I\'m writing this so that you can see how someone with a poor initial academic record was able to ultimately get into a top medical school. I am proof, it can happen - despite the discouraging things you might hear. I want to encourage applicants (and those considering applying) who are in the same boat to go for it. (I recently revised this to make it more straightforward and concise.)
Very non-traditional. 30 yrs old, married. Worked several jobs during and after undergrad in business, science, and healthcare.
My academic record was….. well, like the proverbial phoenix.
It all went up in flames my sophomore year of college, when overwhelmed by health problems and major family crisis. I was 17 and didn\'t handle it well.
Burning pile of feathers: Numerous W\'s and a couple of F\'s. Well below a 3.0 GPA.
Smoldering ashes: I thought I\'d lost my chances of ever getting into med school. One of my advisors even said \"Um, there\'s no way you\'ll get in anywhere.\" (Note: I sent him a pic from my white coat ceremony.)
I worked for a few years in the business world, until I came to realize that I couldn\'t live with myself doing just any job for the rest of my life. I absolutely had to do what I loved, not just what was easy to get.
Rising: 45 credits at a 3.9, studying while working part to full time, shadowing, and studying for the MCAT. When I applied, I had: + Nailed the MCAT. + VERY strong LORs from the physicians I worked with, and mentor professors. + Stellar list of ECs, very well-written. (By stellar, I do not mean published papers and awards, I mean well rounded science and non-science, and full of interesting things I was passionate about and/or had dedicated great time and effort to.) + Solid, compelling personal statement essay. I took this as my best chance to grab their attention, and more than make up for whatever crap was in my earlier transcripts. + Secondaries that I put a lot of work into, using them as another opportunity to show them who I am, not just answer the questions.
The above pieces are what snagged me a few interviews. Then I nailed the interviews – confidence, engaging, enthusiastic. Most importantly, I was myself. Genuine is win. (As someone who now interviews applicants, I’ll tell you – they can sense faking a mile away.)
Some of my EC\'s (to show that the EC section isn\'t just for listing volunteering and research papers): . Studied abroad 2000-2001: Mexico. Became bilingual. . Leadership: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship student leader. . Volunteering, tutoring, etc. . Piano, violin, cello, vocal training. Recorded: original composition, vocalist, cellist. . Published: poetry. Creative writing stuff. . Research: Genetics lab tech, research, 1 semester. No papers, just added to database. Animal cognition research: 3 semesters. No papers, just added to research. . Employment: Q.A. lab chief tech, margarine production plant. (I will never feel the same about what I spread on toast.) 3 years in corporate jobs. 3 years in health care jobs (ER Tech, Patient Advocate)
And to capture my reaction to my acceptance, I copied this from my original MDApps bio:
***Update:***CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY CLASS OF 2014!!!*** OMG.... I got in! Prayers answered - Pulled off the waitlist 5/10/10 - I\'m moving to Cleveland!! (See, even with a rough early record, nothing could stop me!)
// Applications //
Application Cycle One: 09/03/2009
Undergraduate college: University of Kansas
Undergraduate Area of study: Biological/Life Sciences
Total MCAT SCORE: 522
MCAT Section Scores:
Overall GPA: 3.02
Science GPA: 2.97
Summary of Application Experience
Doing 21 secondaries was a nightmare. But worth it - I wasn\'t going to wait another year. Case was one of my first completed and my second interview invite. All of my interviews were great, but Case takes the cake. And the ice cream.
Summary of Experience:
Case accepted me off the waitlist! Withdrawing from MU\'s waitlist, thought it was an AMAZING school, I wasn\'t expecting it to blow me away like that. It would have been hard to pick between KU and MU, but no hesitations about Case!!!
Summary of Experience:
OMG!!! I\'m in! This was my top choice. THANK GOD, this is the happiest possible outcome!!! (My original post-interview description:) OMG WOW. Can\'t quite believe it, that was an amazing experience. Case floored me with their PBL program. Two hours in PBL and two hours in lecture each day. I got to sit in on a PBL group and loved the learning style and atmosphere. Also, the city is roughly the size of KC and has 3 major hospitals leading in the nation, including I believe #2 or #1 in pediatrics, and only 1 medical school - with huge opportunities for students to volunteer, shadow, do clinicals, and ultimately residencies. I met with amazing professors with great philosophies and projects about improving health care availability for indigent populations. Case tuition is astronomical, but would be worth it nonetheless. So it\'s a currently unrequited crush...reminiscent of high school T_T
Summary of Experience:
Had a great time at second look! Loved the school. But Case Western took my heart and didn\'t give it back, and when I got the call from Case, there wasn\'t a moment of hesitation! I\'m also happy to move to a new city ^_^ (Original description): I have always loved KU Med! Several of my friends and mentors have gone there, and they loved everything about it. I had a wonderful interview experience and actually really enjoyed talking with the interviewers. I grew up in the area too ^_^