Apr 21, 2019
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I am in a bit of a tricky situation so am looking for insight into how an admittedly risky application strategy could affect me down the road. My current plan is to apply to only two schools this coming June. To make matters worse, those two schools are Stanford and UCSF. If I don’t get in, I will wait 2 additional years before I can apply to med school again, this time more broadly. My alternative is to not apply to UCSF or Stanford at all, wait a few years until we’re moving out of the Bay Area, and apply broadly in my first application cycle (to avoid the stigma of being a re-applicant). If I can have the chance to apply to Stanford and UCSF this coming cycle without hurting my chances at future cycles, I’d like to take it.

As a bit of background on why I’m facing this dilemma, my fiancé has a joint postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford and a UC. He started the 4 year fellowship this past September after finishing his PhD, so we moved to CA from the east coast. I don’t want him to give up his dream job (and even if I did, quitting the fellowship would put his immigration status and his future career at risk). We’ve discussed living apart the first few years of our marriage so he could stay at Stanford and I could go to med school elsewhere, but we’ve decided it’s not a good option. Outside of the fact that he is a major part of my support system and I want to live with him, living apart after our August wedding could cause immigration officials to question the legitimacy of our marriage, again putting his immigration status at risk. We’re not willing to take that chance, so for the next few years I will need to stay in the Bay Area. If I am lucky enough to get into med school here, he has career options to extend his stay in the Bay Area. If not, we will leave the area when his fellowship is done so I can apply to med school elsewhere.

Ideally, I will apply this summer to Stanford and UCSF, both in commuting distance of our current location. I also have considered Touro California, but it’s not the best fit for a number of reasons, and I also worry about being less competitive for residency as a DO. If Touro was my only option to become a doctor, I would definitely take it, but I do have the option to apply broadly to additional med schools in a few years.

I know applying to only two schools is a bad application strategy. While I’d love to attend UCSF or Stanford, given the competitiveness I am certainly not counting on an acceptance from either. Given that, my main question is how much will being a re-applicant hurt me in future cycles? In a future cycle (a few years down the road if this doesn’t work out), I would be applying broadly to a completely different set of schools. In other words, I would be a re-applicant generally, but not a re-applicant to any particular school. I worry about the stigma that could come with being a high stat re-applicant, and I am wondering if this downside overshadows the potential opportunity to start med school earlier, at one of my dream schools no less, if this risky application strategy pays off.

Outside of my ill-advised school list, I think I am a strong non-traditional applicant who will bring a unique perspective to my med school class.

(Edited to remove personally identifying information.)
 
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GreenDuck12

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Mar 30, 2014
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Sounds like a solid plan. Applying to so few schools increases the odds of being a reapplication, especially considering the schools you are applying to. But you have your eyes wide open to this possibility. At the end of the day you have to make the best choice for you and your family and if that means applying to two schools and being open to reapplying down the line, go for it. n = 1 but I applied to one school for similar reasons and it worked out. Best of luck to you!
 

GreenDuck12

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Mar 30, 2014
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Per your question, you would only be a reapplicant at schools that you previously applied to so Stanford and UCSF. You would be considered a first time applicant at other schools.
 
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samc

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I did a similar ill-advised thing with a few NYC schools. Got rejected. Then was finally successful on my third cycle overall (second "real" cycle with a normal number of schools). It was embarrassing, during my final successful cycle, to tell people that this was actually my third round, but I don't think it hurt me.
 
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Meridian32

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I think it's reasonable to apply, as you seem competitive for Stanford and UCSF.

I'm sympathetic to the challenges of pursuing medical training in the Bay Area, as I went through a similar situation (applying only to Bay Area programs) several years ago for residency match and just went through it again for fellowship match. Still, it does work out for some people, and hopefully you will be one of them. My only recommendation is to also consider applying to UC Davis, as it's a great school and Sacramento is at the outer limit of commuting distance from the Bay Area.
 

sb247

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Strictly in terms of admissions it’s a bad plan

But life is more complicated than that and you seem to understand the opportunity cost of changing things for your fiance. I wish you good luck with it
 
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Cornfed101

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Your MCAT will be the deciding factor. If you get a 505 you should wait to apply more broadly (or only apply Touro CA), if you get a 515+ you can apply to the 2 MD schools.
 
OP
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Apr 21, 2019
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Thanks to everyone who replied for your insights, advice, and kind thoughts! It sounds like being a re-applicant won't be a huge detriment in future cycles since I'll be applying to a different set of schools the second time around, so I'll likely move forward with my plan. If I am not admitted, I'll work hard over the next few years to put together a strong reapplication. I understand there are no guarantees, and no matter what happens, I'm still grateful that I got the chance to take my post-bacc classes and that I have the opportunity to apply at all. I'll also explore the UC Davis option more and double down on MCAT prep to ensure I am able to apply with a competitive score. I won't test until I'm consistently scoring in my target range, even if it means not applying this year.
 
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Could you apply early decision to one school to boost your chances?
 
OP
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Apr 21, 2019
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Could you apply early decision to one school to boost your chances?
I definitely would try to boost my chances this way, but my understanding is neither Stanford nor UCSF offer an early decision option.
 

bent1993

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My friend got into Stanford, but she also had a 520 MCAT and I believe applied to at least 20 schools. I think it would be risky, but if you’re willing to be a reapplicant then you could go for it, but every year you delay is $X100k in salary and deferred retirement. As far as Touro you can look up their match list which has been pretty excellent in past years, as long as you do well in school, you will match whether that is MD/DO. Half of the docs I work with are DO and this is at a level 1 trauma children’s hospital.
 
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