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School List Help

happy_girl

New Member
2+ Year Member
Feb 5, 2019
4
0
76
  1. Pre-Medical
Any advice on school selection will be much appreciated!
Background and experiences
  • Education: Duke, BS in computer science
  • State of residence: North Carolina
  • GPA: 3.99/3.89 (BCPM/AO)
  • MCAT: 518 (130/126/130/132)
  • Research:
    • 2 yrs, full-time (4,000 hrs), computational biology, basic science research
    • 0.5 yr, part-time (480 hrs), pathology, clinical research
    • 1 yr, part-time (128 hrs), emergency medicine, observational studies
  • Shadowing:
    • 1 yr, 96 hrs, geriatricians
    • 0.25 yr, 144 hrs, multiple specialties
  • Clinical volunteering:
    • 1.5 yrs, 150 hrs, nonprofit
    • 2 yrs, 144 hrs, student organization
    • 1 yr, 60 hrs, dementia family support group
  • Humanitarian work:
    • 1 summer, 720 hrs
  • Teaching/mentoring:
    • 2 yrs, 320 hrs, K-6 and ESL students
    • 1 yr, 216 hrs, undergraduate computer science courses
    • 1 yr, 60 hrs, machine-learning events
  • Others:
    • 1 summer, study abroad in Oxford
    • 3 yrs, frequent participants at Hackathons
  • Publications:
    • 2, last author in both cases
Special Note: I am a third-time applicant to medical schools.
  • first application: 2017, MD programs, applied to 30 schools, 2 interviews, 1 WL, 0 acceptance
  • second application: 2019, MD and MD-PhD programs, applied to 26 schools, 7 interviews, 3 WL, 0 acceptance (thus far)
  • third application: 2020, MD program, school list to be finalized...
Questions to consider when evaluating the school list
  • I am interested in adding 1-2 California schools to the Reach pool. Which ones in the UC system do I have a better chance?
  • Which two do I have the best shot - Stanford, Northwestern, Penn, Chicago, Hopkins, or Yale? (the first two are currently in my list)
  • How can I adjust my Target and "Safe" pools to maximize my chances of getting in this time?
Current School List
* single asterisk indicates schools that I have applied to previously
** double asterisk indicates schools that I have received interview from
Note: schools are roughly ordered by median MCAT
Reach - 7 schools
**Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
*Northwestern University The Feinberg School of Medicine
**Duke
**Case Western
**Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
**University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
*Stanford
Target - 14 schools
University of Virginia School of Medicine
*Boston
**University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
University of Michigan Medical School
Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell
Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine
**University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
*Tufts University School of Medicine
*Emory University School of Medicine
*Saint Louis University School of Medicine
Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
*George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Georgetown University School of Medicine
Wake Forest School of Medicine of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
"Safe" - 9 schools
Rush Medical College of Rush University Medical Center
University of Colorado School of Medicine
Drexel
Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
Tulane University School of Medicine
Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine
Loma Linda University School of Medicine
Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine
 
Last edited:

datboi_58

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Jun 2, 2018
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442
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I’ll assume you had some sort of weakness in your app or a bad school list the first time around. Seems like you had better luck the 2nd time around so that’s good but it appears you should practice your interviewing, but I hope you get off one WL!

But at this point, based on your stats and experiences, you have very few reach schools. I would say you’re capable of getting into all T30 schools. With that said, I would probably apply to the ones you haven’t applied to. I’m not entirely sure and maybe the AdComs can speak more on this but I would probably re-apply to the ones you didn’t get an interview from more than the ones you did (unless you're confident your interview went well but you just were one of the unlucky ones). Bad interview = they don’t like you (this is hard to change in 1-2 years). Pre-II Rejection = they didn’t like your app (this is something you can change in 1-2 years and I assume you added to your app in some way the past year).

Below the T30, I would carefully look at all schools and apply mission based and write really good essays describing why you’re interested in their school.

And of course, apply to your state schools.

Best of luck!
 
