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marginal for cali schools?

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BarberofSeville

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hey everyone,

I'm a junior this year, planning on applying in the upcoming cycle, and I just wanted to sound out my application to you guys and see how competitive I would be for Cali med schools (i'm a resident, and besides 2,3 schools, I'm applying exclusively in Cali).

Some facts about me:
-go to a top 15 Ugrad that's very well known for its difficult premed classes
-biochemistry major
-Will have 2.5 years of research (a little over 1 year in one lab where i will have spent 3 summers + 8 months during hte school year, and also in another lab associated with my ugrad's med school
-Will be presenting at an Undergraduate Symposium this Spring
- LORs from my PIs should be excellent, especially from the first lab I worked in
- Spent my winter breaks in India, worked in my aunt's dental clinic and my uncle's general clinic, shadowed my other uncle in India who's a surgeon (roughly 10-12 weeks worth of shadowing, about 5 hrs/day)
- part of Alpha Phi Omega (community service fraternity), got lots of service hours under my belt
- head of my a capella group, we've performed at our university's annual shows, along with some random other gigs

my gpa freshman year at my first school was a 3.99 overall, with a 4.0 science gpa. after transferring to my second school, my grades dipped BIG time. I got a 3.45 and a 3.43 my sophomore years, and got a 3.60 this last fall semester. My worst grades were in my science classes (Bs, B+s, 1 B- in Organic Chemistry Fall 2007). I'm on an upward trend though, and since I'm taking only 12 units this semester, I feel I should end the year pretty strong (4.0 maybe?! haha).

I have not taken the MCAT yet, planning on doing so this Spring. Though I know it's a bad idea to make assumptions about how I will end up doing, my averages on practice tests have ranged from 36-43, so pretty good.

I'm planning on focusing my personal statement and application in general about how I really want to work in India and set up a clinic after I get through medical school, and especially how my upbringing and clinical experience has really fostered this desire. I really feel my plans are feasible, since I'm fluent in Hindi, and moreover, my grandpa has promised to give me startup capital to set up a clinic whereever I want. I also have family in different parts of India, so I know I'll have a social/family network to support me.

Regarding my grades the past 1.5 years, I really want to emphasize how going to my second school really forced me to relearn the way I learned and understood material, and how it's helped make me a more logical and scientific thinker.

Overall, I feel my application is pretty solid, just barring my GPA. But hearing about how competitive CA medical schools are, it has me a bit nervous. I'd really welcome any ideas/suggestions/advice you guys had. Thanks a lot everyone!
 

Mobius1985

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So your cGPA is about 3.69 now? Then it could go up to ~3.74 with straight As this next semester. That makes an application GPA that's pretty good. How competitve you'll be for California schools now depends on your MCAT score, if your extracurriculars are solid. You'll be fine if you score in your expected range
 

GoSpursGo

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thanks! anyone else?

Mobius is kind of THE authority on these things; if he says it in the WAMC forum, it's probably fairly accurate :)

Obviously, I think that you know that considering how competitive CA is, you just never know how things will turn out; all you can do is make yourself as competitive as possible, get your stats in the "average" range, and then cross your fingers. With schools as competitive as CA, it's entirely possible to do nothing "wrong" and still get passed over, so just be prepared for that possibility.
 

Mobius1985

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Here are the wise words of a real expert on California schools:
Cali is rough. Do as well as you can on the MCAT but realistically a 35 on the MCAT won't serve you as well in Cali as impressive and interesting ECs will.

You need something that stands out. Now it could be a 45 on the MCAT but who can count on that? It could be a passion that shows through in your extra curriculars, it could be passion for an under represented minority group or underserved community. It could be a serious interest in research. As long as it makes you a little different so you can stand out.

People say Cali schools are especially a crap shoot but I don't necessarily agree. Its just they're not looking for what premeds think they're looking for. For some reason there is this very common misconception that there is a neat and tidy checklist to get into medical school (good GPA, good MCAT, some volunteering, some clinical experience, some research). But the fact of the matter is that if thats all you do then you won't stand out and you will have a hard time at a lot of schools - especially the highly competitive California schools.

Make yourself different and you'll do well. But follow some imaginary premed checklist and you'll be pretty disappointed.
 

