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Revolution #9

Hi everyone,

Let me start this thread off by saying that I am not overly concerned about getting into a "prestigious" university - I want to become a physician, regardless of the path. But I am wondering how far I should reach when applying to dream schools. My stats:

3.6 Overall GPA, Psychology major at Wake Forest
3.5 Science
37R MCAT (12V, 13P, 12B)
100 hours hospital volunteer
ER Physician shadowing
Good ECs - President of two undergrad student orgs, VP of another, other volunteer work
1.5 yrs research experience, poster presentation

BUT - I have a criminal record, with a minor misdemeanor.

So I think I have a solid record, but I'm really afraid about that misdemeanor. With my record, would you recommend applying to dream schools like Yale, Stanford, Harvard, etc.; or do you think that would be money down the drain? I appreciate your insights, and please don't flame - this is a serious post.
 

Kazema

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I'm sure it depends on what your crime was and when it happened.
 

Pinkertinkle

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I don't think anyone can count on anything from top ten schools. I've seen people with those stats get rejection after rejection from the top schools. However, I think you still do have a chance, so do apply and you'll never know what might happen.
 

LauraMac

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depends on what the crime was...

i'd guess you'll get into a top ten. :)

and if not, you'll most definitely get in somewhere.
 

visualwealth

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Top ten is not about merit as much as it is about being part of the old boys club...

If it is the school you attend for undergrad it will help but, half of it is luck and the other half is ( ) yeah!
 
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Revolution #9

For those that asked, the crime was a petty theft that was plead down to a trespass. It occured recently - in 2003 (as a sophomore). A big mistake, one that I suffered for and learned from (let this be a lesson - crime doesnt pay. Stealing a $100 item cost me $300 in lawyer fees, $500 in punishments, $270 in court fees, and $225 to take a shoplifting course. It really, really sucked, but I deserved it :()

And RunMimi - I am really hopeing for Duke, it is my dream school, and being from SoCal (South Carolina, that is ;)), it's a stone's throw away from home. Here's hoping that Duke will like my MCAT :D
 

Kazema

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I think you've got the stats and ECs to apply to 1 or 2 top 10 schools. Like everyone else says, there's no guarantees for top 10s, they reject even 4.0 GPA 40 MCAT people pre-interview.

I think you'll definitely get in somewhere though. A misdemeanor shouldn't keep you out. It could be a lot worse, like that certain someone last year whose name and nearly unbelievable situation I will stop short of explaining and simply be provocative about.
 

Kazema

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Revolution #9 said:
For those that asked, the crime was a petty theft that was plead down to a trespass. It occured recently - in 2003 (as a sophomore). A big mistake, one that I suffered for and learned from (let this be a lesson - crime doesnt pay. Stealing a $100 item cost me $300 in lawyer fees, $500 in punishments, $270 in court fees, and $225 to take a shoplifting course. It really, really sucked, but I deserved it :()
That sounds like a "boys will be boys" type of thing. You learned your lesson and moved on, I doubt it'll be a problem for you.
 
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Revolution #9

On that note - do secondaries ask for details about convictions? I'd like to say that I recieved a misdemeanor trespass, and then move on... I dont want to talk much about it in detail. It's embarassing :oops:
 

GuyLaroche

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There is the family illness stories, which are tired and done. There is the foreign travel to South America and such impoverished places, which is also done though not as tired as family death. It's become necessary to come up with a strong and grabbing tale in your personal statement. Coming out and other such stories are really starting to get played out. Something new is needed. I've always quite liked crime stories. I would take this experience and spin it into the most tear-jerking, sympathy-demanding tale of overcoming adversity that it would win over the most cynic of cynics. If you are clever, I'll project you'll most certainly get in. Start spinning. There is no reason to not make lemonade out of this crime-laced lemon.
 
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Revolution #9

GuyLaroche said:
There is the family illness stories, which are tired and done. There is the foreign travel to South America and such impoverished places, which is also done though not as tired as family death. It's become necessary to come up with a strong and grabbing tale in your personal statement. Coming out and other such stories are really starting to get played out. Something new is needed. I've always quite liked crime stories. I would take this experience and spin it into the most tear-jerking, sympathy-demanding tale of overcoming adversity that it would win over the most cynic of cynics. If you are clever, I'll project you'll most certainly get in. Start spinning. There is no reason to not make lemonade out of this crime-laced lemon.

