My parents are worried about my MCAT

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panbimbo

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So I scored 515 (131,129,129,126) on the MCAT this September, and I told my parents what percentile I got and what it means. For me? It means I have a great, great MCAT score. For them? It means that I have only a sliver of a chance at top-tier schools and top 20s since my MCAT is between the 10th and 25th for some schools and below or at 10th for others. My GPA will be between 3.7 and 3.75, another below average stat for top schools. However, let me be clear: I am not gunning for top schools. I am gunning for a top 50, hell just a US MD school. But my dad is asking me to reconsider retaking the MCAT. They don't state it, but my parents are really hoping for one thing: for me to get into Harvard Medical School. I find this utter bull****, of course, partly because even with the best stats, getting into Harvard is a crapshoot, or any top 10 for that matter.

Anyways, I need someone to deter me from retaking. Preferably, @Goro can reach out with his legendary trans-electron slap? What do I tell my parents when I tell them I'm not really looking to go to Harvard, but just medical school in general?

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No one cares where you went to med school once you’re an attending. Full stop.


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Amen to that! But, what if you want to go into competitive specialty residency though? That is my main concern. Although looking through match lists of 'low-tier' schools, students still match in competitive residencies...
 
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Two things to process here:

1) Seems like your parents have pushed you towards medicine. I would take a greater look at things and make sure that you want to do medicine regardless of the med school you attend. Having talked to several interviewers, you’d be surprised at how many people show up to their interview not knowing why they want to do this other than “my parents pushed me to” (which makes me wonder, how did these people get interviews at all?”.

2) No one can give you advice on what to do with your parents: that’s a family dynamic that only you know about. However, I have stood up to my parents before and it made me gain more respect from them and let me take charge of my own life. It seems like deep down you may want re-confirmation about how good your score is so that you can stand up to them with more solidarity, in which case I say.......... BISH YOU CRAY CRAY? THAT SCORE IS FANTASTIC!!
 
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@OrthoTraumaMD is right. Your school can influence your chances at certain competitive residency spots, but the effect is less than you might think except at the hospital officially affiliated with the school. After that, the only people who will ever care where you went to med school are uninformed patients who wouldn't know what that information means anyway, and hyper-snooty elitists who deserve only ridicule and derision.
 
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Two things to process here:

1) Seems like your parents have pushed you towards medicine. I would take a greater look at things and make sure that you want to do medicine regardless of the med school you attend. Having talked to several interviewers, you’d be surprised at how many people show up to their interview not knowing why they want to do this other than “my parents pushed me to” (which makes me wonder, how did these people get interviews at all?”.

2) No one can give you advice on what to do with your parents: that’s a family dynamic that only you know about. However, I have stood up to my parents before and it made me gain more respect from them and let me take charge of my own life. It seems like deep down you may want re-confirmation about how good your score is so that you can stand up to them with more solidarity, in which case I say.......... BISH YOU CRAY CRAY? THAT SCORE IS FANTASTIC!!
For the record, going into medicine is 110% my passion and decision. Yes, my mom has talked about how medicine is a great field and I should go into it, but at this point they don't really care because they know I'm doing well. In other words, I'm not doing this bc of parents. In fact, my dad keeps reminding me that I don't have to do medicine if I don't want to, and that it's okay to change my mind. At this point, every passing event confirms that I want to do medicine.
 
@OrthoTraumaMD is right. Your school can influence your chances at certain competitive residency spots, but the effect is less than you might think except at the hospital officially affiliated with the school. After that, the only people who will ever care where you went to med school are uninformed patients who wouldn't know what that information means anyway, and hyper-snooty elitists who deserve only ridicule and derision.
Thanks, this helps a lot. From what I am gathering, residency placement is 95% hard work and 5% other factors including school prestige and letter writer prestige. I guess even knowing this, it's easy to fall into the trap that a top ranked medical school will be one which I will be happiest at. This is probably wrong, but society has put Harvard and the ivies on a pedestal which is hard to change mentality from.
 
