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Most Holistic MD Programs in terms of the "Admissions Process" - Based on Experience

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by Staffsy77, 01.13.14.

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  1. Staffsy77

    Staffsy77

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    There is a lot out there about MD programs taking a turn toward a more holistic approach in terms of their admissions process. Which schools do you (all) think are in this boat? Google can produce a list in minutes; I'm looking more for first hand experience / evidence based replies if anyone cares to share..
     
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  3. TheWeeIceMan

    TheWeeIceMan And like that... *poof*... he's gone. 7+ Year Member

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    MD programs can't be holistic. Only DO programs are allowed that distinction. It's the law.
     
  4. pepes1lv1a

    pepes1lv1a Bird Law 2+ Year Member

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    Tulane considered me despite my 2.99 sGPA. I'm hoping to hear a decision from them this week. I was STUNNED when I got the interview invite. I had a 4.0 "DIY" postbacc, 34Q MCAT, and work as an ER tech. No connection to NOLA, but when I went for the interview I fell in love with the place. Whether or not I get in, I am hugely grateful they even gave me a chance where so many other MD and DO schools auto-rejected me. Someone there must have looked beyond the numbers.
     
  5. okokok

    okokok 2+ Year Member

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    I think Loyola is very holistic.
     
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  6. huskydock

    huskydock MS3 2+ Year Member

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    I would say University of Arizona - Phoenix is very holistic in their assessment of applicants. They particularly want to see how your whole application and persona fit in with the mission and values of their institution. I had a great time interviewing there!
     
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  7. Ace-Co-A

    Ace-Co-A taking up the mantle cell lymphoma 2+ Year Member

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    I think UCSF, Hopkins, and Harvard (and the others like that) have to be extremely holistic. This might seem strange because those schools take such high-stat applicants, but the spread of their MCAT 10th percentiles to 90th percentiles is enormous (same with GPA spread). Considering that the top schools can more or less take whoever they want, I'm always surprised that they take such a wide range of applicants (with respect to academic performance).
     
  8. justAstudent

    justAstudent SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

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    Agreed. I thought I was a great fit for the school and my activities reflected what they were looking for and I got invited for an interview. I enjoyed it a lot also.
     
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  9. SunsFun

    SunsFun VICE president 5+ Year Member

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    I honestly don't even know what you're all are talking about. I always thought holistic was a meaningless buzzword used by some DO schools and AOA to massage their own egos in light of inevitable integration.
     
  10. pomo

    pomo 2+ Year Member

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    Mayo..their average MCAT is 33 yet they are the most selective medical school. They look for well-rounded applicants who are more than just their numbers.
     
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  11. wiloghby

    wiloghby In a Step 1 cave 2+ Year Member

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    Ohio State and Michigan both engage in very holistic review.

    WUSTL engages in very...numerical...review.
     
  12. TreadLightly

    TreadLightly

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    Super holistic until they find out you're from California :(
     
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  13. Ace-Co-A

    Ace-Co-A taking up the mantle cell lymphoma 2+ Year Member

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    I was just thinking... to be holistic is a very difficult thing to measure. very few schools - I think - base decisions on 1 or 2 factors (except you, WashU).

    Would a school be more holistic than another if it considered the breadth of your many experiences or the depth of a few of your experiences? It seems like different schools could fashion their own version of the "holistic process" fairly easily and pass it off that way. It's a numbers game at the end of the day, or maybe I'm not doing justice to the folks who really bust their humps to prepare for the application process.
     
  14. CyberMaxx

    CyberMaxx Doing math in pen 7+ Year Member

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    BU is supposed to be one of the first schools to institutionalize holistic review. Google "The Changing Face of Medical School Admissions"
     
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  15. lobo.solo

    lobo.solo 5+ Year Member

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    UC davis, ucsf, ucla/drew, uclaprime, Oakland, Michigan state, Oregon, UofA,
     
  16. justAstudent

    justAstudent SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

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    They showed me some love. I think there were 4 other people from UCs during my interview day.
     
  17. Narmerguy

    Narmerguy SDN Senior Moderator 7+ Year Member

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    What does this even mean? I feel like "holistic" is codeword for "accepts people with low stats"...which doesn't necessarily mean that they're being anymore holistic.
     
