Reflections/thoughts on the admissions game

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NickNaylor

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but with school and then moving out I’ve been a bit busy. I wanted to share my thoughts and impressions about the application cycle and invite others to do the same – almost as a “give your observations/advice” thread. Some of the things I mention might be obvious, but some of them are a little less intuitive. I’m going to leave out the typical SDN staples (apply early, edit your PS, etc.). I’ll try and break them up into chronological sections.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the medical admissions game. There are people that post here that are far more accomplished than I am. I have, however, had the opportunity to interview at a fairly wide gamut of institutions, and I’ve done some major reflecting on the process and my experiences. Take all of this with a grain of salt, because it’s just one man’s perspective, but I do hope that it’s helpful to some of you that are applying this year.

Good luck!

Pre-Submission
Reread, reread, and reread some more your AMCAS application. Make sure all of the information is entered correctly and check for spelling and grammar mistakes multiple times. I got into a habit of reading my entire application at the end of every day I worked on it; I probably read my application in its entirety 10+ times before I submitted it. In addition to minimizing writing mistakes, this will also make you very familiar with what you wrote in your application, which is important for interviews.

Don’t rush any part of the application. Contrary to most SDN advice, you don’t need to submit the application on June 1st or… gasp… June 2nd. While the time to get verified does get much longer pretty quickly, you probably won’t be receiving any secondaries until mid-to-late July anyway (unless AMCAS and schools change how they do things significantly). Don’t compromise the integrity of your application for the sake of submitting on the first day possible.

Make sure you fully explain your activities on your application. Unless it’s obvious what you did (e.g., you don’t necessarily need to explain what you did when you shadowed), the adcom may or may not know what you did even though it might be patently obvious to you. Remember that the people reading your application have no idea who you are; you have to make sure you review your application with that mindset (the only things they’re going to know about you are what you disclose in your application). Everything from your personal statement to your activity descriptions should speak to your character and your motivation to become a physician.

Be intentional about the schools you choose to apply to. It seems like every year there’s someone who comes on here crying about how they only got accepted to a school they don’t want to attend. Why the hell did you apply to that school to begin with? You have to be real with yourself when choosing schools; if you have a 3.3/30, you probably shouldn’t be applying just to Harvard, Yale, Penn, etc. unless you have some other outstanding aspects of your application. On the other hand, if you have a 4.0/39+, you should feel comfortable going with a few reach schools unless you absolutely know you wouldn’t want to attend them. I’m not saying that you can’t have lofty goals and apply to the elite schools unless you have a minimum set of numbers, but don’t get your hopes up when your GPA/MCAT are below the 10th percentile for that school and your ECs aren’t much to talk about. Use the MSAR to compose your list. This is what I did, and I think it left me with a good list of schools:

-get the MSAR
-flag schools at which your numbers are competitive (i.e., your numbers are within the second half of the shaded bar or above)
-flag a couple of reach schools if you want to go that route
-flag a couple of schools you would consider “safeties”
-eliminate any schools that aren’t OOS-friendly if you’re OOS
-eliminate any schools in locations that you absolutely don’t want to be at
-look at school websites if you need to cut your list down further; I’d recommend looking at information on dual-degree programs (if applicable), the curriculum, and any unique programs/opportunities they might have for their students

Get ready for a long year. I submitted my application on June 2nd, 2010 and didn’t finalize my school decision until April 18th, 2011. I started working on my application in May, so it was almost a complete year between when I started the cycle and when I was done. It sucks. And while I know that it’s much more easily said than done, try and be patient. The summer is the worst since you’ll probably have a ton of time to sit around and think about it, but I promise it gets better once school gets rolling (if you’re still a student).

I think this is probably the most important piece of advice I can give: be humble. Don’t go into this process with any expectations. Again, there are a myriad of people who come on SDN and cry because they didn’t get into their first choice school and they don’t know why, they didn’t get into any school and they don’t know why, they didn’t get a scholarship and they don’t know why, etc.. Look at the numbers and be real with yourself. Most schools have a <10% acceptance rate; the most competitive have rates that are <5%. Even the interviewing numbers are a little daunting: most schools only interview about 20% of their applicants. And then they only accept anywhere from 10-50% of those! The fact is that your chances of getting into medical school aren’t good, and you need to accept that. If you go into this process expecting that you’re going to get into Penn with a full tuition scholarship, you’re going to be in for a rude awakening. This process will humble you like no other. Once you get that acceptance, anything else is just gravy. Your ego will be beat up, you will feel unaccomplished and subpar, and you will feel unworthy of getting into medical school. I think this is a feeling most people have, so don’t worry if you feel that way. IMO it’s better to feel that than like you’re a badass and will get into every school you’re applying to. The latter WILL leave you disappointed; the former will leave you excited and grateful.