For the record, going into medicine is 110% my passion and decision. Yes, my mom has talked about how medicine is a great field and I should go into it, but at this point they don't really care because they know I'm doing well. In other words, I'm not doing this bc of parents. In fact, my dad keeps reminding me that I don't have to do medicine if I don't want to, and that it's okay to change my mind. At this point, every passing event confirms that I want to do medicine.
If this is true, it’s time to sit your parents down for a heart to heart about how YOU want to go through this process. Tell them you’ve done your research and you feel confident that with your current score you’ll get into a fine school that fits you and your goals. Even if you got into Harvard, you might hate the atmosphere, the students, etc.

Your MCAT score and GPA give you lots of options. I would advise focusing on which schools’ missions fit your goals, which areas on the country you’ll feel most comfortable in, and looking at STEP scores and match rates to build a good list.
 
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I don’t know what your ECs are, but if they’re not up to snuff, this doesn’t matter anyway.

But, retaking a 515 would be a mistake.
 
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I don’t know what your ECs are, but if they’re not up to snuff, this doesn’t matter anyway.

But, retaking a 515 would be a mistake.
You mean for HMS, right? Exactly. My EC's are a FAR CRY from HMS quality loll. Which is why I don't really expect or even as much as hope to get in.
 
So I scored 515 (131,129,129,126) on the MCAT this September, and I told my parents what percentile I got and what it means. For me? It means I have a great, great MCAT score. For them? It means that I have only a sliver of a chance at top-tier schools and top 20s since my MCAT is between the 10th and 25th for some schools and below or at 10th for others. My GPA will be between 3.7 and 3.75, another below average stat for top schools. However, let me be clear: I am not gunning for top schools. I am gunning for a top 50, hell just a US MD school. But my dad is asking me to reconsider retaking the MCAT. They don't state it, but my parents are really hoping for one thing: for me to get into Harvard Medical School. I find this utter bull****, of course, partly because even with the best stats, getting into Harvard is a crapshoot, or any top 10 for that matter.

Anyways, I need someone to deter me from retaking. Preferably, @Goro can reach out with his legendary trans-electron slap? What do I tell my parents when I tell them I'm not really looking to go to Harvard, but just medical school in general?
Get your parents accounts on SDN, and we can let them see the errors of their ways.

Otherwise, ignore them, you the bit about being an adult now, right?

I suggest that anyone who gives into parental pressure like this is too immature to go to medical school.

Tell your parents your MCAT is fine for schools like Einstein, Keck, Emory and Dartmouth.
 
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Get your parents accounts on SDN, and we can let them see the errors of their ways.

Otherwise, ignore them, you the bit about being an adult now, right?

I suggest that anyone who gives into parental pressure like this is too immature to go to medical school.

Tell your parents your MCAT is fine for schools like Einstein, Keck, Emory and Dartmouth.
If I tell them those four schools names, they will look at me funny. They literally have no idea about any medical school except Harvard and Tufts (oddly enough) and maybe UMASS
 
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Tell your parents to go to Harvard Medical School... When they start the work they will be more appreciative of what you have accomplished. Good job on your MCAT and your GPA - you have put yourself in a good position to become a physician... just like all those Harvard Medical School graduates.
 
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Your parents' apparent naivety and obsession with prestige should have absolutely no bearing on your academic and professional decisions.
 
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Short answer is - NO. Your stats is fine for your IS schools.

Unless you have 3.8/3.9+ GPA with phenomenal research, don't bother any top 10 (they're all research heavy).

I did know a girl retook a 515 with almost a year very methodical prep and got 52x (99%)...she got into Yale med.
 
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are you a desi?

I am a desi parent and see this a lot of with desis and Chinese. I never pressure my son like that. In fact I encouraged to him to give up an Ivy league admission for full tuition scholarship at top 20 private school and he is a very happy Sophomore now.
 
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are you a desi?

I am a desi parent and see this a lot of with desis and Chinese. I never pressure my son like that. In fact I encouraged to him to give up an Ivy league admission for full tuition scholarship at top 20 private school and he is a very happy Sophomore now.
No, not desi

Also, its not pressure, more like my parents don't understand why I couldn't get 99% and had to 'settle' for a 92%. For the record, my last FL exam was a 99% 522 and I dropped precipitously bc of psych. I was scoring 129/130 on psych. So it was disappointing for all of us.
 