Haha - I like your style. But I really did grow up living well below the poverty line with abusive parents; do you think I can make some kind of uber-disadvantaged story? :laugh:

I'm just kidding about that, I want to play up my accomplishments, not my challenges.
 

uclabruin2003

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my PS was a bit about my dad...and his illness and death. somehow i thought that the slant was played-out but to my surprise interviewers brought it up as unique and interesting. so..yeah. i guess if you speak true to your heart...its ok.
 

GuyLaroche

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Revolution #9 said:
I'm just kidding about that, I want to play up my accomplishments, not my challenges.

And there in lies your problem. Your stats are great, but quite honestly, they aren't the best I've seen. You need to stand out. You need to talk about the abuse, and your volunteering efforts in battered children centers (if you haven't done this, start doing it now), and then end with your interest in researching the genes that contribute to alcoholism.

That's the way it should go down.
 

cromagnon

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(1) get a lawyer, and try to get it off your record.

(2) apply to 20+ schools, including whatever schools you consider "top ten"

(3) don't mention your record on any of your applications or to any admissions people unless the information is specifically requested.

(4) don't steal anymore sh1t.
 
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Revolution #9

GuyLaroche said:
And there in lies your problem. Your stats are great, but quite honestly, they aren't the best I've seen. You need to stand out. You need to talk about the abuse, and your volunteering efforts in battered children centers (if you haven't done this, start doing it now), and then end with your interest in researching the genes that contribute to alcoholism.

That's the way it should go down.

Are you being serious? I dont ask this to be condescending, but rather for clarification (it's hard to tell if someone is being facetious on the internet). I've been given this advice by a few people, but my pre-med advisor (not actually from Wake, but through another organization) said that taking the tough-childhood approach could be construed as seeking sympathy (in a bad way). I have worked with abused/mentally challenged children, so I will include that in my AMCAS statement, regardless of the approach i take.
 

GuyLaroche

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Revolution #9 said:
Are you being serious?
I am absolutely not joking. Of course, everything has to be done within measure. You'll need to write a very clever piece on your childhood and link it to your interests. Absolutely, a tough childhood experience is currency in medical school admissions. Dude, you've got some awesome bargaining tools (least of which is your nice MCAT score).
 

cromagnon

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GuyLaroche said:
I am absolutely not joking. Of course, everything has to be done within measure. You'll need to write a very clever piece on your childhood and link it to your interests. Absolutely, a tough childhood experience is currency in medical school admissions. Dude, you've got some awesome bargaining tools (least of which is your nice MCAT score).
i disagree.....the best advice for anyone is to be yourself during the application process. your misdemeanor will probably end up being a non-issue. Play to your strengths, of which you have many, and be yourself. With your excellent stats you shouldnt have to pimp yourself out to the adcoms in the form of some stupid story in your essay.
 

DianaLynne

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Go for it! Apply wherever you'd like to go, then make sure you've got some "safeties." You have great #s, EC's look good. And if there's an issue, well, you've learned your lesson haven't you? ;)
 

GuyLaroche

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cromagnon said:
i disagree.....the best advice for anyone is to be yourself during the application process. your misdemeanor will probably end up being a non-issue. Play to your strengths, of which you have many, and be yourself. With your excellent stats you shouldnt have to pimp yourself out to the adcoms in the form of some stupid story in your essay.

First off, let me say this much: "Oh, Diana!"

Excellent stats aren't very hard to come by. When I received my MCAT score, I was super thrilled till I learned that my score wasn't that uncommon. Neither is my GPA. Of course, one might argue that these numbers placed me in a very competitive pool, but the problem is exactly that. How do you stand out in this competitive pool? It's the writing, silly. You write, and you write well. I wrote a pretty contained but wholly dramatic essay, and it's all I have been asked about at interviews. I am all for being yourself. You can still be yourself with a little spice, yes?
 

YzIa

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GuyLaroche said:
First off, let me say this much: "Oh, Diana!"

