I consider myself a \"late applicant\" into the cycle.
I submitted primaries somewhat late because I did a retake on the MCAT. Went from 25O to 31R in two months with some dedicated studying and less anxiety the second time around. IMO I ended up applying to way too many schools in my AAMCAS and AACOMAS primaries, it was 18 in total. Fortunately I was accepted a week after completing my secondary for MSUCOM (first choice) so I chose not to finish any other secondaries, I consider myself extremely fortunate/lucky in that regard.
I roughly spent $3000 for MCAT prep course ($1800), the MCAT itself (x2), 18 primaries and 2 secondaries. Keep an estimate of your own likely expenses because the expenses come up quickly and all at once. If you have the luxury of time, research schools intensively before submitting primaries to prevent wasted money because it\'s too easy to just check away at boxes for primary schools.
I didn\'t bother listing the other 16 schools I never completed because I am writing this retrospectively and frankly anyone can submit a primary (I did actually recieve 18 total secondaries).
-Michigan State Undergrad c/o 2009
-Took a year off for work in clinical research at a major institution
-Around 1500 clinical&non-clinical volunteer hours
-Around 400 shadowing hours (MD and DO)
-Around 3000 work hours
-Around 1000 EC/Sports hours
-2 Years of undergrad clinical research
-Summer Study Abroad
-Upward trend in grades, 4.0 last two semesters of mostly upper level sciences
My grades took a dive my third year of undergrad (~2.6 year GPA) mainly due to overloading myself with too many committments, I thought this would put me dead in the water. However, I have to believe finishing strong my last year helped a ton. Get past the initial screening and upward trends make a difference.
Apply early. AAMCAS took 4 weeks to verify, AACOMAS took just short of 8 weeks to verify (I already applied fairly late so this worried me). Even if you feel behind, never give up because it\'s not too late until you\'re actually after their deadline. Secondaries take a lot of time to write and get expensive. Luckily I only had to do two of them. Plan ahead early for these, if you\'re late into the cycle look on SDN for school specific secondary info so you can submit secondaries the same day they are sent to you.
Lastly, I only give hours on my activities for anonymity and because in my mind it doesn\'t matter specifically what they were (I assure you they were not \"filler\"). Do what you enjoy and find passion in. Don\'t just do fluff for the sake of your application or because John Doe thinks it\'s vital to getting into med school. Not to mention doing what you enjoy will lead you to some great LORs, I know it did for me. Wherever you are in the cycle, whether it be a year 1 undergrad or just before secondaries, create a CV or resume (include dates and hours) for yourself to keep track of EVERYTHING you do. It will make your life a lot easier come secondary time.
Try not to overly stress about the things you have no control over. Your work will speak for itself come admissions time.
More to come. (maybe)