MCAT did not have writing section so the above score is a placeholder.
// Applications //
Application Cycle One: 06/02/2014
Undergraduate college: Carnegie Mellon University
Undergraduate Area of study: Engineering/Technology
Total MCAT SCORE: 520
MCAT Section Scores:
Overall GPA: 3.90
Science GPA: 3.92
Summary of Application Experience
Originally planned to apply in the 2013-2014 application cycle. However, due to insufficient preparation, I chose to reschedule my MCAT and postpone my application. I think that having the gap year was extremely important to my success. I did not make the decision to pursue a career in medicine until the end of my sophomore year. Following the traditional model, as an engineer with little overlap in curriculum, I felt rushed to take the necessary prerequisites. The gap year allowed me to obtain some clinical experience as well as to refine my motivation for attending medical school.
The personal statement is probably the most difficult piece of writing I have ever done. Before even choosing a topic, I had long conversations with family and friends to determine what unique qualities I wanted to get across. After writing it, I refined it with the help of my English professor and the writing center at my school. Everytime someone finished reading it, I would ask them to describe the person that came across in the personal statement, and make changes in an effort to match the image of myself seen by family and friends. I know this is said quite a bit, but have as many people as you can read it!
One of my biggest mistakes during the cycle was not pre-writing any secondaries. I wouldn't say it is useful to write out every single secondary from the year before, but it would be helpful to find the common theme essays (contributions to community, obstacle, tough feedback, working with others, etc.) and pre-write those to create a strong foundation. When they all came in one wave, I was overwhelmed. Another thing I would change is that I tackled the secondaries in the order I received them. Personally I suggest looking at any secondaries you receive immediately. There were some secondaries that sat in my mailbox that were relatively low effort such as UCSF, which did not require any additional essays.
I was a little too ambituous with selection of schools. I had the MSAR, but I didn't use it properly (looking at OOS acceptance %). However, personally I would rather reapply than go somewhere that I wouldn't be happy with.
After my committee interview, I felt well prepared for my traditional interviews. The interview provided me with common questions, and allowed me to see what aspects of medicine I had not properly considered. The session was also videotaped, which allowed me to see any issues with my interviewing skills. In fact, I may have been a little overprepared, realizing in some interviews that I sounded a little rehearsed. On the other hand, I was nervous for my first MMI. I felt like I often deviated from the topic and talked circles around myself. However, over the course of my interviews, I developed a model (below) for answering MMI questions, helping me to focus my thoughts.
MMI Answer: - Restate the question/scenario in your own understanding - Provide your answer/select your side in the scenario - Provide supporting details - If there is another side to the scenario, explain their point of view - Provide supporting details why these views are not valid - Refocus on your answer/selection
I generally scheduled my interviews on Monday, so I would have the benefit of traveling for a few days. I really enjoyed seeing the surrounding community and their interaction with the different medical centers. It was also nice to get an impression of the school from people not associated with the school and to get a different perspective in the case of a negative interview experience. In that regard, I am lucky that I am taking a gap year and have friends spread out all across the country.
