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"Why should we let you in?" UCSD interview help

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Messerschmitts, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. Messerschmitts

    Messerschmitts Mythic Dawn acolyte
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    Hey guys, I'm interviewing at UCSD tomorrow (I'm in way over my head here), they kinda have a reputation of having confrontational stress interviews, and I'm terrified they're gonna tear me a new corn chute.

    So anyway, what's a good approach to the "why should we let you in"? question? Other, more cruel permutations that have been posted on interview feedback include: "What makes you better than all the other great applicants we have?" and "We could fill our class completely with 4.0 students if we wanted to. What makes you worthy?" Personally I think this entire "genre" of questions is very mean-spirited and in very poor taste. It creates an atmosphere of fear and competitiveness that is not good for the medical field in general. Since I already have an acceptance at a lower-tier school and I don't think I have a realistic chance of getting into UCSD, I am tempted to just tell them what I think of their question if I get asked that. But of course it would likely get me nowhere.

    Any thoughts on how to approach this? All I can think of is nervously trying to list my (weak, unoriginal) qualifications, or telling them off (i.e. "This is what I think of your who freakin' institution!") and going in a blaze of glory. Is there a better way?
     
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  3. tacrum43

    tacrum43 Behold the mighty echidna
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    Well I think you should explain that a 3.9 at Berkeley is like a 4.5 at the average undergrad, so they should let you in just for that! ;)

    Despite the fact that I am obviously unqualified to be answering this question, I think you should just talk about why you love medicine and how being a good doctor (and even a good medical student) is about more than grades. UCSD and every school must realize this, because they list other qualities that they're looking for in the MSAR, etc. They can't seriously believe that (about filling the class with all 4.0 students), so maybe they just want to make sure you don't either. I think that if you just answer confidently and succinctly, you'll be fine.

    And maybe if they ask you the "Why are you better than the other applicants we have?" question, don't say that you actually are, but just list good qualities about yourself and your application that will convince them you'll be a good doctor.

    Going in there with that attitude that if they're negative, you'll just tell them off is a bad idea though I think. Well unless you don't want to go there. :p
     
  4. Messerschmitts

    Messerschmitts Mythic Dawn acolyte
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    Oh, I WANT to go there, badly. :D I just don't think I have a snowball's chance in Mexico of actually getting in. Grades is one of the few things I got going for me, so if they say the "fill our class with 4.0 students thing", I can legitimately throw up my hands and exclaim in exasperation, "Oh, c'mon!, I have a friggin' 3.96 here!" or alternatively I can taunt them with "Then why don't you? You won't, because UCSD knows just as well as I that GPA doesn't make the doc" and go from there. No, what I'm far more afraid of is the "What makes you better/why are you worthy" versions. My ECs are weak, unimpressive, and trite.
     
  5. pagemmapants

    pagemmapants Unknown Member
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    You know, I'm still kind of baffled as to what is "good" to say in interviews. For my UCSD interview I straight up accidentally insulted Dr. Kelly (I said "I don't want to be one of those *fingerquotes* doctors that gets an MD and then doesn't actually treat patients" before realizing that SHE is one of those doctors) and still got in. Then again, neither of my interviews there were really all that stressful at all, despite Dr. Kelly smiling in secret amusement and responding with ". . . interesting. . . " when I mentioned teaching for Kaplan. Maybe I lucked out. Either way, UCSD is weird. Oh yeah, Mess: why do you want to go to SD so badly? Is there something awesome about it that I seem to be missing?
     
  6. tacrum43

    tacrum43 Behold the mighty echidna
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    :laugh: about the finger-quotes.

    And as for why UCSD:

    1. It's in California
    2. In state tuition goodness
    3. You won't have to buy a winter coat
     
  7. tacrum43

    tacrum43 Behold the mighty echidna
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    You volunteered in the ER, right? If you spent any time in there you must have seen/done something cool. You can always fall back on explaing how dedicated you are (well unless you're not of course :p ), and reapplying definitely shows that applying formedical school wasn't just something you did for fun.
     
  8. pagemmapants

    pagemmapants Unknown Member
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    Yeeeeeeah, I do get that. But when you think UCSD vs. Baylor the cost doesn't seem to make much of a difference once you factor in getting in-state for Baylor after first year (not to mention buying a condo rather than renting an apartment). Plus, you definitely don't have to buy a winter coat in Houston either. And Baylor is private (or at least moreso than UCSD).

    I guess my question is more like "what does UCSD have over Baylor?"

    My apologies for hijacking, btw.
     
  9. tacrum43

    tacrum43 Behold the mighty echidna
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    Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Go to Baylor. :thumbup:

    edit: This post *may* contain some selfishly motivated advice.
     
