TMDSAS: Thoughts on the low acceptance rate of older (30+) students?

CareerNumTwo

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I'm solidly in this category. I'll be 35 if I apply next year (though realistically it won't be till the following year when I'm 36).

Looking at the most recent statistics available on TMDSAS's website, last year 314 30+ students applied and only 44 matriculated (that's 14%). Compare that to 21-23 year olds where 3417 applied and 1105 matriculated (that's 32%).

I'm assuming most will only have the ability to speculate, but is this that TX schools prefer more traditional students? Is it that the older students had weaker GPA/MCATs, weaker ECs, or that they didn't interview well? What have you heard?

I want to learn from the mistakes of those in my age bracket.

thanks!
 

timephone

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Admissions committees are full of old farts (no offense), and when us 30-somethings express anxiety at being too old for medical school they generally laugh. 7-12 years after matriculation we should be practicing doctors, at which point we'd still probably be younger than most adcom members.

I'm not familiar with the Texas med school ecosystem, but nationally speaking as long as your quantifiable stats are comparable to school medians, you should stand as good a chance as younger applicants. Even better than younger applicants in my opinion, because older applicants should hopefully interview better. But to get to the interview you gotta have the stats. The matriculation data you quote are impossible to analyze w/o correlating with MCAT and GPA...although it does seem to be more than just statistical error. I think it's more likely that older applicants just tend to have lower cGPAs and less impressive MCAT scores.
 
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LibBum

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I met plenty of older interviewees last year, even an MS2 that was +45 at A&M. Within my own class, at least 10 people are over 30 (myself included). If you are a come back story or were previously in the military the adcoms usually take interest. Hit your numbers and share your experiences - they will set you apart from most of the younger applicants.
 

NightWindDriftr

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I'm assuming most will only have the ability to speculate, but is this that TX schools prefer more traditional students? Is it that the older students had weaker GPA/MCATs, weaker ECs, or that they didn't interview well? What have you heard?
I speak for only one school in TX: your age itself is immaterial, although it's a good idea to demonstrate how your experiences have affected you. I haven't seen the statistics, but I've spoken with enough older applicants to know that they can suffer from all the same problems that younger applicants do.

Personally, if you're in the non-traditional applicant pool, I'd strongly expect to read in your application and learn about in person how life has steered you toward medicine. You're going to have more substance than most. Why are you changing careers? Why didn't you do this to begin with? What transformative experience did you have? If thought out and approached properly, it'll generally make for a stronger interview than a traditional applicant. My opinion.

Admissions committees are full of old farts (no offense), and when us 30-somethings express anxiety at being too old for medical school they generally laugh.
Expressing this sort of anxiety during an interview is self-defeating and belies your presence in that interview. I would empathize with the thought if you sat across the table from me, but I wouldn't want you dwelling on it too long, though. You may be "too old" in the social sense, but all applicants, regardless of experience, are interviewing for the same outcome.

Edit: Grammar, typos, addition.
 
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I haven't felt even a hint of ageism going through this process, either from the schools or from fellow interviewees. Maybe I'll feel differently come Feb 1 if I don't match anywhere, but that's my impression thus far.
 
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QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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It's because of how much poorer the stats of older students are on average compared to younger students. But regardless, even if it were due to flagrant ageism, unless you own a functioning time machine, your age is something you are unable to do anything about. So I'd recommend focusing your effort and energy instead on the things you can actually control and that will significantly improve your odds. Like getting good grades and a high MCAT score. ;)
 

valid username

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Are you sure about that? Ever consider it may be financial, time(days off work) and geographical constraints which prevent applying broadly? For some older students (n=1, i know) they may only apply at 1 or 2 places. They accept that if it doesn't work out, life will go on. But still they try.

OP--I am older than you and have never felt a negative bias because of my age before or after getting into medical school. In the first 2 years of med school there was little difference in how I was treated. The biggest difference is that you will not usually see older students get some of the rough treatment that younger students sometimes get in small group instruction.

Years 3 and 4 are different for an older student. Attendings and nurses give more responsibility very quickly. Other students treat you differently, too. I look younger than I am, and I have noticed that once I tell my age other students treat me differently. They give me the best seat, hold doors, and other little things. They discuss their "extracurricular" activites in low voices after they know how close I am to their parents' ages LOL. Many students ask me for help with tricky conversations. I am more approachable than an attending because they don't worry about their evals with me. I am happy to help. I am aware that some things doctors have to do are very overwhelming at any time, but especially if you are only 25 or so.

I can honestly say that I really enjoy being the oldest in the group. Not all older students enjoy the role. If you can embrace it, everyone wins.

