I debated whether to open an MDApps profile, but ultimately decided to have one, since looking at other people's profiles helped me tremendously, and I'm hoping my profile helps someone in the same way.
I get slightly annoyed by vague/incomplete profiles that promise, "I will update my profile to be more comprehensive after the cycle," because they never do what they promise. Presumably, after getting accepted, updating MDApps becomes less of a priority. My profile will not be like those. I will continually update it during the cycle, and I will try and provide as much information as possible to those who read it. There will be cases where I will withhold information for reasons of anonymity, but I will do my best to do so as rarely as possible.
I am an international student (non-Canadian), and a poor one. As a result, I am applying to schools that (a) will accept me, and (b) will give me financial aid. This pretty much limits me to the schools in the top 20, which is why my school list is so top-heavy. It will be an uphill battle, but here's hoping that at least one school likes me enough to admit me!
Summary of Extracurricular Activities 1. Hospital Emergency Department volunteer, ~200 hours. 2. Founding member of a nonprofit. 3. "Outstanding Graduate" in both my majors. 4. Extensive research as part of my PhD.** Hoping to publish two papers so I can graduate! 5. Undergraduate senior Honors thesis. 6. Hobbies: Reading**, Tournament scrabble, calligraphy. 7. Full-ride academic scholarship for undergrad. 8. Dean's list, 8 semesters. 9. Presentations at local, regional, and international scientific conferences. 10. Physician shadowing, ~50 hours total.
(There was no writing section on the MCAT I took. Ignore the writing score above)
// Applications //
Application Cycle One: 07/12/2015
Undergraduate college: Wonderful, unranked university in the US Midwest
Undergraduate Area of study: Biological/Life Sciences
Summary of Experience:
I received Pritzker's rejection before I got any interview invites. Not only did it sting, but it made me doubt the quality of my entire application. I freaked out a little, wondering what if I was rejected from every school to which I had applied.
I received my first interview invites less than two weeks later (Sinai and Duke on the same day), which cheered me up considerably!
Summary of Experience:
Invited for interview on 11/10/2015. I'm struggling with whether to actually go. They have onerous requirements for international students wishing to attend, and my MCAT is below their 10th percentile for matriculants.
Withdrew on 11/23/2015. The requirement to deposit >$300,000 in a bank is too heavy. Seriously, if I were rich enough to have $300,000 just lying about in a bank, I definitely would not be applying to medical school! Sorry not sorry for withdrawing from you, WashU.
Summary of Experience:
Application complete 10/04/2015. I held off completing my secondary for the longest time because of the parental information, since my parents are not in the United States. In the end, I made the best estimates I could, never believing that UCLA would interview me. Will this come back to bite me in the butt? I dearly hope not.
I'm shamelessly hoping for the Geffen scholarship. According to UCLA's website, international students are eligible. However, in recent years, UCLA has never interviewed an international student, so I don't have high hopes for this particular school.
10/19/2015 OMG. I got an II from UCLA! I'm still in a bit of a shock.
|| Attended interview 01/11/2016 ||
Before my interview at UCLA, it was the school that I thought I would absolutely go to if two things happened: if I got accepted, and if miraculously I was given the Geffen scholarship. However, having visited, UCLA has actually gone down in my estimation, not up.
First of all, I had a terrible visit. I stayed in an unambiguously terrible Airbnb rental while I was in LA. Any details I give would probably identify the place at which I stayed, so details will be few. Suffice it to say that it is one of the shittiest places I have ever had the displeasure of staying at since I came to the US, and whenever I go to LA in future, I will be very hesitant to use Airbnb there. Then there was Los Angeles itself. Sorry to any LA fans out there, but I did not like the city. It reminded me of my third-world country of birth, and not in a good way. Iâ€™m not sure why. New York is larger, and in some respects, uglier than LA. Yet I had no trouble with NYC, but felt like LAâ€™s ugliness was very in-your-face. The medical center is really beautiful, though, and the area around it is prettier than those surrounding it, but itâ€™s still in ugly (to me) Los Angeles. There was also the fact that it took me two tries and what felt like more than an hour to find the admissions office, during which time I became increasingly frustrated at just why a medical school admissions office would locate itself so out of the way and give such vague instructions for finding it. I would qualify these comments by saying that I was only in LA for two days, and obviously did not experience the entire city. My experience could very well be an anomaly, and it would be silly to write off the place solely on the basis of my medical school interview experience.
