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Reapplying... how to best improve appl?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by kareniw, Mar 26, 2001.

  1. Hi all,

    I am taking a year off after graduating this May before re-applying to med school (which means at least 2 years before med school begins). I would really like to improve my application as much as possible, but don't know where to begin. My situation: applied in Oct., 3.4 GPA at UC Berkeley, 10V-10P-12S-Q, volunteering with kids & in a homeless clinic, clinical research, etc. Applied to 10 schools, no interviews yet, 7 rejections. Devastated but getting over it.

    I plan to retake the MCAT (feel I could do better) and also do one of the following:
    a) work abroad in international health and take some classes at a university if possible
    b) take a post-bac program to improve my GPA
    c) improve the GPA on my own by taking some graduate/advanced coursework at a state univ.
    d) enroll in a 1-year MA or MPH program, if such exists and are still accepting students?
    e) take a post-bac fellowship at NIH (1-2 yr)

    Naturally, I am much more thrilled with (a) than with (b) or (C), though between (a) and (e) it's a much tougher call. However I would stick around and take more classes to boost my GPA if that's what it takes, because 1) my GPA just doesn't seem competitive enough and 2) I am doubtful about how much a better MCAT score (say in the 34-35+ range if I'm lucky) could compensate for my spotty academic track record. If I'm mistaken on any of this, *please* correct me!

    So with all that said, which appears the best way to improve my application?

    thanks so much,

    Karen

    [This message has been edited by kareniw (edited March 27, 2001).]
     
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  3. GreatPumpkin

    GreatPumpkin Mystical Treatbringer

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    Karen, you seem like a very good applicant. Is there anything you are leaving out? Like are you not a US citizen or something? What state are you a resident. Also, tell us the schools that you applied to. There are enough people here to give you some good advice.
    There are some other options such as DO school.

    ------------------
    Rob
    4th year med student at MCV/VCU in Virginia. Matched to Pathology at MCV.
     
  4. Rob, thanks for the encouragement. I guess two of my big blunders are 1) I applied quite late (in Oct.), and 2) I applied to the following: the UC schools, Pittsburgh, U Chicago, NYMC, Boston, and USC (I haven't heard from the last 3). And yes, I am a US citizen and a CA resident.

    But don't you think my GPA needs work? My understanding is competitive applicants tend to have a 3.5-3.6.

    Karen
     
  5. GreatPumpkin

    GreatPumpkin Mystical Treatbringer

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    Your GPA is near the avg. for applicants who gain admission. Your MCAT scores are real good. Applying late does hurt your chances. But, your biggest problem is that you are a Cal. resident. Your state schools are the hardest to get into. Also, some of your out of state choices are tough. I would also look over the schools you applied to and make sure that they take lots of out of state applicants. Also, figure out which ones are "easier" to get into. Make sure you include more of these schools next time. Take my school for example "MCV" you would be a shoe-in if you were a VA resident. And, you would be a very strong out-of-state candidate. I understand if you want to go to a big name school, but better to go to a smaller less reputable school than none at all.
    Also, there are other options. For example my school offers a 1 year masters in anatomy course. Out of this class about half gain admission to the medical school the next year in order to act as lab instructors during the Gross Anatomy course. This is kind of a secret in. I am sure there are other situations such as this around the country.

    hope this helps.
     
  6. cdave

    cdave New Member

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    Hey,

    What is your birth place? If u are Asian American, you r just another victim of the situation. My advice is do something about the ethinicity, because you will face the same problem when u apply residency in the future. I do know a Chinese got in Harvard, because of his birth place is Germany.

     
  7. Hallie

    Hallie Member

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    kareniw,
    i also think that you appear to be a strong candidate. is it possible that your personal statement and essays just blended in with others, who have had similar experiences to you? it sounds like you have very solid stats and maybe you just didn't have that "something" that jumps out to the adcom member reading your app. i don't know you, and i certainly don't mean any of this as an insult, but more as a rationale to do the international thing!!!!! i think you could gain some incredible experience in the medical field, broaden your exposure to different cultures, and potential develop a 2nd language - all skills that will increase your strength as an applicant and, more importantly, as a doc some day! i think you could do the int'l experience, study for the mcat while you were there, and come back to the u.s. to take the exam. maybe i am just wishful thinking, but i really hope you are able to get some int'l experience, especially since you sound so excited about it. good luck! =)
     
  8. DOCTORSAIB

    DOCTORSAIB Ophtho or bust!