BarberofSeville

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thanks for the advice guys, it's been really helpful. I'm afraid to say that my ECs do look a bit laundry-listish, but I really feel that I've learned a lot and gained much insight into how I want to pursue my career (especially working in my aunt/uncle's clinic in India), and I plan to articulate as much in my personal statement. Do I need to consider other ECs, or should I just stay put and get my GPA up and rock the MCAT?
 

nogolfinsnow

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hey everyone,

I'm a junior this year, planning on applying in the upcoming cycle, and I just wanted to sound out my application to you guys and see how competitive I would be for Cali med schools (i'm a resident, and besides 2,3 schools, I'm applying exclusively in Cali).

Some facts about me:
-go to a top 15 Ugrad that's very well known for its difficult premed classes
-biochemistry major
-Will have 2.5 years of research (a little over 1 year in one lab where i will have spent 3 summers + 8 months during hte school year, and also in another lab associated with my ugrad's med school
-Will be presenting at an Undergraduate Symposium this Spring
- LORs from my PIs should be excellent, especially from the first lab I worked in
- Spent my winter breaks in India, worked in my aunt's dental clinic and my uncle's general clinic, shadowed my other uncle in India who's a surgeon (roughly 10-12 weeks worth of shadowing, about 5 hrs/day)
- part of Alpha Phi Omega (community service fraternity), got lots of service hours under my belt
- head of my a capella group, we've performed at our university's annual shows, along with some random other gigs

my gpa freshman year at my first school was a 3.99 overall, with a 4.0 science gpa. after transferring to my second school, my grades dipped BIG time. I got a 3.45 and a 3.43 my sophomore years, and got a 3.60 this last fall semester. My worst grades were in my science classes (Bs, B+s, 1 B- in Organic Chemistry Fall 2007). I'm on an upward trend though, and since I'm taking only 12 units this semester, I feel I should end the year pretty strong (4.0 maybe?! haha).

I have not taken the MCAT yet, planning on doing so this Spring. Though I know it's a bad idea to make assumptions about how I will end up doing, my averages on practice tests have ranged from 36-43, so pretty good.

I'm planning on focusing my personal statement and application in general about how I really want to work in India and set up a clinic after I get through medical school, and especially how my upbringing and clinical experience has really fostered this desire. I really feel my plans are feasible, since I'm fluent in Hindi, and moreover, my grandpa has promised to give me startup capital to set up a clinic whereever I want. I also have family in different parts of India, so I know I'll have a social/family network to support me.

Regarding my grades the past 1.5 years, I really want to emphasize how going to my second school really forced me to relearn the way I learned and understood material, and how it's helped make me a more logical and scientific thinker.

Overall, I feel my application is pretty solid, just barring my GPA. But hearing about how competitive CA medical schools are, it has me a bit nervous. I'd really welcome any ideas/suggestions/advice you guys had. Thanks a lot everyone!

Are you talking about working full time in India, or working here and having a clinic that you visit several times/year? I think if it's full time in India, as cool as that would be, some schools might shy away from you. Public schools especially are heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars, but if you go work in India, there's no return on the taxpayer's investment. So be careful how you word your PS.
 
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On that same note, have you considered applying to medical school in India. I understand it's much less expensive there. If you plan to practice medicine there, it might be a good idea to immerse yourself in their process of education, and save the need for relicensure, or whatever it would take to practice there as an international medical graduate.
 

alwaysaangel

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-go to a top 15 Ugrad that's very well known for its difficult premed classes
Never count on this helping. No offense but everyone thinks their school is "well known for its difficult premed classes." Every schools premeds classes are hard - they are just hard classes. I can't count the number of times I hear this from students of EVERY UC. Not every UC can have especially hard premed classes. And they don't. I went to Berkeley - its not that bad. Ad coms will not give you points for this...

- Spent my winter breaks in India, worked in my aunt's dental clinic and my uncle's general clinic, shadowed my other uncle in India who's a surgeon (roughly 10-12 weeks worth of shadowing, about 5 hrs/day)
This is a cool EC but unfortunately its not a common theme in your extra curriculars if you're so interested in going to india and thats goign to be your main pitch then you need more ECs related to that. Go do research at a med school there for the summer or something like that.

