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2+ Year Member
Jan 17, 2017
Hey all. This cycle hasn't gone as well as I'd hoped and as each day goes by it's becoming more and more obvious that I'm going to need to re-apply. I was wondering if you all had some suggestions on how I can become as competitive as possible for next/future cycles.


Graduated in 2016 with a Biochemistry major and an English minor
cGPA/sGPA 3.5/3.45 from a California UC school
MCAT: 521 with a 130/130/132/129 breakdown, taken in May 2017
CA resident, male and ORM.

Bit of a non-traditional in the sense that I wasn't interested in medicine until my senior year of college; I thought I was going to go into journalism. However, a seminar on underserved medicine and some reporting on medicine through journalism got me really interested in the field. After getting some clinical experience, I fell in love with the field and can't see myself doing anything else for a career.

Clinical ECs:

~1500 Hours scribing in an ED

~200 hours volunteering in a different ED.

~300 hours on a Suicide Prevention Hotline (Some people consider this clinical, others don't) and also trained other volunteers to work on the line/am part of support staff.

Non-clinical ECs:

~150-200 hours organizing and serving as a camp counselor for a summer camp for children who's parents have cancer.

~250 hours of general volunteering with two campus community service orgs.

Leadership position in a campus cultural org.

~1200-1500 hours at my campus radio station where a friend and I created a weekly journalistic style podcast on stories we thought were interesting/worth telling (in the same mold as Radiolab or Invisibilia).


Did some Modernsit English lit research for ~1 year which included graduate level coursework and presenting my research to the English Department (both professors and grad students) through a lecture/presentation.

In Summer 2017 (after I had submitted AMCAS, wasn't indicated on there because it wasn't set up yet) I spent ~30 hours per week for 2 months doing clinical research while abroad in the UK under the supervision of an ENT at a large teaching hospital. Main project was helping create an anatomical model of the orbital cavity to be used in pediatric cellulitis surgical cases. Also assisted on multiple other projects where I mostly did data analysis. No pubs out of it.

Random Employment:
Started my own car detailing business over the summer before college that I continued into school years after I had my own place. Main purpose was to just to help with misc. expenses (made decent revenue, $8-10k/year). Not sure if this is relevant but I included it on AMCAS.

1 from a science professor (Probably an average letter; due to my journalism involvement I didn't get particularly close to any of my science professors)

1 from an English professor/ my research supervisor and advisor. (Pretty sure this was a very strong letter)

2 from MDs that can speak to how I am in a clinical environment (They told me these were very strong letters)

School List/This Cycle:

My state schools: UCSF, UCLA, UCSD, UCD, UCI, USC.

OOS: U of A- Phoenix, U of A- Tucson, Albany, Rosalind Franklin, Drexel, George Washington, Sidney Kimmel, Tulane, U of Vermont, Penn State, Boston U, Emory, Georgetown, Hofstra, Loyola, Brown, Dartmouth, Tufts, Pittsburgh, Rochester, MC of Wisconsin, Oakland Beaumont, Rush, Wayne State, NYU, Mt. Sinai

Submitted my primary mid-late June, verified mid- July, and secondaries were completed.

Ended up receiving 2 II at both the Arizona schools in November. Was rejected from Phoenix last week and was just recently "deferred" from Tucson (The e-mail said I haven't been accepted, but I haven't been rejected yet either, they will update me as the cycle goes on).

My thoughts:

I think my two weakest areas are my GPA and lack of scientific research.

My GPA is relatively weak because I just wasn't always focused on my classes; as I thought I was going into Journalism I put more of my time/effort into radio and my podcast. I often took heavy unit loads to learn about things that I would report on in my podcast (my co-host was a Philosophy major so we would often try to tie together science with philosophy/ethics and class was a great source of ideas). After setting my mind to medicine I reformed my study habits/focus and I think this is reflected in my MCAT score. I have 217 undergrad quarter units so brining up the GPA from a post-bacc would take a very long time/doesn't seem worth it.

