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ngrd2

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I haven't been able to find a thread that directly addresses this so I'm posting but forgive me if this has already been discussed and point me in the right direction.

Editing this for brevity. I've been told I need a car for med school, and haven't been able to save up much money for one. I also have been politely told by several admissions departments that they strongly prefer "financially comfortable" applicants.

There are a lot of strikes against me when it comes to applying (I turn 40 next week, I'm very poor and grew up that way, I'm queer, I'm autistic, I only have about a 3.83 GPA, I come from a writing/arts background though I have published and presented research, I only have two solid LOR and two other more tentative ones, I won't be beginning any hard-science research until after applications open in June and the autism research I'm working on tends to give people a jolt, and so on). I don't want poverty to be the thing that keeps me out of med school, though, but my estimates are that even though I'm getting FAP from the AAMC, etc., I'll need to raise about $15k by the end of 2017 if I want to have any chance at all of matriculating anywhere, and if I do, it won't be anywhere near, since the two medical schools in my state just want to churn out primary care docs and told me not to apply. (I mean directly and literally "you probably shouldn't bother applying here, or anywhere, though best of luck on a future non-medical career" from the lips of an admission counselor.)

I knew I'd need money, I just was too dumb to be more thorough in calculating how much, so my question is this: are there hidden costs to applying medical school that I should know about? Primary/secondary application fees are all waived so that side of it is okay, and I don't really eat or spend money or have a lot of bills, etc., but needing to buy a car and needing travel expenses to stay in the "right" hotel instead of a Super 8, etc. and needing clothes that make me look more plausibly wealthy––it's things like that I'm not sure of, as well as deposits to hold a place in case I actually get accepted at more than one school if I can find any to apply to.

I'm considering giving up, partly because I'm a really unattractive candidate (see above) and partly now because I don't think I can actually even apply. So: what are the real costs, and am I missing anything? Does $15k sound about right?
 
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hebrewBAMmer

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Do I need a car right away?

I don't know why you need a car in med school? My friend goes to UCSF, and although he has a car, he pretty much never drives it at all. I'm sure it's convenient to have in some schools, but I'm not sure why it's a necessity.

As for fees, perhaps you might be eligible for the AMCAS Fee Assistance program: Fee Assistance Program
 
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The process is expensive but f you are disabled you may qualify for your state voc rehab, which should pick up the costs of your remaining classes and required fees for applying. They won't buy you a car but may pay for transportation to interviews etc. It doesn't hurt to investigate.
 
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EDIT: Some of my best students have been in their 30s and 40s.


I haven't been able to find a thread that directly addresses this so I'm posting but forgive me if this has already been discussed and point me in the right direction.

I'm applying (I hope) in a few weeks, having completed all but one pre-req (second semester physics; I have the first semester and two semesters of lab). For a rundown: I turn 40 next week, I'm URM in some unpopular ways (gay, poor, autistic), but overall I think I have an okay chance at school, especially because schools that have autism research centers are interested in my research.

I've been dirt poor my whole life, and while I did have some savings for the application process, thanks to things X and Y I don't have much in savings. I've also been told that I'll need a car in med school no matter where but starting from year one. My credit is currently "repaired" and I am okay for med school loans (I made sure of this) but not for car loans. I also can't find any schools willing to accept online Physics courses, which means paying $3k out of pocket and having to come up with the money in about two weeks. (And a full semester at my school costs about $5k, so I feel like it would be smarter to go that route if possible.)

That along with a car and travel expenses if I get any interviews adds up to about $15k for the car plus the class and application process and emergency savings etc. So:

––Do I need a car right away?
––Am I too poor to apply? Meaning: should I give up and live a short and blandly ugly life on SSDI, should I spend a year (or five) slowly saving up money and begging everyone I know, or should I apply on schedule and try to raise/earn a spectacularly huge amount of money in a short amount of time? (Also, my family consists entirely of one older sister, who's already helping me out and who just took a huge pay cut at her job, and my friends are mostly artists and writers who live in LA or NYC and are almost as poor as I am.)

About work: work means losing my health insurance, which means approx. $1400 per month just in medication until I figure something out, and given my arts background work means something like "second-shift at McDonalds and third-shift at a gas station." I *don't* have a problem with that, money is money and work isn't "beneath me" (or beneath anyone), I'm just explaining that I'm not expecting to earn much if I go that route, and working two full-time jobs will, of course, kind of eat into the time I have for bioinformatics and other research as well as the physics class and the books and stories I owe my agent and other people. (I sort of have a career as a writer but relying on creative writing as substantial, regular income is a very dumb form of gambling.)

I could get around some of these costs if I went to the medical school in the city where I live, but they told me I was too old to apply––too old not just for them but for any school. They wished me luck on my future non-medical career and that was that.

And so, obviously, as a disclaimer, I'm not asking for money-raising ideas, just some honest answers to my questions. I'm fairly sure that from a business perspective med schools generally only accept wealthy applicants anyway, but if applying is a bad idea now that's not bad news, I just would rather know so I make the best-informed plans. Ultimately nothing's going to deter me from school, but I don't just want to be some kind of haphazard zombie, get accepted at four or five schools and have to decline them all because I wouldn't even have gas money to drive to the school's city.
 
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My roommate and I are both finishing M1. She's 41, I'll be 37 in a few months. Age in and of itself is not a complete shutout; what will shut you out are a GPA and MCAT that aren't competitive.

Whether or not you need a car depends where you are, at least for the first two years. If you're in med school in a place with crap public transportation and no safe way to bike, you'll need a car. If you live somewhere where your housing and school and are near a metro/bus line then no -- where I am, our school is very easily accessible by public transport and I know several M1s who don't have cars. Something to keep in mind when deciding where to apply -- if you absolutely can't afford a car then don't apply to schools in places where you'd need one immediately. Third and fourth year though, when you need to show up for rotations at bizarre hours, you'll want to strongly consider getting a car no matter where you are. When you need to be at the hospital at 4am you don't want to risk not being able to get there.

The application process does get expensive. You'll need to consider the cost of the MCAT (there is fee assistance available for this if you qualify), then application fees: $150 each for AMCAS and/or AACOMAS plus $35 per school you apply to plus $50-150 per secondary you fill out (also fee assistance around for this through FAP, though as I understand this is dependent on your parents' income even if you're an adult). Then the cost of a suit or two, travel fees for interviews including flights/trains/buses and hotels. Then the cost of moving to your new city and dropping security deposits, moving or buying furniture and appliances, stocking food, and paying for the little red tape things along the way before that first school loan deposit comes in. If you want my figures from when I applied for an idea of spending just PM me, though keep in mind I only represent one experience.