Last edited:
Jun 11, 2010
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Somewhere west of St. Louis
  1. Non-Student
1) Rewrite all essays and have multiple eyballs vet them
2) Do no talk about research in your essays, because I worry that you're coming across as a lab rat.
3) See if you can get feedback from Admissions deans for feedback on your app
4) Work on interview skills.
5) As a 3rd time reapplicant, you now should have DO schools on your list. Beggard can;t be choosy.
6) What's different this year as opposed to last year?
7) Apply prior to Labor Day

I suggest:
Columbia
WashU
Vanderbilt
Yale
JHU
U Chicago
U Penn
Northwestern
Harvard
Mayo
Cornell
Stanford
Case
Duke
Sinai
U VA
BU
Baylor
UCSF
Pitt
USC/Keck
UCSD
UCLA
U MI
Rochester
Hofstra
Ohio State
U Cincy
Dartmouth
Western MI
USF Morsani
U MA
U IA
Albert Einstein
Emory
Tufts
NYU-LI
Jefferson
Miami
U CO
SLU
U VM
U WI
UNC
Brody
Any DO school. I can't recommend Nova, Wm Carey, WCU, BCOM, ICOM and LUCOM, for different reasons. MSUCOM? Read up on Larry Nasser and you decide. LMU has an accreditation warning, which concerns me. CUHS is too new and appears to be too limited in rotations sites. UIW refuses to post their Boards scores, which is fishy.
 
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proudofmykids

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2+ Year Member
Aug 10, 2019
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766
116
Have you sought feedback from past schools? This last cycle 7WLs isn’t bad, and you still have hope. Do you mind sharing your app and WL list from this cycle, it might help with feedback.
For you new list it seems like you need more t20s.
 

happy_girl

New Member
2+ Year Member
Feb 5, 2019
4
0
76
  1. Pre-Medical
1) Rewrite all essays and have multiple eyballs vet them
2) Do no talk about research in your essays, because I worry that you're coming across as a lab rat.
3) See if you can get feedback from Admissions deans for feedback on your app
4) Work on interview skills.
5) As a 3rd time reapplicant, you now should have DO schools on your list. Beggard can;t be choosy.
6) What's different this year as opposed to last year?
7) Apply prior to Labor Day

I suggest:
Columbia
WashU
Vanderbilt
Yale
JHU
U Chicago
U Penn
Northwestern
Harvard
Mayo
Cornell
Stanford
Case
Duke
Sinai
U VA
BU
Baylor
UCSF
Pitt
USC/Keck
UCSD
UCLA
U MI
Rochester
Hofstra
Ohio State
U Cincy
Dartmouth
Western MI
USF Morsani
U MA
U IA
Albert Einstein
Emory
Tufts
NYU-LI
Jefferson
Miami
U CO
SLU
U VM
U WI
UNC
Brody
Any DO school. I can't recommend Nova, Wm Carey, WCU, BCOM, ICOM and LUCOM, for different reasons. MSUCOM? Read up on Larry Nasser and you decide. LMU has an accreditation warning, which concerns me. CUHS is too new and appears to be too limited in rotations sites. UIW refuses to post their Boards scores, which is fishy.
Thank you for the insight! I have some follow-up questions/responses, in the order of your comments -
1) I re-wrote my personal statement and almost all of my activity reflections. Do secondary essays need to be completely different as well? I probably will make a decent amount of edits, but I am not sure if I can come up with entirely different stories to tell.
2) Yeah... I realized that I made the mistake of getting into the weeds of my research in a part of my personal statement
3) I could not get *specific* feedback
4) What are some resources I can use and things that I should do daily to drastically improve my interview skills?
5) I know I can't be choosy... that's why I try to have a good list of "safe" school.... I will have to look into how to apply to DO schools.
What are the chances of my getting interviews from the top 12 places you recommended given my re-applicant status? Do I have the qualification to even think about these schools? I have applied to these places before, but numerous rejections made me realize that I have to be realistic...
6) All MD as opposed to half MD, half MD-PhD; aim to finish secondaries early; improve interview performances
7) Will do!
 
Last edited:

happy_girl

New Member
2+ Year Member
Feb 5, 2019
4
0
76
  1. Pre-Medical
I’ll assume you had some sort of weakness in your app or a bad school list the first time around. Seems like you had better luck the 2nd time around so that’s good but it appears you should practice your interviewing, but I hope you get off one WL!

