UPDATE (WL): Waitlisted. Was super bummed when I wasn't accepted when some of the other interviewees were (not to mention annoyed that they didn't keep their word about 6-8 weeks), but I'm definitely happy to still have a shot now. Waitlist movement may be rare at Stanford, but at least my chances aren't 0% yet.
Plus, it was kind of a nice waitlist letter, all things considered
On one hand: interviewing at Stanford's first interview day (!!!) is a huge honor - but on the other hand, what pressure!
I really enjoyed my time visiting Stanford, however - thankfully I'm relatively familiar with the medical school campus, so finding LKSC wasn't a problem (in fact, I had a little *too* much time...). Luckily, I and another early interviewee were just asked to sit and wait as they set up registration, which basically wound up with all ten of us crowded around one tiny table. Safety in numbers, right?
After signing in, getting our packets and signing confidentiality/release forms, we were ushered over to lunch where we got to mingle with current MS1s. We also got to hear a short presentation from Dr. Utz about research opportunities both for md/phd candidates as well as md "physician scientists." As someone super interested in academic medicine with an md, this talk really just got me more excited for Stanford, since Dr. Utz (an MD-only researcher himself) really emphasized how they wanted to cultivate MDs in research. Plus, the NorCal in me was thrilled to see him give this presentation in a Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts - our own sort of dress code ;)
Post-lunch was our student-guided tour. Interestingly, it was about 50-50 on med school buildings and the undergraduate campus - but then again, when they're right next door, it's easy to show both. Plus, Stanford really heavily emphasizes pursuing multiple degrees (md/phd, md/mph, md/jd, etc. etc.), so my guess is that it's to remind potential future med students that these classes/opportunities are available to them. In addition to the (gorgeous) campus, we also got to see the student "penthouse" on the 4th floor of the LKSC building - a student-only area complete with nap rooms, a lounge with ping pong and foosball, and a gym with two personal trainers.
Another note here - one thing that was a little odd to me was that, throughout the day, the only students we interacted with were MS1s. It's possible this was due to the busy schedule of MS2-4s, but it did make it difficult to ask much about the student experience, since they'd only been at Stanford SOM for a month and had just started their first "real" quarter of classes. Would've been nice to get a chance to speak with some of the older students.
After that were presentations about curriculum and financial aid, which I was...mostly too nervous to take in, aside from being reminded of one thing: if I were lucky enough to get the chance to attend, it would be *pricey* and require lots of loans. No merit scholarships here, which I can respect, since they seem to be committed to providing financial aid for those truly in need. Also, an interesting note - the Stanford-specific financial aid grants are apparently open to international students for the first time this year, so that's a thing to consider if you're an international candidate.
Then were interviews, and finally we were given a wrap-up and sent on our merry way. We were told that they were hoping to give us news 6-8 weeks after the interview, but that the committee wasn't meeting until Nov to make decisions. They're planning on giving accepted students phone calls again (and, an aside note from anyone like me who gets worried - expect a phone call from Stanford the night before your interview to confirm that they're expecting you tomorrow! It's not anything bad, I promise). We were also told that post-interview updates were accepted and could be sent to the email address.
So...yeah! Stanford was probably one of my top 2 schools going into this interview, and all the day did was make me fall more in love. Only worry is financing, but I'm also aware that I'll probably have to take out loans no matter where I go, so paying a little extra to go someplace I'll love as much as Stanford is probably worth it.
UPDATE (A): Oh. My. God. I wasn't expecting anything until at least late April or May at the earliest, so seeing that email today was a shock. But one still-purple pinch-induced bruise from my brother later (and notifying pretty much everyone my parents have ever met), I'm finally willing to fully accept that it's real.
Oh my god. I'm going to UCSF!!!!
UPDATE (WL): Annnnd....another waitlist. Super bummed about this one as well - all I wanted was a Bay Area acceptance for Christmas so I could make a final plan about where to attend next year, and this was kind of a disappointing gift. Looks like I'll be waiting until May (or longer!) to make that decision - but holding out real hope that I'll get in still, since so many people on the waitlist typically get called on.
Let's not talk about the "TCMC" debacle, either.
This was an interview day that necessitated me waking up at 5am to get ready and drive over....only for you, UCSF, only for you.
As seems to be my habit, I got to Kalmanovitz Library early...so early that it wasn't even open. Whoops. There was another interviewee also there early and waiting, so we talked to pass the time until doors opened at 7:45. Of course, even once the library was open, we arrived at the Lange Room while they were still setting up....so we waited outside (as the rest of the interviewees flocked in) until Hallen, the director of admissions, ushered us inside.