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    Greatpumpkin...you mentioned that you are a 4th year at MCV. I have been rejected from MCV for Fall of 2001 but I am planning on starting the Post-bacc program in physiology next fall and "hopefully" be able to gain admission in either 2002 or 2003. You mentioned that half the people who do the anatomy concentration get in to MCV and get to work a Gross anatomy lab TA's. I was wondering if you can give me some more info on the program besides what they tell you on the website and relevant brochures. Is any particular concentration (i.e. anatomy vs. biochem vs. physio.) better in terms of preparation and admittance to MCV? Thanx in advance... [​IMG]

    DOCTORSAIB
     
  9. bruinboy2000

    bruinboy2000 Member

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    Hey there,

    Well as most have said, your stats don't sound bad at all. Your MCAT scores are very competitive but your GPA is mediocre. You have a benefit coming from Cal Berkeley, since it's usually seen as a very competitive school, however it can only get you so far. My recommendations are as follows.

    1) Expand the list of schools that you apply to. I too am a California resident, I applied to 25 schools (the norm for this state), received 10 interviews and 8 acceptances. You should consult with your pre-medical advising office at Cal to find school which range from the "dream schools" to the "back-up schools", however you should have schools from all over this range.

    2) Consider taking some post-bacc classes at Cal through the Univ. Extension. The classes that you take should be considered very difficult science type classes. Usually you need to have 2 years of consistently high grades to make up for a poor GPA, however since your GPA isn't too bad I think that one will suffice. AdComs tend to like it when people stay "academic" in their years off.

    3) If you are desperate to start in the Fall, you can apply to one of the M.S. programs which lead into the medical school that is offered by some universities (Tulane, Finch, BU, MCPHU, etc). Many people see these 1 year M.S. programs as an unofficial 5 year medical program. With your stats as they stand you should be very competitive for these programs. The downfall is of course, one extra year of private tuition. With what you've stated, I don't think that you NEED to go this route, but its up to you.

    4) If you decide to reapply next year, rework your essay and read over it again. Is it just a descriptive resume? Or could a reader get more insight about who you really are from it. Remember that the big question should always be answered, "Why do you want to be a doctor?". Believe it or not, many peoples essays never address this question. They often state why they'd be a great doctor, but never address their motivations of why they want that career in the first place.

    Good luck!!!

    Bruinboy2000
     
  10. GreatPumpkin

    GreatPumpkin Mystical Treatbringer

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    Doctorsaib, I don't know alot about the program personally. But, I know that out of the programs you have mentioned that the people in Anatomy did the best because they need them as TA's. For my year I believe there were around 12 Anatomy students 6 were accepted to MCV and I think 4 more were accepted elsewhere. So, it is not a sure thing, but better than other chances. As for preparing you for med school. If you did well in your premed courses you are ready now.

    If you were originally rejected at MCV you should also try and work on some of the other reasons you were rejected also.

    It is also about luck. Alot depends on the person who is assigned the task of reviewing your file. And, who is assigned to give you your interview.

    Hope this helps.
     
  11. DOCTORSAIB

    DOCTORSAIB Ophtho or bust!

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    Greatpumpkin...thanx for your reply...Actually, i was pretty intent on doing the anatomy concentration. I took A&P last semester and really liked the anatomy portion of the class. Its pretty boring for most people because it involves alot of memorization and i believe that is why most people prefer physiology. In light of what you told me about the need for anatomy TA's at MCV and the rather high (50%) acceptance rate, i will definetly apply for anatomy.

    As far as reasons why i might have gotten rejected. They are probably b/c of grades and MCAT scores. To strengthen my application for 2002 im retaking the MCAT's this april and doing research at NIH (2 abstracts so far and one publication on the way). As far as grades, i took biochem and A&P after i graduated and aced both of them. However, i strongly believe that doing this program at MCV will be the final touch, at the least, before i go through this dreadful application process again. Regardless, I have a few questions to ask you about MCV so if you have time, i would appreciate it if you can email me...thanx in advance for your help.. [​IMG]

    DOCTORSAIB
    [email protected]
     
  12. pcl

    pcl Senior Member

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    Do you mind if I ask why you aren't applying again this year?

    Your grades aren't great, but averages mean just that...Some grades are above, some grades are below. How much can you ACTUALLY change your grades now? They probably aren't more than 1-1.5 sigma from the mean. If you applied in October, that is probably more of an issue, as well as the out of state schools that you applied to are pretty exceptional (U chicago had over 6000 applications for 100-ish spots or so the rejection letter states [​IMG] ) I think all the Boston schools had over that number of applicants according to the MSAR...