Secondaries
FOR SECONDARIES THAT CONTAIN ESSAYS, MAKE SURE YOU TREAT THEM SERIOUSLY. A lot of people discount secondaries, and while that might be fine at some schools that simply require a rehash of your AMCAS, be particularly careful about schools that ask some form of the question, “why us?” IMO this question is extremely important, and a well-crafted answer might very well be the difference between getting an interview and not getting an interview. It’s fine to copy and paste essays between different schools, but MAKE SURE YOUR ESSAY DIRECTLY ANSWERS THE PROMPT. Don’t try and shortcut the essay by using an essay that tangentially addresses the question. I was never able to recycle essays without any sort of editing. If nothing else, different length requirements will cause you to cut parts of your essays out.

Be prompt with your secondaries, but like what was said with your AMCAS app, don’t sacrifice quality for a quick turnaround. As an example, I think it took me a month to turn in my Pritzker secondary – significantly longer than what I took for any other school and breaking the oh-so-hallowed two-week rule – and I was still accepted and am ultimately attending school there. While some schools might gauge interest by how quickly you return the secondary, a poorly completed but quickly returned secondary isn’t going to get you anywhere. With schools that simply require confirmation of demographic information and/or a payment, however, you should get that returned ASAP (e.g., Harvard, Mayo, etc.).

Be nice to the admissions staff when you’re calling them and asking them about the status of your application. In fact, I wouldn’t even call about the status of your application before you’ve been invited to interview. If every applicant to a school called the office and spent 30 seconds asking what the status of his/her application was, the office would literally spend full days in the aggregate responding to those inane calls. If you have something legitimate to ask about, that’s fine, but calling and asking about your application in an attempt to express interest is just silly. Also keep in mind that admissions offices are sorely understaffed for the amount of work they do. If they don’t get back to you right away or are terse with you on the phone, be gracious and thankful and try not to be bothered by it. If you dealt with thousands of neurotic pre-meds year after year, I’m sure you would be a bit frayed, too.

Interviews
First – CELEBRATE! I remember getting my first interview invite, and though it was to a school that ended up being my last choice, I was still extremely excited (butterflies, jumping off the walls, etc.). After you’re done celebrating, make sure you book your date (if the school allows you to choose dates) ASAP, especially at rolling schools. Those dates will fill up quickly early on in the cycle. If you’re still in school, you’re going to HAVE to miss class. Class, IMO, isn’t an excuse for choosing a later interview date over an earlier one. As long as you’re accepted and don’t completely screw up, you’re going to be the only person that cares about your grades senior year. This is obviously professor-dependent, but I found that all of my professors were more than willing to reschedule exams, assignments, etc. for my interviews. As long as you keep the lines of communication open, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Guys, make sure you have a decent suit. Buy one if you need to. Don’t wear a suit that doesn’t fit you well or isn’t flattering. I’d recommend taking a look at the interview clothing thread for a whole bunch of pictures and commentary. While a suit won’t get you accepted or rejected, you need to look PROFESSIONAL. Your personal appearance comprises a significant portion of what an interviewer will think about you when he/she first sees you. Girls… do what you do. I’m no fashion expert, so you’ll need to refer to someone with expertise on women’s fashion. Before I started attending interviews I thought this would go without saying, but try and keep the cleavage and extremely short skirts at home. You would be surprised at what some people consider to be “professional.” I’d also recommend bringing a pair of flats for the walking tours; most schools are fine with you leaving the professional façade for the sake of comfort, but if you’re concerned about whether or not this would be acceptable I would call or e-mail the admissions office prior to your interview.

One thing that I didn’t do but wish that I did was reread my application, especially secondaries, before each interview. Your overall application – of which your interview is a part – should tell a story, and rereading what you wrote in your applications can help keep that story cohesive. In a majority of my interviews, I – rather than the interviewer – directed the conversation. Answer their questions directly and honestly, but highlight your strong points while minimizing or not mentioning your weak points (unless, of course, you’re directly asked about them). If an interviewer doesn’t ask about something and you don’t mention something, no one’s going to know unless it’s otherwise listed on your application. Offering up negative or dubious aspects about yourself is a very bad idea. Keep things positive and try to keep the interview under your control without being too assertive.

Be POSITIVE and EXCITED about an institution your truly interested in. Be engaging in your interview and make it clear that you’re happy and want to be there.

