1. Submitted AMCAS 08/2013.
2. Submitted secondaries September-December.
3. First interview invite 11/2013. Most of my interviews took place between December 2013-March 2014.
I took my MCAT in early August. The application process was heavy, since I was preparing for the MCAT while working over 40 hours a week, writing 21 secondaries in my fall semester while taking a full course load and working part-time, and then flying around for interviews during spring semester while taking a full course load and working two part-time jobs in order to be able to pay for travel expenses. As taxing as the application process is, both physically and emotionally, it is all worth it when you get that first acceptance call!
Things I wish I had known: Relax during your interview! Just be yourself. You can have a bad interview and still get accepted, and you can have an amazing interview and end up on the wait-list. Just enjoy the process, you WILL get into medical school.
Also: Yes, it is great to apply early. However, the deadlines are really deadlines. If you submit your application a week before the secondary is due, do not think you will automatically get thrown in the rejection pile. Every school has different qualities they are looking for in an applicant, and if that is you, you WILL get an interview. (Correction: This seems to be true more for schools with early deadlines, such as by November).
Final thing I wish I had known: a 30 on my MCAT was not the end of the world. I never expected to get interviews at my top choice schools with a 30, and definitely not at Harvard! As long as your GPA is strong and your resume is well-rounded and compelling, numbers seem to really just be numbers. (Exception for me: schools with very high applicant pools, such as Boston University. They need to weed you out somehow :( ).
My application round is still ongoing, and I still have four more interviews to attend and several schools to hear back from. Overall I feel extremely blessed to have gotten such amazing interview invitations at schools that I absolutely love, and acceptances at four of these so far. I am excited to finally be starting medical school in the fall!
Update: My interview season is now over. Due to low funds I was not able to travel to my last two interviews at Albert Einstein and Georgetown. However, by then I had already heard back from my top school (Harvard!!!!) and was more than happy to open up those interview spots for my fellow applicants. I am so excited to be going to the school of my dreams and it still hasn't sunk in that I made it! This is a word of encouragement to those who never even considered applying to the top 5 schools: you never know unless you try!
Words of advice: Apply to many schools! I applied to 20 and 11 invited me to interview: 9 didn't. So if you are applying to only 5 schools, the odds are not in your favor. Also educate yourself on the different programs and opportunities offered by each school, as well as the location. Do not just apply randomly, but apply based on whether you can really see yourself going there, and whether their curriculum and the strength of their program is in an area that you are interested in. If you receive an interview at the place of your dreams, tell them so in the interview! Make them aware that you truly want to attend there, and mention the reasons why: Interest in working with a particular faculty member, or in a certain research area, or because of the strength of a program (if you are interested in that area). Also, be prepared! Know your facts about the ACA, current health issues, health policy reform, medical ethics, and form your own fact-based opinion on these subjects. These are, after all, subjects that will heavily impact your upcoming career and lifestyle. Most of all: Have fun!! This is a great chance to travel, meet people, see incredible schools, encounter new cultures and cities, and hopefully fall in love with the school of your dreams.