    Next time, apply early (I applied early June, had three interviews by October...) and consider applying to more mid-range "safety" out of state schools... My advisor suggested to apply to 1/3 "dream" schools, 1/3 where I was close to matching their stats, and 1/3 safety schools... I was in a similar situation GPA wise (actually lower) and I looked at schools based on location, my deviation from their published GPA & MCAT's, and the percent of applicants interviewed because I felt I was a good interviewer. I guess you have to ask yourself if getting your MD sooner is more important than waiting to get your MD from a certain caliber of school.

    Also, the international experience sounds fabulous, unless you want a career in research, then the NIH might be more helpful.

    Good Luck!
     
  13. lilycat

    Moderator Emeritus

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    To echo what a lot of other posters have said, your application sounds pretty solid. I wouldn't really mess with the MCAT unless you really think you could do substantially better (ie, 36+), just in case you went down in any of your scores. The GPA is okay, but it does make you more of a "marginal" candidate in the eyes of the AdComms. In talking with previous deans of admissions, adcomm members, etc., applying late seems to hurt "marginal" candidates the most. So I think that was probably the big difference in your app., especially for the UC's. I also agree with previous posters on the number of med schools to apply to -- I think somewhere between 15-20 would be wise, esp. when 5 spots are automatically taken by the UC's.

    I think it sounds wise to take another year before reapplying, esp. if you go the international route. It should make for some very interesting essays/personal statements, since you are going to have to completely rework those applications -- it is apparently a big No-No to recycle any of your previous essays. Another question would be what are you planning to do during the application year? You definitely don't want to slack off during the application season.

    Good luck.
     
  14. TheAce

    TheAce Attending

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    I think that you should apply again this year, but apply to a wider range of schools. This includes: all the ones previously applied to, MCP Hahnemann, Tulane, Tufts, George Washington, Bowman Grey, and as many other lower- to mid-tier private schools. I don't think that retaking the MCAT will make a significant difference, and the risks are too great for a score decrease. Score decreases look TERRIBLE.

    I am now an M1 at my state school, but was also accepted to two private schools (interviewed at 6 schools), with similar numbers to yours - 3.4 GPA from top 25 school, 8V-12P-13B-O. I did the usual volunteering in the hospital and had long-term basic science research experience with publications
     
  15. Dave2K

    Dave2K Member

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    I certainly empathize with kareniw, as I'm pretty much in the same boat, except now with my SECOND round of applications drawing to a close... My 3.2 GPA is low, but 33 MCAT is above average. Still, not much success after a grand total of 28 applications over 2 years. Only 2 interviews, both with state school (Colorado).
    I would suggest that you actually call up all the schools where you were rejected and politely ask to speak with an admissions committee member, counselor, what-have-you, regarding your particular application. They will be able to give you more specific advice about your entire application (information that we don't have here on the board) and can give you more detailed answers as to the kinds of improvement you would need to get in to their school the next time around. Find a few schools that will talk with you, take the common response you get from them, and pursue it!
     
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  17. My answer will be short and sweet:

    Do NOT retake the MCAT. You have done quite well and you run the risk of doing worse. There are schools who will consider only the most recent sitting or who will average the scores of all attempts.

    Apply to a broader range and higher number of schools. You applied to less than the national average number of schools, with half of them being the notoriously difficult California schools (and with a gpa less than the average for California). I would apply to at least 15, if not 20 schools. COnsider adding EVMS to the list, every year they accept a fair number of Californians.

    Best of luck.
     
  18. Pegasus

    Pegasus Senior Member

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    By all means, reapply this year. Dont waste time doing other stuff that takes THAT much time to stand out from other applicants.

    Start brainstorming now, like doing research as you said or take a grad program next year, but in the meantime, REAPPLY!

    Those that reapply after rejection have a much better chance getting in! I know a guy that applied 3 times in a row and is entering in the fall.

    Your MCAT is great, there is no need to retake it at all! And you GPA is ok too. It seems like you just may need to brighten up your resume and maybe the letters of rec? If you get started on something right away, then by the time the interviews roll around, you will have something new to add.

    Also, like a previous poster stated, you really need to call the places that you were rejected from and set up an appt to go in and talk about what you need to improve your chances for next year!

    Good luck


    ------------------
    ~Pegasus~
     

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