  10. pagemmapants

    pagemmapants Unknown Member
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    :laugh: Nothing like unbiased journalism. :D
     
  11. Messerschmitts

    Messerschmitts Mythic Dawn acolyte
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    Okay, I admit. :p I want to go to UCSD because it's a UC, great tuition, great prestige, and very close to my home (I live in Los Angeles), which reduced homesickness. It's either SD or somewhere in the Midwest at this point, and I'm not a big fan of the Midwest. UCSD has a fierce reputation for producing a lot of very high-end research too, but honestly I don't want to go into research. I have to admit, UCSD's reputation for having a competitive, stressed-out class, and their traditionalist curriculum are not too appealing, but I'm willing to overlook those things in exchange for the honour of attending a UC med school. (Obviously I have a much better answer prepared for "why UCSD" :p )

    As for Baylor, sorry I didn't apply to any Texan schools.

    Btw Seilienne (or anyone else who interviewed recently at UCSD), could you tell me what the format of the interview is? I think I've heard there is one student and one faculty interviewer. Which one is open-file, and which one is closed-file?
     
  12. StevenRF

    StevenRF Senior Member
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    I got accepted a weekish ago. Here's all I know...

    Format: Two interviews, one was with a Med prof, another was with a PhD prof.
    Med prof: Open file, but he was so busy that he ran in from the clinic and started reading my file while I was answering his questions. Straightforward, not hostile... the usual why do you want to be a doctor, tell me about yourself, what do you do for fun. Connected with him because we both liked to surf. Was in and out in 15 minutes. Straightforward, to the point, my type of interview.
    PhD prof: This was the hostile one. He knew my file backwards and forwards. Started with the usual BS, then busted out some of the questions like why should we take you, why are you better than everyone else. Heres the deal, with these type of interviews, you just have to fire back. If you take the vagina way out and come up with some lame way to skirt the question, your gonna lose all respect. You have to stand and deliver on these. I think I said something along the linesof I have superior math and reasoning skills and I've done more than memorize my way through the last four years like most bio premeds through my engineering education etc. Show that you have some balls and you can stand up for yourself. Oh yea, then in response he busted out this one article about an ethical issue on organ donation. We spent the rest of the interview arguing ethics, with me trying to argue why you should be able to sell your organs.

    After the interview there was the free clinic video, which I completely slept through, and I think they saw me. :laugh:

    Moral of the story: Go balls to the wall and don't hold anything back. You've already got an acceptance and nothing to lose. BTW, they are kinda big on the whole Why does this school fit you type of thing. If you get stuck or nervous or feel trapped, just think of this: By the time you're a doctor and practicing after residency, the person who interviewed you will most likely be 6 feet under or so debilitated they can't wipe their own arse, and you won't think twice about them. Almost every doctor I've interviewed with is old, overweight, unhealthy, and got in back when the old boys club ruled.

    The good news is you'll find out really quick if you got in.
     
  13. Messerschmitts

    Messerschmitts Mythic Dawn acolyte
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    Eeep. Thanks for all the inside info, but this does not calm my nerves. So the "they make you read an article and discuss it" rumours are true, in addition to the confrontational nature of the interivew/questions. Oh boy, tomorrow's gonna be brutal...I feel like some farmboy who got drafted into the marines during WWII and is now in an LST about to land with the first wave on Iwo Jima. Hope my rifle doesn't jam.
     
  14. novawildcat

    novawildcat Senior Member
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    I always wanted to apply to a school as a joke, hoping I would get an interview where I could just be as hostile to the interviewers as they were to me. That would be such an awesome way to blow off some steam and get back at this whole lame rat race process.
     
  15. MollyMalone

    MollyMalone I'm a Score Quadruplet
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    Dude, as the possessor of a vagina, I find that completely offensive.
     
  16. pagemmapants

    pagemmapants Unknown Member
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    I had 2 interviews; one with Dr. Kelly (I think she's Asst. Dean of Admissions or something?) and one with a pathologist. Both had already gone through my files and both were really laid back. . . so don't freak out too much. Honestly, it wasn't nearly as scary as one of my other interviews where the guy practically told me "you're a chick and you were born a Christian. . . go find a Rabbi and a Y chromosome and maybe you'll get in". Besides, I'm fully aware of a few people there who shouldn't have even gotten into Podunk U. so go in with guns blazing and wow the crap out of them. That's my advice. :)

    Good luck!
     
  17. pagemmapants

    pagemmapants Unknown Member
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    Vaginas are fun. I should know, I have one too.
     