  18. RogueUnicorn

    RogueUnicorn rawr. 7+ Year Member

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    i like to think columbia is a very holistic application-y place
     
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  19. alpinism

    alpinism Give Em' the Jet Fuel Bronze Donor 5+ Year Member

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    Holistic schools are those that those that place more weight on your ECs and less weight on your stats as compared to most med schools.

    Basically they commonly give interviews to applicants with below average stats (GPA <3.6 or MCAT <30) who have amazing ECs or who have overcome a great deal of adversity in their life. Most schools will only give interviews to URMs in that range. Because of this they also usually have a higher proportion of non-trad students.

    Some well known examples: Mayo, Wisconsin, Colorado, Tulane, EVMS, and UCF.
     
  20. J Senpai

    J Senpai Grab my arm. Other arm. MY other arm. 5+ Year Member

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    They put more consideration into the other parts of candidate's applications which are separate from their grades. Instead of focusing so much on MCAT and GPA, they look at background, experience unique qualities and all that other good stuff people can bring to a school as well as hardships. Mercer Med is a small private school in GA which takes a strong "holistic" approach to their applicants. It is true that their average stats are relatively low (3.5-3.6, 28-30), but they match very well.
    http://medicine.mercer.edu/mu-medic...residency/nrmp/upload/matchdayresults2013.pdf
     
  21. Jennyfishy

    Jennyfishy 2+ Year Member

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    Would also say U-Wisconsin and Colorado are pretty holistic (maybe slightly more so for their OOSers) since they often reject many folks with LizzyM scores well above their average. I also met many nontrads at CO and have seen others get rejected from both in the end due to a lack of ECs.
     
  22. gumdrops

    gumdrops 2+ Year Member

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    That 34 on the MCAT certainly helped with Tulane, I imagine...good luck to you!
     
  23. MedPhys2MD

    MedPhys2MD 2+ Year Member

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    Congrats on the interview (and MCAT score)! That's awesome! How many credits did you have a 4.0 with your DIY postbac?
     
  24. MedPhys2MD

    MedPhys2MD 2+ Year Member

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    I think this is a valid point... If you list from person experience maybe including what attributes made you more holistic would be useful to the forum
     
  25. QuinnTheEskimo

    QuinnTheEskimo

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    i gotta say...i have a few friends who go there, and it's pretty shocking they got accepted. columbia likes quirky people -- professional ice climber with a 28 mcat? you should apply there. etc.
     
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  26. RocDiva4040

    RocDiva4040 2+ Year Member

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    In my experience- Columbia, BU, USC and Brown are pretty holistic.
     
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  27. dbeast

    dbeast Neurorectal surgeon 5+ Year Member

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    This is true except for the fact that the low stats people at these schools really take "holistic" to a new level... I heard UCSF had an olympic gold medalist recently.
     
  28. MDforMee

    MDforMee Sweet Cheeks 2+ Year Member

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    Yeah, it's called sons/daughters of donors to the school, alumni with connections, etc.
     
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  29. justAstudent

    justAstudent SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

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    Wow...that really is taking it to a whole new level lol Not too many people can say they have accomplished something like that.
     
  30. Ace-Co-A

    Ace-Co-A taking up the mantle cell lymphoma 2+ Year Member

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    I love the difference in viewpoint of these two SDNers in responding to the same thought. But @MDforMee, you can't really be that cynical?
     
  31. MDforMee

    MDforMee Sweet Cheeks 2+ Year Member

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    I try not to be, acetyl CoA. I really do. But, I believe that it's true.
     
  32. QuinnTheEskimo

    QuinnTheEskimo

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    I think this "holistic" stuff can go too far. I don't care if my surgeon has an olympic gold medal. I'll take the 41 MCAT who never leaves the library, thanks.
     
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  33. SunsFun

    SunsFun VICE president 5+ Year Member

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    They both are right to some degree. Accepting an Olympic gold medalist isn't screaming "we look at the applications holistically" to me. It is just a "wow" factor.

