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The Things I'll Do Differently Next Application Cycle Thread

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by majik1213, May 13, 2008.

  1. majik1213

    majik1213 7+ Year Member

    Jun 6, 2007
    I was debating whether to put this into the reapplicant section of the SDN forums, but I'm posting it here because I want the info available to first time applicants.

    If you are considering reapplying, what have you learned that you think everyone should know before they go into applying this year?

    For me, I learned that
    - You should apply EARLY, EARLY, EARLY. And not just the primary, but getting in the LORs and completing your file is an absolute must.
    - MCAT means a LOT. If you want an acceptance early in the season, you better be coming out of the gate strong (33+ / good spread) .. but if you are content with a waitlist / late acceptance option, which necessarily entails difficulty in securing loans and getting housing, then a 28+ I think is O.K. for the MD program.
    - Apply to DO schools on your first swing through. I didn't apply to DO schools, and to be honest the true reason was that I was unaware of their existence at the time of applying.*
    *kevster2001, a current medical student, has cautioned that this statement won't apply unless you're prepared to go the DO path.
    - You should know the typical "problems with U.S. healthcare" question you are likely to get at your interview.
    - Applying solely to IS is about as effective as applying to a ton of schools because, IMHO, your chances are best with IS.
    - If at an IS interview, do say you want to serve your state. I personally do want to serve PA because the malpractice situation is causing some doctors to move their practices to NJ, OH, NY, etc.
    and if you do get the WL, send in letters of interest or intent, but the key is simply to wait.
    Also, some of the ADCOMs appreciated the fact that I have a lot of ECs like crew, ski patrol, research in ortho. surgery, etc.

    Here are some other comments from other posters, which I'm paraphrasing:
    cottenr says:
    - If your academic adviser personally mails your LORs, contact him NOW
    - don't skimp out on ECs (sports count for ECs too)
    - Do NOT use the same personal statement or secondary application essays.*
    *but Little Etoile suggests that re-using PS may not matter as some schools don't look at your past applications.
    - bug schools constantly with letters, not emails or phone calls.
    - Apply to at least 15 schools.
    - Do lots of volunteering.
    - Use SDN.*
    * I (majik1213) want to add to cottenr's point that SDN offers not just forums, but other resources as well, such as the interview feedback. Check it out.

    armybound says:
    - beef up the LORs
    - explain activities better

    Luxian says:
    - Keep a spreadsheet with contact dats and info for all your schools.
    - Keep checking the status page until it's confirmed complete.
    - Know what you're going to say when they ask what you've done in the intervening year.

    flip26 says:
    - clinical experiences (shadowing, EMT, OEC-T, etc.) trumps research for EC importance

    Lshapely reminds us:
    - get your personal statement looked at by another person.

    helsizzle says:
    - apply to Northwestern. (early LOR deadline => early application everywhere)
    this is a simple paraphrase for convenience, but for the exact statements, please scroll down. I probably won't update this very often anyways.
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  3. DieselD

    DieselD ASA Member 7+ Year Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tell that to my state schools. I didnt get any interviews at the 4 in my state.
  4. 186321


    Jan 29, 2008
    Thankfully I don't have to reapply, but about a month ago I was completely ready to do so and this is what I have:

    1. If your academic adviser personally mails your LORs, contact him NOW requesting that he get the packets ready to be mailed. It took my adviser 2.5 months to send my letters. I wanted to rip his heart out. Without telling your adviser now, applying "early" won't mean anything.

    2. Apply to DO schools, maybe Caribbean if desperate. I made the mistake of apply to St. George's and not realizing that DO is a far better choice.

    3. Don't skimp on activities/ECs on AMCAS. I figured an Adcom wouldn't care about me playing intramural sports or participating in 5k charity races... but add everything especially if you don't have much.

    4. Do NOT use the same personal statement or secondary application essays. Modify them at least a little.

    5. This is very important.. bug schools constantly with letters, not emails or phone calls. I wrote letters of update/interest/intent about six times this application cycle. I know its why I got my interview at Maryland and I'm pretty sure its why I was accepted at EVMS.

    6. Apply to at least 15 schools. I made the mistake of applying to 10 schools and it really hurt me. At the time I just wanted to save money, but it the long run it almost cost me big time.

    7. Do lots of volunteering. I could count the number of volunteer hours I have on one of my hands.

    8. Use SDN. Obviously everyone here already does. So those who don't are already screwed.

    I probably have more but I'm at work and mucho tired.
  5. flip26

    flip26 2+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    Your comment begs the question of how many interviews and acceptances did you get from out of state? What is your state of residency? Some states are better than others...but for the vast majority of applicants - borrowing from what the good witch told Dorothy - there's no place like home...

    The OP made an excellent point. SDN is filled with people applying to 30+ schools. It is understandable for people with less than stellar stats from certain states (CA most notably) but for the majority of people applying to med school, it is overkill. Said a little differently, for the vast majority of applicants, your best bet is in-state.

