MY NON-TRADITIONAL EDUCATIONAL TIMELINE
*Saint Louis University: BA in Biology, 2004 (sub-3.0 science GPA—ouch!)
*UMDNJ – Stratford: Master of Biomedical Sciences, 2006 (~3.5)
*Loyola University – Chicago: BA in Philosophy, Minor in Bioethics , 2008 (3.9+)
PREVIOUS APPLICATION CYCLES
Previous application cycle (2007-2008):
*I filed my AMCAS application, but I did not complete any secondaries and requested application withdrawals for two reasons: (1) I had an extremely late letter of recommendation that wasn’t available until December, and (2) I was seriously considering going for a PhD in Philosophy instead of medicine.
Previous application cycle (2008-2009):
*Applied MD and DO (AMCAS verified 08/22, so I was pretty late), but did not complete DO secondaries.
*Four interviews: Iowa, Drexel, Creighton, and SLU.
*Rejected, Post-Interview: Iowa (after placement into final pool). I was nervous and my interview didn’t go very well.
*Waitlisted, not accepted: Drexel, Creighton and SLU. All of these interviews went well, especially SLU. Unfortunately, Creighton and SLU were very late (January and February), so I was probably already interviewing for waitlists. Once all of these medical schools started classes, it was a crushing blow to my confidence. I spoke with the Director of Admissions at Creighton over the summer asking how I could improve my application for next year. He basically said that I was a good applicant and that there wasn’t anything more that he would recommend… except, of course, to give it another shot. As you can imagine, this was both frustrating and reassuring. I gave it another roll of the dice this 2009-2010 cycle, and I was accepted in October by SLU!
*April 2004 (paper): Wasn’t really sure whether I wanted to take this, but then I decided to go ahead with it at the last minute to possibly apply to special masters programs. Studied for about 2-2.5 weeks. Didn’t even take an AAMC practice test… Not surprisingly, I scored in the mid-20s. It was good enough for my application to the UMDNJ-Stratford Master of Biomedical Sciences program though.
*August 2006 (paper): 32 R. This score was considered as expired by a number of med schools that I would have applied to this cycle (e.g., Creighton and Drexel). Studied most of summer ‘06, but I was only able to cover all the subjects once and I only took one practice test (AAMC 3R). I got a 7 on the Physical Sciences section in 2004 and I knew it was my weakness. So, I focused on this section and raised it up 5 points (shocked!). Increased BS, VR, and Writing too, but my BS and VR scores were a little higher on AAMC 3R. Test administrators weren’t very organized and we got out really late (like 6pm!). But, I can’t complain.
*Resources: for Physics and Chemistry--Princeton Review MCAT Physical Sciences course book (Fantastic!); for Biology -- Kaplan + my grad program; for Organic – Examkrackers (surprisingly concise and high yield); Verbal -- Examkrackers); and for Writing, I pretty much winged it. Took only one full practice test—AAMC 3R.
*Undergrad science GPA: I struggled with science courses as an undergrad. Withdrew from 4 science courses due to low grades. Received 9 C or C+ grades in science courses prior to graduation. Result = sub-3.0 bcpm (too low to be evaluated by SLU’s Pre-Health Committee on evaluations). Ouch.
*Non-science/all other GPA: Never really had trouble with these--never dropped below 3.9.
*Postbaccalaureate science GPA: 3.75. 30+ credits mostly at a nearby liberal arts college. Apparently, it helps to study for science courses… who knew?! Got my undergraduate bcpm over the 3.0 mark.
*Graduate GPA: Just short of 3.5. Completed UMDNJ program in two semesters (it’s really designed for three semesters) and took two courses with osteopathic medical students. All A’s in graduate courses except for one B+. I performed decently in the two medical courses (equivalent of “Pass” for medical students), but this translated to “C” and “C+” grades (and from the transcripts it’s not even clear that they’re any different from the normal grad courses)--I was extremely worried about this for the MD schools.
I did my best to be true to myself. My personal statement highlighted my humility and persistence as opposed to trying to hype up my chief accomplishments and “sell myself” in a narrative resume. I did not seek any professional proofreading, but I did ask family to give me some feedback. I also attempted to focus on my *non-clinical* experiences and show how they translated to my interest in medicine.
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
*Undergrad Science LOR from Physio Professor: Got the top grade in one of his classes, did some research with him, was a tutor for one of his classes, was a TA for one of his classes, had quite a few personal conversations with him—he knew me very well
*Undergrad Science LOR from former Biology Department Chairperson: We honestly didn’t know each other very well, but I excelled in a course with him, and I needed another undergrad science LOR
*Undergrad Non-Science LOR from Philosophy professor/Bioethics Minor director: took several of her classes and did well. She knew me pretty well.
*Graduate Science LOR: I wasn’t sure how good this letter would be—I got an A in her grad classes, but I got a C in a medical course that she co-instructed. Somewhat surprisingly, for all of the interviews I received, I used her LOR. Nice lady and good person. Grad LOR was required by a number of medical schools.
Checked out schools’ websites. Went over my AMCAS and secondary application responses. Attempted to give myself crash courses on major interview topics (e.g., healthcare insurance reform)—realized it was unnecessary to get too caught up in the minutiae (i.e., focus on the big picture). Read SDN interview feedback and focused on repeated questions. Practiced rehearsing coherent answers without actually having memorized mini-speeches. When the interviewer(s) name was given in advance, I did some web searches to see if any helpful information was available (field, research interests, CV, etc.). I did not do any mock interviews.