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No, not desi

Also, its not pressure, more like my parents don't understand why I couldn't get 99% and had to 'settle' for a 92%. For the record, my last FL exam was a 99% 522 and I dropped precipitously bc of psych. I was scoring 129/130 on psych. So it was disappointing for all of us.
If you are consistently scoring around 522 in practice tests, I would take it one more time. I know it's against the SDN wisdom.
 
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IMO it looks real bad if you retake a 515 and get less than ~522 the second time around though.

If you end up with like a 517, all those lower/mid tier schools are going to be wary of you since you were obviously gunning for the top and maybe overestimated yourself. 515 makes you a strong applicant at many schools, but if you retake and don't improve by a lot you've significantly harmed your application (IMO).

It sounds like OP's EC's are not up to par for the top anyways. Even if s/he did score a 522, their parents are still not going to be happy when OP ends up at CWRU or Emory. And their career trajectory is not going to be any different attending CWRU vs Tufts.

I think there are certain situations where it could make sense to retake a 515... But I don't think the risk is worth the reward in OP's case.
 
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IMO it looks real bad if you retake a 515 and get less than ~522 the second time around though.

If you end up with like a 517, all those lower/mid tier schools are going to be wary of you since you were obviously gunning for the top and maybe overestimated yourself. 515 makes you a strong applicant at many schools, but if you retake and don't improve by a lot you've significantly harmed your application (IMO).

It sounds like OP's EC's are not up to par for the top anyways. Even if s/he did score a 522, their parents are still not going to be happy when OP ends up at CWRU or Emory. And their career trajectory is not going to be any different attending CWRU vs Tufts.

I think there are certain situations where it could make sense to retake a 515... But I don't think the risk is worth the reward in OP's case.
The risk is not worth the reward in my opinion. I will be happy to go to any US MD school. Besides, my GPA is below JHU's 10th. That is laughable

How would you tell if my EC's are up to par? My research will be pretty average/good for research schools I believe (poster and presentation for sure, maybe paper, independent projects), and I will have average/slightly above average clinical and nonclinical work (100 hours nonclinc, 200 hours clinic). Yes, kind of low relative to the best. So I guess my EC's are quite average?

Finally, I think I gave the wrong impression. My parents have been very very laid back about this all. They just really believe I can make it to Harvard, and want me to have the best chances. But since I have my stuff together (mostly, haha), they don't worry too much about me.
 
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The risk is not worth the reward in my opinion. I will be happy to go to any US MD school. Besides, my GPA is below JHU's 10th. That is laughable

How would you tell if my EC's are up to par? My research will be pretty average/good for research schools I believe (poster and presentation for sure, maybe paper, independent projects), and I will have average/slightly above average clinical and nonclinical work (100 hours nonclinc, 200 hours clinic). Yes, kind of low relative to the best. So I guess my EC's are quite average?

Finally, I think I gave the wrong impression. My parents have been very very laid back about this all. They just really believe I can make it to Harvard, and want me to have the best chances. But since I have my stuff together (mostly, haha), they don't worry too much about me.
Based upon your stats alone, you are competitive for these schools:
UCSF
UCSD
Mt Sinai (maybe
U VA (515)
U MI (maybe)
Case
Mayo
U VM
U IA
U Toledo
USF Morsani
OH State
UCF
U Cincy
Miami
St. Louis
Albany
Albert Einstein
Rochester
Rush
Rosy Franklin
NYMC
EVMS
Wake Forest
Jefferson
Temple
Drexel
Creighton
Tulane
USC/Keck
Dartmouth
Seton Hall
MCW
Loyola
Emory
BU
Pitt
Hofstra
Tufts
Oakland-B
Western MI
Uniformed Services University/Hebert (just be aware of the military service commitment)
Nova MD
CUSM IF you're from CA
Your state school(s).
 
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Based upon your stats alone, you are competitive for these schools:
UCSF
UCSD
Mt Sinai (maybe
U VA (515)
U MI (maybe)
Case
Mayo
U VM
U IA
U Toledo
USF Morsani
OH State
UCF
U Cincy
Miami
St. Louis
Albany
Albert Einstein
Rochester
Rush
Rosy Franklin
NYMC
EVMS
Wake Forest
Jefferson
Temple
Drexel
Creighton
Tulane
USC/Keck
Dartmouth
Seton Hall
MCW
Loyola
Emory
BU
Pitt
Hofstra
Tufts
Oakland-B
Western MI
Uniformed Services University/Hebert (just be aware of the military service commitment)
Nova MD
CUSM IF you're from CA
Your state school(s).
Thanks for that!