You can’t predict what kind of interviewer you’re going to get. Check out the bizarre interview moments thread for some prime examples. If you get a combative, weird, quiet, etc. interviewer, you can’t do anything but try and adapt and make the experience as positive as possible. Stay calm, answer their questions, and be positive. You will almost certainly have a weird interviewer at some point. Once you accept that fact, you shouldn’t need to worry about it.

While you should be prepared for the most common questions (why this school, why do you want to be a physician, etc.), I would NOT rehearse answers under any circumstances. You’ll risk coming across as stiff, boring, and uncomfortable if you simply recite a memorized answer. Try and remember key ideas but improvise exactly how you’re going to express them – if you’re a decent speaker, that’ll make your response sound fresh and unrehearsed.

Unless your application is submitted late or you have an extremely outstanding interview, at most schools interviewing at the end of the cycle doesn’t bode well. Think about it: if your file was complete in August but you don’t interview until January or February, what does that say? I wouldn’t say that you’re interviewing for the waitlist per se, but if they really wanted you, they would get you that interview invitation quicker than 4-6 months after you apply (LizzyM has more or less confirmed that this is how the process works at her institution). There certainly might be other factors outside your control that may contribute to this long delay – slow reviewer, your application gets lost in the bathroom, etc. – but I wouldn’t put too much stock in that. The fact is that there are people that will be complete months after you but will be invited to interview before you. I’m not sure what else that can possibly say but “we’re interested in you, but not that interested.” Again, I’m not saying this is a guaranteed thing and I’m sure people interview late at schools and get accepted, but I wouldn’t be too optimistic about interviews late in the cycle if your file was complete early on (with the exception, perhaps, of non-rolling schools; but even then I think this is somewhat true, because while they may not fully evaluate your file until after all interviews are done, your file IS being evaluated to determine whether or not you’ll get an interview – in other words, interview invites are given out in a rolling manner).

Make sure you have a question or two ready to ask your interviewer when you get to the “so, do you have any questions for me?” phase of the interview. I used the exact same 2-3 questions with every interviewer, so once you formulate them it gets pretty easy. If I happened to have specific questions about a school I would ask those instead, but if I didn’t (and it’s wholly possible that you wouldn’t) I’d go with the general questions. I’d recommend taking a look at the school’s website the night before your interview to try and come up with some topics for questions. If the tour and/or meet-and-greet is before the interview, PAY ATTENTION and try and get some questions from those parts of the day. That way you’ll seem very interested and knowledgeable about the school.

My best piece of advice for interviews is to be flexible and be yourself. Unfortunately there’s not an easy way to change who you are, which will more than anything dictate how you do in interviews. If you’re quiet, nervous, and not personable, you’ll more than likely portray that to some degree (though some people can mask their personalities better than others). That’s who you are, and there’s not much you can do about it. Be as excited as you can about the school, vary your intonation when you’re talking, be enthusiastic (but not overly so) when you speak, and be genuine. You’re going to get a few curveballs, so be ready. You need to be like the Old Spice guy – someone that can handle anything and everything smoothly and turn your interviews into diamonds, no matter what you’re presented with. This isn’t something that can be taught, really – at least not immediately. It’s more reflective of how you interact with people in social situations. Understand that if you don’t bull**** your interviews and are entirely honest about your interests, motivations, etc., you’re most likely not going to get accepted to a few schools. As an example, my interviewer at WashU asked me about my future career aspirations as they relate to research. The “correct” answer would be, of course, to say that you’re very much interested in research given that WashU is a strong research institution. I told him that I had “absolutely no interest” in being a scientist in the long term – my main goal is to be a practicing physician. I was ultimately waitlisted, and while there might be many reasons why, I have no doubt that that contributed significantly because I wouldn’t fit in with their culture and/or mission as a research institution. If your goal is to get into accepted into every school you want, you’re more than likely going to have to fake it somewhat (unless you’re just an incredible person). Whether you want to do that or not is your choice.

Accepted, Waitlisted, Rejected
If you’re accepted – CONGRATULATIONS! You’re going to be a physician! If you’re waitlisted, stay in the game – you were granted an interview for a reason and you weren’t rejected outright for a reason. The school is genuinely interested in you, but they can’t accept everyone. If this is a school you really want to go to, send updates, tell the admissions staff/dean that you want to go there, and hope for the best. If you’re rejected, don’t take it personally. As I just said, there are simply too many qualified applicants for any one class. I used to think that sort of phrasing in rejection letters was disingenuous, but when you look at how many people are applying for admission to a class, it’s certainly possible. How many people with 4.0/40+ numbers and outstanding ECs apply to Harvard, Yale, Penn, etc. each year? That cohort alone is probably enough to fill their classes. At every school the situation is similar: unless you’re applying with an extremely extraordinary application, you’re not going to get into every school you apply to because there are simply too many people that would be excellent additions to a class to admit each year. Keep your chin up and move on to the next school.

