My hope is that this can help people going through the application / interview process. I found it extremely valuable to read other applicants' experiences on mdapps and so I hope you find my notes on post-interview impressions helpful!
I also hope that this profile can give confidence to others - the application process is not all about numbers. I was extremely stressed and worried going into this cycle about my MCAT score (particularly my low VR score); I thought it would for sure affect how many interview invites I received and kill my chances at any top or mid-tier med school. I hope my profile helps ease your mind if you are at all worried like I was - schools really do review your application holistically!
// Applications //
Application Cycle One: 06/16/2015
Undergraduate Area of study: Biological/Life Sciences
Total MCAT SCORE: 511
MCAT Section Scores:
Overall GPA: 3.90
Science GPA: 3.80
Summary of Application Experience
Total Applications Submitted: 31 Total Interview Invites: 14 Total Interviews Attended: 12 Total Acceptance Offers: 6
Summary of Experience: Post-Interview Impressions This is very high on my list after the interview day here! I spent the night with a host and really liked how close the student body was. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. I can really see myself being happy here. The facilities were great and they are building a brand new building for the entering 2016 class to spend most of their classes, studying, and clinical training in. There are so many opportunities available here and the Ronald Reagan Medical Center was absolutely amazing. Westwood is a great town for students. The only downsides from my conversations with students are that there is a lot of traffic and that opportunities are not always given to you; you often have to seek them out on your own. Still, UCLA is most definitely a top choice of mine and I am keeping my fingers crossed for January when the first decisions come out!
Summary of Experience:
Alternate list on 1/15. This is the one school I actually feel happy about being on a wait list, considering how few people are considered and how many applicants are taken off of the wait list. Crossing my fingers for the next few months!
Post-Interview Impressions AMAZING interview day. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming (much more than any other interview I have been on). The Mayo Clinic is absolutely incredible!!! Even if I do not get accepted, I am so glad I was able to tour the facility. It is truly spectacular and every aspect of the clinic--the marble floors, the live musicians, the separate patient elevators and staff elevators, the incredible rainforest themed peds floor--all of it was completely patient centered and geared toward making the patient feel comfortable. My interviews were both with faculty (some had med student interviewers) and lasted 30 minutes each. They were very focused on behavioral type questions, which were a little difficult but overall went well. Speaking with students, they were very happy at Mayo. With about 200 total med students, there are so many opportunities and faculty always wants to work with med students since there are so few. There is so much support and collaboration and community amongst the student body. There are some downsides that students mentioned however: 1) Mayo is more education focused and less service oriented. BUT there are always resources if you need them because with over 3,000 faculty members, there is always someone who has a similar interest and can help guide/mentor you. 2) The patient population is different at Mayo Clinic. It is not a safety net type of hospital like Boston Medical. But, students said you can always gain that sort of experience in an urban undeserved area in your residency. Overall, though, I really felt a sense of camaraderie amongst students and the faculty. It is a special community and one in which I can definitely see myself thriving. Definitely a top choice at this point and the best interview day thus far!!
Summary of Experience:
3/9: Withdrew my spot in the alternate pool.
Post-Interview Impressions This was my first interview. DC is a very walk-able city and I enjoyed my free day to explore around! The interview day itself was very low-stress. The other interviewees were all extremely friendly (more so than many of the other schools I have interviewed at) and the interviewers were also very friendly and casual. Being a closed file interview, it was a little difficult figuring out everything I wanted to say. The students we met were very friendly and welcoming. The community is still very collaborative despite the school not being on a Pass/Fail system (it is on Honors/Pass/Fail; every other school I have interviewed at is strictly P/F the first two years). The facilities were not that impressive to me. Everything (classes, library, student lounge) is all in one building. This is apparently typical of schools on the east coast in urban settings. Overall, it was a great interview and the main attraction would be the location. There is a high cost of living, however.
Summary of Experience:
4/24: Withdrew my spot on the Waiting List.