A light breakfast (orange juice, water, bagels, bananas) was offered as students trickled in, and once most of the 12 of us had arrived, the informal presentations began. Dean Wofsy wasn't able to make our interview due to a scheduling snafu, so Hallen gave us a talk on the admissions process and a third-year resident and former UCSF med student, Leslie, talked to us about student life.
The admissions talk wasn't anything "eye-opening," as Hallen warned us it wouldn't be - she did congratulate us for making the cut to interview, since that's the hardest part, and then said that the day was as much for them to woo us as it was for us to woo them, since 50% of us would be offered a chance of admission here. Also of note was how the interviewing process works - first the interview is conducted blind, and then the interviewers write up their reflections and submit them. Afterward, they're allowed to read our files, and then they submit any closing comments based on that. Then, the separate admissions committee reviews the entire file, including the interviewers' comments, and is asked to answer one question: "Will this person be able to contribute to patient care in every way?" (well, okay, that may be paraphrased; I may be mistaking the actual wording.)
Leslie's comments were also pretty interesting, knowing that roughly 50% of UCSF's residents come from UCSF's medical school - turns out that UCSF can also stand for "you can stay forever." It was nice to see someone who'd been through all the highs and lows of medical school still love UCSF so much - it boded well for the school, that people wanted to stay there as long as possible.
Afterward, Michael from the admissions office came by to hand out our packets, with all the goodies of where/when/with whom we'd be interviewing. At UCSF, you have two interviews: some people had one with a med student and one with faculty, but both of mine were with faculty members. Not all interviews are conducted on the USCF Parnassus campus - 3 of us had interviews at the VA, and 3 more had interviews at the Mission Bay campus (no Mt. Zion on my day). Luckily, not only does UCSF have shuttles to get between the campuses, but the admissions office helpfully gives you maps with the location of your first interview, the location to get on the shuttle, and how to get from the dropoff location to your second interview - as well as a bus time-table with the to-and from-shuttles you need highlighted. Very very helpful!!
He also mentioned something about how we couldn't hold him to it, but they were trying to get decisions out a little earlier this year - most likely still around January 2015, but if we're lucky maybe sooner than that. Interestingly, UCSF doesn't accept communication with your interviewers unless/until you're accepted - if you want to send thank you notes (which they heavily imply you shouldn't), you need to send them to the office of admissions, not your interviewers directly. If you're accepted, UCSF sends an email to you and your interviewers, and that would be the appropriate time to talk to them.
Next, we swung by the Admissions office for people to drop off luggage (and so we could see where to report to later), and then were dropped off at the student lounge where we were greeted by some of the friendliest MS2s. They gave us a lot of good information - according to one of the girls who works with the admissions office, the stats are 7,500 primaries -> 2,500 secondaries -> 500 interviews -> 250 acceptances -> 150 matriculants. Also, a number of the students we met interviewed "late" (i.e. Nov/Dec) and/or were taken off of the waitlist, so being waitlisted definitely isn't the end of the world! After some talking, we were taken to one of their classes.
Class was...as much fun as you'd expect, honestly. We were told that attendance today was abnormally high (likely due to a lot of the MS2s who stopped by to talk with us/walk us over, as a lot of them admitted that they typically just watch the webcasts at 2x speed). Class is every day, but typically goes from 8-12. The only mandatory lectures are the "how to be a doctor" small groups, and the rest you can either attend or watch at home on your own time.
After class was lunch! We returned to the admissions office to get our prepaid lunch cards and then some MS4s walked us over to the cafeteria to eat. You get $8 to buy lunch with - and protip, get/use a tray! I didn't realize they had trays until after I paid, so I only spent ~$5 because I couldn't carry any more at the time. Sads. But we sat 1 MS4 + 4 interviewees at a table, and they gave us some info on what their time at UCSF had been like and how they enjoyed it.
Next were tours. We were split up into 2 groups of 6, with each tour being led by 1 MS2 and 1 MS1. We got to see the anatomy labs, some of the classrooms, and probably some other locations that I'm blanking on...you see, right after tours was when interviews started, so as you can imagine there were a lot of nerves going on. Plus, UCSF's Parnassus buildings are, for the most part, all interconnected...which is nice, but at the same time, means that one wrong move can get you very, very lost. Thankfully, getting to the location printed for my first interview wasn't too difficult (although note - the letters on your interview sheet may be wrong! mine were, and it scared me until I found a room with the same number but different letter).