    Do you honestly think that there is much difference between average student at UCSF and Drexel aside from stats and possibly more research involvement?
     
  34. Ace-Co-A

    Ace-Co-A taking up the mantle cell lymphoma 2+ Year Member

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    I'm not sure to be honest. Some of the folks who go to the elite schools really have some amazing things on their resumes (major awards, lots of research experience, and involvement in all kinds of extracurriculars). Aren't these commendable and shouldn't they be taken into account for admissions purposes?

    Presumably, there is a reason that Harvard, UCSF, Hopkins, etc. don't simply take all the candidates with the highest LizzyM scores. Being productive in the laboratory might have some correspondence to future success in research. Doing sustained work in underprivileged communities might indicate that a candidate has strong moral convictions. Knowing 2+ languages might come in handy. There's more to life - and more to being a good doctor - than the MCAT... :eyebrow:
     
  35. QuinnTheEskimo

    QuinnTheEskimo

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    This is really idealistic and nice thinking. But wait until you actually start working. High LizzyM score = smart people = good doctors. You'll see. Gold medal = not relevant.
     
  36. SunsFun

    SunsFun VICE president 5+ Year Member

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    I think achieving extraordinary results is certainly commendable and a fair factor to have positive influence on admissions. However, I doubt most kids going to med school whether Harvard or some state school have achieved that much so early in their lives. The degree of difference is very slight. The main distinguishing factors are usually MCAT and GPA. For top 20 school research plays a role too since they are more interested in producing academic physicians.
     
  37. slopes23

    slopes23 Parlors & Poop Shoots 2+ Year Member

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    I guess it depends on what metrics you use to decide who is a good doctor and who isn't. Being that you have been a sitting Adcom member for so long, ill have to take you at your word that you understand admission prognostics better than your "colleagues" at Harvard -- even though you haven't a shroud of proof.
     
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  38. QuinnTheEskimo

    QuinnTheEskimo

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    I've worked with doctors for the past 5 years and I see what works and what doesn't. Smarts and social skills are important. Gold medals and athletic prowess and other interesting skills are not important. Sorry to burst your bubble.

    Edit: BTW, school rankings are BS. Best docs I work with went to the "low tier" schools that are trashed on this site. I worked with a Harvard guy who got fired.
     
    Last edited: 01.14.14
  39. slopes23

    slopes23 Parlors & Poop Shoots 2+ Year Member

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    Aww crap, and all this time I thought I was a shoe in at Hopkins cause of my 3 X-Game gold medals. The disillusionment! Glad to know that working with doctors for 5 years makes you an expert too. Let's hop over to hSDN and ask one of the kids who's daddy's (or mommy's) are docs, since they have at least 3x your experience working with doctors -- surely they must be able to settle this.
     
    Last edited: 01.14.14
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  40. jw3600

    jw3600 2+ Year Member

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    Can you go back to lurking? Your current trend of 40 ****ty posts per day has gone on long enough.
     
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  41. QuinnTheEskimo

    QuinnTheEskimo

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    this is really creepy.
     
  42. mcloaf

    mcloaf 2+ Year Member

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    To be fair, all the info for this calculation is right underneath your username every time you post.
     
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  43. QuinnTheEskimo

    QuinnTheEskimo

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    it's more the fact that he notices my ****** posts and cares enough to comment on them. who is he, the sdn police?
     
  44. justAstudent

    justAstudent SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

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  45. slopes23

    slopes23 Parlors & Poop Shoots 2+ Year Member

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    It is a little weird though. It kinda makes one speculate who you are...


    ....[​IMG]
     
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  46. BlueLabel

    BlueLabel 2+ Year Member

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    Pretty sure I said this the first day you posted, but...

    go back 2 lerking bro, we liked you better there.
     
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  47. RogueUnicorn

    RogueUnicorn rawr. 7+ Year Member

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    bro, not even a little bit. you'll see. you think the lizzyM score is a precise (its statistical, not colloquial, meaning) way to judge anyone's intelligence? moreover, if you think smart has anything to do with being a good doctor past a certain point, you are again going to be mistaken. regardless, even if we accept the thesis that smart = good doctor (i don't), high gpa/mcat is not = smart. i have colleagues whom i've outscored by 10 or more points on the MCAT and some of them are kicking my ass up and down the hall in wards and on the shelf exams.
     
