DaBlackRose

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Though I may not be completely qualified to post this, when i was applying i had always wished someone would post some general advice to help me. I hope you find it helpful..... (sidenote: I did get in to several places so w00t for class 2013!)


Your ACCOMAS application:

-SUBMIT EARLY. Everyone and their mom says this and I heard it a million times but didn't listen trying to get my application perfect. But they say it for a reason. It really is a time game more than it is a numbers game. Even if you have your doubts and your personal statement isn't totally perfect, spend a day or two revising it and just SUBMIT! You will be so glad you did. if you take nothing else away from this, Remember this one point!

-Revise. Most admission committees look very negatively about stupid mistakes like misspelled words and repetitive sentences.

-Apply to as many schools as you can afford. Nothing under 5. Seriously. At least 5, but the more you apply the better your chances.

-Make your EC's worth it. Each EC description you get can be a little mini essay on what you learned and how it applies to medicine. They know what shadowing is, they know the responsibilities involved in being the president or member of a club, it is much much MUCH better to sell yourself, your skills, your qualities, your learning in this space than to waste it and say: "I filed papers, talked to whiney people, and put soup in a bowl." (even if that's really what you did)

- It really does take 4-6 weeks to get processed. So get it right the first time. You don't want to be waiting longer because you classified the spanish class as English.

Personal Statement:

-Make sure your Personal Statement is personal. After helping over 50 other pre-meds work on their personal statements, you'd be surprised how many don't do this. Don't give us a resume and we don't care that you live in a rural area unless you make us care. Explain what YOU learned and why YOU love medicine and why YOU are passionate.

- If you're having trouble editing or knowing what works, read it out loud. It really does help.

-You don't have to address why osteopathic medicine. Most schools ask this question for secondaries. You can, but know you will be reanswering it later.

- Vary your sentences. Mix short with long, don't start every sentence with the same word, watch out from using too many phrases or commas.

-Semicolons aren't that impressive, don't use em. You look like a kiss up.

-Cliche's are bad. things like "i like helping people" or "ever since i was 9 i played with daddy's doctor toys" NO, just NO.

-Don't stretch for a "story" statement if you don't have a story or if you aren't a story person. Essays starting with a thesis can be just as good as one starting with a Hook.

-End with a bang. The biggest mistake people make is spending so much time trying to "hook" the reader they forget about the message at the end. They try to "end" the story or put a moral on it. Your last paragraph is what you leave them with. Leave them with the thought that they should pick you because you WANT it and because you DESERVE it.

After you've submitted:
DON'T JUST SIT AROUND!!!
- Save a copy of your finished application (you can do this in PDF format) and keep it in digital form. You will need this later!

- Make sure to keep volunteering in at least one thing. Many schools will ask in an interview: "so what other activities have you done after you finished the application?" You should probably have at least one thing that you did.

- Start taking a harder look at all the schools you applied to (even the ones you thought were not your favorite). Make a list of 5 (even in no particular order) that are really excited to get into.

- Update your medical resume (or create one).

- Start bothering your letter of recommendation people. Get those letters IN, because the due date is COMING. its best to have them by the time you get your secondary. And yes, get an osteopathic physican, you'll need one. If you don't have one, get ONE!

- Start looking at the secondary questions for the schools above (or all in general). The secondaries roll in quicker than you think. And with school in aug or work or whatever, you have less time than you think to start writing. Less time than your personal statement, that's for sure. Here are some general questions to start on:
1) Why do you want to be an osteopathic doctor?
2) Why should we accept you/ what can you add to this year's class?
3) What is a problem in health care and how will it affect future physicians?
these questions are very general. but its good to at least start thinking about them, jot a few notes, or if you're really ahead of the game start writing up a 1 page draft.
(edit: you can find the exact secondary questions for each school here on SDN. You can check them out thanx to Chocolate Bear *stalk him!*)

Secondaries:

- MOST SCHOOLS SEND OUT SECONDARIES IF YOU MEET THEIR MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS. So don't be too thrilled to get secondaries (a little party is okay save the full on bash for your interview and acceptance), they probably haven't even read your personal statment until they 'complete your application'. They just want your extra money (IMHO).