  18. Nikki2002

    Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

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  19. Messerschmitts

    Messerschmitts Mythic Dawn acolyte
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    Hey guys, I just came back from my interview. My first one with Prof. Vande Berg was awesome, he was super-friendly and went out of his way to make me feel comfortable, and I felt like he was genuinely interested in getting to know me as a person instead of trying to quiz me.

    That said...my second interviewer (Dr. Lopez) kicked my @$$!! He was everything I feared. He brutally and embarassingly tore apart any shred of weakness in my responses. I got an ethical question from him "wrong". He chewed me up and spat me back out, all whilst keeping a smile on his face. He wasn't mean-spirited nor did he do anything unprofessional; he was just a really tough interviewer who made it clear that he was there to evaluate me, not be my friend. I felt traumatised after the interview, like how Han Solo felt after he came out of the torture chamber on Bespin. "I feel terrible". The worst part was, it's not him being mean, it's that all those weaknesses he pointed out so embarassingly to me were true! I suck! I did not get into UCSD. I guess I'm going to SLU. :( (I know, I should be grateful of what I have, SLU is a fine school).

    Btw, as a feminist and a lover/respecter/fan of women, I too was somewhat offended by that "vagina" comment. :) More women in medicine! (Increases both gender equality and my potential dating pool, it's win-win!)
     
  20. Sorry to hear it didn't go so well. I interviewed at UCSD 4 years ago, was interviewed by the then dean of admissions and the prof who would become interim dean of admissions the next year. Neither was confrontational. It's too bad there are some interviewers who give students a hard time. I think sometimes they are trying to see if you can think on your feet or how you respond to pressure.
     
  21. BananaSplit

    BananaSplit Senior Member
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    It's really the luck of the draw, I suppose, but most of my classmates had very laid-back intereviews. During my year, Dr. Rapaport was the interim dean and we had one student interview and one faculty interview, and for me, they were both just casual conversations. I wasn't drilled on any ethical or political issues.

    I think Dr. Kelly definitely emphasizes different things than Dr. Rapaport in applicant selection. The Class of 2008 and 2009 are quite different (not in terms of grades, MCATs, etc), but the attitude and priorities of the two classes are very distinct.
     
  22. Newquagmire

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    Banana is very right about the different flavors. The Class of 2007 is just as different too.

    About the OP question: even if the interviewers don't ask "the question," they're still thinking it. That's what makes it an interview and not coffee at Starbuck's.

    ... Merry Christmas!
     
  23. sdnstud

    sdnstud 1K Member
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    Keep in mind that we're on a H/P/NP system. A score of 60 on the exam is just as good as a score of 85! (both 60 and 85 = Pass)

     
  24. Messerschmitts

    Messerschmitts Mythic Dawn acolyte
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    Ha ha, trust me, nothing could scare me away from UCSD if given an acceptance (but with that interview, even a waitlist position would probably be a stroke of unbelieveable luck).
     
  25. UCLA2000

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    Look at the question differently. Why should we let you in translates to: What is unique and special about you? What will you add to our class?
     
  26. Newquagmire

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    When has 60 been a P?? If you look at the distribution, 30 people NPed. 1/4th of a class should not fail any course unless the teaching and examination methods are subpar.
     
  27. DoctorPardi

    DoctorPardi In Memory of Riley Jane
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    To answer the "why are you better than all the others?" question just give them a good personal example of why you decided to be a doctor.

    If you decided to be a doctor because you want to be rich, then you probably shouldn't be a doctor in the first place and that's something they want to know about too.

    So there was probably something at somepoint that made you think "I should be a doctor". So think about that moment and explain it to them.

    For me I had spent years in high school and my freshmen year of college trying to figure out what to do. I thought about being a lawyer or a pharmacist. But I got no satisfaction doing these things. I worked in a pharmacy and I went to mock trial comeptitions and things of that nature. I felt like I couldn't make a difference. Like I should be doing things to help people, not counting pills or arguing over evidence. Then I started working at a hospital and subsequently shadowing a surgeon and I soon found what would become my life's passion, because I couldn't see myself being any happier doing anything else and in turn couldn't see myself being any better at doing anything else given I would be putting every ounce of effort in my body into this profession.
     
  28. lord_jeebus

    lord_jeebus 和魂洋才
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    Newquagmire,

    You know that that distribution is for 1/2 of the histo final exam, or about 1/3 of the class. You also know that the other 1/2 of the histo final had a mean that was 8 points higher with a much lower SD. The official pass line for the class is a cumulative 70%, not 70% on each exam. I don't see why you're trying to make things look worse than they really were.

    If 1/3 of our class NP'd histo it would be a huge scandal and everyone would be bitching about it.
     

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