The interview day started like most of the admissions days usually start, with a breakfast of muffins, fruit, cookies, and coffee. Unfortunately, I donâ€™t drink coffee, and the admissions office provided nothing else for us to drink at breakfast, although we were provided water during our MMIs. I was in the morning session, and I didnâ€™t realize that there was actually an afternoon session because both groups were kept separate for everything, only meeting each other for a common lunch. After breakfast, we went over to the clinical examination building, which is where we had our MMIs after an introductory session with Dr. Hall. Dukeâ€™s MMIs were the only ones I had done previously, and I guess Duke had lulled me into complacency, because I was expecting UCLAâ€™s MMIs to be chill, and they were... not. I donâ€™t know whether it was nerves, a brain freeze, or what, but here it felt like I bombed every single station, save for the 20-minute traditional interview. After the interviews came the tours of the medical school and the hospital, and these highlighted UCLAâ€™s strengths such that at the end, I found myself thinking that I could thrive if I were a medical student there. Lunch came next, with a faculty meet-and-greet, and then it was time to wrap up and say goodbye. We had been told to plan for the interview to take up the entire day, but I was done by 2:00pm, and had to wait until five minutes to midnight to take my flight back. Had I known the day would be over by 2pm, I would have chosen a different return flight and been in lab the next morning, instead of missing it for the day while jet lag caught up with me. Iâ€™m not sure how UCLA could change this, though.
All in all, this was a bit of a letdown. Obviously, many stars would have had to align before I could have attended UCLA in the first place. Being a public school, it probably isnâ€™t able to offer international students the kind of financial aid it gives to American students. But I applied because there was a very tiny but not zero chance that I might be offered admission AND a Geffen scholarship, which would have made attending a no-brainer. However, after the debacle of my MMIs, I now feel like my chances of being accepted just dropped significantly, and Iâ€™m not sure what I bring to the table that would make UCLA offer me the Geffen scholarship over all the applicants who attended more prestigious schools, are probably more accomplished, and who probably have better MCAT scores than I do. Sigh.
Now I have to wait for the decision. Whatever it is, at least I got the opportunity interview at UCLA as an international student, which is a very rare honor. According to US News, last year 268 international students applied to UCLA, and the school interviewed only two. So thank you UCLA, for considering me worthy of an interview. Hope you will look upon my application with favor.
07/13/2016: They finally made the rejection official.
Summary of Experience:
This was one of the more un-organized interviews I attended. The day began at 8:30 "sharp," as indicated by the pre-interview survey. I managed to get lost finding the admissions building and got there slightly after the day started, in what turned out to be a sign of things to come, but in a good way. Beyond granola bars and coffee, there was no breakfast. However, Yale took the time to ask for our lunch preferences, which I thought was a nice touch, since no other school at which I've interviewed has done the same.
We listened to Dr Silverman talk about the school and hand out our interview packets. I had indicated that I did not need to leave early, so my interviews were scheduled for the afternoon. I got to sit in on a class with the medical students, after which came lunch, the financial aid presentation, a faculty meet-and-greet, tours of the medical school, and a student meet-and-greet. By the time I was scheduled to do my interviews, there were only five of us left, out of the total of nine students who interviewed that day.
I had one student interview and one faculty interview. I liked them both, but I liked the student interview much more. It was my first interview, and started off with "tell me an interesting fact about animals," which almost threw me off guard. But because I like trivia, the question was right up my alley. It worked to put me at ease, though. There were questions it seemed like my interviewer was required to ask, but the interview itself was so conversational. It was supposed to be less than one hour, but mine went ten minutes over.