Post-Interview Impressions I flew into Boston and rented a car to drive out to Hanover, NH. The drive was about 2 hours long. My first impressions: it is definitely a SMALL town; there is not a lot going on; it felt rural and isolated. On the morning of the interview, I saw NH during the day for the first time and it was beautiful. All the leaves were orange and red and it looked very picturesque. Driving to campus, it felt very ivy-league like. Old buildings, brick, green lawnsâ€¦When I pulled up to the admissions office, I was lucky enough to get a parking spot RIGHT in front! I crossed my fingers hoping this would be a sign of good luck for the day. Upon check-in, the waiting room/lobby was beautiful. It looked like something out of an old Victorian style mansion. Immediately I recognized I was the only male in the whole room. Luckily one applicant came in late, and was a guy! And later when we did introductions, I was only one of two still in school. There was even one applicant there who was already a dentist! I could recognize that Dartmouth really likes non-traditional students. The tour of the DHMC was great. It felt very much like a mall, but still very nice (but no Mayo Clinic!). It was about 15-20 minutes from the main campus. As a M1/M2, you spend most time on the main campus. The interviews following the medical center tour were VERY casualâ€”the MOST casual out of all my interviews so far! The first interviewer was a faculty member who had read my application very closely and already knew so much about me! It felt nice knowing that she genuinely cared about everything I had written. My second interview was with a student who was very friendly but had not yet read my application. I was caught a little off guard since I had not prepared for this. Overall I think it went well (enough). He was a bit awkward too, but very friendly. Weâ€™ll see! Speaking with two M1s on the tour of the main campus afterwards, I wondered how I would fit in here. Many students come in with partners or are even sometimes already married! This was a little concerning. The most represented states at the school are MA, CA, and TX. Overall, I really feel like I would be cared for individually at Dartmouth, and this is a HUGE plus. I will keep my fingers crossed!
Summary of Experience:
6/29: WITHDREW. After much consideration, I decided to withdraw and will be happily attending Duke! 6/9: ACCEPTED 4/26: Alternate List #32 After being on hold since October, I finally heard something! I'm on the alternate list. They've went into the 50s and 60s in the past couple years, so I feel like I'm in a good place. Feeling very conflicted though. Not sure if I would really choose OHSU over Duke - the only pro I see about OHSU is its proximity to all my family.
Post-Interview Impressions This was the first MMI I did and it was also the very first interview day of OHSU's cycle. Being at home during this time made this interview comfortable but I was very nervous going into the MMI. The first couple stations were a bit tricky, but I definitely got the hang of it toward the end. The stations were all very different and dynamic, so each one required very different approaches and ways of thinking. The students at OHSU were majority non-traditional and the ones we met varied greatly in age. The students said this does not affect community at all--in fact it enriches the learning experience as you can learn from older more experienced peers in some ways. The facilities were amazing. They just built a brand new Collaborative Sciences building, which was stunning. The new curriculum is also very learner centered and has many options for students to make it individualized. Overall, a great interview day and I would be thrilled to go here!
Summary of Experience: WITHDREW. It was hard since EVMS really is a special place to gain quality clinical training. Being OOS and the high COA were major factors in making my decision.
Post-Interview Impressions The interview here was panel style and definitely not too challenging. I was taking a health policy course during the time of my interviews, so answering questions about our health care system was very easy for me. The school itself was mediocre. It seemed very small (everything is in close proximity to each other â€“ the main hospital, childrenâ€™s hospital, and medical school buildings). Downtown Norfolk is nearby but still not visible from the campus. I rented a car while I was here â€“ it was definitely necessary! I enjoyed my visit to EVMS and see the vision and mission of the school certainly resonate with my own, but many factors make it a mediocre fit for me. For one, the grading system is HH, H, P, F (basically A, B, C, D grades). The students said it still does not affect the high level of collaboration in classes, but I would much rather not worry about grades in medical school. Furthermore, the COA for OOS students is extremely high (around 80K per year). For this sticker price I would much rather be at a private school. The interview day was well organized but did not blow me away. The surrounding area seemed dull and not too busy or exciting. Iâ€™m not sure if this is the best school for me, but of course I would be happy to attend if it ends up being one of my only choices since I do believe clinical training here is excellent and something they are well recognized for.
Summary of Experience:WITHDREW. Really tough for me to withdraw from here. I loved the school so much...the entire mission of BUSM and the BMC align so closely with my own values, and Boston is such a great city for a student to live in.
1/7: ACCEPTED! CAN'T BELIEVE IT. I would be thrilled to go here!!!!!!
Post-Interview Impressions This was a great weekend because I was able to knock out Quinnipiac and BU in one weekend! BU had just one 45-minute interview, which went well. My interviewer did ask me about my VR score, and said that the admissions committee was able to overlook it, as it did not fit with the rest of my application. I really liked the setting of BU right in the city. The Boston Medical Center has a unique mission of being the hospital for the people and serving everyone that walks through the doors. They act as a safety net and do so much to care for the homeless population. I really saw how much of my own values resonated with BU's mission. There is a large emphasis on service learning and giving back to the community. Students were all very friendly and there are many options to collaborate with other medical institutions in the area. The downsides: the cost of living is very high, everything is again in one building and the facilities are quite old, the library is very small, and the medical center is certainly not as large as the Ronald Reagan Medical Center in LA. Overall, I really do see a good fit with BU and would be happy to come here, as there is so much I would be able to do with the urban underserved community.
