And so it begins. Well... not really. I took my first practice MCAT yesterday, so I figure now that I have most of the information to fill one of these out, I'll go ahead and do it. I was really pleased with the MCAT score, especially considering that I haven't had physiology or physics yet. Obviously room for improvement, but I'd say that a 34 is a great place to start.
The schools listed right now are simply what I'm considering. The list will probably change significantly by the time application season rolls around. I think that I'm qualified enough to gain admission to a top tier school, thus why I'm relatively top-heavy. Also, even though I'm from Texas, I don't want to stay in Texas, thus why I'm applying to so many out of state schools. I feel like I've incorporated a few safety schools, though. Like I said, this list is definitely not static and will change as I do more research. By the time I apply I want to have the list narrowed down to around 12 schools: 4 schools I feel confident I can get into, 4 schools that I have a reasonable shot at getting into, and 4 schools that will be a reach. If I decide to apply to a few more then that's fine, but I don't want to apply to more than 15.
These are things I'd like to accomplish before I apply (about a year and a half from now):
-200+ hours of clinical experience
-200+ hours of volunteer service
-more EC involvement
-scoring 38+ on practice MCAT exams
At this point, I feel like my ECs are slightly lacking, which is unfortunate because I feel so busy. I don't think I could fit in more ECs if I wanted to. My main concern is clinical experience though, which is REALLY lacking. Obviously I'm going to have to kick it up into high gear for the remainder of this year and all of next year.
Please note that I'm applying for matriculation for 2011 (I plan to take the MCAT the spring of 2010). If, however, you have some useful advice, you're more than welcome to leave it. At this point, though, this is more of a tool for me to document my goals and progress towards those goals.
After picking up a copy of the MSAR (which is definitely one of the best resources I've looked at up to this point), I've revised my school list a little bit. Unfortunately, this consisted primarily of adding schools rather than subtracting them. At this point I have 17 schools on my list, two more than I'd like to have at most. I also feel like my list is a little too competitive. I think if I don't find some lower tier schools that spark my interest I may be left with no where to go at the end of the cycle. Hopefully I'll have a better list after a few more looks through the MSAR.
I've also started a relatively slow-paced content review using Kaplan's MCAT Premier Program book. I hope to have worked through all of the content by the end of the summer. From there on out, I'll mostly be doing casual reviews and taking a full length test at least once a month until test time. I think this should be a pretty good way to study, especially since I'm starting so early. By the time I get to the real thing I should be pretty familiar with the content and have no problem finishing the exam mentally.
I'm still not sure if I want to drop almost two grand for a class though...
After a few more looks through the MSAR, I think I now have what is my complete list of 'candidate' schools. These are schools that meet a few criteria:
1) They accept reasonable amounts of OOS applicants
2) Unless they are 'top' (whatever that means) schools, cost was also considered
3) The school is in a location that I wouldn't mind going to (unless, again, the program is a program I would disregard the location for)
Obviously, these are superficial criteria. However, I wanted to at least produce a large pool of schools to begin the process of narrowing them down. This will obviously require more research. Really I'm just trying to make a starting point for myself.
I've made three categories into which I'll sort this list of schools based on GPA, MCAT, and selection reputation: 'easy,' which consists of schools I think I have a good chance of getting into; 'match,' which consists of schools that I think I have a reasonable chance of getting into; and 'reach,' which consists of schools that I think I don't have a good chance of getting into. I don't expect my GPA to change all that much unless something tragic happens, so I'm assuming a 3.9; I'm also assuming that I will score higher on my real MCAT (somewhere around a 38 or 39).
So, without further ado:
UTSW (only because I'm in-state, and Texas schools love their own)
UT San Antionio
So that's that. I now have a starting place. This is way too many schools, so I'll have to whittle the list down. As I've said before, I want to limit my list to 15, but preferably 12.
I've updated my GPA to reflect my grades for the spring term (the only thing that changed is a .01 point bump up on the BCPM GPA). Now that summer's here, it's time to get on the MCAT content review grind. I plan on relaxing and going into a couch coma for a few weeks, but once my work at UTSW begins in June it'll be time to get busy with the reviewing as well. Since I've decided to not take a formal MCAT course - both for financial considerations and from what I've heard from a few people - I need to make the most of this summer to make sure that I have at least a basic grasp of most of the material. I plan on taking a full-length test at the end of the summer to see if I made any progress. Hopefully I'll see a bump of a point or two, but who knows.
I've made no further progress on narrowing down my school list. To be honest, I haven't even taken a look at the MSAR or any other resource since I compiled the list on my last post. I really need to delve into the nitty gritty details on each school, and that'll take some time since the MSAR doesn't include much of that information. I might do some of that this summer, but I'll probably leave it until next spring.
As I look over my MDApps, I'm very happy with where I've gotten so far. I couldn't ask for a better GPA, and I think my ECs are starting to round out well. I'm looking to add one more EC in the fall (I have an organization in mind that seems like a lot of fun, but since it's an organization that requires an application, I'm not assuming anything), but I'll be done with ECs at that point. I think that after this summer with SURF, I'll have a pretty solid research foundation that will give me something to talk about at the research-heavy schools. I'm happy with my community service activities, and I'll have at least 140 hours by the time application season rolls around. The only thing that's severely lacking at this point is my clinical experience. I plan to hunker down in the fall and spring and knock out some serious hours. I want to have 60 or so hours of hospital experience and 40-50 hours of shadowing experience by the end of the fall. I hope to have 100 hours of each by the end of the year, giving me at least 200 hours of experience to list on my application. I think that's enough... I'm not sure if I could do much more than that, since time's starting to be a factor. I'd like to shadow a physician of a different specialty just to get some variety, but we'll see if that ends up happening or not. Ultimately, though, I get the feeling that I'll have a very competitive application by the end of next year.
Wow, it's weird to think that I'll be applying in a year. Yikes...