My faculty interview began with my interviewer telling me that I should "think carefully about the education system at Yale because it's not for everyone." It was more formal than the student interview, and my interviewer did not attempt to be concise, which was nice because I didn't try to be concise either. This one also ended up going over time, by more than 15 minutes. By the time I got back to the admissions office, almost everyone had left. The door was closed, and I had to get a current student to swipe me back in and to swipe her card so I could use the elevator. I was the last interviewee to leave Yale that day.
This was one of the more tech-averse interviews I've had this cycle. There was absolutely no PowerPoint to be found anywhere. The person who gave the financial aid presentation actually had a photocopied, printed PowerPoint slide! Nevertheless, my interviews at Yale were probably the best interviews I've had this entire interview cycle. They were so good, I think I would cry if Yale got my hopes up with such amazing conversations, only to dash them in March. And yet I've heard of people getting rejected or waitlisted after they had what they thought were really good interviews at other medical schools. It makes me not want to get my hopes up, but that tiny part of me is desperately hoping. It won't be easy waiting until March for this one.
02/11/2016 Now that my interviews are over and I have one acceptance -- and therefore less reason to fear that my opinions on here might adversely affect my chances at getting accepted to any medical school -- Yale is my number one choice out of all the schools I interviewed at. Moreover, if I had to design medical school interviews that displayed my application and my strengths in the most positive light possible, I could not design better interviews than the ones I had at Yale School of Medicine. I don't know what the ultimate decision will be at this time, but I'm now on tenterhooks while I wait for that decision to be made. Please, Yale, I love you. Please, please, love me back.
03/08/2016 Rejected. Guess I'll be going to New York in the fall.
Summary of Experience:
I rode Greyhound from Birmingham to Durham for my interview at Duke. I stayed with a first-year MD/PhD student. There were nineteen other students being interviewed the same day I was, for a total of 20. We were broken into two groups of 10 for our MMIs. I was in the afternoon section.
The interview day takes place in the Trent Semans Center for Health Education, which is where the admissions office is located. It starts with breakfast, and after breakfast, an introduction to Duke which was given by Dr Armstrong. Let me just say, she's amazing. It's impossible to leave her without being aware of just how effortlessly smart she is. Following her talk was the financial aid presentation, a student presentation about team-based learning complete with a TBL "exercise" which was cheesy as hell but adorkable, and then a tour of the medical center. Following the tour was lunch, during which another student talked about Duke's third year, and after that, the MMIs.
I had been stressing out about the MMIs because I had never done one of them before, but it ended up being not as bad as I feared. I thought there was just one station I did poorly in, but now I'm a day out, I've realized that there are actually several in which I could have done better. I'm sure I will overanalyze my interviews to death, so thanks Duke for being nonrolling!
Overall, I can say I liked my time there. I just hope Duke likes me back. It's going to be a long time until March...
03/02/2016 If the word on SDN is to be believed, all acceptances have gone out. Accepted applicants got phone calls about their acceptance to Duke despite the secondary application portal saying in all caps, "DECISIONS WILL NOT BE GIVEN OVER THE PHONE." I'm waiting to learn whether I was waitlisted or rejected now. No other school at which I interviewed lied so brazenly about their application process, and for a school of Duke's caliber, I expected better.
Officially rejected 03/06/2016. Knew this was coming when the acceptance and waitlist decisions went out, and I was in neither group.
Summary of Experience:
I flew into San Francisco airport and took public transportation to Stanford, managing to take the train in the wrong direction, just like I did in NYC. I stayed with a student host while I was at Stanford, and went to the pre-interview reception for applicants that was held the night before, even though they had basically only pizza, which I do not eat.