...Turns out that my interviewer had an experiment that was running late, and I was asked to meet her in her lab. I asked for help to get there (it was already just about time for the interview, and I didn't want to risk getting terribly lost), and thankfully I was able to find my interviewer. The interview was, as promised, very conversational; she asked questions that sometimes weren't always directly related to medical school but that fit with the flow of our discussion, and I liked that a lot. I also really appreciated that she gave me some of her background, so I could tailor my questions to what she specifically could tell me.
After my first interview, I had a meeting with a representative of the UCSF LMSA - the UCs all seem very dedicated to recruiting Latino/a students, which I think is wonderful. I had a meeting with another interviewee and Nicolas, the MS4 who came to meet us, and he brought along another interviewee who had an hour of just waiting as well. He treated us to gelato, which was super nice of him, and gave us some pretty good insight as to his experiences here - plus, he showed us some places we didn't hit on the tour, like the multicultural resource center and the gym.
Nicolas was kind enough to help myself and another one of the interviewees find our shuttles on time, and then I was off to the VA for my second interview. Unsurprisingly, the shuttle ride had the Giants game playing on the radio - and you can imagine the collective upset when the game went from Giants leading to being tied. Thanks to baseball, the shuttle ride, while long, wasn't as boring as it could have been.
Luckily, the VA shuttle drops off right in front of the building I needed, so I just headed up the elevator and found my second interviewer. Again, it was very conversational, although I found that she asked a lot of "tougher" questions than my first one. Even so, I did my best to answer while also acknowledging that I in no way expect to be able to solve problems like health care with just my current knowledge....so we'll see how that went!
And that's that! You're free to go once your interviews end, so that's when I headed off. I really enjoyed my time at UCSF, and the admissions office really impressed me - heck, they even emailed me a few days later to ask for feedback on their interview day! I got the feeling that they really cared about us as applicants, and they did a great job by incorporating MS1s, MS2s, and MS4s into the day so that we could hear from a variety of perspectives.
...Something tells me it's going to be a long wait.
I was under the impression that there wasn't much waitlist movement here, so I was fully expecting to either be let go in May or to just never hear back. Definitely wasn't expecting an early post-waitlist acceptance in March to invite me to their April second look.
Don't think I'll choose SD over SF for personal reasons, but I'm still very honored to get this acceptance, and would have come here happily if I hadn't had the UCSF acceptance in my pocket already.
UPDATE (WL): Waitlisted. Not too heartbroken about this, since it was my third-choice school going in, but still would've been nice to get an acceptance. Plus, could've gotten a cheap single that allows cats.
Unlike my past two interview days, I arrived at UCSD's Telemedicine building at 8 on the dot, more or less - hair problems and checking out of the hotel put me behind schedule, but I still managed to get there before we started the day, thankfully.
We checked in at Mr. Zeglen's office, turning in all of the paperwork (including that awful, annoying residency form) and receiving our folders, and then we met in a big conference room for a short introduction before the PRIME/non-PRIME candidates were separated out for the Q&A.
The Q&A was...awkward, to say the least, and I think would have been better replaced by the typical presentation format (especially given how painful the audio quality on the emailed-out powerpoint was). Most questions asked were for very niche things, and there were a lot of awkward pauses while students tried to think of what to ask next.
After the Q&A, we had....an awkward, 2-hour long break while the other set of interviewees did their MMIs. The poorly-planned break didn't even have a class for us to see or students to interact with; rather, we interviewees wound up exploring the campus for ourselves, as luckily there were two UCSD undergrads in the group. On the plus side, it gave me a chance to grab some soda and wake up a bit.
Once our long break was over, we then did our MMI sessions, and then had lunch with current students. As with a lot of schools, we pretty much only had the chance to interact with MS1s during the lunch and tour - although our tour guide gave us a lot of interesting and helpful information.
At the end, we met in the conference room again for a wrap-up (decisions expected in a week!) and then saw a video that, for some reason, had a really bad, nauseating echo quality to it. But that was it, and the day was done!
Overall, it was the least professional interview day I've been to, and while I was impressed by how pretty the campus was, I was significantly less so by the admissions staff.
Application Complete, Rejected
University of California, Los Angeles
Combined PhD/MSTP: No
Secondary Completed: 07/30/2014
Interview Invite: No
Interview Attended: No
Summary of Experience:
Complete in July, R in May. Yes, May.
I'm not annoyed by the rejection, just that they couldn't be bothered to do it earlier when other pre-interview rejections were sent out - you know, after they'd had their final interviews for the cycle. Not very professional, DGSOM.