Note about Fee Assistance Program:
Didn't realize Fee Assistance Program doesn't carry over from the previous year. Finished AMCAS before the 6/5/12 deadline, but realized too late that I had to get another approval for the FAP. Submitted the FAP and waited until approved on 6/20/12. Applied very widely to over 40 schools to increase my opportunities and because being from California makes no guarantees for getting into a state school, and I want to have options. With the FAP, I only have to pay $34 for each primary application after the 14 free ones. The FAP covers every single secondary application cost, regardless if you have more than 14. So if you have the FAP, apply widely as you can afford time and money for primaries.
10 - Took MCAT
05 - Requested transcripts
10 - Transcripts received by AMCAS
14 - FAP Docs submitted
20 - FAP Docs accepted & AMCAS submitted
18 - AMCAS verified (took longer than any previous year)
05 - UC DAVIS INTERVIEW INVITE!
17 - UC Davis Interview Attended <3
24 - UW, Seattle Interview Invite!
25 - Mayo Interview Invite!
28 - UVM Interview Invite!
07 - USC Keck Interview Invite!
11 - SUNY Stony Brook Interview Invite!
21 - SUNY Downstate Interview Invite!
25 - UI Carver Interview Invite!
27 - UC San Diego Interview Invite <3
02 - USC Keck Interview Attended! + University of Colorado Interview Invite!
09 - UIC Interview Invite!
15 - BU Interview Invite!
18 - UVM Interview Attended <3 + New York Med Interview Invite!
23 - Stony Brok Interview Attended
25 - Downstate Interview Attended
30 - UW Interview Attended <3 + USC Acceptance!!! <333
1 - UW Rejection...
2 - Mayo Interview Attended! <3
21 - Vanderbilt Interview Invite!
28 - UC San Diego Interview Attended! <3
29 - UCLA Interview Attended! <3
1 - Stony Brook Acceptance!
3 - SUNY Downstate Acceptance!
4 - Waitlisted at UCSD
13 - Cornell Interview Invite!
22 - Cornell Interview Attended!
8 - Alternative Status at Mayo
11 - Waitlisted at Cornell
31 - ACCEPTED OFF WAITLIST AT MAYO!!!! <33
I tried to be as honest as possible. No school is perfect so I tried to present my entire perception of the school based off the interview day. If you disagree with something I have said, please let me know in the discussion section. Please remember this is just one person's perspective, I encourage you to do a lot of research before applying to/not applying to any school. Schools are listed in order of interview attendance.
University of California, Davis
This was my first interview during this trail, so I really didn't know what to expect. I packed my suit and flew from San Diego to Sacramento, then was picked up by my student hosts the day before my interview. The school is located in Sacramento, not near the undergrad campus in Davis, and located in a new medical education building. I had a chance to explore downtown Sacramento and see the State Capitol. It didn't seem like a very impressive city since it had very little activity, lacked good places to eat/study, and public transportation was pretty much absent.
My student hosts took me to a lecture the day before my interview and I was greeted by so many friendly students. When I arrived to the school for my interview, we received an orientation at first from several of the faculty (Roy Rai, Dr. Sousa, and Nancy?), who were all very nice and very welcoming. Most of the other applicants were from California, and I believe about half from UC Davis.
I was in the morning interview session (which I think is better because you can get it out of the way and have less anxiety for the rest of the day) and had my first MMI experience. There were professional actors who played different scenarios and a faculty who was rating your performance. It seemed as though there was no way I could have prepared for this process and they were testing years of professional growth, maturity, and ability to communicate, which all take time to develop rather than preparing answers to interview questions several days beforehand. During lunch, around 30 or 40 students came to talk with us, which they claimed showed the tight-knit community and interest in students wanting others to come to the school, but I think they just came for the free food. The UC Davis hospital is right across the street and is very modern, clean, and nice. Even though it was a short walk, it was a blistering >100ï¿½F August day and I'm sure we were all sweating beneath our suits. At the end of my interview day, they had a strong closing statement by the faculty. I was completely wowed by how organized the interview day was and could see myself being comfortable and happy here since the faculty seemed to be very supportive of each individual student.