    I also think that a big chunk of the med school applicants out there are under represented on SDN - people in states like AR, LA, MS, AL - there are lots of applicants in those states applying to just a handful of schools - but we don't read much from or about them on SDN.
  6. JRock310

    JRock310 2+ Year Member

    May 12, 2008

    totally just curious...why is this?
  7. armybound

    armybound future urologist. Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Jan 1, 2007
    better LORs and explaining my activities better
  8. flip26

    flip26 2+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    Doesn't #7 on your list pretty much say it all? I don't think the number of schools you applied to was the problem...
  9. 186321


    Jan 29, 2008
    I was just told this by a medical school admission adviser that the NIH has for us. It was almost a rhetorical question when she asked "you didn't use the same PS did you?" and I felt ******ed for saying yes.

    Haha, possibly. But I don't think it was the biggest problem. Applying to a mass number of schools can overpower poor volunteering.
  10. Luxian

    Luxian 5+ Year Member

    Dec 13, 2006
    I finally got in on my second go-round (starting school this July!!), so I'll drop in my advice from this year.

    1) Apply EARLY. Yes, EARLY. Nope, EARLIER! That's it!
    2) Apply widely. State schools for a state you aren't a resident in are probably not gonna take you, so apply to your own state schools and private schools and other state schools only as a reach.
    3) Redo all you can. Rewrite your PS and your essays. Polish polish polish
    4) Keep a spreadsheet with contact dats and info for all your schools. Keep checking the status page until it's confirmed complete. They've got thousands of applications coming in. If your LOR's get lost, YOU are the one who loses.
    5) Know what you're going to say when they ask what you've done in the intervening year. Really. They'll ask.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say, it's possible! I think the biggest thing for me was applying early and more widely, since my LORs and grades were completely identical. Good luck!
  11. Looking at the MSAR, volunteering SEEMS to be the least important of the big 3 EC's: Medically related work, research, and volunteering/comm service. The percentage of accepted applicants that had comm service was the lowest compared to the other two in every school I've looked at (and I've looked at nearly 40 so far just browsing)... I think a more likely reason was earlier, when the adviser asked if the OP used the same PS and the answer was yes....busted!
  12. dArroway

    dArroway Gettin' my hood on 2+ Year Member

    LOL, I could imagine... but I would probably just use a revised version if I had to reapply... but maybe we shouldn't?? Did he/she give a reason?
  13. flip26

    flip26 2+ Year Member

    Dec 20, 2007
    I think you are drawing the wrong conclusion about the relative importance of volunteering.

    The "least" important ECs are medically related work and research...the most important are clinical experiences, most easily obtained through a combination of shadowing and volunteering.

    The poster in question seemed to have very low hours in clinical ECs of any type...that is a huge red flag.

  14. Low volunteering and low clinical experience can be different things. I agree, if OP had low hours of any type of clinic EC, then that's a huge issue. But volunteering can include non-medically related things. I suppose we should ask OP what type of volunteering he was referring to. Either way though, you're right about the bottom line: low clinical EC = low chances of admission anywhere. What surprises me is how many people still don't realize this...
  15. 186321


    Jan 29, 2008
    Revised is fine. I'm talking about using the exact word for word PS. I only did this because my PS was primarily about my hospital experience. Since all I had done since the previous cycle was graduate, I saw no need to change it because frankly I didn't know what to add.
  16. JRock310

    JRock310 2+ Year Member

    May 12, 2008
    i still dont understand why it is bad to use the same personal statement for multiple schools?

    how many are u really supposed to write, then?

    i just dont see why it would make a difference. i totally believe you that it does, bc im really clueless and new to this, but i honestly just wonder why?
  17. majik1213

    majik1213 7+ Year Member

    Jun 6, 2007

    oy that's my fault for not specifying .. I'm from PA and I know the schools there prefer IS applicants .. Temple, for example, takes 50% IS 50% OOS
  18. 186321


    Jan 29, 2008

    You do use the same personal statement for multiple schools. We're talking about using the same personal statement for a 2nd application year. When you submit your AMCAS, your one PS goes to every school. You don't have to write more than one.
  19. Lshapley

    Lshapley Old Man Med Student 2+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2006
    In regards to the essays, I would say that if they failed to get you many interviews (and obviously no acceptances) the first time you applied, why do you think they would be effective the second time? Personally, one of the things I would do before reapplying is have someone who knows about these things take a long, hard look at my AMCAS Personal statement.
  20. gwill024

    gwill024 2+ Year Member

    Dec 6, 2007
    They are talking about using the same PS from one application cycle to the next. If you are a reapplicant, there is something that didn't go right with your application. Some things are hard to fix, like GPA, MCAT, ECs. Your personal statement is always something that can be improved, so start with that. After the numbers screening process, your PS is probably the next thing they will be looking at, so make it better!
  21. BigRedder

    BigRedder Passing Gas 5+ Year Member

    Jan 31, 2008
    The key to applying early is to have your personal statement done in May. If possible, start it really early, like months before you apply. Not only will it be ready when you apply, it will help motivate you through the rest of the process. Frankly I think it would behoove every pre-med to write a personal statement whenever they decide they are going to apply to medical school and just edit it as they go along. If you can't explain why you want to be a doctor, why are you putting yourself through this? Along the same lines, start writing descriptions of your activities when you are doing them, those are really annoying.
  22. kevster2001

    kevster2001 Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Dec 18, 2004
    "- Apply to DO schools on your first swing through. I didn't apply to DO schools, and to be honest the true reason was that I was unaware of their existence at the time of applying."