Excellent stats aren't very hard to come by. When I received my MCAT score, I was super thrilled till I learned that my score wasn't that uncommon. Neither is my GPA. Of course, one might argue that these numbers placed me in a very competitive pool, but the problem is exactly that. How do you stand out in this competitive pool? It's the writing, silly. You write, and you write well. I wrote a pretty contained but wholly dramatic essay, and it's all I have been asked about at interviews. I am all for being yourself. You can still be yourself with a little spice, yes?
The man is right, to get into a top ten school, you have to have more than just the mid-30 MCAT and high GPA. I think the amazing and spicy PS can be traded for extreme EC's or an impressive pedigree, but something is needed.
 

Darth Asclepius

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On that note - do secondaries ask for details about convictions? I'd like to say that I recieved a misdemeanor trespass, and then move on... I dont want to talk much about it in detail. It's embarassing
University of Vermont asked about convictions including traffic violations! I had to send them a copy of my driving record because I got a couple of speeding tickets a few years ago. When I went to the DMV, they asked the "why do you need a copy of your driving record?" question (i.e. personal use, insurance, etc). When I told her it was for a med school application she asked if I was serious and said "well, I haven't hear that one before." I thought it was rather anal.
 

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I would say that mentioning your childhood would be fine, but don't dwell on it in your PS. You should mention it in the context of showing what you've made out of what you were given. I think that it will really help to emphasize the accomplishments that you have to list. It never hurts to apply to your dream school....the worst they can say is "NO." You'll regret it way more in the future if you don't at least give it a shot. You never know what will happen. Best Wishes. Good Luck.
 

tacrum43

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Revolution #9 said:
For those that asked, the crime was a petty theft that was plead down to a trespass. It occured recently - in 2003 (as a sophomore). A big mistake, one that I suffered for and learned from (let this be a lesson - crime doesnt pay. Stealing a $100 item cost me $300 in lawyer fees, $500 in punishments, $270 in court fees, and $225 to take a shoplifting course. It really, really sucked, but I deserved it :()

And RunMimi - I am really hopeing for Duke, it is my dream school, and being from SoCal (South Carolina, that is ;)), it's a stone's throw away from home. Here's hoping that Duke will like my MCAT :D
AMCAS only asks about a felony conviction, so you would mark "no" on that. You may not even have to mention it to some schools, but if they do ask, I'm sure it's better to be honest with them. I've never been convicted of a crime or had an "institutional action" taken against me, but it seems that I read in another SDN thread (from people that had been convicted of crimes) that medical schools care more about cheating than about crimes (I'm sure they would care about something like murder though). Still, schools are looking for any reason to reject an applicant, but I think they will like that you seem to have learned your lesson. :luck: to you!
 

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Hey I went to Wake. I dont have a misdemeaner but I did get in trouble with the school. Even though the trouble had nothing to do with me but rather one of my roomates who got really drunk at an apartment not even ours, the school gave us a rule 16 misconduct violation. I have good stats and EC's , and I graduated this summer so am taking a year off (3.53 and 31). I applied to a variety of schools but the only interviews I have gotten are my state schools and UIC md/phd. At my state school interview all they talked about was the incident for like 40 minutes. I think its such BS. The lady basically told me that with that on my record I should look at Caribbean schools. So I do not know about your personal situation but mine has sucked. Dont let the adviser who tells you med schools will look past it and it wont matter. That is also BS. Not to discourage you but with so many people applying med schools use the littlest thing like this just to screen out our apps. Good luck
 

BOBODR

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Also if you got in trouble with Wake for the Trespass, they tell all the schools you apply to since you have to use the Health Committee. They make sure of it....
 

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I think you should apply wherever you would like to go. Don't apply to a reach school just because its ranked high and you feel you need to include some reaches. I plan on applying to some top 10 reach schools, but, for example, I cannot see myself living in Baltimore, so I won't be applying to Hopkins. I'm sure that this is something you've considered, but sometimes it needs to be said. I've seen some people with 3.6 and decent/high MCATs applying to Harvard, etc., not because they believe they would like the school, but rather because of the name factor. Good luck!
 

Electrophys

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I would like to chime in here and definately encourage the OP to apply to whatever dream schools that he/she may want to...BUT just remember to have a balanced list (ie top schools, mid tier schools, and lower tier schools).

Ultimately, no one is ever a shoo-in anywhere...but your numbers and experiences are good enough to get you in anywhere...its up to the ADCOMS to decide whether or not you offer the diverse and unique piece that they're looking for in their puzzle that is the makeup of their class. And numbers has a big part to do with this...but its not JUST numbers that matter.