What are your thoughts on Seton Hall?

Also, my parents logic has been "if you have a chance, even a small chance, apply" In other words, I have a ton of reaches (8 schools, specifically) bc maybe I'll be lucky. Thoughts on this?
 
Thanks for that!

What are your thoughts on Seton Hall?

Also, my parents logic has been "if you have a chance, even a small chance, apply" In other words, I have a ton of reaches (8 schools, specifically) bc maybe I'll be lucky. Thoughts on this?

Is it your money or theirs?
 
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The risk is not worth the reward in my opinion. I will be happy to go to any US MD school. Besides, my GPA is below JHU's 10th. That is laughable

How would you tell if my EC's are up to par? My research will be pretty average/good for research schools I believe (poster and presentation for sure, maybe paper, independent projects), and I will have average/slightly above average clinical and nonclinical work (100 hours nonclinc, 200 hours clinic). Yes, kind of low relative to the best. So I guess my EC's are quite average?

Finally, I think I gave the wrong impression. My parents have been very very laid back about this all. They just really believe I can make it to Harvard, and want me to have the best chances. But since I have my stuff together (mostly, haha), they don't worry too much about me.

I think your GPA is fine. IMO once you're above a 3.7 it probably doesn't matter. It's probably correlation, not causation, that top schools have high GPA students: the kids scoring 520 on the MCAT probably also did well in class.

Having a poster + podium presentation and a mid-author paper is great for a pre-med, but it doesn't really set you apart if you're trying to get into HMS. It checks the "research" box, and probably puts you ahead of most applicants outside the top 10. It's probably average at best for the top top schools.

Sooo.... Your research is aite. GPA is adequate. MCAT is pretty okay. Volunteering is adequate. You're just pretty damn adequate all around.
Is there anything interesting about you? Why should HMS accept you over the ~1000 other people with the same exact application as yours?

There's nothing wrong with being cookie cutter, and I'm confident you'll get into a good school assuming you play your cards right during the application cycle (ie apply to 30 well-chosen schools). But cookie cutter doesn't get you into HMS.

Thanks for that!

What are your thoughts on Seton Hall?

Also, my parents logic has been "if you have a chance, even a small chance, apply" In other words, I have a ton of reaches (8 schools, specifically) bc maybe I'll be lucky. Thoughts on this?

Reach for the sky, no harm in applying to HMS. Just make sure you have enough target schools as well.
 
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Based upon your stats alone, you are competitive for these schools:
UCSF
UCSD
Mt Sinai (maybe
U VA (515)
U MI (maybe)
Case
Mayo
U VM
U IA
U Toledo
USF Morsani
OH State
UCF
U Cincy
Miami
St. Louis
Albany
Albert Einstein
Rochester
Rush
Rosy Franklin
NYMC
EVMS
Wake Forest
Jefferson
Temple
Drexel
Creighton
Tulane
USC/Keck
Dartmouth
Seton Hall
MCW
Loyola
Emory
BU
Pitt
Hofstra
Tufts
Oakland-B
Western MI
Uniformed Services University/Hebert (just be aware of the military service commitment)
Nova MD
CUSM IF you're from CA
Your state school(s).[/QUO
@goro I am surprised to see UCSF. I thought you need higher GPA and MCAT than OP's unless you are an URM.
 
Thanks for that!

What are your thoughts on Seton Hall?

Also, my parents logic has been "if you have a chance, even a small chance, apply" In other words, I have a ton of reaches (8 schools, specifically) bc maybe I'll be lucky. Thoughts on this?
@Med Ed can best answer this, but Seton Hall seems to have bitten off more than they could chew, and the program had to get bailed out by a local hospital (chain?). So now they're one of the new paradigms in medical education, a hospital with a medical school attached. Other than that, no red flags, except for the usual growing pains that new schools will always have.
 
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I think your GPA is fine. IMO once you're above a 3.7 it probably doesn't matter. It's probably correlation, not causation, that top schools have high GPA students: the kids scoring 520 on the MCAT probably also did well in class.