I have very minimal experience with being on a waitlist because I chose not to play the waitlist game, but I have been following the threads I was waitlisted at to see what people are doing and how things are going. At the Ivies, it seems like spamming the admissions office with letters of intent, updates, etc. is the best way to go. This strategy was also confirmed by my pre-health advisor; his explanation was that they want to offer as few acceptances as possible, so they will accept people that appear to be the most interested first. I don’t possibly understand how people can send in 3-4 update letters with meaningful updates over the course of a cycle, but they do, and it seems those are the people who get in. So if you’re waitlisted at one of these schools, get your pen and paper (or computer) ready and start drafting those letters. It’s a game, and if you want to win you have to play it – hard.

If you’re accepted/waitlisted, MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT FINANCIAL AID FORMS ARE REQUIRED TO COMPLETE YOUR FILE. If you’re accepted earlier in the cycle (any time before January), you probably won’t be able to do much other than get all of your information together and come up with a system to keep track of what you have and haven’t turned in. Make sure you know exactly what you need to turn in and when. I missed out on financial aid deadlines at a couple of schools I was interested in because I was careless; had those been my only acceptances, I would’ve been screwed. While most schools will usually send out an e-mail reminding you to complete the financial aid process, they likely won’t hound you to make sure you turn everything in. That’s your responsibility. MAKE SURE YOU GET YOUR FORMS IN.

If you know you’re not going to attend a school, do both the admissions staff and other applicants a favor and withdraw as soon as possible. I’m not one of those people that gets angry because someone holds on to their acceptances – you earned them and you’re certainly entitled to do that – but it’s a courtesy thing more than anything else.

Making the Decision
If you’re fortunate enough to hold multiple acceptances, you’re going to ultimately have a decision to make. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what factors are most important in choosing a school; that’s going to be an extremely individualized set of criteria, and what’s most important is going to vary from one person to the next. My general piece of advice is to go to Second Look weekends/revisits at every school that you’re seriously considering. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet potential future classmates, talk with current students about questions/concerns you may have about your education, and get another fresh look at the institution. The final decision will probably be more than anything a gut feeling. Every program will have its strengths and weaknesses; it’s up to you to determine whether you can live with those things or not.

These are some of the questions that I asked (both to students and myself) when choosing a school:

How much is it going to cost?
I don’t care what anyone says – the world isn’t rainbows and butterflies, and cost matters. You should worry about the cost of your education, ESPECIALLY if you’ve already got a significant debt burden from undergrad. Whether or not you’re going to pay off the debt isn’t the question; you WILL pay off that debt at some point (whether 5 or 30 years after graduating). The question you should be asking is, “what sort of impact with this debt have on my lifestyle?” And make no mistake: a significant debt burden will have an impact on your ability to acquire credit, secure a mortgage, secure a home loan, etc., which may not be things you’re thinking about now, but it certainly will be when you’re done with residency and still have 90+% remaining on your loan balance. Unless I absolutely hated the cheaper institution, attending a school that will put me $100k in debt versus a school that will put me $240k+ in debt is an easy decision. I don’t think cost is the most important factor in the decision-making process, but it’s certainly something that should be taken into consideration and would probably be in the top three (at least for me).

What kinds of research opportunities are available to medical students?
Unless you know for a fact that you’re not going into academic medicine and/or a competitive specialty, you should be concerned about research opportunities being available to you. Is it easy to get involved with research? Would the administration support taking a year off for you to conduct research? This is something that you can best talk to current students about.

Did I like the current students, faculty, and administrators that I met? Could I see myself as a member of this institution?
While you probably won’t be interacting with these specific individuals on a regular basis, the people that are associated with an institution reveal much about the culture of the institution. You’re obviously not going to get to know these people like you’re soulmates, but you CAN get a general feel for them. Try and talk to as many people as you can to see what they’re like. Is this a community you can yourself as a member of? What’s the general culture like?

Do I like the city/community/area the institution is in?
Do you like big cities? Small towns? Warm climate? Cold climate? These sorts of things are seemingly trite, but I have no doubt that they will impact your quality of life in the times you aren’t studying or doing school-related activities.

Again, it’s hard to judge these things accurately, and there’s no real way to know for sure that what you perceive is how things actually are. There’s no way you’ll really get to know what an institution is like until you’ve been there for some time. But you have to do your best and make a decision based on what you see, and unfortunately there’s a significant amount of uncertainty in that decision for most people.