Medical schools absolutely do not accept just "wealthy" applicants. Applicants of means are more common, but that's a function of the fact that they could afford the process (a major piece of this) and not a preference from schools. If you are a competitive applicant then you stand just as much chance as someone whose two neurosurgeon parents paid for everything. As Goro asked above me, how are you doing in that regard? Have you taken the MCAT yet? How is your cGPA and sGPA?
 
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ngrd2

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GPA? MCAT?

Hmm, for some reason I wasn't notified of responses, sorry. GPA: 3.83, and science GPA a pretty scary 3.70. That's probably the dealbreaker for schools. I was holding it up above 3.9 for a while but, well, things happen. Yes I know it doesn't seem that bad but I've already been told not to apply by some admissions offices unless I have a 3.9 or better, just like some schools told me not to apply unless I was "financially comfortable." It's not all grim; two schools responded to dry inquiries about application fees and research opportunities with unusual amounts of enthusiasm, so you never know.

MCAT: haven't taken it yet but I generally score well enough on standardized tests that I kind of enjoy them; they give my self-esteem a nice nudge after bizarre exams written by brilliant researchers who are awful teachers. I'm not overconfident, so I'm devoting a lot of time to study and have barely been sleeping I'm studying so much but I'm less worried about this than my GPA. I'll be very nervous if I get anything under a 510 or 515, though, because there are so many reasons to show me the door.

And, of course, I framed that original question wrong so I will edit it, but I mean: are there costs I'm not aware of? Even things that seem minor to most people, like clothing or non-interview travel or anything else? There are probably costs I'm not thinking about, which is what has me concerned. I've mentioned clothing a few times because I'm not sure my current clothing looks expensive enough, though again I shouldn't assume I'll get any interviews when I can't currently find schools to apply to.
 

ngrd2

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My roommate and I are both finishing M1. She's 41, I'll be 37 in a few months. Age in and of itself is not a complete shutout; what will shut you out are a GPA and MCAT that aren't competitive.

Whether or not you need a car depends where you are, at least for the first two years. If you're in med school in a place with crap public transportation and no safe way to bike, you'll need a car. If you live somewhere where your housing and school and are near a metro/bus line then no -- where I am, our school is very easily accessible by public transport and I know several M1s who don't have cars. Something to keep in mind when deciding where to apply -- if you absolutely can't afford a car then don't apply to schools in places where you'd need one immediately. Third and fourth year though, when you need to show up for rotations at bizarre hours, you'll want to strongly consider getting a car no matter where you are. When you need to be at the hospital at 4am you don't want to risk not being able to get there.

The application process does get expensive. You'll need to consider the cost of the MCAT (there is fee assistance available for this if you qualify), then application fees: $150 each for AMCAS and/or AACOMAS plus $35 per school you apply to plus $50-150 per secondary you fill out (also fee assistance around for this through FAP, though as I understand this is dependent on your parents' income even if you're an adult). Then the cost of a suit or two, travel fees for interviews including flights/trains/buses and hotels. Then the cost of moving to your new city and dropping security deposits, moving or buying furniture and appliances, stocking food, and paying for the little red tape things along the way before that first school loan deposit comes in. If you want my figures from when I applied for an idea of spending just PM me, though keep in mind I only represent one experience.

Medical schools absolutely do not accept just "wealthy" applicants. Applicants of means are more common, but that's a function of the fact that they could afford the process (a major piece of this) and not a preference from schools. If you are a competitive applicant then you stand just as much chance as someone whose two neurosurgeon parents paid for everything. As Goro asked above me, how are you doing in that regard? Have you taken the MCAT yet? How is your cGPA and sGPA?

A few things:

1) cGPA 3.83 sGPA 3.7 so I might just stop there;
2) taking the MCAT June 1st, feel cautiously optimistic because I am weird and actually like standardized tests and have been preparing;
3) A suit or two? I can only manage one cheap mostly-wool one at a time currently because I keep having to replace them when tailoring isn't enough (I dropped from about a 44 to a 36 over the last year, long story) but clothes is something I worry about because I need to figure out how to convince people I can afford clothes and I'm a little unsure about my long-story weight fluctuation.
4) Moving expenses: that's what's one problem because I've never lived in any city I'm applying so I'm not sure how much to save but my sister's extravagantly wealthy husband might help me out in this dept.
5) Public transportation: I've only lived two places in my life, both of which have almost comically terrible public transit systems. Things are more or less the same at the top two schools I'm interested in and that are interested in me; neither's in a major city.
6) Expenses part two: for some things I can manage to spend very little (food, entertainment or whatever, travel, vacations) but I do have artist/writer expenses and I also, for example, can't really ride a bike because I have a terrible sense of balance, so it's walk or bus right now and I hate the bus system here *and* it would be kind of nice to live somewhere near a Jewish neighborhood or to a lesser extent somewhere where I'm not the only gay man in the entire metropolitan area, not that I'm looking to date or anything like that. On the slim chance I get accepted to more than one school, the most affordable one wins.
7) Age. Next week I turn 40. 40 as in 40, an age by which most people have managed to do more significant and meaningful things than embark on and ditch a prodigy-composer career, have or curate some art shows, publish a few books, be my mother's caretaker, have some novel ideas about autism research and be very poor. Meaning most people my age can talk about their life experiences but I don't have any life experiences. I have no idea why but most people gauge me at about 26 or 27 and sometimes actually argue with me when I tell them my real age, but the problem is I don't have anything to make being old seem like a positive attribute.
8) That's very generous of you to offer to pm me your costs but it would probably scare me off of applying for good. I was hoping this thread might help me figure things out or else just face the futility of the last 2.5 years. I'm not sure.
 

