Shirafune

5+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2014
946
733
Status
Medical Student
Residence: CA
Age: 20 (22 by matriculation)
UG: UC
c/sGPA: 3.95/3.99
MCAT: 33 (14PS/8VR/11BS)
Ethnicity: Asian

Clinical Experience:
(1) ER volunteering - 80 hours/6 months
- cleaning gurneys, stocking utilities, accompanying patients, front desk

(2) Pediatric autism volunteering - 180 hours/15 months
-child care when parents were talking to providers
-data entry for mental and social developmental assessments
-case observation and informal physician shadowing
-miscellaneous institute upkeep like sanitizing toys and seats

(3) Inpatient pediatric volunteering - 80 hours/6 months
-child care in the playroom to relieve treatment stress
-patient interaction in hospital room if parents needed a break or if family/friends were not available
-miscellaneous upkeep like toy sanitation

Research:
(1) Basic science lab: 900 hours/1 year
-3rd author publication in PLoS Genetics
-1 undergraduate conference presentation at home institute

(2) Physiology basic science lab: 1000 hours/1 year
-independent project #1: no publication, too many negative results, PI agreed project was not worth pursuing
-1 undergraduate conference presentation at home institute
-Goldwater Scholarship Nomination (sadly did not win or get honorable mention)

Teaching:
(1) Genetics wet lab student assistant: 90 hours/10 weeks
-demonstrate wet lab techniques for subcloning, dealing with various model organisms, and etc
-tutor students on content from class such as discussion of controls, manuscript preparation, statistical analysis, etc
-held review sessions come exam time

Extracurriculars:
(1) Korean pop culture/culture club:
-secretary 200 hours/1 year
-member 2 years

LORs:

(1) 2x PI letters - excellent
"whatever you decide to pursue, I can write a strong letter of support"
"extremely skilled at running this project"

(2) 2x biology professor letters - excellent
"this would be work of a top student in my graduate courses"

(3) English professor letter - generic or good

(4) Pediatric autism institute supervisor letter - great

Tentative Plans (for upcoming senior/pseudo-gap year: finished with my degree requirements as an incoming senior, but will be taking 1 more part-time term.)
(1) Continue volunteering at pediatric autism institute: +100 hours/1 year

(2) Volunteer in another hospital department: +40 hours/10 weeks (don't think I can get more hours unless I pay tuition for more terms due to school regulations)

(3) Making meals for homeless (cooking is my hobby): 1 year

(4) Shadowing: +50 - 100 hours/1 year

(5) Tutoring for molecular biology class: +60 hours/10 weeks

(6) Casual scientific writing for the public (reading about the intersection of bench work and healthcare is a hobby; want to submit pieces regularly to home institution's undergraduate life sciences publication): 1 year

(7) Community volunteering (looking to set up an after school program with local elementary schools for science outreach or join a club that has similar efforts): 1 year

(8) Part-time employment at physiology lab to run independent project #2 or privately employed tutoring: 1 year

(9) Acapella group (hobby): 1 year

(10) UC Davis Surgical Internship Program (hoping): 10 weeks

Gap Year/App Cycle Plans:
(1) Full time employment at physiology lab to hopefully submit 1st author manuscript

(2) Clinical volunteering if I can find and fit it in

I crammed a lot of my pre-reqs in my freshmen/sophomore years. First research experience demanded a lot of time outside of the lab, so it limited my time sophomore year. Disenchanting independent research, family financial and personal issues, and mild mental health issues gave me a hard time my junior year. Since I have a lot more time senior/pseudo-gap year, I want to do some activities I never got the chance to do because I wanted some social life to balance my work schedule out earlier in college.

Career Goals:
-pediatrics with some undecided subspecialization
-modest to major research component to career, specifically bench or translational

School List (for 2017 aka next cycle)
UCs (except UCR)
Emory
Albert Einstein
Dartmouth
Wake Forest
Boston U
U Miami
U Pitt
Keck
Tufts
Tulane
Hofstra
Loyola
Thomas Jefferson
Albany
Quinnipiac
Penn State
Rosalind Franklin
Temple
Drexel
Rush

I made this list after a very brief browse through MSAR, so forgive me if some schools make absolutely no sense. I'd prefer schools with large research funding and have an optional or required research thesis in their curriculum, though the latter doesn't matter to me too much. Any chance to add more top/mid tier schools or does my MCAT keep me out of reach? Application money is not an issue, though I'd like to apply to no more than 30 schools.

I would appreciate any advice on balancing this list and general application improvement wisdom for top/mid tier research schools. Thanks!
 
Last edited:
Sep 14, 2015
42
7
Status
Pre-Medical
Generally, you'd want to apply to 20-30 schools. With your stats I'd recommend applying to 2-3 top 10's (reach schools), 6-7 top 20's, 5-10 mid tier, 5 low tier/safety schools, and all state schools. Also consider throwing in a DO school just in case. (you'll most likely get into an MD school, but better safe than sorry).
 

