Summarizing my application cycle experience here in hopes that it helps other people on the journey. If you think that med school apps will be a financial burden for you, APPLY FOR THE AAMC FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM! It waives the primary application fee for up to 15 schools, as well as the fee for all/most of your secondaries. Lifts a huge burden off your back, especially if you come from a low-income background and wouldnt be able to apply for med school otherwise.
22 schools applied
22 completed applications
7 interview invites
1 interview hold
5 pre-interview rejection
0 withdrawn application
Applying regular MD.
~3+ years of research, no pubs
~400+ clinical/shadowing hours
~400+ volunteer hours
~1500++ hours of other extracurriculars and employment during the academic year
Didnt join any of the stereotypical pre-med organizations; joined everything that even vaguely interested me and then just kinda stuck with the things I really enjoyed
Early June (near the first week): Primary AMCAS submitted
6/6/2018: Primary AMCAS processed and verified
Early July to August: Secondaries submitted (sent my earliest secondaries to UChicago, Georgetown, BU and Jefferson SKMC right after receiving invitations to enter the portal. Submitted my last secondary to Harvard in the first week of August. Most secondaries submitted somewhere in between).
7/26/2018: All recommendation letters in
7/26-30/2018: Marked as complete at most schools
****Wasnt complete at Rutgers RWJS until late August because I procrastinated on taking CASPer. Oops.
8/7/2018: II to Jeff! (Sidney Kimmel Medical College)
8/28/2018: Rejected from Keck. There goes my dream of living in California
9/11/2018: II FROM WEILL CORNELL!! omg my dream
9/13/2018: Rejected from University of Pittsburgh SOM
9/17/2018: II from Harvard. shaking. is this real.
9/24/2018: Rejected from BU.
10/11/2018: II from Georgetown. honestly thought i had been passed over since I had submitted my app so long ago so this was a pleasant surprise.
10/25/2018: Placed on the high-priority waitlist at Jeff
10/26/2018: Rejected from CWRU. Still waiting on that rejection from Cleveland Lerner though.
10/27/2018: Sent updates to some of the schools I hadnt heard back from (NYU, Yale, Feinberg)
11/1/2018: II from Feinberg! Wow maybe I should have sent that update sooner.
11/9/2018: II from Pritzker!! Sent an ITA after my Feinberg II with low hopes, so I was super surprised when Pritzker was so accommodating. Super excited to visit Chicago
11/10/2018: II from Mayo?!?! Really wasnt expecting this one, especially after learning how few people from my school get invites. My bank account is crying from the flight+hotel prices but I guess sometimes sacrifices have to be made.. TT
11/12/2018: Rejected from Stanford.
INTERVIEW TRAVEL COSTS (not including food)
Jeff: $12 for round-trip megabus to Philadelphia + ~$6 in public transit
Weill Cornell: $60 for round-trip Vamoose bus to NYC + ~$6 subway
Harvard: ~$260 flight ticket + ~$100+ in Uber and public transit.
Georgetown: ~$6 round-trip metro ride
Feinberg + Pritzker: ~$250 flight + ~$80 in Uber and public transit
Mayo: ~$380 for flight + hotel bundle, ~$100+ in Uber and transit rip
Beyond grateful for the AAMC fee assistance program because who knows where Id be right now without it...
Most schools offered student hosting for a minimum of one night. The only school Ive had to pay a hotel for is Mayo; they offered a night of student hosting but I had to stay an extra night because there were no flights available on the night of my interview day.
Most of the Uber/transportation cost is just the cost to get from my house to the local airport, which is $30-40 one way because I dont have a car..
General: My first stop when looking for travel options is Megabus. If you book early enough in advance, they have really good deals for bus rides to/from some major cities (eg. Philadelphia, NYC). If you book >3 weeks in advance, your bus ticket could be as low as $1 depending on where youre going!
For interviews that are far away where you cant get a host, check flight tickets + hotel prices separately and then compare that with the bundle prices on Expedia. Sometimes the individual prices are cheaper, but sometimes Expedia bundles really pull through. For Mayo, I was able to find a flight + hotel bundle for the same price as just the round-trip flight ticket. Since taxi is expensive and Rochester doesnt have a cheap public transportation option from the airport to the med school, I even found a hotel that has free shuttle service from the Mayo Clinic area to the airport! My bank account is still crying but at least I saved ~$100.. T_T
For flying, Southwest isnt well-known but worth looking into. Wont show up on Google/other flight price comparison sites so you have to go to Southwests website directly, but I highly recommend checking their prices on your own. The benefit of Southwest is that, unlike most other airlines, will let you reschedule your itinerary for the low cost of FREE!!! (Although of course, youll have to pay the price difference in your rescheduled tickets if there is one). This is really great if plans change down the line or if you get another interview in the same city out-of-the-blue after youve already bought your plane tickets. With Southwest, you also get up to two free checked bags which means you might save up $50 compared to flying with something like United Basic Economy--comparable in price to Southwest but wont let you bring a carry-on and charges $25 one-way for each checked bag.
NYC: Definitely take the subway if you can. With Google maps, asking people for directions or using Citymapper its fairly easy to figure out public transportation. With NYC traffic, walking or taking the metro is bound to be a LOT faster than Uber. To give you an idea, I once took an Uber in heavy traffic (estimated travel time was 20 minutes) and it took about an hour to arrive at my location. Via is a cheap alternative to Uber if you need it, but public transportation is always best if you can use it.