premedical students also don't have 34+ MCAT and 3.8+ GPA. You always hear people on SDN saying "Don't trust the stats on MDApplicant." Well guess what? The vast majority of those profiles are by SDNers. I wonder what it says about the premeds here.

    Therefore, this process is NOT random. I may be willing to accept that perhaps one student was accidentally overlooked at one medschool (that's an accident, not really random), but given that almost everyone here applies to 10+ schools, the probability of randomly being rejected from all 10-30 schools is very slim. If you got rejected, you have something that's lacking.

    All of this proves that medschools don't look at just numbers, even those number-hungry schools. This is the only reason why those students with sub 3.4 GPA are still able to get acceptances.
     
  20. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    GPA, MCAT, ECs are not the whole picture. Maybe the kid has no personable attributes. It doesn't matter if you're einstein and you have the best ECs in the world, if your personality blows and you show off an air of narcissm in the interview on what you put on your PS and secondaries, its in the schools best interest to ensure you don't become a doctor.
     
  21. Forthegood

    Forthegood ProcrastinationAficionado
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    Excelsius and Cbrons... here here. I saw this happen first hand at an interview. Kid comes in late, refuses to sit next to the other applicants, doesn't talk to anyone the whole time, looks like he is sweating bullets.... it's a wonder the MCAT didn't give the kid a heart attack. I don't know if the kid had a 45T on his MCAT... but i wouldn't trust him with a plastic spoon.
     
  22. Excelsius

    Excelsius Carpe Noctem
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    Hahaha. BUT he at least made it into the interview! It sort of makes me wonder who wrote his PS. If I were an adcom, I would think that the PS was likely dishonest and therefore question every other aspect of the student's application. Maybe you should think twice before you let someone else write your PS, especially if you're paying someone to do it for you.
     
  23. Forthegood

    Forthegood ProcrastinationAficionado
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    Yeah... maybe he knew someone... that's all i could come up with. Either way... it made me happy... one down...
     
  24. Lukkie

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    also in that thread it was proven that someone was lying about his MCAT - he posted once that he had a 40 and suddenly in that thread he said he got a 41 :laugh:
     
  25. fizzle

    fizzle New Member
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    I've seen far too many mediocre essays/personal statements to really take seriously most pre-meds who claim that their stats should've given them at least an interview. And the problem is, it generally is difficult to critique an essay where the subject is all right, but the style rubs me the wrong way.

    PS: I myself am not a very good writer, but I certainly can recognize bad writing when I see it!
     
  26. TheElement

    TheElement Being Lazzy
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    I would agree that the process as a whole is not arbitrary. Everything is done for a reason, but sometimes the interviews feel sooooo arbitrary. I got grilled by a PhD once for not having research and three times I was lucky enough to be paired with a MD/MBA (I'm a business major). Having those common bonds can really help you make a connection with your interviewer.
     
  27. ButImLETired

    ButImLETired Prodigal member
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    I agree entirely with people who argue that it is NOT a random process. The whole "this is arbitrary" thing is something that entitled premeds like to think is the reason why every med school doesnt kiss their feet and beg them to join their class. There are no absolutes in a process that is handled by human beings, but each school is looking for something- we just don't know what it is. Some schools are better than others at sharing, whether officially or unofficially, what they look for, at the most basic level. That's why most people with zero research interest or experience wouldn't bother applying to Stanford, and people with extremely low stats don't bother applying to Wash U.

    Not only that, but med schools don't have 150-person classes filled with the same exact type of person x 150. Usually there'll be one guy who's been published 18 times, one who's worked with the dead African babies, one who was a long-standing and very accomplished EMT, and yes, a couple whose grades and MCAT scores weren't perfect but whose life stories spoke to the adcom. I am glad this is the case, otherwise I'd probably go nuts being in a class full of LETs.

    The way I think of it, while of course there are a few mishaps (some great candidates that would have been a really good fit for a particular school are rejected, while some are accepted who clearly don't belong there), med schools look for a cohesive group of people who could work well together and portray the school's mission and ideals. If I get rejected (this is especially true post-interview), it means that they don't think I'd be a good fit for the school- period. And you know what? Maybe they're right. They have much more experience than I do reading students' files and they have seen many classes before mine and know what works and what doesn't, who'd thrive and who wouldn't, and what kind of people would fit together nicely. If anything, I just figure they're saving me from 4 years of being in a school where I'm not really happy and in which I don't belong.
     
    #27 ButImLETired, Jan 7, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2009
  28. Typical Premed

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    You think US med admissions is arbitrary. Im a Canadian applicant and 2 of the med schools in Ontario actually use strict MCAT cutoffs to determine who gets an interview. Queens had strict cutoffs of 9 9 9 R last year while Western Ontario's cutoff was 11BS, 10 VR, 9 PS R WS. Also, 3 additional schools in Ontario don't even consider the MCAT at all in the admissions process!
     
  29. rama kandra

    rama kandra Actual Psychiatrist jk
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    We're all just cockroaches, wildebeests dying on the river bank. Nothing we do has any lasting meaning. - House
     
  30. nick_carraway

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    Nice. Way to dismiss an entire category of people who disagree with you.

    Entitled premeds, indeed.
     
    #30 nick_carraway, Jan 7, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2009
  31. TooMuchResearch

    TooMuchResearch i'm goin' to Kathmandu...
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  32. Excelsius

    Excelsius Carpe Noctem
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    Are you aware of the "stress" interviews? Apparently they do it on purpose to see how you respond to stress. This is why many applicants who think they had terrible interviews actually get in. Part of the process.
     