my gpa freshman year at my first school was a 3.99 overall, with a 4.0 science gpa. after transferring to my second school, my grades dipped BIG time.
Why did you transfer? Was it from a community college to a university? This will effect how adcoms look at your really good grades vs. your later grades.
I got a 3.45 and a 3.43 my sophomore years, and got a 3.60 this last fall semester. My worst grades were in my science classes (Bs, B+s, 1 B- in Organic Chemistry Fall 2007). I'm on an upward trend though, and since I'm taking only 12 units this semester, I feel I should end the year pretty strong (4.0 maybe?! haha).
Unfortunately your grades aren't very strong for Cali schools. This will make things very rough on you. These days averages are around 3.7s
I have not taken the MCAT yet, planning on doing so this Spring. Though I know it's a bad idea to make assumptions about how I will end up doing, my averages on practice tests have ranged from 36-43, so pretty good.
Which practice tests are these? Depending on the source they can be easier or harder than the real thing. If you can pull of a 36 it will in some ways make up for the lower GPA
I'm planning on focusing my personal statement and application in general about how I really want to work in India and set up a clinic after I get through medical school, and especially how my upbringing and clinical experience has really fostered this desire. I really feel my plans are feasible, since I'm fluent in Hindi, and moreover, my grandpa has promised to give me startup capital to set up a clinic whereever I want. I also have family in different parts of India, so I know I'll have a social/family network to support me.
This is great and interesting but you need more ECs to show that this is your passion. Otherwise it comes across to adcoms as BS (whether it is or not) because you don't have anything to back it up.
Regarding my grades the past 1.5 years, I really want to emphasize how going to my second school really forced me to relearn the way I learned and understood material, and how it's helped make me a more logical and scientific thinker.
This is good but be careful to not cross the line from discussion to excuses.

Not trying to be a downer - just realistic. If you don't want to be a reapplicant you really should be applying to 15-20 schools, the vast majority of those being private schools on the east coast.

Never count on getting into a CA school. Look at it as a very lucky honor if it happens but NO ONE should apply to just CA schools expecting to get in. They will almost always be disappointed.
 

BarberofSeville

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thanks for the honest input guys

in response to alwaysangel;

- your point about people usually complaining how tough premed classes are is valid. all i will say is that the school i go to is one of a a handful on this board that is traditionally known as a premed stronghold and for its tough premed classes.

- with the hours i've spent in my aunt/uncle's clinic, wouldn't that give me some backing to say that I want to set up a clinic in India? I can probably tone down my confidence in being able to set up a clinic, but shouldn't this clinical experience give me some standing? I also did this each winter breaks of all the years i've spent in Undergrad, so this wasn't just a singular event.

- I transferred from a mid-tier UC. I left honestly because I didnt' really think I was learning much, and being challenged enough.

- MCAT scores; 36 on AAMC 3, 39 on AAMC 4 43 on AAMC 7

- thanks for the suggestion about applying to more schools (on the east coast as well). Would it be safe to keep it in the top 20 list?


as for applying to medical schools in India...I'd like to get my MD in the US, just because I DO anticipate practicing in the US for a bit, but I see a clinic in India as sort of what I'd ultimately like to settle down to.
 

alwaysaangel

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thanks for the honest input guys

in response to alwaysangel;

- your point about people usually complaining how tough premed classes are is valid. all i will say is that the school i go to is one of a a handful on this board that is traditionally known as a premed stronghold and for its tough premed classes.
Again you'd be surprised. Everyone thinks their school is known for that. Adcoms don't give you points for it.
- with the hours i've spent in my aunt/uncle's clinic, wouldn't that give me some backing to say that I want to set up a clinic in India? I can probably tone down my confidence in being able to set up a clinic, but shouldn't this clinical experience give me some standing? I also did this each winter breaks of all the years i've spent in Undergrad, so this wasn't just a singular event.
It gives you some standing but its a pretty small thing since its a total of 8 weeks. If you could do more with the Indian community or go there again to do more than just work at your aunts clinic that would probably help.
- I transferred from a mid-tier UC. I left honestly because I didnt' really think I was learning much, and being challenged enough.
Just know that this will come up and you will need to address it.
- MCAT scores; 36 on AAMC 3, 39 on AAMC 4 43 on AAMC 7
Not bad. Keep studying though. Every test is different. I dropped 3 points on my real thing
- thanks for the suggestion about applying to more schools (on the east coast as well). Would it be safe to keep it in the top 20 list?
I wouldn't recommend it. Top 20s are tough and I think if you only applied to top 20s and Cali schools you may have to reapply. It may sound sucky but you need to be applying to the normal schools - GW, NYMC, etc. They are still excellent med schools. Your GPA will severely hurt you if you try to apply only to top 20s. Because really really really the only time adcoms forgive low GPAs is when you're an engineering major or something otherwise having a tough premed program will not forgive it.

Good luck, just try to stay realistic and humble. Not only will you interview better but if something doesn't work out you will be less disappointed.
 
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