Stanford is basically a city, and the medical campus is probably the most beautiful one I've visited this cycle. Interviews were held in the Li-Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge, which serves as the medical student hub, and actually has a gym complete with personal training. Stanford has money coming out of its ears, and since the medical school class is a small one (90 students), students get A LOT of resources available to them. There is funding for research projects, and those who are able to become TAs get paid basically a graduate student stipend for it. Students stressed that the administration was very responsive to student concerns, and advocated for them both inside and outside of school, which I thought was nice.
As for interview day, it started with a hot breakfast, which I have to say is the only time a medical school has served a hot breakfast on interview day during my interview cycle. It was a very good one too, highlighting another plus for Stanford: catering. All the food we were served was REALLY good. It has been by far the best food any medical school has ever served me. After breakfast, we listened to Dr Gibbs introduce us to Stanford's mission and the kinds of programs available there. Then a financial aid presentation, a research presentation, a tour of the campus, lunch, and MMIs. During all the presentations, it was stressed to us that Stanford was looking for leaders and for people who were interested in research, as it is a research-heavy school. It was emphasized that a lot of people do a fifth-year of research, and I would still have to do one even though I would be matriculating with an advanced degree. I'm not too bothered by this, though, since I envision for myself a medical career that entails research in some form, and the investigation I would like to do is very different from the one I'm doing for my PhD. It is also possible to take classes that are unrelated to medicine anywhere on the Stanford campus, but Yale offers the same thing too.
The MMIs at Stanford were actually not bad. I wouldn't say they were easy, but I did not feel as bad after them as I did at UCLA. Actually, one of the scenarios was identical to Duke's, but despite my familiarity with the prompt, the discussion was radically different. The raters at Stanford were the most impassive I've encountered in my MMIs. They asked you questions, but would not respond to yours if you asked them. It was later explained that Stanford did not want the raters giving either positive or negative feedback during the MMI, since the school did not want raters' feedback to bias our responses, which I thought was totally fair. It did make for a slightly unnerving process, though.
During the wrap up, we were told to expect decisions in a month's time. It will be difficult waiting for this one, because I really liked Stanford. The negative for me would be living in Palo Alto, since it's quite removed from San Francisco proper, and it's not as accessible by public transportation as New York is from, say, New Haven. And after living in Birmingham for a while, I would like to be in a larger city, or in a place where the larger city is easily accessible without requiring a car. Nevertheless, I think I would jump at Stanford if it decided for some reason it wanted me in its medical school class. Please love me, Stanford. Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease.
02/14/2016 Waitlisted. On Valentine's day, too. I will admit, this one stung. I feel like a child, whining about waitlists when I have an acceptance already, but I would like some options, you know?
Summary of Experience:
I went straight to Baltimore from New York after my Sinai interviews were over. The interview day begins at 11:00 am, which is nice, since it allowed me to get up a little later. However, I had terrible insomnia during the night, so Iâ€™m not sure how much that helped.
All interviewees congregated in a room in the Miller research building. There were eleven of us on the day I interviewed, and there was a very strong east coast bias with regard to undergraduate colleges. We listened to an address by Valerie Mazza, and then a financial aid presentation, after which we went to lunch and a tour of the medical school and the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Lunch was a Panera Bread sandwich with soup, chips, and salads if we wanted. As I am quite the picky eater, I only had a sandwich and chips. My stomach was definitely rumbling by the time the interviews ended. During lunch, we were divided into tables, and there was a student and a faculty member at each table, so we got to ask questions. I mostly listened and let others do the asking. I think I just asked like 3 questions total. Most of the questions I wanted to ask were asked by others. The tour I went on was actually led by the second-year student who had eaten at my table, and we saw a lot of the hospital and the medical student colleges. As the hospital has recently been expanded, it was shiny, new, and absolutely gorgeous.