- get them out as FAST as possible. Once your application has been completed, the admissions committee begins reviewing your file. This means you have a better/faster chance of getting in while there are still spots! It still matters what you write, though so don't throw crap together. But send them in even if it isn't your best work, even if you don't have all your letters of recommendation.

- be prepared for the 'why our school' question and know that there is no magic answers.

-tailor every essay to the school you're sending it to. Even though you probably do (or should) reuse many essays, add at least one thing about the school. You can find things in the mission statement. Like sometimes the school is aimed at rural medicine or perhaps its aimed at primary care. Or maybe spirituality. Each school has some tiny little emphasis. Find it and grab on.


Well that's all I should say for now. I don't want to overwhelm anyone. I hope this helps. And remember relax and enjoy this time. Once you get into med school the REAL work starts.
 

TeamZissou

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+1 :thumbup:

Excellent post! People please use this, she basically spelled out to a T what is important in this process. I also fully agree on the notion that getting your application in SOON is more important than making every little thing perfect. Like she said you can't have misspelled words and such but DO NOT let your perfectionist pre-med tendencies take hold of you!
 

rocketbooster

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what do you mean when you say apply early? what's considered early for DO schools? I submitted my AACOMAS on June 30th...is that early? I didn't know that it opened up May 1st till much later...errr...I know the timeline for MD schools but DO is a completely different app. system. thanks!
 
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DaBlackRose

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hahah. early is a week earlier than you submitted it (aka you can't get it in early enough!)

realistically, June & July is early. August is when the rush of everyone comes. Anything after is PUSHING IT. but get it in as early as you possibly can.
 

TeamZissou

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I keep telling people that it's not so much when you submit that is important. (Although if you don't submit your AACOMAS early enough it gets backed up and takes weeks to process.) But more importantly is when you are COMPLETE at the schools, meaning having your application, fee, and LORs turned in. To be COMPLETE by August is early but it also depends on when the schools send you the secondaries because some are slower than others.

But shoot for being complete by August.
 

Semicolon

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-Semicolons aren't that impressive, don't use em. You look like a kiss up.
Hey! I take offense to that! :D

Also, I don't think you NEED a DO letter as much as you make it sound; I have heard of plenty of successful applicants that didn't have a DO letter (but most do, however).

Great post; hopefully this will answer a bunch of questions for all the current applicants.
 

Mohammed1989

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this might be a dumb question so you apply junior year in june/july? I'm still trying to get everything clear on early. I ask because usually for everything else you always apply 1 year early.
 

rocketbooster

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I keep telling people that it's not so much when you submit that is important. (Although if you don't submit your AACOMAS early enough it gets backed up and takes weeks to process.) But more importantly is when you are COMPLETE at the schools, meaning having your application, fee, and LORs turned in. To be COMPLETE by August is early but it also depends on when the schools send you the secondaries because some are slower than others.

But shoot for being complete by August.
yeah, I can probably do that, or at least get complete in August sometime, as long as AACOMAS has my thing verified by end of July. I already have my LORs ready to go and whatnot.

I submitted my AACOMAS June 30th, though, and it seems ppl on here said it takes 6 weeks. seriously?? dude, AMCAS only takes that long if you submit your primary in OCTOBER. wtf AACOMAS get your sh!t together!

so, say, I'm complete by mid to late August, when do you think I'll start getting interviews? I don't actually want interviews until after October 1st till I hear back from my EDP MD school...so perhaps my timing is actually good?
 

beckhunter116

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Thanks for the great post!

Quick question about volunteering, do adcoms want to see us add a new activity since our submission or is it fine to continue what we are currently doing?

Good luck at KCUMB
 

Semicolon

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this might be a dumb question so you apply junior year in june/july? I'm still trying to get everything clear on early. I ask because usually for everything else you always apply 1 year early.
If you're going the traditional route, then yes, you apply at the end of your Junior year in college.

Thanks for the great post!

Quick question about volunteering, do adcoms want to see us add a new activity since our submission or is it fine to continue what we are currently doing?

Good luck at KCUMB
It's perfectly fine to continue with your current activities, but pick up something else if you feel inclined to do so.
 