University of Southern California (Keck)
My parents live within 50 miles of Keck so I decided to drive here in the morning. I was in the afternoon session so I had plenty of time in the morning to drive through the dense LA traffic. Keck is located in Boyle Heights, which is directly east of downtown LA and not the nicest neighborhood to be in. The interview day started off with a brief introduction by Dr. Arias giving us advice for our interview. She is one of the nicest ladies I have met and she says that she reads all of the applications herself before sending an invitation to interview. The curriculum is designed with lectures in the morning and with afternoon electives. The lectures are not mandatory and are video/audio podcasted, which seems nice but would decrease class attendance, which is a negative for me. A few of the upperclassmen gave us a tour of the school, which consists of the library, lecture hall, MDL rooms (each student has their own cubby and this is where the team-based exercises take place), and the glory that is LA County Hospital. The most impressive part of the interview day was lunch at the faculty club. We were served food by waiters and it was delicious. The one thing that students emphasized was how much collaboration and teamwork that the school enables and encourages. Along with the P/F grading system, I feel like I would be happy here.
I believe that Keck would be a great place for clinical training because they told us that the doctors at LA County Hospital are understaffed and would love to give students more independence with patients. Their match list is impressive enough to verify this claim, especially with how many people stay in California. I would be comfortable living in Pasadena, but would not enjoy the LA traffic after working and driving through it for a year. Overall, Keck seemed to be a place abundant in clinical experiences that would train me to be a great doctor.
University of Vermont
I had no expectations of this school at first, only that people who go here generally love it. Burlington is an idyllic small town with red-brick buildings and I was here when the leaves just started to turn for Autumn. The medical school building is new, very impressive, and connected directly to the Fletcher Allen Health Care hospital. The Vermont Integrated Curriculum is unique because the Foundations of Medicine sequence (Level 1) is much shorter so that professors donï¿½t teach you unnecessary things and allows you to take the Board exams earlier. The advantage to this is that you get earlier exposure to patients and get to do your selectives in your fourth year earlier. This is great, especially for those who want more competitive specialties for residency because youï¿½ll be competing for spots with 4th years students who already know what they want (and wonï¿½t be taking hard selectives during their last few months of medical school). They give you a laptop when you matriculate with all four years worth of notes and have an Imaging class that combines what you learned with radiology images to improve comprehension of anatomy and physiology. Downsides include a homogenous patient and community population (everyone is pretty much Caucasian with some refugees sprinkled in there), a small town population (around 50,000 people), and very cold winters (down to -20ï¿½ sometimes). Also, tuition is super high as an out-of-state student, and it is very difficult to receive state residency here. Overall, I was very impressed with my interview and could see myself coming here if tuition was cheaper.
SUNY Stony Brook
After taking the Long Island Rail Road from JFK Airport, I stayed with a student host in Port Jefferson Station, the city right next to Stony Brook. The town itself was quite small and was so suburban and borderline rural, there were only a couple of places that delivered within a five mile radius. The medical education building and hospital looks like a spaceship, but I was not as impressed inside the building as I was outside. They didn't give us an opening welcoming, and interviewees were picked off at different half-hour intervals from a conference room to do their interview, which I thought was weird. Some people had both interviews before lunch, and others like me had one before and after. The lunch and tour was probably the least impressive ones I've had since we didn't get a tour of the hospital. The students seemed to enjoy their experience there, but when asked about how they liked it, most of them responded with hesitation before stating that they either liked it or that they had no complaints. I'm not sure if getting an education where "having no complaints" is the best compliment some students can come up with about their medical school is a place for me. The curriculum is pretty standard, but doesn't boast PBL, systems-based, or 1.5 year pre-clerkship that other schools have. Overall, the surrounding city didn't seem to fit my need for being fast-paced and having much activity, the students and faculty seemed to be pretty distant, and after interviewing here, I'm not sure if this is the right place for me to be happy and comfortable.
Stayed in Brooklyn with a student host in the student hosing, which is pretty much a cramped dormitory. Downstate is right behind King's County hospital that serves many of the underserved population in Brooklyn. The interview day was pretty disorganized. I remember checking in and sitting in a room full of chairs in a circle with other applicants, all of whom had interviews at different times throughout the day. I was again in the afternoon session and started to realize that I really dislike afternoon sessions. There was a short information session at the beginning talking about the curriculum and the history of the school. Some of the students then took us for a lunch and tour around campus, which was pretty much the SUNY Downstate Hospital, library, and study rooms. They talked a lot about safety and having security officers walk you home and sometimes even across the street, which kind of scared me about how unsafe it would be to attend a school in Brooklyn. This was one of my most horrible interview experiences. I had a psychiatrist interviewer who pointed out all of the smallest and potential inconsistencies/red flags in my application in a rapid fire manner and asked me to defend it. He then asked me a question about my favorite superhero, which I thought was unprofessional. The red flags in my application were things I had not even considered and lowered my confidence for subsequent interviews. I left here feeling unimpressed and didn't think this was the right school for me.