I would encourage others to share their tidbits of advice here if you have any. As I said before, I don’t pretend to be an expert, and I’m sure people will disagree with some of things that I said. I did want to get these thoughts out, though, and I don’t think my girlfriend, friends, parents, or cats would be too interested.

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You beat me to the tl;dr :mad::mad::mad::mad:

Edit: Okay I just read the whole thing... This along with MikeS's post should be required reading before submitting your AMCAS.
 
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Good stuff, OP. Your comments will be very helpful to the folks just beginning the cycle. Enjoy Chicago and congrats on the scholarship!
 
tl;dr?
more like TL;DR.

just joking, nick. well-done -- i appreciate the time you obviously spent to write it up. :thumbup:
 
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Thanks! This was really helpful and insightful. I especially appreciate the part about how to decide which medical schools to apply to. I was struggling with that. How many schools did you appy to?

tl;dr for sure, is it good?
:laugh::laugh::laugh:

I thought it was.
 
I read it, and although I am not applying this cycle, it will definitely come in handy when I do apply.
 
Didn't read all of it.

But ladies, I 100% support what Nick said about making sure to dress professional. I was surprised by the number of girls who looked like they just rolled out of the club, put a cardigan over their short dress, and went to the interview.

I would really also stress to the women to get the most flattering possible suit. I saw a number of individuals wearing the same suit type as me... some with the long skirt version, and boy, it did not look flattering on their body type. My recommendation, take friend suit shopping and figure out what looks the best on you.

MIDWESTERNS -
a warning based on my experience
I discovered as a midwesterner, it was a mistake to apply to east coast schools. This might be because east coast schools are more difficult to get in... but what I do know is that I applied to 28 established MD schools. 13 on the east coast, 1 somewhere in the south, and 14 in the midwest. 50% of the midwest schools invited me to an interview (All but 1 before November). I only got one east coast school invite - and that wasn't until the end of December.
 
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For extra emphasis and further clarification:

Be intentional about the schools you choose to apply to. It seems like every year there's someone who comes on here crying about how they only got accepted to a school they don't want to attend. Why the hell did you apply to that school to begin with?

I applied to a number of schools I would never have wanted to attended, mostly due to ties with family. These tended to be in locales where I didn't want to spend four years and in general, it was a complete waste of time, money, and thought. I would have been better off applying to schools that I knew less about originally but which were in cities I legitimately wanted to be in. In short, there's a difference between a safety school and a school where you'd be disappointed if you ended up there. Apply to the former but not the latter.


Get ready for a long year.

This process is SO SO long. I started in June and am still not 100% sure where I'll be in August. Honestly, SDN only makes that year seem longer so if you can peace out between secondaries and interviews and then again between interviews and decision, I think you'll be a much happier person.

Guys, make sure you have a decent suit. Buy one if you need to. Don't wear a suit that doesn't fit you well or isn't flattering. I'd recommend taking a look at the interview clothing thread for a whole bunch of pictures and commentary.

For the love of God, yes. I'd say that unless you have purchased a suit in the last year, you will need a new one. But getting a new suit is not enough-- you will need to get it tailored. If you've been losing/gaining weight recently, you also need a new suit and/or you need to get it tailored. Remember that you will look young and inexperienced to most interviewers. You want to give every impression that you are mature enough to handle the responsibility that a career in medicine requires. Suits that are ill-fitting or ugly (or wearing black tennis shoes with them, one of my least favorite interview styles that I saw. Ugh.) scream out, "I have no idea how to be an adult. My parents told me applying to med school was a good idea." Find your Mom, your girlfriend, or whoever and ask them if you look good or not. Suits should fit you like a glove.

One thing that I didn't do but wish that I did was reread my application, especially secondaries, before each interview.

This is excellent advice. Remember that although you've poured your soul out in the course of the XX number of secondaries you wrote, each individual school hasn't read all of your secondary essays and therefore doesn't have the full story (some interviewers won't even have read your secondary for their own institution). Re-read your secondary and ask yourself if there's something important that you haven't covered in your communications with the school where you're interviewing.

Be POSITIVE and EXCITED about an institution your truly interested in. Be engaging in your interview and make it clear that you're happy and want to be there.

DO NOT say negative things in your interview. Just don't. You want to come across as an enthusiastic and likable person so try to find the positive in everything you're asked about from your past. You need to be honest in your interviews, but that doesn't mean you have to tell the whole story all the time. (Ex: I was asked about something I did once upon a time that I hadn't quite enjoyed. I answered the question truthfully and was waitlisted with the school later telling me that it raised all sorts of unjustified red flags. I just gave a bad impression.)