But at this point, based on your stats and experiences, you have very few reach schools. I would say you’re capable of getting into all T30 schools. With that said, I would probably apply to the ones you haven’t applied to. I’m not entirely sure and maybe the AdComs can speak more on this but I would probably re-apply to the ones you didn’t get an interview from more than the ones you did (unless you're confident your interview went well but you just were one of the unlucky ones). Bad interview = they don’t like you (this is hard to change in 1-2 years). Pre-II Rejection = they didn’t like your app (this is something you can change in 1-2 years and I assume you added to your app in some way the past year).

Below the T30, I would carefully look at all schools and apply mission based and write really good essays describing why you’re interested in their school.

And of course, apply to your state schools.

Best of luck!
What can I do daily to improve my interview skills? Any podcast to listen to or books to read?
I would love to have more top schools too, but I want to make sure I apply to the places that I actually have a good chance of getting into this time. Do you have specific schools from the top tier that you think would be a good bet?
Thank you for your insight!
 

datboi_58

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Jun 2, 2018
308
442
116
What can I do daily to improve my interview skills? Any podcast to listen to or books to read?
I would love to have more top schools too, but I want to make sure I apply to the places that I actually have a good chance of getting into this time. Do you have specific schools from the top tier that you think would be a good bet?
Thank you for your insight!
No podcasts, no books. Bad way to approach improving interviewing. Well there might be a few and you can do a quick Google search to find them. Most importantly, do mock interviews (your time will be spent much better here than podcasts and books). There are various people you can reach to like advisors from schools, family, significant other, friends and even people on SDN / Reddit and lastly yourself.

Hopefully you got some practice in this cycle since you had 7 interviews but considering you didn’t get an A with 7 IIs is very telling that your interview skills were lacking. 7 IIs = almost definite proof you had a good, if not great, app. 0 As = likely proof you need to improve interviewing.

I would make sure you know your app and all activities. Have 1-2 stories to tell from each activity you list. Note: these should be stories and not resumé-type activity descriptions. Also, come up with a list of 10-15 most common med school interview questions. Spend some time coming up with answers. Practice in the mirror and record yourself. Listen to yourself and redo the process until you like what you hear. Then, repeat process with 5-10 different people. You don’t need to have all of them ask you all the questions but have each person ask you 3-4 questions. Ask for feedback. Adjust your answers and interviewing skills accordingly. And honestly repeat until interview season is over.

Also: Goro’s guide to interviews (2018 edition)

I understand your desire to get in but with stats like yours, MD schools apart from the ones Goro listed might yield protect. And again, based on what you’ve listed, you have a solid shot of getting into a T30 school.

Other than that, I would also echo applying to DO schools.

Personal Anecdote: 1st cycle, I got 2 IIs —> 1 R from Cornell and 1 WL with eventual R from Dartmouth. 2nd cycle, got 5 IIs (neither from Dartmouth or Cornell). Got an A in December and withdrew from all schools. Most IIs were from schools whose mission matched my app.
 
Oct 14, 2011
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  1. Academic Administration
So you're going to be a 3x applicant from Duke with a committee evaluation available to you. You've had interviews and not gotten beyond waitlists. You interviewed at 4 MD/PhD's and only got waitlisted at 1.

Suggestion 1: skip the MD/PhD. In my experience if you interview at one MD/PhD program, you've just about interviewed at all of them. If none of you wanted to pick you up given the number of interviews you got in MD/PhD, you are overestimating your desirability in MD/PhD. Pick NEW schools if you want to do MD/PhD enough, but you have resources with your Duke HPAC that you should not have had any problems up to the interview stage or interviewing at all. Possible: Something in your committee evaluation is pointing to your lack of communications skills when you went through their evaluation and somehow enough people are picking up on this problem and witnessing it. Note: MD/PhD admissions relationships with MD admissions committees are funky in a lot of places, but if you think you are desirable at top 20's after flunking out on MD/PhD interviews, you're deluding yourself. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try, but you really need to push your networking with schools' admissions staff and current students before you apply (which obviously may be too late now). Use your Duke HPAC advisors to really get their feedback, and listen very carefully to their advice.

Suggestion 2: Scratch all MD programs where you've applied twice. They've seen you twice already and take the rejection as final from those schools. If you want to be a physician, you need to not be so picky and include DO schools.
 
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