stressed and lost on application process

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

future Doc!

New Member
Joined
May 15, 2024
Messages
4
Reaction score
1
I'm really nervous because I had a rocky start to my college career.
I have a 3.4 GPA and am waiting on my MCAT score.
~100hrs shadowing, 90hrs as a medical scribe. 600 hours of research. I have like 40 hours of volunteering :,) I have more hours coming up to volunteer. But my GPA drastically changed from my sophmore to junior year (I went from a 2.5 semester GPA to a 3.7) so I'm hoping that works in my favor?
I'm also doing 21 credits (I had to petition for it, a full semester is 18 credits at my uni) this summer and in the upcoming fall semester because I had to retake some classes and it messed up my graduation plan.
I currently only have 2 LORs and am working on getting more, but my old professors and PIs aren't responding to my emails and idk what to do.
I have wanted to be a doctor literally since I was a child (which I know is not a unique experience) but I'm so lost in this application process. I am a first generation immigrant and I feel so lost and have no guidance. I talked to my advisor but she told me that I can get into an MD program with 3.3 GPA and 505 MCAT so idk if I really trust her input.
I don't even know what medical schools to pick, and I have no one to look over my application, I'm just so stressed. I'm worried that if I don't submit AMCAS on May 28th, my chances of getting in will reduce.
Any input will be appreciated.

Members don't see this ad.
 
  • Care
Reactions: 1 user
First off, it’s common to feel overwhelmed by this process especially as a first-gen. You’re not alone.

If you’re still waiting for your MCAT, you should take a few days off to just reset so you can think clearly.

How much progress have you made on your primary app and what score on the MCAT are you expecting? I’m asking because if you haven’t made much progress/still need letters, I think it would be best for you to not apply this cycle, which is perfectly fine. If you have a solid MCAT, it will be valid for next year. In the meantime, you can increase your volunteer hours and continue scribing, since those hours are currently pretty low. You’re a junior still, and most people end up taking at least 1 gap year just to apply so you’re right on track.

You can also reach out for personal statement feedback through this thread.

Once you actually have your MCAT, you’ll be able to make a school list, but expect to apply very broadly and include DO programs.

If you have specific questions about the application process, lmk.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
I'm really nervous because I had a rocky start to my college career.
Don’t worry about this since you have a strong upward trend. Adcoms understand the transition to college can be challenging and won’t hold it against you.
 
  • Care
Reactions: 1 user
Members don't see this ad :)
First off, it’s common to feel overwhelmed by this process especially as a first-gen. You’re not alone.

If you’re still waiting for your MCAT, you should take a few days off to just reset so you can think clearly.

How much progress have you made on your primary app and what score on the MCAT are you expecting? I’m asking because if you haven’t made much progress/still need letters, I think it would be best for you to not apply this cycle, which is perfectly fine. If you have a solid MCAT, it will be valid for next year. In the meantime, you can increase your volunteer hours and continue scribing, since those hours are currently pretty low. You’re a junior still, and most people end up taking at least 1 gap year just to apply so you’re right on track.

You can also reach out for personal statement feedback through this thread.

Once you actually have your MCAT, you’ll be able to make a school list, but expect to apply very broadly and include DO programs.

If you have specific questions about the application process, lmk.
Thank you so much! I'm a little confused about the PREview test. It seems similar to the CASPER test, which one should I take? When do I even take them? From what I could find people tend to take CASPER with their secondaries, but I could be wrong
 
It depends on your school list. Some schools require PREview, some require CASPER. They are quick tests that don’t require much preparation but they do cost money (waived if you qualify for fee assistance through AMCAS). You should take them before you submit your secondaries at some point, since most schools will use the CASPER or PREview scores as a factor to decide who to interview (or something like that, there’s really not much information about how exactly these scores are used and people with bad scores end up getting in).

If applying this year, take it June/July. If next year, anytime before May.

It’s probably the least important thing to worry about tbh/doesn’t have massive impact on your app overall.
 
It depends on your school list. Some schools require PREview, some require CASPER (list of which tests for which schools linked). They are quick tests that don’t require much preparation but they do cost money (waived if you qualify for fee assistance through AMCAS). You should take them before you submit your secondaries at some point, since most schools will use the CASPER or PREview scores as a factor to decide who to interview (or something like that, there’s really not much information about how exactly these scores are used and people with bad scores end up getting in).

If applying this year, take it June/July. If next year, anytime before May.

It’s probably the least important thing to worry about tbh/doesn’t have massive impact on your app overall.
This is good to know. For the application, I only have the essay and activities left (and technically the LORs I'm waiting on). For the activities section, how detailed does the description need to be? And what is the difference between the general description and the "meaningful" description?
 
The essays and activities are the majority of the application, so it sounds like you have a lot left to finish by end of the month.

Activities need to explain your overall role and what you gained from the experience. It’s not really a “resume” where you simply list the activity and job duty. Ideally you’d be able to highlight a specific story that explains why the experience was something important enough to include on your medical school app, or the impact you had in a specific role, etc.