Make sure you know exactly what you need to turn in and when. I missed out on financial aid deadlines at a couple of schools I was interested in because I was careless; had those been my only acceptances, I would've been screwed.

An acceptance is not the end of the process-- there are still tons of deadlines to meet. Make sure you know when they are. Just like getting applications in early is important, getting your FinAid info in early is important.


****


Great job, Cole/Nick/whoever you are, and best of luck applicants.
 
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Great job NickNaylor! :thumbup: Some of the best advice I've read on SDN that I wish I would've known before applying this cycle.
 
Dude, i'm gonna type as sober as possible, that honestly looks pathetic and digusting compared to my meal. and I'm being one hundred percent . Sorry we dont cook sht that was perviously in cans. d im dead serious. gert areal family that cooks good food, drinks beer and wine and winecoolers and has a good time, and has a milliondollar house on the beach, im seriously.. dont eever potst your poverty dinner on these forums ever the again bro, and by bro i mean never my bro
 
Dude, i’m gonna type as sober as possible, that honestly looks pathetic and digusting compared to my meal. and I’m being one hundred percent . Sorry we dont cook sht that was perviously in cans. d im dead serious. gert areal family that cooks good food, drinks beer and wine and winecoolers and has a good fuking time, and has a milliondollar house on the beach, im seriously.. dont eever potst your poverty dinner on these forums ever the again bro, and by bro i mean never my bro
:confused:---->:laugh:
 
Very nice post man, especially for freshies/sophmores like me. Thank you for taking the time to do this
 
Dude, i’m gonna type as sober as possible, that honestly looks pathetic and digusting compared to my meal. and I’m being one hundred percent . Sorry we dont cook sht that was perviously in cans. d im dead serious. gert areal family that cooks good food, drinks beer and wine and winecoolers and has a good time, and has a milliondollar house on the beach, im seriously.. dont eever potst your poverty dinner on these forums ever the again bro, and by bro i mean never my bro

Has anyone really been far as decided to use even go want to do look more like?
 
Dude, i’m gonna type as sober as possible, that honestly looks pathetic and digusting compared to my meal. and I’m being one hundred percent . Sorry we dont cook sht that was perviously in cans. d im dead serious. gert areal family that cooks good food, drinks beer and wine and winecoolers and has a good time, and has a milliondollar house on the beach, im seriously.. dont eever potst your poverty dinner on these forums ever the again bro, and by bro i mean never my bro

WTF? lay off the paint thinner, sir.

Good job NickNaylor/ColeontheRoll/whatever other alias you go by. This was very enlightening.
 
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MIDWESTERNS - a warning based on my experience
I discovered as a midwesterner, it was a mistake to apply to east coast schools. This might be because east coast schools are more difficult to get in... but what I do know is that I applied to 28 established MD schools. 13 on the east coast, 1 somewhere in the south, and 14 in the midwest. 50% of the midwest schools invited me to an interview (All but 1 before November). I only got one east coast school invite - and that wasn't until the end of December.

Ouch. Anyone else experience this? BTW tiger, we have similar stats, and I'm an IL resident as well. Our school lists look similar!
 
not to detract from the srs bsns of the thread but the interview advice cracked me up - it truly is an art to be able to turn every interaction with any kind of person into an easygoing, positive, unrehearsed, earnest conversation... i hope to get some of that black magic going on for interviews... good overall advice!

7947530.jpg
 
Excellent post. Thank you for the advice and commentary.

If you have the time, what would be the one or two things you would have done differently, one year ago?
 
WTF? lay off the paint thinner, sir.

Good job NickNaylor/ColeontheRoll/whatever other alias you go by. This was very enlightening.


Ah that's it! I knew I saw that MCAT score elsewhere :laugh:. NickNaylor = ColeontheRoll. Whichever one you may prefer, thank you!
 
Ouch. Anyone else experience this? BTW tiger, we have similar stats, and I'm an IL resident as well. Our school lists look similar!

I had two East Coast invites and two Midwest invites, but I don't know if having done my undergrad in NYC made a difference. *shrug*
 
not to detract from the srs bsns of the thread but the interview advice cracked me up - it truly is an art to be able to turn every interaction with any kind of person into an easygoing, positive, unrehearsed, earnest conversation... i hope to get some of that black magic going on for interviews... good overall advice!


As long as the interviewer doesn't throw up a random molecule on the whiteboard and ask me how I would go about synthesizing it (yes, an actual interview question for a job)... :laugh: :smuggrin:
 
I had two East Coast invites and two Midwest invites, but I don't know if having done my undergrad in NYC made a difference. *shrug*

So strange. Maybe I should mix it up a little geographically. :confused:
I have to stick with my PA schools though- have fam out there :D. Drexel, Temple, Penn State, Pitt, etc. are all on my radar.
 
