Traditional applicant from PA, state school graduate, life science major.
Having gotten a lot of use out of advice and tips from people on SDN and MDApplicants, I wanted to make this retrospective profile of my 2017-2018 application. I hope you find it helpful! As of July 2018 I am occasionally active on SDN and would be happy to answer questions of any current/future applicants.
Overview: 24 applications, 22 interview invites, 14 interviews attended, 12 acceptances, and 6 full-tuition scholarships.
1. Committee letter, written by my pre-med advisor and including my supplemental letters
2. Research professor
3. Advisor/faculty I was a TA for
4. Bioethics professor
5. Global engagement club advisor
6. Professor who led my China study abroad course and taught a class I took for 6 semesters
1. Research assistant, development neurobiology (four years, one summer): one senior thesis, one student research grant, strong letter
2. DAAD-RISE research intern, breast cancer radiation oncology (one summer): research in Germany, also ran around having a great summer in Europe
3. Honors college (four years): scholarship recipient, small honors classes, and a senior thesis
4. Global engagement-related club president (two years): helped start program to support foreign students at my university
5. Science club member (three years): community education
6. Women’s political outreach club secretary (two years): ran voter registration drives and round-table events, sat on various community committees
7. Global engagement conference (one weekend): just a fun little event about global leadership and cultural competency
8. Shadowing (130 hours): pediatric oncology, primary care, interventional cardiology, ophthalmology
9. Cancer biology study abroad in China (one summer): took cancer biology course, “assisted” aka made a nuisance of myself in a developmental biology lab, and wandered around China
10. Volunteer literacy tutor (one year + one summer): worked with an adult ESL learner who recently immigrated to improve English skills
11. Emergency department volunteer (three years): not much to say about this
12. Red Cross volunteer (two and a half years): trained other volunteers and oversaw student outreach
13. Teaching assistant (one year): took pedagogy course and assisted with intro molecular bio courses
14. Various academic awards
Schools and thoughts:
Johns Hopkins (II: 08/08, IA: 08/25)
I felt that Hopkins spent a good part of the day attempting to counteract their hardcore reputation. However, the students did seem to focus more on “we do the most things” versus “we’re happy here” as I ended up hearing more often at other schools. Stunning facilities and history, but not really my vibe. Still an amazing way to start my interview cycle!
ACCEPTED mid-December: I was honestly shocked to get in here after feeling extremely outclassed on my interview day. Need-based aid was pretty good but couldn’t match my merit-based options.
UChicago Pritzker (II: 08/08, IA: 09/07)
After Hopkins, UChicago felt like the warmest, friendliest interview in the world. The most stressful part was trying to eat deep dish pizza in my suit. Still would consider my faculty interview here the best interview I had since we just ended up ranting about bees and the environment. I would rank them the most supportive school I visited in terms of small class size, student resources, and genuine efforts towards diversity. Felt a real connection with the mission, students, and city. The students were definitely living their best lives and seemed SO genuinely happy. I was a little apprehensive about the traditional two-year preclinical curriculum, though.
ACCEPTED October 15: Nearly dropped my phone when he said I was accepted, and then he broke the news of my first full-tuition scholarship offer.
Vanderbilt (II: 08/08, IA: 09/08)
I didn’t expect to like Nashville as much as I did, even though I flew in late directly from my Pritzker interview. My one interviewer spent the whole time just trying to convince me that I would love it in Nashville, so I took that as a good sign. I think I like the one-year preclinical curriculum, and they have the step scores to back it up. Students seemed very happy, but I didn’t meet anyone who really seemed like my type for some reason.
ACCEPTED mid-December: Got a phone call and a 75% tuition scholarship!
University of Virginia (II: 07/13, IA: 09/11)
My first interview invite, way back in July! I was surprisingly impressed with how gorgeous the campus was and how friendly the students were. Great lunch, too. I got the impression there was less focus on research here, but I would still have been happy here. I’m a big fan of Charlottesville, too, although I can see how it would be too small a vibe for some people.
ACCEPTED October 15: My first acceptance! There is nothing like the first one and knowing you’re going to be a doctor.
Mount Sinai (II: 08/17, IA: 09/15)
I was pretty beat by the time I got to this interview, since it was nearly back-to-back with Chicago/Vanderbilt/UVA. Followed-up with a very aggressive interviewer who peppered me with questions about a sex scandal at my school, and I was a little overwhelmed. I felt like I didn’t get much of an impression of the area it was in while I was there, although I liked being so close to Central Park. Think I’d prefer a school with a real campus instead of scattered urban buildings, but I could see myself there. Liked the social justice focus and the students were very friendly. If you can, stay with a student host so you can see the subsidized student housing, since that’s where almost everyone lives.
ACCEPTED November 15: Despite the strange interview experience, I was excited to get in here. Upon consideration, not sure I wanted to live in NYC for med school. The financial aid was the least of any school I was accepted at.
University of Pittsburgh (II: 07/21, IA: 09/22)
After a major bus crash on the way to Pitt, I struggled to focus on my interview day. I did, however, have a really cool pathology interviewer and got a chance to see the autopsy suites. Our tour guide also took us through the anatomy lab on “skull sawing-open day” which was quite shocking. Their five-year scientist training program seems like a good fit for anyone who wanted a bit more research exposure without a full MD/PhD. Facilities are older but the clinical opportunities seem really, really good. I think it doesn’t get the rep it deserves. Get ready for some hill climbing!
ACCEPTED January 31. Really wanted to be excited about this one but just didn’t feel a personal connection here, despite liking Pittsburgh a lot.