    This really isn't true unless you're prepared to go to DO. Some people would rather just reapply
  23. AKu2984

    AKu2984 MD to be... 5+ Year Member

    Aug 23, 2007
    Apply hella freakin' early.
  24. helsizzle

    helsizzle 2+ Year Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    One of the biggest pieces of advice I was given was "Apply to Northwestern."
    Why? I have no desire to go there and I had to pay out the extra on my AMCAS.
    BUT their deadline for your LORs etc. is REALLY EARLY...I think mid-August as compared with most schools in September/October. Not only did this force me to start early--primary, secondaries, keeping track of LORs--but having this early deadline required my pre-health advisor to put my file on the top of his To Do list. Early deadlines=priority. It worked for me: I was at the very first interview day for my number 1 school because they had my complete application before September. Some of my classmates didn't have complete applications until November because they had later due dates and got lost in the shuffle.

    Bottom line: apply to a school with an early deadline. Your complete application will reach all of your schools early!
  25. iamawombat

    iamawombat 2+ Year Member

    May 12, 2008
    I am not reapplying but I think applying as early as possible is critical. If you apply in early June, your application gets verified four days later. I applied June 21st and it took a while. Also-SEND IN YOUR TRANSCRIPTS ASAP! It takes forever otherwise. If you end up having to apply late, use SDN's secondary essay topic post and get those essays in ASAP.

    The other thing is to find a little niche and sort of show that you are passionate about what you do. I am really interested in public health/underserved populations so at interviews I basically told people: this is who I am. When I was gung-ho "i love your school" they thought I was insane but my best interviews were when I was able to demonstrate my passion for medicine in a more real sense. If you do this, you will get into the right school for you.
  26. Kaustikos

    Kaustikos Archerize It 7+ Year Member

    Jan 18, 2008
    Always Bespin
    Don't just apply early
  27. Little Etoile

    Little Etoile 2+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2007
    SF Bay Area
    I spoke with the head of admissions at San Diego this past week about my concern over submitting the same secondary responses. He said they probably wouldn't notice if you used the same ones because they don't even look at your previous app. Beyond that, he said they of course wouldn't expect someone to reinvent themselves so they would expect the responses to pretty much be the same. I would presume the same applies to your original PS.

    I think whether you need to rewrite your PS/secondaries or not depends on where your app was weak. For me, my numbers were low. I'm working on pulling those up. The rest, he said, was strong, which is why I got a secondary invite in the first place despite my low numbers. Seems to me that I *wouldn't* want to change my PS in that case and instead work on my stats.

    Make sense?
  28. Insulinshock

    Insulinshock Class of 2022 7+ Year Member

    Dec 12, 2007
    Awesome advice :thumbup:
  29. DieselD

    DieselD ASA Member 7+ Year Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Yeah, no prob, i didn't mean it as an attack or anything of the sort. The Florida schools tend to accept mainly from within the state, but for whatever reason I was overlooked by all of them. Shoot, FSU accepts only instate and I didnt hear one word from them. As for the OOS schools I applied to, 4 of them gave me interviews. If I didnt apply widely, I wouldnt have known which would ones would give me attention.

    I'm not saying dont apply instate, but i'm saying don't expect your state schools to automatically show you love...

    I'm saying do the instate and do some OOS schools. Next month, if I have to apply again, I'm applying to all the Instate(again) and all the OOS that gave me some attention....whether it was interview, interview pile, or screened secondary.
  30. loganhayes

    loganhayes 2+ Year Member

    Apr 25, 2008
    1. Apply EARLY!! First day of AMCAS submission, if possible. I was told outright in some schools that they no longer had interview spots even though I was on the list. My app was not complete until November and December.

    2. Rock the MCAT! MCAT score is very very important. I applied first time with a 3.9 GPA but a shabby MCAT score and got rejected by 16 schools (zero interview). Applied second time with a much better MCAT and it got me into medical school.

    3. Apply broadly to many schools. Don't go cheap. Your future depends on it. I wish I had applied to more schools the second time around. But I was a late applicant, so I took my chances. Now that I am finally going to med school, I still wonder what would have had happened if I had applied to so and so school, etc. On the bright side, I saved tons of money. But if time is on your side (see point #1), do yourself a huge favor, apply broadly. And apply EARLY!

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