Summary of Experience:
Quinnipiac University - Frank H Netter MD School of Medicine | WITHDREW.
2/26 - completely shocked! Received a half-tuition scholarship in the mail today. Extremely grateful for the offer, but I just can't see myself choosing Quinnipiac over Duke or BU.
Post-Interview Impressions Unfortunately this was probably the least enjoyable interview day for me. The interviews were good; the faculty members I spoke with were very friendly and informative. But many things did not feel like Quinnipiac would be a good fit for me. First of all, the surrounding area (North Haven) felt very small and isolated. There was little to do in the area and the medical school campus is very isolated and essentially one building. The facilities were very new but the teaching hospital (St Vincent's) is about 45 minutes away, which is a downside. I have really enjoyed the schools where everything is on one campus. The students seemed happy but not very enthusiastic about the school. It is clear, however, that the faculty really cares for the students and wants them to succeed. Very student centered and focused on teaching/education. The faculty member I spoke with said that research is not going to come to Quinnipiac...the school will always stay focused on teaching and disseminating knowledge, not creating new knowledge. That being said, students say it is easy to find research opportunities elsewhere, but it would be 45-60 minutes away. It definitely felt like a commuter-type of school where med students come in from many different surrounding areas to go to school. Of course I would go here if it were my only choice because I do feel the faculty does want to see every student succeed, but I do not know how happy I would be here.
Summary of Experience: MATRICULATING! I honestly could not be happier to say that I'm heading to Duke! It's a dream come true and the perfect end to a long and stressful application cycle. :)
3/1: ACCEPTED!!!!! This is a dream come true. Duke was at the top of my list since the beginning. I honestly was not expecting this today and I am beyond excited just thinking about attending Duke!!
Post-Interview Impressions By far, the FRIENDLIEST people I have met on interview day (applicants, students, and admission staff). I was most definitely impressed by the facilities, the opportunities available for students, and Durham in general seemed like a great place to live as a student. It seemed like a very intellectual, prestigious place to study. There are a lot of underserved populations in Durham and a lot of need for health care. Students were very enthusiastic about the school and claimed the first year was not as bad as people said it was. Having everything crammed in one year is not stressful and does not make the culture competitive or intense. Students only had positive things to say about the curriculum. The one drawback is being so far away from home and from family. I value having a support system at least somewhat nearby; at Duke, I would be far away from all my family and friends. Definitely something I would need to consider. But overall, Duke is a top choice for me and definitely somewhere I can see myself thriving and getting a quality medical education and training. The PCLT program is also especially appealing given its strong focus on community engaged learning and serving the underserved in the Durham community.
Summary of Experience:WITHDREW. I really liked Rush when I interviewed and got a great, happy vibe from all the students I met. The focus on service and outreach align so closely with my goals, and I loved Chicago. However, I just can't see myself passing up the opportunity to attend a place like Duke.
Post-Interview Impressions Rush definitely exceeded my expectations. Before attending the interview, I didnâ€™t know much about the school and would have never applied were it not for my premed advisor's recommendation. I knew Rush has a strong focus on community service and that was the big draw when I applied. On the interview day, it was clear that Rush focuses strongly (and excels in) clinical training and service to the most vulnerable patient populations in Chicago. You do your rotations both at Rush Medical Center (private hospital) and Cook County Hospital (Stroger â€“ which is a safety net hospital for the low-income, uninsured patients in Chicago). I could definitely see how medical students at Rush would get very diverse clinical training experiences. The first year students are part of the Physicianship program (preceptor program) and I heard pretty positive reviews about this. All students are taught by practicing physicians, which again is reflective of the focus here on clinical training. You are given a lot of support from faculty, as you are assigned 2 advisors as an M1. The support from other students is strong â€“ I stayed with a host and the students seemed like such a close-knit group of people. It definitely looked like a healthy, fun environment to be in as a student. At the end of the day, the Dean spoke about how Rush may not be a research powerhouse like Northwestern or UChicago, but one thing it does excel in compared to the other medical schools in the area is clinical care. I definitely see myself being trained to become the type of physician I hope to be here at Rush.