EXTRACURRICULARS: Work: - 700 Hours School Job (2 Years as Manager) - 3600 Hours VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (2 Years as Intern, 1 Year as Fulltime Employee) Research: - 600 Hours School Laboratory - 500 Hours J. Craig Venter Institute (1 Publication) Shadowing: - 60 Hours Orthopaedic Surgery - 60 Hours Primary Care Sigma Chi Fraternity: - 2 Year Philanthropy Chair - Founding Father Rugby Club: - 4 Year Starter - 2 Year President - 3 Year Webmaster - Fall 2011 Defensive MVP Awards: - University Honors - College Honors - Outstanding Senior Pittsburgh Golden Triangle ASM International - Dean's List - Society of Women Engineers' Mr. Engineer
TIMELINE: August 22, 2013 - Took the MCAT April 28, 2014 - Committee Interview May 23, 2014 - AMCAS Transcript Received June 3, 2014 - AMCAS Application Submitted June 5, 2014 - AMCAS Application Processed June 27, 2014 - AMCAS Application Sent July 11, 2014 - AMCAS Letters of Recommendation Received July 25, 2014 - First Rejection (University of Washington) August 4, 2014 - First Interview Invite (Vanderbilt University) September 15, 2014 - First Interview (Vanderbilt University) October 20, 2014 - First Acceptance (University of Maryland)
Summary of Experience:
University of Virginia was an amazing school. The building definitely has a unique spirit about it (the pillars in the new room are a good example).The interview day starts pretty late, but I had the opportunity to sit in on a class. The students all seem enthusiastic and seemed to love the city. The interview group was pretty small compared to what I experienced at other schools and the dean of admissions is personable. What everyone tells you about the lunch is true! It is the best interview lunch ever. Interviews were not as relaxed as many people claimed them to be. But it is great that the school gets back to you in the same week. Definitely disappointed about their decision.
Summary of Experience:
Withdrew after Vanderbilt acceptance.
NYU as a school is amazing. The two hospitals are seriously beautiful and I could really see the diverse patient population that they serve. The students all seemed extremely happy.
I had a poor interview experience here. The MMI portion went well I thought, but my one on one interview was terrible. The interviewer was stone faced the entire time and didn't show any interest in what I was saying. Conversation felt extremely abrupt.
I came a few days early and stayed with a friend and explored New York. It was a blast, but I realized that I would enjoy it more visiting and not being here for 4 years. Overall the cost of attending would be too high, and the living situation is just not to my liking (even with the school subsidized housing).
Summary of Experience:
I arrived in Nashville on Saturday. Driving through Nashville, I got the impression that the city is separated into different areas, which all have different personalities. Centennial Park is home to the Parthenon recreation and absolutely gorgeous. There was a free day of concerts going on. Broadway is extremely lively and is where you want to go for shopping or a drink. Music City is definitely a great nickname as live music was coming from most of the restaurants and bars. Got a chance to visit the Johnny Cash Museum and the Country Music Hall of Fame, which were also great.
Vanderbilt itself is beautiful. The medical school is located next to the undergraduate campus. It is worth taking a trip to see the undergraduate campus as it is a national arboretum. We were not allowed to see the anatomy labs, but from the rest of what I saw I am sure it is state of the art.
For the actual interview day, there are two interviews. One is a 15 minute closed file interview and the other is a 50 minute open file interview. Because the students can have either interview first, there is an hour blocked off for each one. This means that after the short interview there is time to explore. Unfortunately it started raining, but I was able to see most of the campus later during the medical school tour. Curriculum 2.0 did not disappoint. The students really seemed to enjoy their time at school and felt that it was a much more engaging experience.
The biggest takeaway from my trip is that everyone in Tennessee is extremely polite!
Summary of Experience:
I was surprised by the University of Maryland. As my instate school, I knew a few people who are currently attending. And it is totally different from how they describe it. However, the facilities are generally up-to-date e.g. anatomy lab had computers and virtual dissections to follow along with a teacher. The hospital also has a unique feel. The original hospital structure still stands within the new structure, which is an interesting aesthetic. There is definitely an emphasis on having activities outside of academics. The admissions committee emphasized the positives of living in Baltimore and the athletics facilities are amazing and shared only with the neighboring graduate schools.
For the actual interview day, Maryland splits its interviews into morning and afternoon interviews. The two groups only interact during a short lunch portion, so it is less intimidating since it feels like a smaller group. There are two interviews, which are each open file and 50 minutes long. If not for my second interviewer being 30 minutes late, I think that it would have felt like the interview day was well paced. I ended up missing most of the financial aid portion of the day because my second interview ran over. Faculty and students were all extremely pleasant throughout the day. There was a good mix of M1 - M4 during lunch to answer any questions.