The best advice I would have for someone applying to medical school is this:

DON'T DO IT
 
Nick trolling again.

Obvious troll is very obvious.


Excellent post. Thank you for the advice and commentary.

If you have the time, what would be the one or two things you would have done differently, one year ago?

If I were strictly gunning for maximum amount of acceptances - or if I really wanted to maximize my chance of getting into the Ivies - I would've played the bull**** and kiss-ass games a little more. I think those schools were turned off by my candor regarding not wanting to do research in the long-term. I also would've been more proactive about sending updates, letters of interest/intent, etc. to maximize my chances there.

I also would've taken my later interviews more seriously/been a little more intense at them. By the time I was on interview #11, #12, #13, I was run down and frankly didn't care all that much. I was excited to be interviewing at these fantastic institutions, but I was ready just to be done with the whole thing. Fortunately I was accepted to some great schools early on so I didn't have that stress hanging over my head, but I also think that caused me to be a little too relaxed and... carefree I guess, which may have been interpreted as arrogance. This was something a Hopkins MSTP student who posts in the Hopkins thread told me in a PM - I'm not sure if he was trolling me or not, but I can see how my demeanor could be interpreted in that way.

Really, though, I'm extremely happy with how things turned out: I'm attending an institution I'm excited about, I received a scholarship that I never thought I would get, and I wouldn't change anything.

tl;dr version:
If I wanted a better chance at getting into the Ivies, I would've 1) initiated letter campaigns and 2) continued the "intensity" in my later interviews that I had in my earlier ones.
 
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Thanks, brotha. And congrats. May the Gods of Med School now have mercy on your poor soul.
 
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So strange. Maybe I should mix it up a little geographically. :confused:
I have to stick with my PA schools though- have fam out there :D. Drexel, Temple, Penn State, Pitt, etc. are all on my radar.
Make sure you state somewhere on your application that you have family out there and that you are very close to them. I love Philly and PA and would love to live out there, but rumor is they have an extremely high regional preference. In my limited experience/knowledge - the only people I know in PA schools (that isn't Pitt) are from PA. Of the 5 DO schools I applied to, PCOM was the only one to not interview me. Of the MDs - temple, drexel, jefferson, pitt all rejected me w/o interview (A few people told me I would be a shoe-in and match perfectly at the 3 MD Philly schools I applied to so I had my hopes up :().

mauberley - yea, I am curious about if going to school in NY helped you with east coast schools. I went to another midwest state for college. boo. But really, I can only provide my one experience. My parents wish I knew about or believed in regional preference before I applied - as I could have saved money. Especially with Philly schools.
 
The piece of advice I can pass on from this season is: DO NOT EXPECT EARLY ACCEPTANCES. Especially if you are an average to below average stats applicant. I came in thinking if I applied early I could have an acceptance by Thanksgiving or Christmas and just cruise through the rest of the year. No. I interviewed in November and March and did not get accepted until MAY. I should've expected it. Expect to wait. It's easier. Just distract yourself with other things during the waiting game. I took up running.
 
Make sure you state somewhere on your application that you have family out there and that you are very close to them. I love Philly and PA and would love to live out there, but rumor is they have an extremely high regional preference. In my limited experience/knowledge - the only people I know in PA schools (that isn't Pitt) are from PA. Of the 5 DO schools I applied to, PCOM was the only one to not interview me. Of the MDs - temple, drexel, jefferson, pitt all rejected me w/o interview (A few people told me I would be a shoe-in and match perfectly at the 3 MD Philly schools I applied to so I had my hopes up :().

mauberley - yea, I am curious about if going to school in NY helped you with east coast schools. I went to another midwest state for college. boo. But really, I can only provide my one experience. My parents wish I knew about or believed in regional preference before I applied - as I could have saved money. Especially with Philly schools.

Eek. I mean, is it possible that your case is just a fluke? All of those schools have pretty good OOS acceptance rates. Maybe I'm just rationalizing, but I hope not :rolleyes:. I have a genuine interest in those schools just like you did.
 
As long as the interviewer doesn't throw up a random molecule on the whiteboard and ask me how I would go about synthesizing it (yes, an actual interview question for a job)... :laugh: :smuggrin:

The answer is always to use molten KOH. Or maybe a Grignard. *laugh*
 
Another thing that I forgot to add in is to not be too stuck on one school from the beginning of the cycle. Unless you've worked and/or volunteered at med school/hospital affiliated with a med school, you likely don't know much about schools. Depending on what you're gunning for, there's also a good chance you won't get accepted to your top choice.