For example, my own personal experience applying this year has been tremendously surprising. I graduated from a top 10 school in BME and am taking a year off to do some research. I had strong EC's, strong LOR's, a great MCAT score, but a not-so-great GPA (3.6 overall, 3.5 sci). I honestly thought I would get very few interviews and would have trouble getting into my state school, but I ended up getting many interviews even among the top schools including Harvard, Duke, and Columbia...which I was REALLY surprised over...and acceptences at several mid range schools as well. I honestly think that adcoms saw something in my LORs and my ECs that compensated for my not-so-hot GPA and decided to see what I was all about. I think the same can go for anyone applying...just be confident!

Also, a note about "spinning" your experiences to best suit your application...just remember that adcoms can smell bologne a mile away. While I agree that it is in your best interest to market yourself well...I don't think its a good idea to delibrately try and put a positive "spin" on a setback in your life...but thats just my $0.02.

Good luck!
 

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cromagnon said:
(1) get a lawyer, and try to get it off your record.

(2) apply to 20+ schools, including whatever schools you consider "top ten"

(3) don't mention your record on any of your applications or to any admissions people unless the information is specifically requested.

(4) don't steal anymore sh1t.
This is the best advice I've seen so far. I had a violation for disorderly conduct (I bitched out a cop and resisted arrest while drunk). Luckily, violations are not considered a crime in my state, so I didn't have to put it on all my apps - but at my interview today, the issue came up and my doc was actually very understanding and said that he had also run in to trouble with the law (but luckily it was only after med school apps). I also got an interview at the other school where I was asked to disclose such information. But the whole ordeal was honestly quite nerve wrecking, and I would just apply to as many schools as possible and don't speak of it if you don't have to. In case you are asked about your misdemeanor, try and put a positive spin on the situation by emphasizing what you learned from that mistake. It's not going to kill your chances - people have gotten in with felonies.

As for your credentials, you seem like a strong applicant, but like others have said, your GPA isn't outstanding, so you'll have to shine on your PS. I personally do not like using obstacles I have faced to explain a deficit in my grades, but if you believe your experience has significantly impacted you, you could probably mention it in a tactful way that does not sounds like you're trying to play off the adcom's sympathy. You CAN stand out with your accomplishments alone - it is all about the way you present yourself and the passion you put into your writing (my stats are actually quite similar to yours and I have at least been invited to interview at two top ten schools, Weill, MSSM, and University of Rochester - all of which I consider to be top schools. I was invited to interview at 15/20 schools I've applied to). I'm positive my PS weighed heavily in their decisions because almost all my interviewers have asked about it and mentioned that it was well written. Definitely apply to wherever you want to go because you have a good shot, but like somebody just said - be smart and also apply to a number of safety schools as well. Good luck!
 

PanaRama

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Electrophys said:
I would like to chime in here and definately encourage the OP to apply to whatever dream schools that he/she may want to...BUT just remember to have a balanced list (ie top schools, mid tier schools, and lower tier schools).

Ultimately, no one is ever a shoo-in anywhere...but your numbers and experiences are good enough to get you in anywhere...its up to the ADCOMS to decide whether or not you offer the diverse and unique piece that they're looking for in their puzzle that is the makeup of their class. And numbers has a big part to do with this...but its not JUST numbers that matter.

For example, my own personal experience applying this year has been tremendously surprising. I graduated from a top 10 school in BME and am taking a year off to do some research. I had strong EC's, strong LOR's, a great MCAT score, but a not-so-great GPA (3.6 overall, 3.5 sci). I honestly thought I would get very few interviews and would have trouble getting into my state school, but I ended up getting many interviews even among the top schools including Harvard, Duke, and Columbia...which I was REALLY surprised over...and acceptences at several mid range schools as well. I honestly think that adcoms saw something in my LORs and my ECs that compensated for my not-so-hot GPA and decided to see what I was all about. I think the same can go for anyone applying...just be confident!

Also, a note about "spinning" your experiences to best suit your application...just remember that adcoms can smell bologne a mile away. While I agree that it is in your best interest to market yourself well...I don't think its a good idea to delibrately try and put a positive "spin" on a setback in your life...but thats just my $0.02.

Good luck!




If you don't mind me asking, what were some of your EC's :)