Styria

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-tailor every essay to the school you're sending it to. Even though you probably do (or should) reuse many essays, add at least one thing about the school. You can find things in the mission statement. Like sometimes the school is aimed at rural medicine or perhaps its aimed at primary care. Or maybe spirituality. Each school has some tiny little emphasis. Find it and grab on.​

LMU-DCOM's admissions page gives tremendously useful information on what they're looking for. "Your decision-making process should be a long maturation process, by which you become educated about the medical profession, professional school training and – most importantly – yourself." An applicant who can demonstrate that in their essay should do very well there.
 

Mohammed1989

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so if I go the traditional way and apply at the end of my junior year what about the mcat? Can that be added in my senior year or do I have to have it completed by the end so I can have a good early chance?
 
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DaBlackRose

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Okay, well let me explain this, but remember you can always talk to your friendly neighborhood pre-med advisor if you get confused.

To start pre-med you start taking the pre-req's as soon as you can.

You should sign up for the MCAT after you have taken most of the pre-reqs (if you wait until after you take all the classes you tend to do a little better).

You can only apply during the summer, all applications for both MD and DO open in May or June. You have to have a personal statement, letters of recommendation, classes and grades, etc. You can NOT apply earlier than your junior year in college (unless you early decision apply).

Many pre-meds apply in the summer after their junior year, get interviews all throughout Jan- March and then graduate college in May and go to med school the following August.

However, you can also apply after your senior year but know that med school starts in the fall a year after you apply. It what i did and it was a very nice break.

If you are applying now and haven't taken your MCAT sign up immediately. You can apply without an MCAT score, but no school will give you an interview or even LOOK at your application without your MCAT score. The August date is probably the LATEST you should take it if you are applying this cycle. If you want to wait to take the MCAT, wait to apply.

hope that helps.
 
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I agree with everything the OP said with one exception: semi-colons are useful as a way to save characters. You should NOT overuse them, but a couple in the whole PS are totally fine, especially if you are hurting for characters.
 

wongb18c

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-Cliche's are bad. things like "i like helping people" or "ever since i was 9 i played with daddy's doctor toys" NO, just NO.
Haha... NO, just NO. If people are still using cliches at this time and age, then they really need to wake up.

But what if by chance someone actually did play doctor at the age of 9 and from that moment forward it gave him/her an inspiration?

-tailor every essay to the school you're sending it to. Even though you probably do (or should) reuse many essays, add at least one thing about the school. You can find things in the mission statement. Like sometimes the school is aimed at rural medicine or perhaps its aimed at primary care. Or maybe spirituality. Each school has some tiny little emphasis. Find it and grab on.
I think using this method is in a way a cliche in itself. Schools' admission comittee weren't born yesterday, they know your motives when you write about their school or some piece of information that's highly related to their program. I didn't use it, but then again, I got many rejections.
 

Semicolon

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so if I go the traditional way and apply at the end of my junior year what about the mcat? Can that be added in my senior year or do I have to have it completed by the end so I can have a good early chance?
You probably shouldn't wait until your senior year to take the MCAT; you'll want it at the end of your junior year (around the time you apply) or at least during the summer months; you CAN take it once your senior year begins, but you'll be hurting your chances in the process.

Okay, well let me explain this, but remember you can always talk to your friendly neighborhood pre-med advisor if you get confused.
I have to disagree with this. If you go to your pre-med advisor, there is a 95% chance you'll get horrible and discouraging advice from someone who has no background in what they're talking about. This is a bad option if you're confused. The internet and other applicants are a much better source of information (do your own research).

Also, you seem to be confused about Early Decision. I've rarely heard of Early Decision in medical schools in general since there is a centralized application system that opens for everyone on the same day. Even so, if you somehow did apply using Early Decision, this program does not have you skipping any part of your undergrad career.

I agree with everything the OP said with one exception: semi-colons are useful as a way to save characters. You should NOT overuse them, but a couple in the whole PS are totally fine, especially if you are hurting for characters.
Thanks for having my back. :D
 

rocketbooster

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I agree with everything the OP said with one exception: semi-colons are useful as a way to save characters. You should NOT overuse them, but a couple in the whole PS are totally fine, especially if you are hurting for characters.
yeah, or you can just use periods and single space after each one. who said you HAD to doublespace after every period? that's something you learned in 1st grade, that's why.

this is the advice my English prof gave me. when he first told me that I was like "WHAT!? blasphemy!!!" his response, "I have a PhD in English, and I singlespace after periods." Saved me a bunch of character space. :thumbup:
 
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DaBlackRose

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i just wanted to bump this up. Because it still applies...
 