The “most meaningful” experience means just that - it is an experience that has been most meaningful to you and your journey, and you get more characters to talk about it. It’s usually for more long term roles or experiences you have a lot to say about.

There are a lot of good YouTube videos explaining the activities section, I’d recommend watching a few (check out Dr. Ryan Gray’s vids, and shemassian counseling)
 
  • Care
Reactions: 1 user
You really aren’t ready (in terms of clinical and volunteer hours) to apply this year. Slow down, take your time, learn about what you need to do in order to have a good application. You only want to apply once!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
You really aren’t ready (in terms of clinical and volunteer hours) to apply this year. Slow down, take your time, learn about what you need to do in order to have a good application. You only want to apply once!
I agree with this, don't apply right now.
Doing 20+ credit hours 2 semesters in a row is likely to lead to poor performance in at least some of the classes and you are planning to add the task of med school applications at the same time?
Nothing magical about completing your college degree in 4 years, but there is wisdom in planning ahead, which medical school will expect of their applicants.
Please don't put yourself in an impossible situation by trying to cram so much coursework into the last 2 semesters.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
I'm also doing 21 credits (I had to petition for it, a full semester is 18 credits at my uni) this summer and in the upcoming fall semester because I had to retake some classes and it messed up my graduation plan.
In sight of the impracticality of applying this cycle, can I convince you not to do this?

Look, I get it. I know that sites like these where people tout 4.0 GPAs and don't get in can be really overwhelming and intimidating. I was like you, 10 years ago, and was doing everything I could to give the impression that I could outwork any of the other students around me. It didn't go well—we all have the same 24 hours. The general rule of thumb is that you're expected to study for 3 hours independently for every 1 hour of lecture. Assuming 3 hours worth of lecture each week for 7 3-credit courses, you're talking about 21 hours of lecture time and 63 hours of independent study. That means 84 total hours dedicated exclusively to your coursework—and that's not even considering the volunteering you have planned out...not to mention normal people stuff: taking regular showers, sleep, exercise, eating, self-care.

It looks like you're rounding out the end of your degree anyway. If you take another year and space out your courses so that they are manageable, you can open yourself up to improving other aspects of your application, volunteering, thoughtfully crafting your activities section, retaking the MCAT if you need to, finding new letter writers if the ones you have continue to be unresponsive. I think that at this juncture, if you were to apply, a reviewer might question your judgment, because this pace of work is obviously unsustainable.

I know it's probably not what you want to hear, but I'm rooting for you! Can't wait to call you Dr.!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
Most of my classes are pretty easy, definitely not harder than last semester when I was taking the full 18 credits while studying for the MCAT. I'm really good with time management, and have an outline for my essays I'm just working on putting it into actual paragraphs.

I really don't want to add another year because I am on a full scholarship and it only covers 4 years, which is why I would really like to be done by then. Adding extra credit hours is cheaper than adding another semester. I also really don't know what I could do if I don't get into medical school. I have wanted this and worked for this my entire life, I guess I didn't exactly understand the rigor of it until it was too late. My high school resume was incredible but I guess I experienced some sort of burnout my first two years of college, and have spent the past year recovering from it.

Is it bad if I was to apply this cycle and then reapply again next cycle? Or should I simply wait until the next one? The financial situation for applying isn't too problematic because I have money saved from high school (that I was going to use for undergrad but then ended up not having to, so I've been using/saving it for medical school) I'm just worried if it will look bad to apply twice. Or should I wait to submit my application in the beginning of August, since my GPA will be higher, and I will have ~70 more hours of volunteering (all clinical).

On my practice tests for the MCAT I was scoring around 517 (I only used the Princeton Review tests, which I've heard are slightly more difficult than the AAMC).

My first two years (especially my sophomore year) were difficult because I was having a falling out with a really close friend, my best friend was extremely sick (she's doing better now), in addition to other familial issues (and the typical new-to-college experience). For reference, I had a 3.5 cGPA freshman year, which went down to 3.2 at the end of my sophmore year (I withdrew from 2 classes and got C's and B's and 1 A through both semesters) and now my cGPA is a 3.45. I did not include the problems I was facing in my personal statement because this did not contribute to or detract from my passion for medicine, but should I somehow work that in? I am not trying to excuse my poor performance, but at the same time I was learning how to balance school with all of the other obstacles that life was throwing at me.

Also, I'm expecting to get 2 degrees (BS in bio and BA is psych) and I'm wondering if this would also help me out? I have a minor in computer science but it's more of a backup career option, but it's a safety net that I don't want to fall on because I know I would be so unsatisfied with my life. Plus I know that med school don't really care about minors, and the classes aren't terrible since I have some background in it.
 
Last edited:
What we are trying to tell you is that your application lacks significant things that you would need to add before applying. You are better off taking a gap year to work at a clinical job and get more volunteering hours. You are on track to burn yourself out. You will also need to explain “why medicine” in your essays, and show that you know what you are getting into. “I always wanted to be a doctor” isn’t enough to convince us.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
I totally understand the magical thinking. A lot of us grew up being labeled as academically gifted/talented, and we can have reasonable expectations for people to continue reacting to us in this enchanted and gracious way as adults. It's not your fault, but it is your responsibility to rectify your mindset.