I really enjoyed the clinical research experience I had abroad, but found it was very difficult to find a position given that I was mid-cycle and most placed wanted me to commit for 1-2 years. Now that I don't think I'm getting in this cycle I'll start re-applying to positions and hopefully I can secure something for the next 1.5 years.

Would a SMP be worth it for me? I'm confident I could do well in one, but would rather not because so many of them are so expensive and I've heard horror stories of people not getting/having useless degrees afterwards.

So, does anybody have any advice how I can best improve for a re-app. Would getting research employment and maybe picking up another EC (my local library has a program teaching adults how to read English that I'm very interested in) help my application enough to gain an acceptance?

Thanks in advance for any help! It's greatly appreciated!


7+ Year Member
Sep 15, 2012
Status (Visible)
  1. Attending Physician
I am surprised you did not receive more II from OOS schools. You could apply more broadly next time and I suggest all these schools:
New York Medical College
Penn State
George Washington
Eastern Virginia
Virginia Commonwealth
West Virginia
Wake Forest
Oakland Beaumont
Western Michigan
Medical College Wisconsin
Rosalind Franklin
St. Louis
Loma Linda
Arizona (both schools)
any new schools that open inn 2019 (Kaiser, Roseman, Seton Hall)
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2+ Year Member
Apr 20, 2017
I think your GPAs and lack of research may have put you in a difficult spot for some schools in CA (UCSF, UCLA, UCSD, USC), while others may be more region/mission specific (UCD). I'm surprised that you didn't get more attention from OOS schools, especially with a 521 MCAT. How well do you think you wrote your secondaries?

If you have to re-apply, maybe focus more on OOS/lower tier schools? Here are some that you didn't have this time:
UCR (if you're from the Inland Empire)
Loma Linda (if you fit the mission)
Wake Forest

There's always DO, if you're interested in that route.
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2+ Year Member
Jan 17, 2017
Thank you both for the suggestions, I really appreciate the help!

Do you have any advice as to what i can do between now and next June to improve my application? Other than just working on my personal statement/pre-writing secondaries and submitting as early as possible.


7+ Year Member
Mar 14, 2012
Middle of Nowhere
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student (Accepted)
I’d have many people read your PS and secondaries as your GPA + MCAT should have gotten you more interviews and you said you applied early. Also I agree with so many credits if you’re looking for another program I’d go SMP and not post bacc

Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
Oct 24, 2017
Indianapolis, IN
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student
Looking at what you wrote regarding your application, I would say the first thing you should definitely do is apply more broadly (I had made the same mistake when I applied the first time too) and the lists posted above are definitely a good place to start.

Regarding your ECs I personally think you have a good mixture of ECs and a good amount of hours dedicated to each, especially the medical ECs considering you decided to pursue medicine pretty late on. As you, and others, have mentioned getting a bit more research under your belt would definitely be helpful, especially when applying to schools like UCSF. I of course don't know what UC school you were at, but at my school there seems to be a good amount of research available you just might have to go out of your way, and send a lot of emails out, till someone replies that they have an opening in their lab.

I of course do not know how your primary or secondary essays look, but I assume that you are pretty good at writing due to your extensive exposure to english classes and research. One thing that will be important for you to definitely show through your essays is the fact that medicine is definitely the career path for you. I could imagine a school being a bit worried about the fact that you decided on medicine so late and applied within a very short time of deciding that you wanted medicine. Someone on the committee could easily ask "what if person X hasn't truly made up their mind yet and decides to switch career paths once again as they did with journalism?" I am not questioning your dedication to medicine of course but I am just trying to pose a question some people might ask.

Lastly, I would try my best to get a strong science letter (whether it be from a professor or someone you did research with -- ideally getting both letters would be best).

I hope what I wrote is of any help to you :)

If you need any other help I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!
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