GrapesofRath

2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
5,320
3,803
Status
Non-Student
Definitely try to find a way to get clinical volunteering in if you can(although I think you'll be ok if you don't)

Your list by and large is fine. Might be worth adding Rochester, Case Western(maybe) and a couple more lower tier schools.

The highest yield lower tier options for you might be schools such as Saint Louis, Medical College Wisconsin, Creighton, Quinnipac and Oakland. Stony Brook and TCMC perhaps might also be worth looking at a little(both with IS bias and the 8 in verbal might hurt but CA residents have had success with those schools in the past). I don't think you fit what Dartmouth is looking for quite and the MCAT(particularly with the 8 in verbal) is probably too low for Pitt but we all love reaches so if those are your two go for it.
 
Last edited:
OP
Shirafune

Shirafune

5+ Year Member
Jan 2, 2014
946
733
Status
Medical Student
@GrapesofRath
Why do you consider Dartmouth not a good fit?

For a roughly grouped and ordered list, how does the following look? I'm thinking about adding more mid-tier schools with stronger research profiles.

UCSF
Mayo
Duke
Emory
UCLA
UCSD
Boston U
USC
Wake Forest
Dartmouth
U Miami
Hofstra
Rochester
Tufts
Tulane
UCI
UCD
Albert Einstein
Stony Brook
Thomas Jefferson
Loyola
Albany
Drexel
Penn State
Rush
Quinnipiac
Rosalind Franklin
Oakland

I would really appreciate adcom or faculty insight specifically about research (translational in particular) profiles at any schools I stand a chance at. Currently interested in cancer biology, musculoskeletal, or cardiovascular research. @Goro @gyngyn

Thanks!
 

Goro

7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
53,589
78,788
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
List is OK
 

Okazaki Frag Grenade

Long Live SnugSeal
2+ Year Member
May 1, 2015
1,180
2,401
@GrapesofRath
Why do you consider Dartmouth not a good fit?

For a roughly grouped and ordered list, how does the following look? I'm thinking about adding more mid-tier schools with stronger research profiles.

UCSF
Mayo
Duke
Emory
UCLA
UCSD
Boston U
USC
Wake Forest
Dartmouth
U Miami
Hofstra
Rochester
Tufts
Tulane
UCI
UCD
Albert Einstein
Stony Brook
Thomas Jefferson
Loyola
Albany
Drexel
Penn State
Rush
Quinnipiac
Rosalind Franklin
Oakland

I would really appreciate adcom or faculty insight specifically about research (translational in particular) profiles at any schools I stand a chance at. Currently interested in cancer biology, musculoskeletal, or cardiovascular research. @Goro @gyngyn

Thanks!
Sorry I'm not Grapes, but Dartmouth typically goes for non-traditional applicants, a little older with other work experience. Their average age of matriculant last year was like 28 or something.
 

WedgeDawg

not actually a dog
Staff member
Administrator
7+ Year Member
Mar 22, 2012
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Dartmouth still takes a decent amount of traditional students. If you're interested, don't let that deter you from applying. Also keep in mind that the median age at several top tier schools (like Columbia, Yale, etc) are 25+, but people who are competitive still apply to those. If you want to apply to Dartmouth, do so, but treat it more as a "I am interested in going here" rather than "I'm using Dartmouth as a random backup because I might stand a shot".

List looks alright. UCSF and Duke are likely throwaways, but if you want to apply, go for it. I'm a tiny bit concerned about your MCAT because it's below median for like 1/3-1/2 your list, but not incredibly so. I think you'll be okay.
 
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GrapesofRath

2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
5,320
3,803
Status
Non-Student
From my understanding with Dartmouth it's not really an issue of age that they "specifically seek out" 27 and 28 year old's. From what gyngyn and others have said there's a certain quirkiness and "unique" story or element to applicants they look for which is far and away most common with non-trads. That's why my phrasing was "I don't think you are what Dartmouth is looking for" rather than "your too young "or "Dartmouth is 85% non-trad". Being 23-24 doesn't disqualify you from D'mouth just like that; it's just that quirkiness and uniqueness through background, life story, achievements etc that's rather difficult for your typical college grad or someone just taking a year off to have.

But this is all a moot point. The key here is get a good solid base of lower tier and medium tier schools. Apply to whatever reaches and fantasies you desire OP, nothing wrong with having some lottery tickets, just don't let it get in the way or take away from putting in a sufficient list of realistic schools and spending sufficient time on those secondaries. I think OP's list is by and large fine; I don't think the 33 is that big an issue for medium tiers, the 8 in verbal is what might be a bit more of slight concern but all in all OP looks solid.
 
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