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A few things:

1) cGPA 3.83 sGPA 3.7 so I might just stop there;
2) taking the MCAT June 1st, feel cautiously optimistic because I am weird and actually like standardized tests and have been preparing;
3) A suit or two? I can only manage one cheap mostly-wool one at a time currently because I keep having to replace them when tailoring isn't enough (I dropped from about a 44 to a 36 over the last year, long story) but clothes is something I worry about because I need to figure out how to convince people I can afford clothes and I'm a little unsure about my long-story weight fluctuation.
4) Moving expenses: that's what's one problem because I've never lived in any city I'm applying so I'm not sure how much to save but my sister's extravagantly wealthy husband might help me out in this dept.
5) Public transportation: I've only lived two places in my life, both of which have almost comically terrible public transit systems. Things are more or less the same at the top two schools I'm interested in and that are interested in me; neither's in a major city.
6) Expenses part two: for some things I can manage to spend very little (food, entertainment or whatever, travel, vacations) but I do have artist/writer expenses and I also, for example, can't really ride a bike because I have a terrible sense of balance, so it's walk or bus right now and I hate the bus system here *and* it would be kind of nice to live somewhere near a Jewish neighborhood or to a lesser extent somewhere where I'm not the only gay man in the entire metropolitan area, not that I'm looking to date or anything like that. On the slim chance I get accepted to more than one school, the most affordable one wins.
7) Age. Next week I turn 40. 40 as in 40, an age by which most people have managed to do more significant and meaningful things than embark on and ditch a prodigy-composer career, have or curate some art shows, publish a few books, be my mother's caretaker, have some novel ideas about autism research and be very poor. Meaning most people my age can talk about their life experiences but I don't have any life experiences. I have no idea why but most people gauge me at about 26 or 27 and sometimes actually argue with me when I tell them my real age, but the problem is I don't have anything to make being old seem like a positive attribute.
8) That's very generous of you to offer to pm me your costs but it would probably scare me off of applying for good. I was hoping this thread might help me figure things out or else just face the futility of the last 2.5 years. I'm not sure.

Don't let a 3.83/3.7 get you down. Kill the MCAT. Not sure if you've posted ECs or not, but assuming you have volunteered, shadowed, researched, etc. you should be in a good position.
 
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No, your numbers are great. Add in being LGBT (which some schools treat as URM) and so far, so good. The median GPAs for nationwide for MD school acceptees are 3.7.

I assume that you've shadowed, and have the requisite volunteering??

I'll let other SDNers help you tally up the costs...there will be costs. Hopefully FAFSA will eliminate the worry of app fees.

The autistic part does worry me..interviews may be problematic. But don't worry about that now.



Hmm, for some reason I wasn't notified of responses, sorry. GPA: 3.83, and science GPA a pretty scary 3.70. That's probably the dealbreaker for schools. I was holding it up above 3.9 for a while but, well, things happen. Yes I know it doesn't seem that bad but I've already been told not to apply by some admissions offices unless I have a 3.9 or better, just like some schools told me not to apply unless I was "financially comfortable." It's not all grim; two schools responded to dry inquiries about application fees and research opportunities with unusual amounts of enthusiasm, so you never know.

MCAT: haven't taken it yet but I generally score well enough on standardized tests that I kind of enjoy them; they give my self-esteem a nice nudge after bizarre exams written by brilliant researchers who are awful teachers. I'm not overconfident, so I'm devoting a lot of time to study and have barely been sleeping I'm studying so much but I'm less worried about this than my GPA. I'll be very nervous if I get anything under a 510 or 515, though, because there are so many reasons to show me the door.

And, of course, I framed that original question wrong so I will edit it, but I mean: are there costs I'm not aware of? Even things that seem minor to most people, like clothing or non-interview travel or anything else? There are probably costs I'm not thinking about, which is what has me concerned. I've mentioned clothing a few times because I'm not sure my current clothing looks expensive enough, though again I shouldn't assume I'll get any interviews when I can't currently find schools to apply to.
 
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Eccesignum

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A few things:

1) cGPA 3.83 sGPA 3.7 so I might just stop there;
2) taking the MCAT June 1st, feel cautiously optimistic because I am weird and actually like standardized tests and have been preparing;
3) A suit or two? I can only manage one cheap mostly-wool one at a time currently because I keep having to replace them when tailoring isn't enough (I dropped from about a 44 to a 36 over the last year, long story) but clothes is something I worry about because I need to figure out how to convince people I can afford clothes and I'm a little unsure about my long-story weight fluctuation.
4) Moving expenses: that's what's one problem because I've never lived in any city I'm applying so I'm not sure how much to save but my sister's extravagantly wealthy husband might help me out in this dept.
5) Public transportation: I've only lived two places in my life, both of which have almost comically terrible public transit systems. Things are more or less the same at the top two schools I'm interested in and that are interested in me; neither's in a major city.
6) Expenses part two: for some things I can manage to spend very little (food, entertainment or whatever, travel, vacations) but I do have artist/writer expenses and I also, for example, can't really ride a bike because I have a terrible sense of balance, so it's walk or bus right now and I hate the bus system here *and* it would be kind of nice to live somewhere near a Jewish neighborhood or to a lesser extent somewhere where I'm not the only gay man in the entire metropolitan area, not that I'm looking to date or anything like that. On the slim chance I get accepted to more than one school, the most affordable one wins.
7) Age. Next week I turn 40. 40 as in 40, an age by which most people have managed to do more significant and meaningful things than embark on and ditch a prodigy-composer career, have or curate some art shows, publish a few books, be my mother's caretaker, have some novel ideas about autism research and be very poor. Meaning most people my age can talk about their life experiences but I don't have any life experiences. I have no idea why but most people gauge me at about 26 or 27 and sometimes actually argue with me when I tell them my real age, but the problem is I don't have anything to make being old seem like a positive attribute.
8) That's very generous of you to offer to pm me your costs but it would probably scare me off of applying for good. I was hoping this thread might help me figure things out or else just face the futility of the last 2.5 years. I'm not sure.

It sounds almost like you're trying to talk yourself out of applying. Which is fine, as in the end it's up to you. Your GPAs are more than fine, assuming you don't have a recent string of Ds and Fs. Trends are one thing they do look at, and massive upward climbs have saved GPAs far worse than yours while huge declines have tanked ones better.

I'm not sure how to interpret your claim that you haven't done anything significant. Curating art shows and publishing books isn't something most 40 year olds I know have done. The way you talk about things in an application is just as important as what you've done. You're not judged solely by the things you can rattle off your resume, but rather by the way you use them on paper and in person to paint yourself as someone who is going to make a good physician. I have an early arts background myself, and part of the challenge in writing my application was braiding those experiences into a coherent picture of a future physician. Out-of-the-box experiences can be a huge asset, provided you give them the right shade in an application and come off as an interesting, dedicated applicant.

A nice suit is something of a necessity in the process. Medicine is a conservative culture, and while you don't have to go overboard they do want to see professionalism. First impressions are priceless; you don't have to roll up wearing Armani but at least clean up well. You'll be using that suit in the future, even during medical school. And don't forget that four years later you'll be doing the whole interview rigamarole again for residencies. Use a credit card if you have to, it's worth it.

Re: public transportation...if it exists then it does, if it doesn't then you'll need to concern yourself with a car. I listed other expenses in my post that you'll need to be aware of. I'm not sure what to tell you if you're asking whether you can afford it but then don't want to know figures, heh. Looking on places like Zillow would give you a ballpark idea of rents in whatever areas you're applying to. Just remember there's usually a security deposit and various costs for activating utilities. Living with a roommate can be a nice cost-cut. Lots of schools start a facebook or whatever page to link people together a few months prior to classes starting -- and no, you're not too old for a roommate. I met my roommate in the non-trad application thread here on SDN ;)

But this is getting ahead of things, as the final decision whether to pull the final trigger on an application shouldn't be made until you have an MCAT score in hand (I'm running on assumption you've got the other things checked off like volunteering and shadowing).
 
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ngrd2

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Don't let a 3.83/3.7 get you down. Kill the MCAT. Not sure if you've posted ECs or not, but assuming you have volunteered, shadowed, researched, etc. you should be in a good position.

I only have about 150 hours of shadowing, I've been pounding doors about hard-science research/assistance of any kind with no luck and finally found a neuroscientist who was dean and was going to give me a lab to work with(!) but then his wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer and even for me my/our research is a distant second; both of my parents were diagnosed that way so his personal life right now is more important than anything. Volunteering: I keep trying and it keeps falling through because a schedule changes or volunteers aren't needed etc., especially in any kind of medical setting. I might finally force my way into some literacy volunteering starting next month. So things are shaky. By May I'll have research proposals (meaning also: grant proposals) to lure a physician/scientist into being first author on some bioinformatics and/or neural modeling work because I need Markestscan access for adequate data points and there's one review I can do on my own but, essentially, I'll do well on the MCAT but I have bad grades and hardly any experience.

Part of me thinks I should wait a year and do more of the above and then apply, but the older I get the more hopeless it is so I'm not sure. This is helping me think through things, though, so thanks.
 

ngrd2

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It sounds almost like you're trying to talk yourself out of applying. Which is fine, as in the end it's up to you. Your GPAs are more than fine, assuming you don't have a recent string of Ds and Fs. Trends are one thing they do look at, and massive upward climbs have saved GPAs far worse than yours while huge declines have tanked ones better.

I'm not sure how to interpret your claim that you haven't done anything significant. Curating art shows and publishing books isn't something most 40 year olds I know have done. The way you talk about things in an application is just as important as what you've done. You're not judged solely by the things you can rattle off your resume, but rather by the way you use them on paper and in person to paint yourself as someone who is going to make a good physician. I have an early arts background myself, and part of the challenge in writing my application was braiding those experiences into a coherent picture of a future physician. Out-of-the-box experiences can be a huge asset, provided you give them the right shade in an application and come off as an interesting, dedicated applicant.

A nice suit is something of a necessity in the process. Medicine is a conservative culture, and while you don't have to go overboard they do want to see professionalism. First impressions are priceless; you don't have to roll up wearing Armani but at least clean up well. You'll be using that suit in the future, even during medical school. And don't forget that four years later you'll be doing the whole interview rigamarole again for residencies. Use a credit card if you have to, it's worth it.

Re: public transportation...if it exists then it does, if it doesn't then you'll need to concern yourself with a car. I listed other expenses in my post that you'll need to be aware of. I'm not sure what to tell you if you're asking whether you can afford it but then don't want to know figures, heh. Looking on places like Zillow would give you a ballpark idea of rents in whatever areas you're applying to. Just remember there's usually a security deposit and various costs for activating utilities. Living with a roommate can be a nice cost-cut. Lots of schools start a facebook or whatever page to link people together a few months prior to classes starting -- and no, you're not too old for a roommate. I met my roommate in the non-trad application thread here on SDN ;)

But this is getting ahead of things, as the final decision whether to pull the final trigger on an application shouldn't be made until you have an MCAT score in hand (I'm running on assumption you've got the other things checked off like volunteering and shadowing).

What happened is that a very long string of As (including my previous BA) hit my first ever B last spring and then I got a C and a C+ last fall but am getting all As again this semester. And the hesitation about numbers is that I'm worried about getting a message "oh, I only spent about $40k, I can break it down for you" and see below; I did some shadowing but am shaky in other areas. To put things in perspective about suits, I would love a nice one and I've dug around to find things I can make look nice, but I'm definitely not going to get Armani because if I head to the nearby mall, the cost of an average suit at J. Crew is more than my monthly income. I could maybe get help from my sister and her husband, but that generally requires my pre-med advisor and sometimes a professor and/or dean emailing them with links to actual multiple sources that will state yes I need a suit, and not one that looks like it might be polyester even if it isn't.

And it's not that I'm trying to talk myself out of applying, it's that, sort of the same way I've lost the ability to see whether I'm thin or fat anymore, I've lost the ability to figure out whether I'm prepared to apply in non-scholastic ways or whether I should wait. Nothing's going to deter me from *eventually* applying and trying to shove my way into a med school, my concern is that I'm so narrowly focused on school/MCAT that I don't know whether I am really ready or not in all of the non-academic ways you need to be ready, and the foremost of those is whether I'm financially capable because if a school gets the sense, for example, that I might have trouble with moving expenses, nothing else matters; I'm toast and they can grab some apple-cheeked rich kid who won't be as complicated.

I could sell as many as three books this year, in which case I can waltz right into J. Crew (for some reason their stuff fits me well without needing too much tailoring) but that's gambling on the publishing industry, which is insane, so I have to assume I'm starting from zero and need X dollars and my estimate is that X = $15k at the very least. So thanks, and maybe I will pm you.
 
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What happened is that a very long string of As (including my previous BA) hit my first ever B last spring and then I got a C and a C+ last fall but am getting all As again this semester. And the hesitation about numbers is that I'm worried about getting a message "oh, I only spent about $40k, I can break it down for you" and see below; I did some shadowing but am shaky in other areas. To put things in perspective about suits, I would love a nice one and I've dug around to find things I can make look nice, but I'm definitely not going to get Armani because if I head to the nearby mall, the cost of an average suit at J. Crew is more than my monthly income. I could maybe get help from my sister and her husband, but that generally requires my pre-med advisor and sometimes a professor and/or dean emailing them with links to actual multiple sources that will state yes I need a suit, and not one that looks like it might be polyester even if it isn't.

And it's not that I'm trying to talk myself out of applying, it's that, sort of the same way I've lost the ability to see whether I'm thin or fat anymore, I've lost the ability to figure out whether I'm prepared to apply in non-scholastic ways or whether I should wait. Nothing's going to deter me from *eventually* applying and trying to shove my way into a med school, my concern is that I'm so narrowly focused on school/MCAT that I don't know whether I am really ready or not in all of the non-academic ways you need to be ready, and the foremost of those is whether I'm financially capable because if a school gets the sense, for example, that I might have trouble with moving expenses, nothing else matters; I'm toast and they can grab some apple-cheeked rich kid who won't be as complicated.

I could sell as many as three books this year, in which case I can waltz right into J. Crew (for some reason their stuff fits me well without needing too much tailoring) but that's gambling on the publishing industry, which is insane, so I have to assume I'm starting from zero and need X dollars and my estimate is that X = $15k at the very least. So thanks, and maybe I will pm you.

Schools give not one flying weasel whether you can afford moving expenses. They don't know anything about your finances or lack thereof until you fill out the financial aid forms, which isn't until after acceptance, and it means nothing to them except as a way to determine your financial aid package. Worrying about being rejected on grounds of how much money you have is a drastic misdirection of precious worrying energy.
 
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ngrd2

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Sure, but what do I say when I get asked in an interview (or application) how much money I make and how I make it, and what do I say when I get asked how old I am, and what do I say when I get asked if I'm that old, where's my spouse and kids? Those aren't necessarily legal questions for schools to ask, but I have already been asked all of them by schools; they don't need to care about things like laws when the applicant to opening ratio is what it is. I am many things, and occasionally annoyingly neurotic is one of them, but naive is not.
 

Eccesignum

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Sure, but what do I say when I get asked in an interview (or application) how much money I make and how I make it, and what do I say when I get asked how old I am, and what do I say when I get asked if I'm that old, where's my spouse and kids? Those aren't necessarily legal questions for schools to ask, but I have already been asked all of them by schools; they don't need to care about things like laws when the applicant to opening ratio is what it is. I am many things, and occasionally annoyingly neurotic is one of them, but naive is not.

You're not going to be asked how much money you make. Nor "where's your spouse and kids". As a female who was 35 during applications, single and childfree, nobody gave a rat's. I have no idea who at what schools has asked you about that, but on the interview trail it's the least of their worries. I'm speaking as someone who went to twelve interviews. They simply do not care.

The point of an interview, and interviewers are well aware of this, is to assess whether you a) can handle their curriculum and b) are not an a-hole. That's the report they have to send back...not your resume, not your salary, but an assessment of you and whether you will make a good doctor. You may certainly be asked questions intended to try and throw you off, because they want to see how you'll handle stress. Which is, you know, important for doctors. I got thrown some 'Wow, that was blunt' questions, many of which I could tell were intended to see if I'd get flustered. Those questions were specifically tied to things I'd written in my app.

That said, it's worth noting that if you write it as part of your application it is absolutely fair game in an interview, so that's one thing to be a bit careful of. Flipside, what you don't write will never be brought up.

On that note, it's more than likely your interviewer won't even know how old you are. They'll know you're not the average applicant because if it's an open interview they'll see your EC list (and obviously if you list a job from 1999 then you're not 25). But age is not typically supplied. Some interviews are even closed, which means an interviewer has nothing on you at all except your GPA and MCAT, if even that. When you start interviewing it's important to check SDN interview threads to see whether you're walking into an open or closed interview, as well as common questions other people were asked in the last cycle. There are some very standard questions you have to be ready for in any interview.
 
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ngrd2

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You're not going to be asked how much money you make. Nor "where's your spouse and kids". As a female who was 35 during applications, single and childfree, nobody gave a rat's. I have no idea who at what schools has asked you about that, but on the interview trail it's the least of their worries. I'm speaking as someone who went to twelve interviews. They simply do not care.

The point of an interview, and interviewers are well aware of this, is to assess whether you a) can handle their curriculum and b) are not an a-hole. That's the report they have to send back...not your resume, not your salary, but an assessment of you and whether you will make a good doctor. You may certainly be asked questions intended to try and throw you off, because they want to see how you'll handle stress. Which is, you know, important for doctors. I got thrown some 'Wow, that was blunt' questions, many of which I could tell were intended to see if I'd get flustered. Those questions were specifically tied to things I'd written in my app.

That said, it's worth noting that if you write it as part of your application it is absolutely fair game in an interview, so that's one thing to be a bit careful of. Flipside, what you don't write will never be brought up.

On that note, it's more than likely your interviewer won't even know how old you are. They'll know you're not the average applicant because if it's an open interview they'll see your EC list (and obviously if you list a job from 1999 then you're not 25). But age is not typically supplied. Some interviews are even closed, which means an interviewer has nothing on you at all except your GPA and MCAT, if even that. When you start interviewing it's important to check SDN interview threads to see whether you're walking into an open or closed interview, as well as common questions other people were asked in the last cycle. There are some very standard questions you have to be ready for in any interview.

Thanks. After thinking through all of this for a while, it seems clear that I'm too poor and my GPA is too low for me to get as far as an interview, so I'll crunch the MCAT and apply and can build a plan out of the silences/rejections, kind of a trial year in which I know there's no way I can get into school so I can use it as a chance to see how the process works, to try to desperately scrape together money, and to find out how med schools really act vs. how they advertise themselves, how to alter my appearance and my application's appearance to emphasize absolute normalcy and hide my age, and the FAP is good for two years so next year after a whole year of figuring out how to seem worthwhile to the schools I want to go to I can apply and by that point I can maybe get interviews as long as I aim pretty low; thanks for the tip re: reading about interviews, though. I see my pre-med advisor tomorrow morning/in a few hours so I'll talk to her about this.

What's frustrating is all of the URM stuff: everything that schools seem to want in the name of "diversity" will be used to weed me out, the main one of which is poverty; I need time to figure out how to navigate that. The sad thing is I have to plot and scheme and I want to do this not for prestige or whatever, but because I genuinely want to help people, because I know what's like to be ill in a dozen different ways and to get lost in being ill, and I want to be there to help those people, and I have to get ruthlessly Machiavellian in order to incorporate altruism into my day job. It's bizarre.
 

ngrd2

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No, your numbers are great. Add in being LGBT (which some schools treat as URM) and so far, so good. The median GPAs for nationwide for MD school acceptees are 3.7.

I assume that you've shadowed, and have the requisite volunteering??

I'll let other SDNers help you tally up the costs...there will be costs. Hopefully FAFSA will eliminate the worry of app fees.

The autistic part does worry me..interviews may be problematic. But don't worry about that now.

I don't have volunteering; I have school project work here and there and things at my synagogue but nothing sustained. Two hospitals and an STD clinic said yes and then said no, and when I lost my car that cut out a lot of clinics and hospitals because a ten-minute drive where I live could be a 90-minute bus ride (one way).

Now I'm worried about autism, though, but this is how it works, even when talking to neurologists and autism specialists, because I initially just come off as a little shy but chatty.
Me: I'm autistic.
Them: (pause) No you're not!
Me: No, I am. (points out a few subtle differences)
Them: Wow, that's amazing, how do you seem so normal?
Me: I worked on it for twenty years.
Them: Wow.
Them, a few years later: Stop being such a freak!
Me: What did I do?
Them: (pause) Your emails are too long. Sorry but you're a hopeless case.

I wish this were an exaggeration but it isn't. I can glide through any interview and pass as a one of you, but people pick up on it after weeks/months/years, especially if they have previous experience with us. We're supposed to be cold fish, but I'm, let's say, a passionate person, so it throws people off. The kicker is I don't just have a light dusting of Asperger's, I'm the real deal and actually did drag myself into normalcy, and it took a few decades. It also gave me a huge amount of empathy for people with various illnesses who get written off by doctors or by family/friends and insight into autism research that illuminates all of the good points and false starts and hilarious mistakes. I can hide it if I need to, though.
 

Eccesignum

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Thanks. After thinking through all of this for a while, it seems clear that I'm too poor and my GPA is too low for me to get as far as an interview

I'm not sure how many people have to tell you that your GPA is fine and that nobody cares if you're poor. Again, wasting energy where it needs to go elsewhere.

...so I'll crunch the MCAT and apply and can build a plan out of the silences/rejections, kind of a trial year in which I know there's no way I can get into school so I can use it as a chance to see how the process works, to try to desperately scrape together money, and to find out how med schools really act vs. how they advertise themselves, how to alter my appearance and my application's appearance to emphasize absolute normalcy and hide my age, and the FAP is good for two years so next year after a whole year of figuring out how to seem worthwhile to the schools I want to go to I can apply and by that point I can maybe get interviews as long as I aim pretty low; thanks for the tip re: reading about interviews, though. I see my pre-med advisor tomorrow morning/in a few hours so I'll talk to her about this.

A "trial year" is an absolutely terrible idea. If you aren't ready for this then don't apply this year. Because here's what happens: when you hit submit on your primary, AMCAS starts to count you as an applicant, even if you never fill out a secondary or attend an interview. The following year you're flagged as a re-applicant, which tilts the uphill climb even steeper. Reapplicants face hurdles that first-time applicants don't, and have an even harder time getting acceptances.

If you don't feel ready to apply this year (which quite honestly it sounds like you aren't if you're in the middle of this much doubt and health issues) then take the MCAT if you feel ready for that but leave the application alone. Take the year to save money, work on your health, and really research the process so that you're more confident in what you're doing. Much of what you're talking about regarding figuring out what schools to apply to and how to prep can be done without wasting hundreds of dollars on an application and then facing re-application because you weren't serious.

Also spend time volunteering; since you're heavily interested in autism research I'd look into volunteering with autistic children at a summer camp or something like that. Part of the unwritten requirement for volunteering isn't this evil plot to keep you out, it's to expose you to working closely with vulnerable populations and to show yourself that you actually enjoy doing so. Many an applicant has been gung-ho about medicine, then walked into a hospital and discovered they actually really don't like sick people. Saved them thousands of dollars and a lifetime of regret. That's a good thing.

Once you're actually solid and ready, apply once next year and with as solid an application as possible.
 
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As of right now, this will be lethal.

Here's the deal: You need to show AdComs that you know what you're getting into, and show off your altruistic, humanistic side. We need to know that you're going to like being around sick or injured people for the next 30 years.

Here's another way of looking at it: would you buy a new car without test driving it? Buy a new suit or dress without trying it on??

We're also not looking for merely for good medical students, we're looking for people who will make good doctors, and 4.0 GPA robots are a dime-a-dozen.

I've seen plenty of posts here from high GPA/high MCAT candidates who were rejected because they had little patient contact experience.

Not all volunteering needs to be in a hospital. Think hospice, Planned Parenthood, nursing homes, rehab facilities, crisis hotlines, camps for sick children, or clinics.

Some types of volunteer activities are more appealing than others. Volunteering in a nice suburban hospital is all very well and good and all, but doesn't show that you're willing to dig in and get your hands dirty in the same way that working with the developmentally disabled (or homeless, the dying, or Alzheimers or mentally ill or elderly or ESL or domestic, rural impoverished) does. The uncomfortable situations are the ones that really demonstrate your altruism and get you 'brownie points'. Plus, they frankly teach you more -- they develop your compassion and humanity in ways comfortable situations can't.

Service need not be "unique". If you can alleviate suffering in your community through service to the poor, homeless, illiterate, fatherless, etc, you are meeting an otherwise unmet need and learning more about the lives of the people (or types of people) who will someday be your patients. Check out your local houses of worship for volunteer opportunities. The key thing is service to others less fortunate than you. And get off campus and out of your comfort zone!

Examples include: Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House, Humane Society, crisis hotlines, soup kitchen, food pantry, homeless or women’s shelter, after-school tutoring for students or coaching a sport in a poor school district, teaching ESL to adults at a community center, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, or Meals on Wheels.



I don't have volunteering; I have school project work here and there and things at my synagogue but nothing sustained. Two hospitals and an STD clinic said yes and then said no, and when I lost my car that cut out a lot of clinics and hospitals because a ten-minute drive where I live could be a 90-minute bus ride (one way)..
 
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NonTrad16

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Without being a high stat applicant, I can agree with the above. I had one cycle without any interviews and it seemed to be directly related to my lack of non-clinical volunteering for those in need.
 

y123

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Which state are you from? If you happen to be in a place where there are > 30 schools within driving distance, you can take buses to all your interviews, which is quite cheap. You can stay with student hosts for free instead of hotels.
If you need to fly to all your interviews, it will be really expensive.
 
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ngrd2

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I'm not sure how many people have to tell you that your GPA is fine and that nobody cares if you're poor. Again, wasting energy where it needs to go elsewhere.

Once you're actually solid and ready, apply once next year and with as solid an application as possible.

Yeah, it is a terrible idea; proof that I should not plan a medical application process at 2:30am; sorry. Also, I've heard so many opinions about whether my GPA is good or bad here *and elsewhere* that I am hesitant about it. And it might be apparent that I have, let's say, slightly low self-esteem. And I could blather about the social psychology of endemic poverty here but I'll skip it, sorry.

Thanks for applying quite a bit of patience and logic to my ongoing hyperventilation here, though; I very much appreciate it.
 

ngrd2

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Which state are you from? If you happen to be in a place where there are > 30 schools within driving distance, you can take buses to all your interviews, which is quite cheap. You can stay with student hosts for free instead of hotels.
If you need to fly to all your interviews, it will be really expensive.

There are only a small handful of schools within bus distance unless you're talking a multi-day Greyhound deal but I would rather not do that immediately prior to an interview; I'm also operating at Maximum Pessimism right now because not only might my synagogue help me out with a car, but if my sister and her husband see I actually get some interviews they will probably help out a bit as well. Good idea, though, thanks.
 

ngrd2

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Good to know. Part of this for me was that my pre-med advisor, who suggested it would be more important for someone who's 22 and hasn't experienced health problems, but I'll get back in touch with a few places today, especially a free STD clinic and an ESL tutoring program because they fit in my schedule. I don't want them to seem really calculating. The other side of it is that I've spent most of my life around people who are/were sick in various ways that meeting athletic, consistently healthy people makes me slightly nervous.

Also, this: life experience probably doesn't qualify as volunteering but does it matter at all that I've seen illness and death up close in my life? By this I mainly mean taking care of my mother when she had terminal cancer. "Taking care" wasn't just moral support, it included everything from pumping fluid out of her pleural cavity through a catheter and knowing how/when to administer opiates for air hunger, as well as managing oxygen tanks, etc. And three years after my mother's death I shadowed oncologists in the same exact *hall* of the same wing of the same cancer center where I took my mother to see things from the other side. It probably doesn't actually seem like much because what son wouldn't do that for his mother, but for me, draining and disposing of my mother's pleural fluid is a more intense experience in caregiving than working the front desk at an STD clinic, though I actually want to do the latter.

Finally, it's not that I'm not ready to apply so much as I feel insecure about screwing something up without realizing it. For example: I hit my loan ceiling and couldn't fit second-semester physics into my schedule, having been told I could take it at a community college, and that was sort of correct, but it turns out that in-person community college physics courses are OK while online ones are not, and the sole community college here *only* offers online physics courses, so that wiped a lot of schools off my list and I just need to do some more research, or else come up with $3k to take one college course that begins about ten days after the current semester ends. Thanks, though. I don't mean to seem resistant, I just sometimes go through periods of insecurity and fixate on specific things (like being poor, looking poor, being secretly poor, blah blah blah). Sorry. In the long-term I'm optimistic and confident, it's just that the next six months seem like a lot of nightmare slapstick. Again, though, sorry.
 

Eccesignum

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Yeah, it is a terrible idea; proof that I should not plan a medical application process at 2:30am; sorry. Also, I've heard so many opinions about whether my GPA is good or bad here *and elsewhere* that I am hesitant about it. And it might be apparent that I have, let's say, slightly low self-esteem. And I could blather about the social psychology of endemic poverty here but I'll skip it, sorry.

Thanks for applying quite a bit of patience and logic to my ongoing hyperventilation here, though; I very much appreciate it.

"Ongoing hyperventilation" and "pre-med" go hand in hand, no worries ;)

The things is that no one cookie-cutter solution fits everyone. I can look at a set of numbers from someone and it actually tells me very little -- a super high MCAT by itself is great, but coupled with a poor GPA and a bad attitude it's still a recipe for disaster. A low GPA in and of itself is not good, but the same person can also be a non-trad with a poor GPA from ten years ago but a 4.0 in a recent degree, a powerful PS, and bangin' ECs...that now becomes a great applicant.

So these isolated things of 'is my <X statistic> good or bad' or whatever only really make sense in broader context. Which is something not everyone considers and why some people don't give good answers. The whole person is considered by adcoms, and the whole person has to be considered by anyone giving advice on medical school.

Good to know. Part of this for me was that my pre-med advisor, who suggested it would be more important for someone who's 22 and hasn't experienced health problems, but I'll get back in touch with a few places today, especially a free STD clinic and an ESL tutoring program because they fit in my schedule. I don't want them to seem really calculating. The other side of it is that I've spent most of my life around people who are/were sick in various ways that meeting athletic, consistently healthy people makes me slightly nervous.

It's something you'll need to be comfortable with if you want to go to medical school. The average age of matriculants is somewhere around 24. They'll mostly be much younger and healthier than you, and a large part from upper class backgrounds. You'll need to become okay with that.

Also, this: life experience probably doesn't qualify as volunteering but does it matter at all that I've seen illness and death up close in my life? By this I mainly mean taking care of my mother when she had terminal cancer. "Taking care" wasn't just moral support, it included everything from pumping fluid out of her pleural cavity through a catheter and knowing how/when to administer opiates for air hunger, as well as managing oxygen tanks, etc. And three years after my mother's death I shadowed oncologists in the same exact *hall* of the same wing of the same cancer center where I took my mother to see things from the other side. It probably doesn't actually seem like much because what son wouldn't do that for his mother, but for me, draining and disposing of my mother's pleural fluid is a more intense experience in caregiving than working the front desk at an STD clinic, though I actually want to do the latter.

Unfortunately, while it may be something to consider mentioning in a PS if it's a significant part of your choice to go into medicine, this doesn't count as "healthcare experience". The shadowing can (and certainly should) be put down as an EC.

Finally, it's not that I'm not ready to apply so much as I feel insecure about screwing something up without realizing it. For example: I hit my loan ceiling and couldn't fit second-semester physics into my schedule, having been told I could take it at a community college, and that was sort of correct, but it turns out that in-person community college physics courses are OK while online ones are not, and the sole community college here *only* offers online physics courses, so that wiped a lot of schools off my list and I just need to do some more research, or else come up with $3k to take one college course that begins about ten days after the current semester ends. Thanks, though. I don't mean to seem resistant, I just sometimes go through periods of insecurity and fixate on specific things (like being poor, looking poor, being secretly poor, blah blah blah). Sorry. In the long-term I'm optimistic and confident, it's just that the next six months seem like a lot of nightmare slapstick. Again, though, sorry.

Many people, particularly working non-trads, struggle with either the finances or the time to do the necessary coursework. You're hardly alone. During pre-med I lived in an area so rural that I had to drive an hour one-way to take classes, while working two jobs. I'd often have to sleep in my car on campus between classes, go straight to work overnight (both jobs were almost a 90 minute drive from school), then run home, shower, and run back to class. Tenacity is part of what makes people great applicants in the end, and finding the way to do what has to be done will benefit you in the long run. Obviously you can't snap your fingers and make money appear, but in finding your way the story you'll eventually be able to tell later will strengthen you both on paper and in person.
 
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Eccesignum

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Incidentally, if your area has a Jewish Federation that can be a great place to find volunteer opportunities, and even leadership roles within those. Ours here is constantly short on volunteers for all manner of things, including literacy, caring for the sick, and LGBT outreach.
 
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DoxMom

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On your clothing concerns, I assume it's interview clothing and in particular suits. There are threads with excellent advice, which you should read. Summarized, you can find good quality things at local thrift stores or on line shopping - used, but not worn out. Then pay to have a suit tailored to fit you well, and the biggest item in an interview wardrobe has been checked off. Grey, navy blue, not flat black, is preferable.
 
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strider144

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It sounds like you have a lot of people in your life who are telling you not to try. I generally kept quiet about it when I started down my non-trad path because I was sick of dealing with people who didn't speak from any real authority telling me it was a bad idea to even try. At a certain point, just about all of them did a nice 180 on it and decided it was great. Don't let people live in your head rent-free. They have to earn the right to have an opinion.

Get volunteering. It can be anything. For non-clinical, whatever you've done at your synagogue counts. Most of my volunteering isn't stuff I thought of as volunteering, it's just stuff that I did.

For suits, if J. Crew fits you, make sure you're on their email list and check any promo emails every morning. I got a nice suit by going to a store to figure out my sizing and then waiting for a good sale (still cost some real money, but a whole lot less than it would've and the only tailoring I had to do was to shorten the sleeves). But also, thrift stores. I am not a size where that was possible for me, but it's an option!

As for money and family and stuff, I don't know that they're allowed to ask those questions, but if they do you should have a scripted "I'm not comfortable discussing that" answer to give them.

I'm trans, queer, and formerly homeless. I manage a chronic illness and mentioned it in my PS. My GPA is nowhere near so nice as yours. Hasn't stopped me from getting interviews. Make sure YOU are ready to apply. Don't worry too much about whether OTHER PEOPLE are ready for you to apply.
 
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ngrd2

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It sounds like you have a lot of people in your life who are telling you not to try. I generally kept quiet about it when I started down my non-trad path because I was sick of dealing with people who didn't speak from any real authority telling me it was a bad idea to even try. At a certain point, just about all of them did a nice 180 on it and decided it was great. Don't let people live in your head rent-free. They have to earn the right to have an opinion.

Get volunteering. It can be anything. For non-clinical, whatever you've done at your synagogue counts. Most of my volunteering isn't stuff I thought of as volunteering, it's just stuff that I did.

For suits, if J. Crew fits you, make sure you're on their email list and check any promo emails every morning. I got a nice suit by going to a store to figure out my sizing and then waiting for a good sale (still cost some real money, but a whole lot less than it would've and the only tailoring I had to do was to shorten the sleeves). But also, thrift stores. I am not a size where that was possible for me, but it's an option!

As for money and family and stuff, I don't know that they're allowed to ask those questions, but if they do you should have a scripted "I'm not comfortable discussing that" answer to give them.

I'm trans, queer, and formerly homeless. I manage a chronic illness and mentioned it in my PS. My GPA is nowhere near so nice as yours. Hasn't stopped me from getting interviews. Make sure YOU are ready to apply. Don't worry too much about whether OTHER PEOPLE are ready for you to apply.

THANK YOU! Thank you. I read this and burst into tears. This is exactly what I needed to hear right now. Many, many people who want me to fail are living rent-free in my head. I used to be homeless and am on the edge again. Quite a few violence/death things that are worse than homelessness have happened to me but I survived and kept going. Being autistic comes with odd anxiety problems, so right now I have an eating disorder (ARFID) and lost almost 100 lbs. and am sick from dehydration all the time but it hasn't stopped me from trying as hard as I can try. I'm not doing all of this for selfish reasons, but people seem to be eager to accuse me of that.

I have to stay up all night to get work and schoolwork done and have school for thirteen hours tomorrow but afterward I'll find any volunteering. And again, THANK YOU, sorry for the all caps but yes, I am determined. Thank you.
 

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You got great advice in this thread.

My only additional suggestion is that, if you are not currently doing so, you consider seeing a mental health professional for support during this process; they could also help you make a connection to a health professional in a new city so that there could be some degree of continuity of care.

I am not saying this because I think anything is "wrong" with you. I say it because you seem to have a lot on your plate and medical school seems like it can break even the "healthiest"/least burdened people (there has been a recent trend in YouTube videos by medical students opening up about depression in medical school).

Again, you got great advice in this thread. I wish you the best.


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ngrd2

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Feb 13, 2017
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You got great advice in this thread.

My only additional suggestion is that, if you are not currently doing so, you consider seeing a mental health professional for support during this process; they could also help you make a connection to a health professional in a new city so that there could be some degree of continuity of care.

I am not saying this because I think anything is "wrong" with you. I say it because you seem to have a lot on your plate and medical school seems like it can break even the "healthiest"/least burdened people (there has been a recent trend in YouTube videos by medical students opening up about depression in medical school).

Again, you got great advice in this thread. I wish you the best.


Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile

I did get great advice, thanks, and yes, mental health help is not something I'm shy about, but I lost my current therapist when he left the US and haven't been able to find another right when I need one the most. Thank you though, and again, to everyone, *thank you* for all of your great advice.
 
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