Having a poster + podium presentation and a mid-author paper is great for a pre-med, but it doesn't really set you apart if you're trying to get into HMS. It checks the "research" box, and probably puts you ahead of most applicants outside the top 10. It's probably average at best for the top top schools.

Sooo.... Your research is aite. GPA is adequate. MCAT is pretty okay. Volunteering is adequate. You're just pretty damn adequate all around.
Is there anything interesting about you? Why should HMS accept you over the ~1000 other people with the same exact application as yours?

There's nothing wrong with being cookie cutter, and I'm confident you'll get into a good school assuming you play your cards right during the application cycle (ie apply to 30 well-chosen schools). But cookie cutter doesn't get you into HMS.



Reach for the sky, no harm in applying to HMS. Just make sure you have enough target schools as well.
Thanks. Yes, I started with 55 schools and am down to around 30 schools. Here is my list so far.

NYU
UPenn
Columbia
HMS
Yale
Stanford
Sinai
Cornell
Case
BU
Pitt
Brown
Emory
Eistein
Hofstra
Roch
Dartmouth
Keck
UMass
Thomas Jefferson
Tufts
Georgetown
Temple
Albany Medical College
Penn State
NYMC
Quinnipiac
GW
Drexel

Way too many reaches? I fear so, but I feel like I have a good number of mid tiers as well. Let me know what you think
 
Thanks. Yes, I started with 55 schools and am down to around 30 schools. Here is my list so far.

NYU
UPenn
Columbia
HMS
Yale
Stanford
Sinai
Cornell
Case
BU
Pitt
Brown
Emory
Eistein
Hofstra
Roch
Dartmouth
Keck
UMass
Thomas Jefferson
Tufts
Georgetown
Temple
Albany Medical College
Penn State
NYMC
Quinnipiac
GW
Drexel

Way too many reaches? I fear so, but I feel like I have a good number of mid tiers as well. Let me know what you think

If you want to keep looking in the philly area, check out Cooper. They’ve only been around for like 8 years, but their interview day was very impressive, and I know multiple faculty members who left Jeff for Cooper.
 
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If you want to keep looking in the philly area, check out Cooper. They’ve only been around for like 8 years, but their interview day was very impressive, and I know multiple faculty members who left Jeff for Cooper.
Will do. Never really liked Philly but tbh, I've never given it a good look. It's close enough to home that I would love to go to med school there.
 
Will do. Never really liked Philly but tbh, I've never given it a good look. It's close enough to home that I would love to go to med school there.

Take a closer look. Philly is amazing. The school is actually across the river in NJ. Camden is a bit of a dangerous area, but the patient population is crazy diverse and there are very nice, affordable places to live only 10-15 mins away. I grew up in that area and lived in south jersey and Philly for 25. PM me if you want any info on the area.
 
Thanks. Yes, I started with 55 schools and am down to around 30 schools. Here is my list so far.

NYU
UPenn
Columbia
HMS
Yale
Stanford
Sinai
Cornell
Case
BU
Pitt
Brown
Emory
Eistein
Hofstra
Roch
Dartmouth
Keck
UMass
Thomas Jefferson
Tufts
Georgetown
Temple
Albany Medical College
Penn State
NYMC
Quinnipiac
GW
Drexel

Way too many reaches? I fear so, but I feel like I have a good number of mid tiers as well. Let me know what you think

Many reaches here. Feel free to shoot your shot, but do realize the likely ~$800-1000 additional expense of doing so. If you can satisfy your parents by having them pay for over-reaching your application and also getting into an MD school, then so be it. I have interviewed at multiple T20s and the other flip side of all these averages is that they are what they are: averages. Half of acceptances and interviews are to people below that average. You probably won't get interviews to NYU, Penn, Columbia, Yale, Stanford, or Harvard, but half of the class also went in to apply to those schools knowing that they probably wouldn't get interviews there. Unfortunately your ECs back up that premise (those schools require a little extra something), but you are certainly still competitive and will get likely interviews at several of the schools you listed.