Going into the cycle I had a couple of ideas on where I'd like to end up, but I didn't even figure out what I was looking for until my third or fourth interview. Schools that I thought would be awesome I ended up not being that impressed with (Hopkins, WashU) and schools that I didn't know anything about ended up sweeping me off my feet (Mayo, Chicago). You really don't get a feel for a school until you interview there. Keep your mind open until you've finished interviewing before you start making decisions on where you'd like to go.

I'd also definitely recommend taking notes after you interview at each school. What did you like? What did you not like? What were your general impressions? I did this on my MDApps, but I know a lot of people took journals/notebooks with them on their interviews or kept digital "journals" in the form of a Word document. Looking back, I'm really glad I did that because I couldn't remember anything from my first series of interviews come November/December.
 
Eek. I mean, is it possible that your case is just a fluke? All of those schools have pretty good OOS acceptance rates. Maybe I'm just rationalizing, but I hope not :rolleyes:. I have a genuine interest in those schools just like you did.
I was surprised myself. But I have heard a lot on SDN about regional preference - especially in PA. If I was doing it again, I still would have applied. I just would have somewhere mentioned why Philly specifically in the application - or email them why i was applying.

Also - according to 2007 data, over 7500 OOS people applied to Philly schools. Compared to about 5000 OOS applicants to say like Creighton. or 2000 OOS applicant to Wayne State. Or 5500 OOS applicants to MCW. In conclusion, really research the interview and acceptance rates at schools and apply where you have the best shot.
 
Great post!

Additional thoughts, from someone with VERY mediocre stats, but received interview at a top-10 institution, and acceptance to a reach school...

1. Your personal statement needs to be ON FIRE. When you have average stats like me, you are going to blend in like everyone else. You might have a little clinical experience here, a little research there, a little volunteering here and there, and they all might sound very boring... so you need your PS, activities description, and secondary essays to do all the talking. Make sure they are top-notch quality. I cannot emphasize this enough. You have to sound like an interesting person with an interesting story to tell, or at least, with an interesting way of telling your boring story. Write. Rewrite. Rewrite. Rewrite. Don't be afraid to make bold changes. Don't be afraid to leave things out. Just make sure that what you have is top notch quality. Those who read your application are only human... the top numbers will float to the top of their pile... and all the 3.5-3.7/29-31 will basically be lumped as "passing the threshold" but lets see what's so special.

2. To echo what everyone else, please buy a suit whether or not you are a man or woman. I've definitely seen a girl show up with a regular long sleeve shirt, short party skirt, and party heels. Don't be that girl.

3. If you suck at interviews, practice. Practice talking to people. Practice being natural. And with ethical questions, try to be neutral as much as possible--you never know where your interviewer stands. Always be open-minded. Flexible. But have a stance.

4. If you want a school badly enough, send them letters of interest, additional LOR, updates, ANYTHING to remain contact and to assure of your "fit" with the school. Again, your letters need to be top notch quality and with a lot of conviction.
 
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I'd also definitely recommend taking notes after you interview at each school. What did you like? What did you not like? What were your general impressions? I did this on my MDApps, but I know a lot of people took journals/notebooks with them on their interviews or kept digital "journals" in the form of a Word document. Looking back, I'm really glad I did that because I couldn't remember anything from my first series of interviews come November/December.

I take notes during interviews. In the working world, this is considered best practice. Does anyone know if the same holds true for med school interviews?
 
I take notes during interviews. In the working world, this is considered best practice. Does anyone know if the same holds true for med school interviews?
all of my interviews were 95% about me, so note-taking may be redundant..
 
I take notes during interviews. In the working world, this is considered best practice. Does anyone know if the same holds true for med school interviews?

A lot of people did this at interviews that I attended (a majority of people have leather folios with documents/notepaper inside). I definitely wouldn't do it during an actual interview, but taking notes during presentations, discussions with students, tours, or lunches would be perfectly acceptable. Plus you're not going to really learn much in the actual interview (see bleargh's post).
 
A lot of people did this at interviews that I attended (a majority of people have leather folios with documents/notepaper inside). I definitely wouldn't do it during an actual interview, but taking notes during presentations, discussions with students, tours, or lunches would be perfectly acceptable. Plus you're not going to really learn much in the actual interview (see bleargh's post).

Right. I was more so thinking about taking notes just during the "Do you have any questions?" part of the interview. That's normally how I rock it in a business interview anyways.
 
Right. I was more so thinking about taking notes just during the "Do you have any questions?" part of the interview. That's normally how I rock it in a business interview anyways.

I think that would probably be fine. I think this particular custom isn't the same in the med school and business worlds, though.
 
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