Mar 11, 2010
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Reality: Getting into a Top 20 is a crapshoot. There is no formula. Many people here would be happy to get into any school. Do what really interests you, rather than trying to check off all the boxes.

You're clearly a competitive candidate on the numbers alone, but would you drop medicine if you didn't get into a Top 20?

chill.
 

canjosh

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You have an inspiring and unique background. Your PS should generally revolve around "why medicine". Don't overthink it. You need to be able to articulate and demonstrate the life experiences that have led you to make this decision. I'm not sure how you make the connection between cooking and medicine...the important thing is to explain your basic motivations. If you can demonstrate those motivations by relating to your cooking experience that's fine. Just make sure the PS is direct and to-the-point.

You shouldn't throw out all top-20s. I didn't have any research, and was granted interviews at 2 institutions that would be considered research-heavy (matriculating to 1 of those/waitlisted at the other). Now, the lack of research will probably be a no-go for some of the top 20s...but you should still include a few of them that you're interested in when you apply. Your GPA and MCAT are great, and I get the feeling that your secondaries will be well written. Your academic credentials are quite legit... congrats!
 
Mar 11, 2010
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I think you have a very realistic self-assessment on where you need to improve on the ECs. After that, it's into the random matrix called the medical school admissions process.

I sense you may want to consider talking to any admissions consultant on the best way to frame your life experience into compelling personal statements.

Good luck!
 

canjosh

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I know my stats are decent, but not crazy good. I will be fortunate to have schools give me a second look, but if I cannot convince them in my PS, the numbers mean nothing!
This is simply not true. Having talked to a friend who used to be on a med school adcom, the PS of an academically qualified applicant is really not that important. If it is written poorly, or your motivations appear weak, then the PS becomes important for the wrong reasons. I don't think you'll have that problem.

Also, don't worry about attempting to present yourself in a traditional way. The traditional way in which you're assessed is GPA and MCAT. After those objective measurements, adcoms usually want to know what makes you unique. Most schools are aiming for diversity, which means accepting some "non-traditional" type individuals.
 

GatorPhD

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In my opinion, you can talk about the all the items you mention in your first post and convey a nice message. I'm going to paste a quote from my premed adviser on the PS:

"The personal statement is your opportunity to convey a personal perspective to admissions committees on your experiences, motivation, achievements, and passion for medicine. You should reflect upon what you have learned from your experiences; the narrative should reveal your values and personal attributes through the telling of your story and your individual journey. The essay is not a restatement of your resume or information contained in the experiences and activities section of the applications. The essay is the place to provide a mature and deeper context to your background and motivation for pursuing a career in medicine."

I think this is pretty good advice and following it worked out great for me. I'm a nontrad too (5yrs USAF and grad school, etc.). The PS is your one time to tell them something about who you are. Just keep it pithy and make sure it flows. I think the hardest part is getting started on it. Honestly, I think your original post will help you. My adviser suggested we write a mini-biography before writing the PS. It helped me get my thoughts on paper, and organize a cohesive story.

In terms of what schools will like what...forget about it. If I could offer any advice (or if I could redo my application cycle), I would have listened to my adviser and applied to schools that I wanted to attend, NOT those where I thought my numbers lined up with their numbers. Clearly, your numbers are pretty good. I have very similar GPAs, but only a 31S. I applied to too many schools with ~31 avg MCAT and only 3 "top 20" schools. I ended up getting interviews at all of those 3 and accepted to "#1". So, numbers mean a lot and will get you looked at by many schools, but your experiences are what make you a unique applicant. If it were only numbers, I would never have been interviewed (let alone accepted) at HMS. There are plenty of kids out there with good GPAs and high MCAT scores. You're different and most places think that's a good thing. I think you can put together a very competitive package. Be sure to explain "why medicine" in the PS and you'll be good to go! My prediction is that you will have great success in obtaining interviews this cycle.

I hope this helps. Feel free to write if you have other questions.

Good luck,
Gator