Applicants to Hopkins are evaluated on their interviews and interactions with medical students during the course of the day from 2:00pm to 5:00pm or whenever your interviews end. Interviews are one student and one faculty. My student interview was first. It was with a fourth-year student, and it felt more like an interrogation than an actual interview. At one point in the interview, it almost felt like I was defending affirmative action for rich black people. My interviewer also admitted that he had not read my application in depth but had skimmed it, and it seemed he was struggling to find things from it that he wanted to talk about. I felt he ended up focusing on minutiae from my application and not the overarching themes or the big picture. He was also quite accomplished, and when he talked about what it was like when he applied to medical school (I asked), he came across as just a little arrogant.
However, the student interview was more than made up for by the faculty interview. She had obviously gone through my application, and we proceeded to simply talk. We talked about what had led me to apply to medical school, my plans, and where I could see myself in the future. It was an interview in the sense that all the questions like â€œWhy medicine?â€ â€œTell me about yourself,â€ â€œWhat specialty interests you at this time?â€ â€œWhere do you see yourself in 20 years?â€ and â€œWhat makes you special?â€ were addressed. But it never once felt like I was being grilled. My student interviewer asked me, â€œWhy should Hopkins accept you?â€ while my faculty interviewer asked me, â€œWhat makes you sparkle?â€ Fundamentally the same question both times, but two totally different frames of mind for answering each one.
After the interview, I have mixed feelings about Hopkins. However, I would be glad if I got accepted there. We'll see how the decision goes.
01/29/2016 Aaaaaaaaaand "placed on alternate list." Can't say I am too surprised by this decision after the disaster that was my student interview.
08/11/201/ Hopkins finally made it official. Seeing as I was already attending orientation at Sinai, this decision was not too surprising.
Summary of Experience:
On the day of the interview, I arrived at the Annenberg building at 8:00 am for breakfast. There were ten people who were interviewed on my interview day, and for breakfast we could choose from muffins, fruit, parfaits, juice, coffee, and tea. We were told to eat as much as we wanted before the medical students got to the food because they would eat it all. This was true.
We heard from the admissions dean, and watched a video before our interviews began, and during breaks we remained in the same room in which we had breakfast, and students came in and out to talk to us. Mount Sinai students REALLY like their school, and they will definitely let you know. Over the course of the day, we were asked over and over, â€œdo you have any questions?â€ When I went to my interviews, I had none, since they had already been answered.
I had two interviews. Both were faculty interviews, and were open file. I had written about a personal issue in one of my essays, and this came up in my first interview, and was what we talked about for the majority of the interview (sorry for the vagueness, but I will be keeping this anonymous). Basically, if you write about something in your essays, be prepared to talk about it because those essays WILL be read. It was a very conversational interview, and my interviewer ended up giving me what I will call â€œlife advice.â€ My second interview, also with a faculty member, took some time to start because I mentioned that I had ridden the subway quite a long way in the wrong direction when I first arrived in New York, and my interviewer spent a lot of time looking up an app that would show me the New York subway schedule. I appreciated the gesture, but I sat in my chair thinking, â€œSeriously, letâ€™s get on with this interview, and I will worry about the subway later!â€ Anyway, app was found, I wrote it down, and the interview started. This was also a very conversational interview that ended up going slightly over time. Surprisingly, I ended up talking strategy in competitive Scrabble. Go figure.
After the interviews, we went on two tours. The first was led by two second-year medical students who showed us the medical school, while the second was led by a fourth-year medical student who showed us the hospital. I walked away from the tours with a greater appreciation for UAB Hospital, which is where I volunteered and shadowed. UAB Hospital is younger and newer, while the age of Mount Sinai Hospital is evident. The facility is well maintained, but obviously old. However, this is not a con for me. I wouldnâ€™t care if Sinai students were trained in a box.
Other things: The first two years at Sinai are Pass/Fail, and the view from the interview waiting room and the library is GORGEOUS!
I enjoyed my time here. I hope Sinai likes me back.
12/18/2015: AHHHHHHHHH!!!! My first acceptance! I'm going to medical school! Woohoo!!!!!!!