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This is a great post, and I wish someone had told me ages ago not to go to a premed advisor. lol
 
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Well, I must be in good shape based on this post. All my LORs are in, my application is complete and verified as of 6/6/10. It's already been released to my schools, and I'm just waiting on secondaries.
 

ShyRem

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BTW: Early = first two weeks AACOMAS is open. Personally I submitted THE FIRST DAY. I had all my files complete WITHIN ONE WEEK OF GETTING THE SECONDARY. I had 7 interview invites before Labor Day. I had my first acceptance before October 1.

EARLY IS KEY.
 
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BTW: Early = first two weeks AACOMAS is open. Personally I submitted THE FIRST DAY. I had all my files complete WITHIN ONE WEEK OF GETTING THE SECONDARY. I had 7 interview invites before Labor Day. I had my first acceptance before October 1.

EARLY IS KEY.
Same here. I hope that I can get the early interview invites as well. I want to give myself the very best opportunity possible.
 
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Haha... NO, just NO. If people are still using cliches at this time and age, then they really need to wake up.

But what if by chance someone actually did play doctor at the age of 9 and from that moment forward it gave him/her an inspiration?

I think using this method is in a way a cliche in itself. Schools' admission comittee weren't born yesterday, they know your motives when you write about their school or some piece of information that's highly related to their program. I didn't use it, but then again, I got many rejections.
The point of the whole essay is to show that you not only have a desire to be a physician, but you are making a calculated decision based on years of hard observational evidence. Often this process starts with the result of a cliche.

Now, what's wrong with a cliche? A cliche is an answer given all the time to the point where the questioner is going "...yeah .... that's unique *sarcastic voice*". You might think of a cliche negatively...... but that doesn't mean it's bad. Some people really have wanted to be a doctor from their earliest memories. Some people really had those "aha!" moments after an inspiring moment with a physician or family member. They only get a negative connotation among pre-meds because the people who use them have no frigging idea what they're talking about and have no support to make them work.

TL;DR: I personally think these "common" statements are fine. The point is how you phrase things. Always speak from direct experience. Always provide hard evidence and explain yourself in a meaningful way. In this way, the cliche that may have inspired you now answers the point of the essay, answering why medicine and why you. If you say "I've always wanted to be a doctor" or "I was inspired by my family physician" and have no evidence then yes, you're doing it wrong.
 
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This is a great post, and I wish someone had told me ages ago not to go to a premed advisor. lol
I'm sorry your pre-med advisor was apparently not a very good one. Everyone should visit theirs. They are professionals who are paid to help you get into medical school/whatever health school/give you the advice you need to succeed. Of course you have to be proactive about getting said advice, they're busy people like everybody else. I personally loved my advisor.
 
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DaBlackRose

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bump again.... because i'm still getting questions about it!
 
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BTW: Early = first two weeks AACOMAS is open. Personally I submitted THE FIRST DAY. I had all my files complete WITHIN ONE WEEK OF GETTING THE SECONDARY. I had 7 interview invites before Labor Day. I had my first acceptance before October 1.

EARLY IS KEY.
This. :thumbup:. And bump. Good post.
 

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I am submitting the first day... I am already working on my secondaries for my 'top schools' and I also suggest going to the Interview feedback section to look at questions you may be asked in your interviews http://www.studentdoctor.net/interview-feedback/
 

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Just another consideration of applying early:

Most DO schools require a hefty deposit (sometimes $1000 or more) that is usually non-refundable. This means that once an applicant chooses to accept a position (which they usually only have a month or so to make a decision about), they usually do not change. Hence, wait list movement at DO schools is not as active as with MD schools. If a school has a full class by late Jan or early February (which btw does happen) then basically you're up the creek. You DO NOT want to be interviewing after November.

Good luck to this years applicants! :luck: