WAMC/School List Help: 515/4.0/ORM

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.
Nov 28, 2023
Reaction score
Hi all. I am a senior Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Spanish dual degree student in my final year of undergraduate. I am planning to apply in the 2024-2025 cycle, meaning that I would take one gap year and hopefully matriculate the following year.
  • cGPA and sGPA as calculated by AMCAS or AACOMAS
    • 4.0 for both
  • MCAT score(s) and breakdown. Include all (non-voided) attempts.
    • 515 overall
      • Chem/Phys: 130
      • CARS: 125
      • Bio/Biochem: 129
      • Psych/Soc: 131
  • State of residence or country of citizenship (if non-US)
    • MA
  • Ethnicity and/or race
    • White
  • Undergraduate institution or category
    • UMass Amherst
  • Clinical experience (volunteer and non-volunteer)
    • Total: 1050 hours
      • Medical Scribe at Pediatrician's Office - 700 hours
        • I wasn't sure whether to list this under clinical experience or shadowing
      • CNA at nursing home - 300 hours
      • Hospice Volunteer/Companion - 50 hours
  • Research experience and productivity
    • Total: 500 hours
      • Honors thesis project - 250 hours
      • Research Assistant ("Factors influencing disparities in quality of life among people of color affected by cancer") - 100 hours
        • I assisted with Spanish-speaking participants and eventually took on more of a 'leadership' role where I trained new research assistants on how to do certain tasks
      • Various independent studies in the Spanish department relating to language access - 150 hours
  • Shadowing experience and specialties represented
    • See above with medical scribe in pediatrics
      • (I know I wouldn't list this twice on AMCAS, but this is the only "shadowing" experience I have)
  • Non-clinical volunteering
    • Total: 150 hours
      • Information conversation partner with an international student from China - 50 hours
      • Community spanish volunteer (creating/facilitating activities for children in Spanish) - 50 hours
      • UMass Dance Marathon volunteer - 50 hours
  • Other extracurricular activities (including athletics, military service, gap year activities, leadership, teaching, etc)
    • Teaching Assistant - total: 600 hours (I plan to group this into one experience on AMCAS)
      • General Biochemistry - 300 hours (3 semesters)
      • Introductory Biology - 260 hours (4 semesters)
      • Physical Chemistry - 50 hours (1 semester)
    • Designing and delivering a high school course ("The Foundations of Translation, Interpreting, and Language Access") alongside my professor - total: 250 hours
      • Will be presenting at 2 different conferences about this experience
    • Gap year
      • I will be working full-time as Medical Assistant in OB/GYN, where I expect to get lots of hands-on experience assisting with procedures
  • Relevant honors or awards
    • I am in the Commonwealth Honors College at my school
    • I am waiting to hear back on some scholarships I applied to, which I would likely report on AMCAS
  • Other notes/questions
    • I did a 1-month study abroad program in Spain in Summer 2022
    • I know my volunteer hours in general are pretty low... I hope to continue on with hospice volunteering over my gap year to account for this.
    • Do you think the fact that I have no shadowing experience outside working as a scribe in peds will hinder my application? I thought it would be fine since I am going to be coming in with experience working with different populations (ie. geriatric, OB/GYN), but I wasn't sure. I know shadowing is one of the lower-weighted components of the application.
    • I am struggling to decide whether or not it is worth it to apply to low yield schools (e.g. Drexel, Temple, Georgetown, etc.) even if I am close to their median MCAT.
    • I need heed help refining my list, so either cutting down schools that are totally unrealistic, or substituting in schools that would be more appropriate.
Schools I have been considering so far (my goal is to apply to 20-30 schools and I currently have 33 here):
  1. University of Arizona Phoenix
  2. Kaiser Permanente
  3. Boston University
  4. UMass
  5. Dartmouth
  6. Albert Einstein
  7. Icahn (Mount Sinai)
  8. New York Medical College
  9. NYU Long Island
  10. University of Rochester
  11. Thomas Jefferson
  12. UPitt
  13. Brown
  14. UCLA
  15. Quinnipiac
  16. UConn
  17. Georgetown
  18. UMiami
  19. UVM
  20. Tufts
  21. UMaryland
  22. Saint Louis University
  23. Virginia Commonwealth
  24. George Washington
  25. Rosalind Franklin
  26. Loyola Chicago
  27. Hofstra
  28. Emory
  29. UCSF
  30. Hackensack Meridian
  31. UCF
  32. UVA
  33. Vanderbilt

Members don't see this ad.
I can't assume your school list is in a preference order, but since you have Arizona-Phoenix and KP leading off...

You need more community service, especially with local Latinx communities as a whole, not just children. Show me you have immersed yourself in your local Latinx community and can attest to the challenges they face when it comes to social services, health care access, housing, jobs, education, and family support. I don't see that in your community service in general. In fact, your tutoring/teaching is a much larger share of your experience hours compared to community service.

Furthermore, you list no service orientation activities (food distribution, shelter volunteer, job/tax preparation, transportation services, housing rehabilitation). This puts your application at risk of getting screened out at most schools. Hospice will help, but it seems like a natural extension of your nursing home CNA experience (though it could be non-clinical). You need 150 hours in at least one of the above activities (total) by submission to avoid getting screened out at most schools, and projected/promised hours don't count in this calculation. Ideally, you may have to wait a year to not look like this is check-boxing or "I just realized I need this!"

Consequently, at this time, your best chances are likely your in-state programs UMass, BostonU, and Tufts, but not having the service orientation hours makes you less desirable. If you address this deficiency, your application will have a better chance to express your mission as a physician and have a chance for mission fit with the programs on your list.
I am struggling to decide whether or not it is worth it to apply to low yield schools (e.g. Drexel, Temple, Georgetown, etc.) even if I am close to their median MCAT.
Yes, it is worth it to apply to more safety schools because the reality is you need to maximize your chances of getting an interview anywhere if you’re ready to start, especially with your ORM status. That 125 CARS is a little risky, because it is on the border of what a lot of schools would accept, but I don’t think necessarily warrants a retake with your GPA. I think your clinical experiences are robust and you will have a lot of hours before applying, but you need some sort of longitudinal service project and something to really round out your application. A few of those schools, like UCLA, Tufts, Kaiser, Loyola - really place a heavy emphasis on serving the underserved and I don’t see that as a theme of your application.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
You can assign 50 hours of your scribing to shadowing. Your lack of non clinical volunteering hours will limit your chances for interviews. Loyola, Georgetown and St. Louis are looking for applicants with many hundreds or thousands of hours of non clinical volunteering.
I suggest these schools:
Boston University
New York Medical College
Mount Sinai
Penn State
George Washington
Virginia Commonwealth
Eastern Virginia
Wake Forest
USF Morsani
Rosalind Franklin
Medical College Wisconsin
Western Michigan
Oakland Beaumont
Arizona (Phoenix)