  48. dbeast

    dbeast Neurorectal surgeon 5+ Year Member

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    Yup, that's why I put "holistic" in quotes.
     
  49. QuinnTheEskimo

    QuinnTheEskimo

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    lol you got me. i'm just a dude who's bored at work and comes on here to troll premeds for fun.

    :rofl:
     
  50. darklabel

    darklabel MS3 2+ Year Member

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    I'm shocked the HBC schools and lower tier schools like Cooper, TCMC, NYMC etc aren't being mentioned. Their stats are on average lower, but its not like theres a dearth of applicants with high stats that get rejected every year. Lower tier schools could fill their student body with higher stat people but choose not to because its not exactly what they're looking for.
     
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  51. Shaq

    Shaq 5+ Year Member

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    In my opinion, a lot of pre-medical students (myself included when I was applying) confuse holistic review with this - "I can let my grades or MCAT slip as long as I have other cool stuff on my resume. Who cares about grades and test scores anyway, I'd make a really cool doctor because I've done all this other interesting stuff in my life!! Patients would LOVE for me to be their doctor! I'm smart! My grades just don't show it!"

    Let me stop you right there. You are WRONG! NEVER, EVER prioritize your "passions" and "extracurriculars" over grades and test scores if you are truly serious about going to med school. Yes, balance them, but have your priorities straight. The problem is that your grades and test scores are by far the easiest way for someone reading your application to judge you. The numbers are the first thing that people see, and having mediocre or poor numbers puts you behind the ball at the outset. This is because medical schools have to be absolutely sure that you can handle the immense workload. Taking a chance on an "interesting" applicant with lower numbers is not prudent for a medical school, since they invest lots of time and money into your training. Having you dropout would look bad, and it would also be financially disastrous. Thus, do not be under the false assumption that mediocre grades can be made up for with great extracurriculars. The extracurriculars/personal qualities enhance your application and get you to the finish line, but having mediocre stats puts you out of the race from the beginning. Some might argue that grades/mcats are not great predictors of med school performance. I agree, but what else do the adcoms have to go off but these objective things when reading your app?

    In general, the way med schools review their apps is this, (some might call this a holistic review, I call it more of a checklist. The holistic review tends to become important only when two applicants are really close in the running, and there is a real dilemma as to who to admit):

    1. Do you have solid grades and MCAT scores (i.e scores in the middle 50% of the school's published stats)? CHECK ---> a TON of people get rejected here!!!! they do NOT even make it past this!!!! you do not need a 4.0 and 40MCAT, but the lower your stats are in comparison to the school's average, the lower the likelihood of being interviewed. you tend to get some wiggle room here if you are URM or come from a disadvantaged background, but not as much as people might think.

    2. Do you have quality clinical volunteering, shadowing and research experience? CHECK ----> still more people get cut here! many applicants don't meet all these criteria.

    3. Do you have STRONG letters of rec? CHECK ---> most people have good letters. these are really hard to judge, since they all basically sound the same (unless your letter is from some nobel laureate, or some other well-known figure, it is tough to use LORs as a metric of comparison). BEWARE!!!! Having an AVERAGE letter is the kiss of death!

    4. Well-written, thoughtful essays? CHECK --> in general, adcoms aren't looking for something super profound. something that is just honest and well-written will do. this factor really won't do MUCH overall in terms of getting you in, but having a POORLY written essay WILL hurt you. that being said, if you have something truly remarkable to discuss, it can help get you in, so WRITE IT!!

    5. This last one is reserved for something that separates you from the rest. What is that one thing that makes you SO special. Did you play a division I sport? Did you publish a paper in Science? Did you found a non-profit that builds HIV clinics in Kenya? Did you get the Rhodes Scholarship? Did you do something TRULY remarkable in your life ?(and no being president of your fraternity isn't one of them....plenty of people found/lead student groups....that doesn't give you a SPECIAL quality...sorry).