All that to reiterate that I don't think agr bias is much of a thing in medical school. Sure, if you're grumpy--but grumpy is bad at any age.

My stats were definitely not inferior.
 
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QofQuimica

Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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Are you sure about that? Ever consider it may be financial, time(days off work) and geographical constraints which prevent applying broadly? For some older students (n=1, i know) they may only apply at 1 or 2 places. They accept that if it doesn't work out, life will go on. But still they try.
If you're asking me, yes, I'm quite certain. The AAMC stats (publically available on their website) show a consistent inverse trend of age with MCAT scores and GPAs, with those under age 20 having by far the best stats and those over age 30 having the worst. Don't mistake me: if you're a 30-year-old with stellar stats, no one will care that you're thirty. But most 30-year-olds do not have stellar stats. I have not ever checked to see whether TMDSAS publishes similar data specific for TX, but I can think of no reason why the trend would be different in TX than it is nationwide.

Those who have geographical constraints at any age do have a disadvantage in being unable to apply broadly, and their strategy may need to be a bit different. At the very least, these candidates should reach out to their local school or schools prior to applying for pre-app counseling and to let the adcoms know their situation. Also, if they are strong candidates and an ED admission path is offered by their local school, they should consider applying ED to their local school.
 

valid username

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My hope is the remainder of my interviews want to talk about my academic experience, my time volunteering, the days I spent shadowing, and my motivation...
I hope so too! I am not a huge fan of overly parcticing interview questions. Having spent time on the other side of this process, i kniw It can come off as oddly robotic when a person has a ready answer for every question. Anyhoo--not the point.

The point is...there are a few buttheaded questions you need to prepare for. Figure out how to alter their question to answer what you want. Do it early and reset the focus. Good grief, those people probably have children your age. What is their problem?

Thirty seven is not old. If they can't process that, they need to get out of the hospital and breathe some fresh air.
 

valid username

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If you're asking me, yes, I'm quite certain. The AAMC stats (publically available on their website) show a consistent inverse trend of age with MCAT scores and GPAs, with those under age 20 having by far the best stats and those over age 30 having the worst. Don't mistake me: if you're a 30-year-old with stellar stats, no one will care that you're thirty. But most 30-year-olds do not have stellar stats. I have not ever checked to see whether TMDSAS publishes similar data specific for TX, but I can think of no reason why the trend would be different in TX than it is nationwide.
Yes, I was asking you. Thank you for taking the time to answer. I am a little surprised, but I certainly see it is true. Interesting but anecdotal tidbit: in my circle of med school old friends (Caribbean) our scores were considerably higher than our school average (26 on the old system our semester.) Hence my surprise. Two of us in my circle also had scholarships, but the rest did not. We were 30s and 40s. The three >40 had three of the 4 highest scores.
 

valid username

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Ross likes older candidates, but only aggressively pursues (in form of high scholarships) them if they have children! I suspect because it indirectly helps keep some of their professors on the island for more years.

Having been there I can tell you that the spouses and children of faculty and students form incredibly strong bonds. They have their own building for hanging out during the day (seriously--no students allowed). They go to the capital once a week together plus another outing. The day school and day care are incredible, but more than half of the kids are students' kids. Without them their classrooms of 8-10 would be classrooms of 2-3. If the kids' needs aren't being met there is no amount of money that will keep some of those professors on island.

Ross wisely takes very good care of the families on island.
 

esob

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n=1 here as well, but pretty much every non-trad I've met, save 1, didn't really take grades too seriously (and even that one was pretty chill about grades). I'm the only non-trad I know of who is wound tight about grades. I think many older students approach the process with the notion that it is a task needing only to be performed through completion, rather than viewing every class as do or die. My age may play a factor in a rejection from some schools but with a strong enough set of numbers, the odds remain favorable for an acceptance somewhere. There is nothing I can do about my age so I try to focus my energy on the aspects of my application I can control.
 

tryptamine

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n=1 here as well, but pretty much every non-trad I've met, save 1, didn't really take grades too seriously (and even that one was pretty chill about grades). I'm the only non-trad I know of who is wound tight about grades. I think many older students approach the process with the notion that it is a task needing only to be performed through completion, rather than viewing every class as do or die.
I'll join you with the grades neuroses, but it's more because of the hole I dug myself into in undergrad. My GPA/MCAT discrepancy is particularly egregious, so even A- marks are out of the question at this point. I don't think I come across in class as being stressed about grades or coursework, but with 94% being the A mark in some of my classes, I'm definitely wound pretty tight when exams come back.
 
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