Likely reapplicant ):, looking for advice and motivation from experienced SDNers :)

TheHecticEcleticElectric

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Jan 6, 2014
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I applied to MD and DO schools. Was put on hold at one DO and waitlisted at another. No MD interviews:cryi:.

I had a 3.44c GPA and a 3.54s GPA, I took the MCAT twice and scored a 29 and a 31. I feel like my GPA is too low for an MD acceptance and too high for a post-bacc or SMP to really get the money's worth. Unfortunately, I'm caucasian and a California resident. My MCAT is acceptable, but arguably too low as a Californian applicant. Is it worth retaking?

EC's: I volunteered at an Emergency room for 1.5 years and the front desk of a hospital for 0.5 years, totally 2 years of clinical exposure.
I did a year of research, presented a poster and got a nice LOR from my PI.
Since graduating, I got a job as a laboratory tech and tutor for underserved minorities. I've been able to work on teachings skills, and was able to teach one of the labs. This isn't on my AMCAS application but I've updated the schools I have a fleeting chance at.
Was able to get descent letters of rec from 2 physicians.

Red flags (?): During college, I had two IA's for alcohol, one at age 18, the other at age 20. I'm 24 now, so it was ~4 years ago.

I have nothing against DO's, but I'd prefer to go the MD route. The DO philosophy doesn't really resonate with me (I made sure this didn't show in my interview), and the thought of taking extra classes and standardized tests makes me a bit reluctant to invest the extra effort, but I would gladly go without hesitation if I was accepted off the wait-list. I have a lot of respect for DO's, but I honestly didn't even know they existed until I starting going to AMSA meetings when I was first interested in medicine.

Are academics my problem? Are EC's my problem? Any suggestions? I feel like I'm in limbo with my GPA being in between a B+ and A- average.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my problems :(+pity+ I appreciate any advice/input:).
 

QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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Agree with you that your stats are too high for a post bac. I also don't think retaking the MCAT a third time when your first two scores are essentially the same and you've already broken a 30 is likely to help you. It sounds like you're not getting much in the way of invites, which suggests that the problem is with your app itself. There are several possibilities:
  • Didn't show that you've learned something and matured from those IAs. What's different now versus four years ago in how you conduct yourself? Did you own up to your actions, or does your app make it sound like you're blaming others for your own mistakes?
  • Didn't write a convincing and compelling PS. Did anyone with adcom or job hiring experience look at it for you and give you feedback? Is it grammatically correct?
  • Didn't get the right LORs. Do you have any from science profs? The others are fine as adjunct LORs, but most schools want letters from professors.
  • Didn't hide your preference for allo over osteo as well as you thought you did. No one wants to feel like a backup. How much do you actually know about osteo philosophy?
  • Didn't apply broadly enough or target the right schools. How many schools did you apply to, and how broadly geographically did you apply?
  • Didn't apply early enough. When were your apps complete?
 

Goro

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100% concur, especially with the bold text. Invest in MSAR and target all low-tier and new MD programs. For the former, target schools whose median numbers are close to your own.

Agree with you that your stats are too high for a post bac. I also don't think retaking the MCAT a third time when your first two scores are essentially the same and you've already broken a 30 is likely to help you. It sounds like you're not getting much in the way of invites, which suggests that the problem is with your app itself. There are several possibilities:
  • Didn't show that you've learned something and matured from those IAs. What's different now versus four years ago in how you conduct yourself? Did you own up to your actions, or does your app make it sound like you're blaming others for your own mistakes?
  • Didn't write a convincing and compelling PS. Did anyone with adcom or job hiring experience look at it for you and give you feedback? Is it grammatically correct?
  • Didn't get the right LORs. Do you have any from science profs? The others are fine as adjunct LORs, but most schools want letters from professors.
  • Didn't hide your preference for allo over osteo as well as you thought you did. No one wants to feel like a backup. How much do you actually know about osteo philosophy?
  • Didn't apply broadly enough or target the right schools. How many schools did you apply to, and how broadly geographically did you apply?
  • Didn't apply early enough. When were your apps complete?
 
