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May 22, 2019
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Hi all - First time starting a thread, so I'm sorry if this has been tackled elsewhere. I applied to 20 MD programs during the 2017-18 admissions cycle, attended 4 interviews, was placed on one wait-list, but received no acceptances. After graduating I took a position in research which I have held for the last two years, and I am planning to re-apply for the 2020-21 admissions cycle. My weaknesses last time were likely that my BS degree and most of my LoRs came from a very small, little-known college, I could have engaged in more community-oriented service, and I spread out my shadowing between fields, so I had no MDs I felt comfortable asking for an honest LoR. My personal statement was also pretty uninspiring. I have a 3.99 GPA and 513 MCAT, but the question I have primarily concerns my personal statement:

In short, is it a mistake to make reference to my last, failed admissions cycle in my Personal Statement?

My current draft goes something like this: I open with a discussion of how medicine impacted my life growing up, and all the factors that pushed me to apply back in 2017. I transition to the point in 2018 at which I realized I was unlikely to be accepted, and how I chose to respond to that failure (graduated, got married, and began work as a research tech at a reputable hospital all in the span of a month). I discuss how I was upset at this turn of events at first, but how I eventually came to realize the ways it was a blessing (I had time to settle into married life, to honestly consider other career paths, to volunteer and to shadow at my own pace, and to pick up some actual hobbies, old and new). I finish by discussing how thankful I am to have had that time, how it cemented my resolve to enter medicine, and delineate what I learned about myself in that time, and those new driving factors and motivations that make me more sure that medicine is in my future... etc, etc.

I am currently distributing my draft to be edited and reviewed, and one of the first comments I got was from a former Adcom member who said it would be a "mistake to focus on my last cycle," and suggested I not mention it at all.

I understand this, and how someone reviewing my application could be immediately concerned if my past failure was one of the first things they learn about me ("Well, what was wrong with them back then?" etc). On the other hand, I feel that past failure is integral to my story, and wanted to use the essay to demonstrate both how I have improved, as an applicant and student, in that time and how I came to appreciate it. It would be hard to tell that same story without alluding to my last cycle, and might come off disjointed, but I could do it. However, I also don't want to come across like I am trying to hide it, and think the dates, etc. on my MCAT score and Experiences will make it clear that this isn't my first time around.

Should I remove any mention of it? Should I take one sentence to mention that it happened, but now dwell on it? Or should I not be concerned about mentioning it? I plan to apply to 2/3 new schools, 1/3 schools I applied to previously - I'm not sure if that will impact anyone's opinions.


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Sep 4, 2017
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Your PS is opportunity to give massive insight into your overall life and focus on experiences that have led you down the path towards medicine. You have limited space to do this and must establish fine balance between hitting all of these marks in an interesting, concise way while avoiding reader boredom and missing the point of the thesis: why medicine.

The way you've outlined changes the entire thesis of your PS towards "I didn't get in last round and this was my processing of it and I decided I'm still into medicine". It completely steers away from medicine in general and more towards you recovering from the disappointment of a failed round - it misses the whole point of the PS.

It's fine to mention some short tidbit about how not getting in one round was a show of your resilience or changed your perspective about XYZ that relates to medicine, but to make it your whole thesis is definitely a mistake.
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Mar 30, 2014
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I would also add that you are only considered a reapplicant at schools you previously applied to. You don’t need to let schools that you may be applying to for the first time that you were unsuccessful previously. Additionally, many secondary applications have a section asking if you have previously applied and if so how you have improved your application since.
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