University of Washington
Mayo Medical School
Before visitng Mayo I was very unsure about the place. By the end of my interview day, however, this was the most impressive institution I have visited by far. I flew into Minneapolis and took a convenient shuttle that dropped me off right in front of the Mayo Clinic building. My student host picked me up and took me to dinner with several other interviewees and current students. It was nighttime so I couldn't really get a good look at Rochester, but by the next morning, I was in awe how the town literally exists around (and in support of) the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Hospitals (Methodist and St. Mary's). All the buildings are gorgeous, from the tiny medical school building downtown to the gigantic marbled Mayo Building next to it. It is very apparent that the school takes pride in really shaping and modling a class of 50 unique individuals with different talents, experiences, and backgrounds. Every student told me how much support the institution provides for them and how the overwhelming opportunities will allow any person to pursue any field of medicine they desire, from innovative neurorobotics to community-based healthcare.
I was really attracted to the curriculum here: 6 weeks of science followed by 2 weeks of selectives, which are self-directed learning opportunities where students explore different options to flavor their medical career. Some selectives include volunteering abroad, doing research, shadowing doctors, making connections where you want to do residency, assisting in the OR, or anything creative that you can come up with. The class has required attendance, but since it's a small class, I like that. The classes are designed so that daily quiz questions direct the lecture which allows for more active learning, which makes sense that a medical school education should be facilitated through participation and team-based learning. Students seemed to enjoy this approach which was different than other schools that had the "We do PBL because we have to" attitude. Some people think that the school doesn't treat the students as adults who should decide how to prioritize their own time, but I think that this process facilitates a better learning environment which is evident in the high board scores and impressive match list. Research seemed to be abundant and doctors seemed to invite students to join their projects more than other schools seemed to.
Maybe it's because I was in the mid-west, but EVERYONE from the students to the faculty to the people on the streets were warm and welcoming (they call it Minnesota Nice). From what people tell me, the town has grown within the last 4 years and will continue to grow even faster now that the Destination Medical Center bill passed in the MN Legislature, which is infusing millions of dollars into developing the quality of life at Rochester. There were a few rooftop bars and several pretty good restaurant options downtown that weren't there a few years ago, so I was wary to let past perceptions of others' affect my perception of the current town.
The tour was a whirlwind of amazing-ness. The entire place was beautiful, from the lobby to the 10 million pieces of artwork everywhere. Someone told me they imported 10 tons of colored marble to create the Gonda building, which I completely believe. I left with a feeling of awe and wonder. I realized Mayo philosophy of the needs of the patients come first was more true here than in any other institution I've visited. This is the first time I was in a hospital that felt comfortable and warm. I believe that Mayo is the best place to give me the most opportunities to thrive as a medical student and to create the strongest foundation for my medical career.
University of California, San Diego
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Weill Cornell Medical College
ï¿½ APPLY EARLY!
ï¿½ Stay with student hosts. Mine at UC Davis took me to a physiology lecture, gave me interview tips, introduced me to the student body, and took me to tons of events. They were even nice enough to drive me to the airport and let me stay an extra day (even though you should never ask/expect it)!
ï¿½ Take the EARLIEST interview date at your convenience, even if you don't feel prepared. Rolling admissions, enough said. After completing primaries and tons of secondaries, hopefully you had enough introspection to feel prepared and to answer any interview questions.
ï¿½ Take the morning interview session when given the option. The longer you're awake and the more decisions you make throughout the day, the more your mind becomes fatigued and you'll have less cognitive resources for your interview.
ï¿½ï¿½Spend a few days in the city you interview at so you know what to expect when you live there for the next 4 years of your life (7% of your life)
ï¿½ Try to schedule your interviews at least a day apart.
The toughest application cycle I have ever been through.