Here comes the tough love: you are actually actively sending a message I don't think that you are intending to send. Others may chime in with their perspectives, but to me, what is currently happening to you is a perfect example of what schools might want to scrutinize.

You had an academic foible and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Science is hard, and we aren't born knowing the intricacies of the Kreb's cycle. But how does the response indicate something about the person?

A reasonable response to something like this happening is to take it easy the following semester, adjusting your study strategies, reaching out to advisors to help you better organize your classes, tutoring, office hours—whatever you need to do to make sure you're leaving yourself little room for failure. You can over-prepare to recalibrate your internal gauge that will tell you "OK, I need to put x amount of effort into classes to get an A. And if I take x amount of classes, work is reasonable; but I can't imagine doing more than x number of classes at once."

This shows not only resilience and recovery, but learning that you can carry with you throughout the rest of your academic career. Medical schools know that medicine isn't "easy" by anyone's academic standards. You are bound to run into academic stress somewhere along the way. Do you want them to know that, when confronted with academic stress, you have a tendency to dive headfirst into it and make everything immeasurably worse? Do you think it's a good strategy to take a "crack" in your application and really bludgeon it until it's in a billion indistinguishable pieces?

Even if the classes you intend to take are "easy," there comes a point of saturation where there just isn't enough time to keep up with deadlines, even if the work itself is not cognitively taxing for you. I can appreciate the confidence in your own abilities, but what is coming through reads more like arrogance, because what you are essentially saying throughout this thread is "I'm really smart and I know I can do it, so I know schools will give me a chance over all of the other chumps applying that did it 'the hard way' even if I'm not meeting clear requirements."

Some parting words: Just because you don't apply this cycle doesn't mean you won't achieve your goals. Postponing an application over a few months that are going to be so busy for you that you won't even realize they're flying by isn't the end of the world. Just because you don't apply this cycle doesn't mean you have to abandon ship. It just means you needed more time. Be kind to yourself, look in the mirror, and have the come to Jesus moment. You need to focus on curating experiences for yourself that will teach you lessons that you can articulate in an interview. Some of them will be good experiences and some will be bad, but there is ALWAYS a lesson.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users
~100hrs shadowing, 90hrs as a medical scribe. 600 hours of research. I have like 40 hours of volunteering :,) I have more hours coming up to volunteer.
As others have said, this is not enough. 100 hrs of shadowing is fine if it includes primary care but at minimum you should have 150 hours EACH of clinical experience and non-clinical volunteering.

I don't even know what medical schools to pick, and I have no one to look over my application, I'm just so stressed. I'm worried that if I don't submit AMCAS on May 28th, my chances of getting in will reduce.
If this is where you're at this late in the game you shouldn't be applying this cycle, especially since you are severely lacking in hours and have questionable LORs.

If you apply this cycle you are setting yourself up for disaster and a huge waste of money. You'll have to repeat this whole process as a reapplicant, which you don't want to do. But the good news all of your problems can be fixed by waiting a year. Get a job and make some money. Get your hours up. Build relationships with people to write you LORs. Plenty of people on SDN, myself included, can help you with your PS.

A reasonable response to something like this happening is to take it easy the following semester, adjusting your study strategies, reaching out to advisors to help you better organize your classes, tutoring, office hours—whatever you need to do to make sure you're leaving yourself little room for failure. You can over-prepare to recalibrate your internal gauge that will tell you "OK, I need to put x amount of effort into classes to get an A. And if I take x amount of classes, work is reasonable; but I can't imagine doing more than x number of classes at once."

This shows not only resilience and recovery, but learning that you can carry with you throughout the rest of your academic career. Medical schools know that medicine isn't "easy" by anyone's academic standards. You are bound to run into academic stress somewhere along the way. Do you want them to know that, when confronted with academic stress, you have a tendency to dive headfirst into it and make everything immeasurably worse? Do you think it's a good strategy to take a "crack" in your application and really bludgeon it until it's in a billion indistinguishable pieces?

Even if the classes you intend to take are "easy," there comes a point of saturation where there just isn't enough time to keep up with deadlines, even if the work itself is not cognitively taxing for you. I can appreciate the confidence in your own abilities, but what is coming through reads more like arrogance, because what you are essentially saying throughout this thread is "I'm really smart and I know I can do it, so I know schools will give me a chance over all of the other chumps applying that did it 'the hard way' even if I'm not meeting clear requirements."

Some parting words: Just because you don't apply this cycle doesn't mean you won't achieve your goals. Postponing an application over a few months that are going to be so busy for you that you won't even realize they're flying by isn't the end of the world. Just because you don't apply this cycle doesn't mean you have to abandon ship. It just means you needed more time. Be kind to yourself, look in the mirror, and have the come to Jesus moment. You need to focus on curating experiences for yourself that will teach you lessons that you can articulate in an interview. Some of them will be good experiences and some will be bad, but there is ALWAYS a lesson.
Quoting this for truth. This process is hard. Do it right and do it once.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users
Top