OP
TheHecticEcleticElectric

TheHecticEcleticElectric

Account on Hold
Account on Hold
Jan 6, 2014
2
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Agree with you that your stats are too high for a post bac. I also don't think retaking the MCAT a third time when your first two scores are essentially the same and you've already broken a 30 is likely to help you. It sounds like you're not getting much in the way of invites, which suggests that the problem is with your app itself. There are several possibilities:
  • Didn't show that you've learned something and matured from those IAs. What's different now versus four years ago in how you conduct yourself? Did you own up to your actions, or does your app make it sound like you're blaming others for your own mistakes?
  • Didn't write a convincing and compelling PS. Did anyone with adcom or job hiring experience look at it for you and give you feedback? Is it grammatically correct?
  • Didn't get the right LORs. Do you have any from science profs? The others are fine as adjunct LORs, but most schools want letters from professors.
  • Didn't hide your preference for allo over osteo as well as you thought you did. No one wants to feel like a backup. How much do you actually know about osteo philosophy?
  • Didn't apply broadly enough or target the right schools. How many schools did you apply to, and how broadly geographically did you apply?
  • Didn't apply early enough. When were your apps complete?
Thank you @QofQuimica and @Goro for the input, I really appreciate it.

Those are some really good points. The IA's happened awhile ago, I didn't address them in my personal statement (should I have?), but I did address them in my AMCAS app and in secondaries when asked to do so. I didn't spend a lot of time on the descriptions of my activities on my AMCAS app, making it read more as if it were a resume (perhaps I screwed up here).

I thought my PS well written, all my letter writers really liked it, but I don't think it shined. Writing well has always been challenging for me, I will compose a new PS if it comes down to reapplying.

I was also relatively late this cycle. I submitted June 12th, but my transcripts took 3 weeks longer than I thought they would to arrive, so I ended up being verified late July.

I didn't have a DO letter which may have been a problem for the school. I have 1 science professor LOR and 2 from physicians, I know a lot of schools want 2 science and 1 humanities from professors. I'm working now at a University and I could get additional letters from science teachers, but they would be from a teacher-coworker relationship rather than a teacher-student relationship (this could be problematic?).

I'll definitely invest in the newest MSAR, I had a 2010 copy. I had selected 25 schools initially, but ended up filling out 14 of them, since a lot of the schools seemed to favor instate. The schools I applied to were:
UC Davis (huge reach)
UC Irvine (probably an even bigger reach)
UC Riverside (have relatives in Riverside, but I guess non-Riverside residents==OOS)
USUHS
Albany (rejected)
NYMC
VTC
OHSU (probably big reach)
Rush
GWU
Drexel
EVMS
MSU
Western Michigan

Anyways, I want to thank you guys again for taking the time to read about my troubles and offer your advice :).
 

QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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The problem is likely a combination of at least two things.

First, you need the right letters. It may be ok to substitute work letters for prof letters since you're a nontrad (I did this myself for my non-science prof letter when I applied), but don't do this without getting each school's permission first. If you are going to apply to osteo schools, you should submit an additional letter from a DO (usually obtained by shadowing).

Second, you applied way too narrowly geographically and to too few schools. This is likely the biggest mistake you made. Fortunately, it's a relatively easy mistake to correct. If you want to only apply to allo schools, I'd suggest that you target the Midwest in particular on your next attempt, as even many of their state schools will take OOS students, and there are many excellent schools there that receive far fewer apps than schools on either coast simply because of location. If you're determined to stay on the west coast, then you should apply to all of the DO schools in that region. In either case, you should apply to twice as many schools as you did this year. And yes, using the most up to date MSAR is a must. Get it from your university library or go browse it in your local bookstore if you're too cheap to spring for your own copy, but use it to help you select a proper list of schools that A) take a significant number of residents from your state, B) have missions similar to your own goals, and C) have average stats that are in the same ballpark as your own stats.

To answer your other questions: yes, I would explain your activities in more detail. You don't have to write a book, but a brief sentence or two explaining what you did is appropriate. And no, I would not address the IAs in your PS. But you do need to have a well-written PS that answers the question, "why medicine," and that helps the reader get to know you a little as a person. If you didn't do so this year, I suggest making use of the nontrad PS readers thread the next time around so that you can have a few people who have been through the process take a look at your PS.