• I attended a top 25 LAC for 2 years and finished at a mediocre state university for my last 2 years. The transfer was for financial reasons, but I did not put myself as disadvantaged and did not explain the situation in detail for most of my applications. If a secondary application offered a place to describe challenges and disruptions in school, I described it there.
• 3.39 science, 3.64 overall, 3.91 all other; strong upward trend in science • 29S MCAT; worked >50 hours/week, i.e. half-heartedly studied for this
• 2.5 years of biomedical research, 3.5 years by matriculation • 2 publications (3rd author), 1 poster, 1 abstract, 1 second author in preparation • some volunteering and shadowing, lots of tutoring primary and underserved students
PROS of my application: • I received a lot of positive comments on my personal statements, in particular my MD/PhD essay. (wine analogy) • 7 LORs, all of which were glaringly enthusiastic and positive (an interviewer said they had me "walking on water"). LORs were from varying backgrounds, from everywhere I've been (3 PIs, 1 postdoctoral now PI, 2 science, 1 anthropology) • Not a super traditional background; transferred colleges, took time off, 2 years since graduating college • For the most part, I think having various research experience has helped • Based on interview feedback, my maturity is clear and seems a bit higher than the average applicant • I'd argue this, but some would classify me as disadvantaged. If you have a very broad definition, then sure.
CONS of my application: • MCAT is low. A lot of committees probably questioned why I only took it once and so early, and there's not really any specific room in the application to explain my reasoning and background behind this. This really bit me in the ass, but given the number of interviews I received it wasn't an application killer. It just was at top 30 institutions. • Grades on the lower side. This was never really brought up that much though. I took a pilot introductory science course my first year of college and ended up with 4 B-. Doing introductory biology, chemistry, and physics in one year? Yikes. • I'm not the best at "selling" my research and making it sound like it's my own. I can discuss my research and the field pretty well, but at a presentation-level I've always struggled a bit. • I'm perhaps a bit too unconventional, both in background and in my way of thinking about things • I'm not a miracle worker. Gimme time, dude, gimme time
ADVICE: It's been a long and grueling year. The application process is inherently unfair. You will meet a lot of people you don't think should be physicians and you will question why they got in and you didn't to your dream school. You will also meet a lot of people you think are awesome, and you will be incredibly happy for them. The most important thing you can do is not compare yourself to others and try not to think of it as a competition. If you do, you will slowly drown yourself in a swirl of self-loathing. Take acceptances, rejections, interviews, etc. in stride and be positive (I say this as a pessimist).
• Please, for the love of god, don't be a pompous douchebag. Don't ask people where else they're interviewing, then proceed to talk about your interview last week at School X, and the interviews you have coming up at School Y, Z, and D. No one cares about how you are doing in the application process. Don't disclose your information to random people you just met. • Easier said than done, but be yourself. Make your application true to you, and present yourself as you. • Be humble, but be sure to still advocate for yourself. You got to the interview stage, be proud. • As far as grades/MCAT, I personally couldn't care less at this point. Do I regret it? Yes, a bit. I'd be stupid if I didn't wish I had done better in school and focused on the MCAT. At the same time, I commend myself for not being a pre-med college student right from the get-go and considered all my options. As a result, yes perhaps I slacked off a little and realized there is life outside of medicine. Many applicants talk about their path to medicine as if they actually thought about other options, when most of them didn't. My point? If you don't have a 4.0 (god forbid even a 3.7) it's not the end of the world. • Start saving money. Now. • Whether or not you get into Harvard or Hofstra, everyone gets the same medical education, no matter how many which ways you spin it. You'll all learn the same thing, and your patients aren't going to choose you based on where you went to medical school. They're going to choose you based on factors that are out of your control, and whether or not when they meet you, you're a decent human being- that is something you do have control over.
• Be prepared to talk about your research. A lot. Yeah, they read your application, and that's where you already explained everything, but they want to hear it again. Feel free to bring notes. Drawings are encouraged. • "I" > "we" • Sometimes you'll get interviewers who are trying to recruit you, and these are awesome. Relax, and take it in, but be sure to still sell yourself in some way. Just because they recruit you doesn't mean everyone is. • No matter how often committees say they're open to different careers, most of them want to hear you envision 80/20. • If you're really interested in the school, make it a point to let them know. Bother them. You can never be annoying. This is your future on the line, and if you want to go to a specific school, you sure as hell better fight for it.
// Applications //
Application Cycle One: 06/10/2013
Undergraduate Area of study: Biological/Life Sciences
Total MCAT SCORE: 507
MCAT Section Scores:
Overall GPA: 3.64
Science GPA: 3.39
Summary of Application Experience
SF: secondary fee SR: secondary received SS: secondary submitted SP: secondary paid SC: secondary complete CR: call received US: update sent II: interview invite IA: interview attended RR: rejection received