NYU (II: 07/25, IA: 09/25)
Back to New York! NYU’s facilities were stunning, and I had a fantastic tour guide who really sold me on the school. However, I wasn’t impressed by the MMI format and had a weird interviewer who told me you can’t be a compassionate physician without being religious. Overall, mixed feelings about the school, but I liked the student body quite a bit.
WAITLISTED late-January. Not too surprised given the MMIs.
ACCEPTED from the waitlist May 25 with another full tuition scholarship offer. Really out of the blue offer after everything seemed settled.
Harvard (II: 08/30, IA: 09/26)
Right from NYU to Boston for my Harvard Pathways interview. I will admit to taking a selfie with the HMS sign. Other than the prestige, though, I didn’t feel a great fit at Harvard. I had two awkward interviews and a very empty interview day… although the current students were very down-to-earth and sweet. Left this interview knowing I wouldn’t be going to Harvard, one way or another.
REJECTED in early March. Not really surprised or disappointed, although of course it would’ve been cool to get accepted.
Penn State Hershey (II: 08/15, IA: 10/29)
I was impressed with the quality of my interviewers here. For being quite isolated, the hospital seems to have pretty good clinical experiences, and I liked the focus on humanities. Not my ideal setting, though.
ACCEPTED December 1.
Mayo Clinic (II: 08/21, IA: 10/06)
I’ll admit Rochester isn’t thrilling, and it poured the entire time I was there. But the students were some of the funniest I’d met, and the selectives/electives system here seemed phenomenal for either pursuing your interest in depth or exploring new options. The hospital feels like a soothing spa full of clinicians (and students!) in “Mayo-wear” aka business formal. I think the clinical education you would get here would be second to none, but the social scene doesn’t seem to lend itself to a life outside school. I was concerned about my partner finding a job.
ACCEPTED in early February! For those keeping track, I sent two letters of interest in response to various “highly interested” emails from Mayo. Received a full tuition merit scholarship on March 12, which was shocking since I was pretty sure they had said they only did need-based aid.
University of Michigan (II: 09/18, IA: 10/20)
Michigan knows how to put on a good interview day, despite the huge interview group. While the MMIs were a bit more stressful than at NYU, I appreciated that my interviewer had definitely read my file several times and was ready to ask me thoughtful questions about it instead of making me repeat it verbatim. I had no concerns about the clinical opportunities despite Ann Arbor’s smaller size. Definitely a different student vibe than some other similarly ranked schools, perhaps because half the class is from Michigan, but I really liked the “state school” feeling. Students told me they honestly didn’t think the one year preclinical was long enough. They seemed more stressed/overworked than most other students I met, but still very happy and friendly. They are rightfully proud of the excellent reputation for graduating good students/residents/physicians.
ACCEPTED November 15 with their cute little video! Actually watched it in the bathroom during my Stanford interview day, which could’ve ended poorly. I called and sent a scholarship letter by email at the end of February, expressing how interested I was in them and letting them know about my previously-offered scholarships. I was offered a full tuition and fees scholarship as well as an unexpected need-based stipend on March 9! This was “upgraded” to a named Dean’s Scholarship with paid master’s degree on April 24 after attending second look.
University of Pennsylvania (II: 09/27, IA: 10/20)
Oh man, I was excited about this interview. While I’ve heard some people found the interview day unfriendly, I loved both my interviewers (even the weirdly casual faculty interview where we just discussed random topics not related to my application). It was also interesting to get to visit the anatomy lab while it was in session and see how that worked. Large interview day so I didn’t get to connect with too many other applicants, but current students seemed busy but happy. The recent switch to P/F preclinical was key for me, as was the 1.5 year preclinical. The new med school space is beautiful and nestled into the hospital center. Second look was a hectic but fun event, with great opportunities to see community outreach sites firsthand.
ACCEPTED March 13 after the longest spring break wait ever. I contacted them March 16 with my competing financial aid offers and was notified of my full tuition and stipend scholarship offer on April 13. They play hardball here money-wise.
Cleveland Clinic (II: 09/08, IA: 11/09)
I was a little nervous about CCLCM going into my interview, because while I’ve done a lot of undergrad research, I felt like I couldn’t possibly compete with non-trads in research fields or even just people with gap years. However, the program was very welcoming and my interviews focused more on making sure I was a good cultural fit for the program. Their fresh cadaver program for anatomy, focusing in prosection rather than dissection, could be a minus for others but seemed like a plus for me. Attending second look reaffirmed how much they benefit from the professionalism-focused evaluation system, and students seemed very mature and felt well-prepared to go on to residency. Lots of personal attention and opportunities.
ACCEPTED December 20 with the same full tuition scholarship that every accepted student receives.
Stanford (II: 10/11, IA: 12/02)
My last interview! At this point it was so burned out that I can barely remember this interview day. I did get the sense that they talked much less about clinical opportunities and focused more on research — admittedly their research is great, so I guess it makes sense. I loved the warmth and gorgeous campus, but I would’ve liked to know more about their clinical training since I was worried about the suburban setting. MMIs continue to not be my favorite.
WAITLISTED April 11. Not particularly surprised.
I was rejected pre-interview at UCSF.
I was also offered interviews and withdrew at:
1. WashU (II: 09/01)
2. Einstein (II: 08/18)
3. Case Western (II: 09/08)
4. Ohio State (II: 08/27)
5. Cornell (II: 10/23)
6. Northwestern (II: 10/05)
7. UCLA (II: 10/06)
8. Virginia Commonwealth (II: 10/12)
No applications have been submitted yet during this cycle.