    *** #5 is NOT something you NEED to have to get into med school. If you are looking to get into a top 1o school, this is important. Having 1-4 will get you into MANY fantastic schools, and you will become a solid physician.

    The problem with categories 2-4 is this: How do you compare applicants? Admittedly it is tough. If one applicant said he was president of his fraternity, and another student said he founded a community service group, it is damn near impossible to say who is the better applicant. Now if one of the applicants has higher numbers, cutting one applicant becomes easy. If both have similar stats, then the process becomes super subjective and you are at the mercy of the whim, personal taste and mood of the person reading your application file (which is NOT a good place to be). Thus, #2-4, and even #5, are very subjective indices of comparison that are unlikely to yield consistent results for applicants.

    Additionally, the notion that the people reading your files have the time to give you a FULL AND FAIR review is a load of BS. There are so many applications to read, and so few people reading them (people who I might add are VERY busy), that many times your application won't get a fair read. Can someone really judge you as a person and prospective physician in just five minutes of reading your application file? Hell no! They will use very objective indicators to determine whether or not to interview you. If your grades and MCAT are solid, only THEN do the other things matter. I repeat my previous point -- the EASIEST WAY to judge MD applicants is numbers. I've read plenty of APPs, and the problem is that after 3 hours of reading, they all start to sound the same, and any sane human being will get irritated. Then, as you might imagine, readers begin to rely on factors in your application that are really easy to judge, rather than really getting to know the applicant as a person to make the BEST decision. This is really ****ty, but unfortunately it happens, even to the best of us. This is the one thing that irritates me most, but something I know that is near impossible to change without having an impractical number of volunteers reading MD applications. Any admissions officer or dean who says that their med school does an honest "holistic" review for EVERY person who applies is just lying. I know people have thrown BU around as one such school. Let me tell you that is absolutely false, and I know this from personal experience and having attended the school for undergrad, talking to people on the adcom and even having applied/interviewed there. The admissions dean at BU is a really nice guy and he gives off the impression that they are holistic. But c'mon man, you get 12000 applicants and interview 1000, and then enroll 150? No one there has the time to give 12000 people a holistic review!

    All this being said, many people will give anecdotal evidence that what I am saying is wrong. I admit, there are many people who get into medical school with less than stellar stats, but they tend to have other TREMENDOUS aspects to their application, and INSANE obstacles they had to overcome. These people are TRULY special, and in the case of my school, are doing really well in classes right now. However the VAST majority of applicants, are not special enough to make up for a deficit in grades/mcat.

    As far as the interview goes, people will say that the interview matters a whole lot. Yes it does, but realize that while only a few people interview you, everyone on the admissions committee has a vote on whether or not you get in. If 10 people are making a decision on your file, and only two of those ten interviewed you, that means the people who interviewed you have to convince the other eight to vote in favor of you. The other eight voting for you have never met you and have nothing to go on but your resume. Very few interviewers are willing to fight hard enough to change an entire adcom's perception of an applicant's academic credentials based on their personal interaction. Moral of the story, the NUMBERS ALWAYS MATTER EVEN AFTER YOU GET THE INTERVIEW!

    Now for my final thought. Despite the fact that I've harped incessantly on having good scores and grades, don't let that consume you. Med schools do want real human beings, their flaws and imperfections included. I know many applicants with near perfect grades and 36+ MCATs who receive NO interviews. Thus, it is important to follow your passions, and do what you like, and make these things known to medical schools. My only advice is that you make sure that you prioritize your coursework and grades - make sure they are solid and respectable. Don't obsess over a few Bs here and there, or that rare C, but do maintain your grades and scores to a reasonable degree. If you don't you may not even get a shot to interview and explain how interesting a person you are outside of academic achievements. I see so many interesting applicants who I wish the adcom would interview, but these students get rejected because of low grades/MCAT. I implore you, try not to be one of them!

    In any case, I hope this was helpful. You may not agree with everything I've said here, and my experience may not be indicative of what you will go through, but I do feel that what I've written is quite typical. Constructive comments/feedback are appreciated, but please don't hate. I'm not trying to discourage people. I'm just telling it as I've seen it.

    Best of luck to everyone applying!
     

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