  33. fizzle

    fizzle New Member
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    It's "hear, hear"! So many people use that phrase on SDN, and I've yet to see anyone get it right! I'm going to keep correcting this phrase as long as I see it (this one is #4)!
     
  34. Excelsius

    Excelsius Carpe Noctem
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    I am not referring to anyone specifically as I quickly lost interest in that thread and didn't spend much time there, so I don't really recall any specific names. Nor does it matter.
     
  35. officedepot

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    very well written. Too many people think they should get accepted at every school. This process is NOT random.
     
  36. TheElement

    TheElement Being Lazzy
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    Yeah, I was trying to say how much easier it is to talk with a person with similar background versus someone else where you share less in common.
     
  37. RoyBasch

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    I don't know why, but that struck me as especially weird. Like some Piagetian child psychology experiment gone wrong.
    :laugh:

    I remember saying, to a professor of mine who was also my boss when I was a TA and a letter of recommendation writer, "yeah why do they have us write essays, anyone can say in an essay they like medicine and helping people blah blah. The essays so polished and perfect anyways its not a true reflection of much"

    Then he told me: "you know you'd be surprised what some people write in their essays, sometimes its really quite damning." Somewhat like the PS mentioned above where someone said "they didn't really like sick people." However, I'm not doing too well in this cycle and I feel I have a pretty strong rounded application, so I don't really know.
    -Roy
     
  38. redlight

    redlight Senior Member :D
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    not arbitrary. its not as if adcomm pick names out of hats. the admissions game is just too subjective for us to try and make much sense of it from an outsider's perspective.
     
  39. nick_carraway

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    Semantics at its best!
     
  40. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*
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    haha
     
  41. redlight

    redlight Senior Member :D
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    no.. arbitrary as in random
    just because the process is a subjective one doesn't mean admissions is random.
    adcom are looking for specific things in applications, to the best of my knowledge. it only (sometimes) appears random to us because we don't know exactly what they see in our app and what they are looking for
     
  42. slowbutsteady

    slowbutsteady slowbutsteady
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    You are assuming he did not get accepted!!!
     
  43. nick_carraway

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    No, I guess it's not an issue of semantics. Doublespeak, might be more apt.

    You don't think that there is an inherent randomness to a process that involves a human's subjective judgement on eliminating thousands of applications from his/her desk?

    You don't think that there's a chance that two identical applications land on the desk at different times and one is accepted and one is not due to the judgement of that particular officer at that particular moment due to his/her particular mood?

    Even human bias and a degree of randomness exists when diagnosing tongue cancers, which ostensibly uses more exact guidelines than an adcom's mission statement. Depending on the mood or physician looking at the EKG, certain things are noticed some of the time and not at others.
     
    #43 nick_carraway, Jan 8, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2009
  44. WashMe

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    completely arbitrary in my experience. everyone has their own experiences with the admissions process.
     
  45. nick_carraway

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    Except that no one on this thread--certainly not the OP who posed the question--has said that they personally deserve a slot that someone else does not.
     
  46. circulus vitios

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    I was talking to a friend of mine who is currently a fellow in a surgical program. He said in order to be accepted to a medical school, you need to play the game. You need a decent GPA and MCAT (3.5 / 30), but most importantly, you need a story that makes you stand out. I'm not talking about the typical pre-medical wet dream cliche garbage like volunteering to save dead babies in Africa, I'm talking real world experience that the other mindless pre-med drones can't match. If you have a PPL license or worked a summer internship as a water tester for the EPA, then talk about that. All you have to do is tell an interesting story that sets you apart from everyone else, and somehow play into how it deals with your choice to become a doctor.
     
  47. nick_carraway

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    True. Many people have told me (in the middle of my app cycle) that a compelling narrative is important and something you should always be thinking about.

    Maintain the theme of the application throughout your PS, word your ECs so that it's noticeable, choose your LOR writers to reinforce it if possible, and remind interviewers of the narrative you want them to remember when visiting the campus.

    Too many people, myself included, forget it after writing the PS--and even in the PS, it might not be as clearly stated as it should be.

    The advice makes perfect sense in retrospect, but I guess I can thank hindsight for that.
     
  48. Valvool

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    I think the some parts of the process can be arbitrary in the sense that there are so many variables involved. One variable: the mood, interests, biases, and personality of the interviewer and how those mesh with that of the student they happen to be interviewing...these assignments were random at the schools where I interviewed. One person didn't even know he had an interviewee until five minutes before my interview. That's just one variable, I can think of a hundred others. Each school has a purpose, an ideal student, an ideal class in mind, but an infinite number of small variables do come into play, and they are not governed by any formula.

    My MCAT score was not amazing, but I was rejected at my state school, one of the least competitive schools in existence, and gained an acceptance at a school with almost ten thousand applicants that year (and the stats of its avg matriculant better than my own). I won't go so far as to say that there is no rhyme or reason to all of this, but what I learned from going through this process myself is that luck and circumstance played a part in how the process turned out.
     
  49. dragonfly99

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    <Depending on the mood or physician or computer looking at the EKG, certain things are noticed some of the time and not at others.>

    What?!!! It's a COMPUTER!!!

    On an unrelated note, I do think that very similar or almost identical applicants (on paper) one might get an interview invite and one might not, due to random factors. I doubt the same adcom person(s) reads every single application, and everyone has his/her own biases, so I'm sure that happens, especially if one makes it to the point he/she has bested the MCAT and GPA cutoffs that most or all schools have.
     
  50. nick_carraway

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    Well there's been trials that compared a human's evaluation of an EKG to a computer's evaluation. I think I'll change my example to Grant Achatz's ordeal with tongue cancer.
     

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