On a side-note, on this interview cycle I've learned and accepted that student happiness/fit >>> prestige. As has been discussed in this thread, very few MD schools will prevent you from getting into a great residency if you work for it. There is one school I interviewed at that blew me away at interview day compared to all the other schools, and it came down to the passion its student/faculty/administration exhibited for their school's success and how happy people seemed pursuing medicine there. If I get accepted, I will almost certainly attend. It's a great school ranking- and matching-wise for sure, and it isn't Harvard. You'll realize next year (or when you apply) that there are many fantastic schools out there. You seem to have your head on your shoulders though in terms of a non-obsession with prestige. Good on you for maintaining clarity alongside your parents' opinions.
 
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Delete these. They'll be donations

NYU
UPenn
Columbia
HMS
Yale
Stanford
Cornell
Brown
UMass (UNLESS you're a MA resident)

I can't recommend Penn State.
As a FAP recipient, I can afford these as secondaries will be waived. So I would rather play the lottery ticket given I've been given the opportunity to do so.

However, I will agree with you the my expectation is zero from these schools. They are just throwaways

Average first-year students entering in 2018
  • Overall grade-point average of 3.82
  • Science grade-point average of 3.8
  • Average MCAT score percentile ranking of 93

Why do you mention this? UCSF is highly in state biased, no?
 
As a FAP recipient, I can afford these as secondaries will be waived. So I would rather play the lottery ticket given I've been given the opportunity to do so.

However, I will agree with you the my expectation is zero from these schools. They are just throwaways



Why do you mention this? UCSF is highly in state biased, no?
It only seems that way because there are tons of talented applicants.

I don't care about FAP, you should apply where you have realistic chances. The application process is NOT a lottery and doesn't work on chance. Many schools will send you secondaries and then you waste time and energy on them, not realizing that secondaries are often a tax on the hopelessly naïve, if not pathologically optimistic.

And doesn't FAP limit you to a certain number of apps? If so, don't waste a slot on a dream school.
“Dream schools are like dream girls: better in the abstract than reality”. –The exceptionally wise gyngyn
 
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Your parents are catastrophically wrong. Retaking the MCAT could literally end your chances at getting into any medical school. To even consider retaking a 515 should be a thought crime. As long as all of your extracurriculars are in order you will have a solid chance at most schools outside of the crazy competitive ones, and honestly possibly even some of them if the rest of your application is good enough.

Let me try to think of a proper analogy. Imagine you worked really hard at your job, saved a lot of money, then put all the money on a roulette wheel at a casino, and then you took the MCAT and got a 515, and then you retook it. It would be like that, except without the casino part.

Don't retake a 515.

If at any point you find yourself entertaining the possibility of doing that, find a cold glass of water, splash it on your face, and then do whatever the opposite of retaking a 515 is.

Okay, I think that's all I have for now.
 
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If I were on an admission committee and saw someone retake a 515, I would burn their application. Who the hell wants someone like that around.


Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
 
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UCSF, UCLA, and to a lesser extent UCSD, view themselves as national if not world class institution and attract students according. None of them have a formal policy of instate preference.


No preference is given to state of residence. However many applicants come from California. Acceptees from California are more likely to matriculate at UCLA. Out of 175 freshman, approximately 80 percent were from California.

Good point. Adding to list. Actually, listening to all y'alls advice, maybe I'll swap my silly reach schools for the UC's :pompous:
 
If I were on an admission committee and saw someone retake a 515, I would burn their application. Who the hell wants someone like that around.


Sent from my iPhone using
That would be some expensive paper you are burning there! +pissed+
 
are you a desi?

I am a desi parent and see this a lot of with desis and Chinese. I never pressure my son like that. In fact I encouraged to him to give up an Ivy league admission for full tuition scholarship at top 20 private school and he is a very happy Sophomore now.

I feel like it would be way harder to get a merit-based full tuition scholarship at a top 20 than an Ivy league admission (except those outside of the top 20 for comparison's sake). This begs the question: would you encourage him to give up an Ivy league admission for a full (or even near total) scholarship at any US MD school?

My answer would be yes.
 
Just to make sure , if you're not from CA, forget UCLA. Only some 0.5% of OOS applicants end up getting seated.
Yes that is true, but that 0.5% pretty misleading when you compare it to the IS matriculant rate, which is only about 1%. Issue is way to many applicants (over 11K) and not enough seats (175). Typically UCLA seats about 2/3 IS and 1/3 OOS.
 
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