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How to Get Into Medical School Five Easy Tips
Getting in- it's easier than you think.
Many have told you how hard it is to get into medical school. You've heard it from friends, family, professors and advisors. And there are a lot of hoops to jump through; prerequisite courses, the MCAT, negotiating the admissions process. Let's say you've done all that, or are well informed about how to do these steps. Then, I'm here to tell you it's not as hard as you think to get an acceptance letter, especially if you follow these five simple tips below.
1. Apply early! If you do nothing else suggested in the Hubpage, do this! Again, apply early. I cannot stress the importance of this step enough. If the first day to have your admission submitted in July 1st, hit send/mail it on 12:01 am July 1st.
Why is this so important? Because medical schools use something called rolling admissions. That is, they consider admissions as they come in and don't wait till they've gathered up all the admissions for a year to decide who they want. For them the process works sort of in reverse of a typical Saturday night at a singles bar...whereas people at the bar get less choosy as the night wears on, medical schools get more selective as the year goes by. In August the admissions department is nervous, as they've got a whole class to fill. Suppose nobody accepts them? They don't hold any spots for a potential Nobel Prize recipient who might show up in April. They look at what they've got on hand and make their selections there and then. This is your most favorable time to be an applicant. In the Spring, on the other hand, the class will be full or mostly so, and they will only be interested in a few back-ups or the exceptional candidate. Again, in case you missed it, apply early!
2. Apply often! It's a common mistake to only list your in-state schools or not apply to enough schools. How many is enough? That depends on how strong a candidate you are. If you have a better than average GPA and MCAT scores, with good extracurriculars, you may only need to apply to 6 or 8, but if you are trending more towards the mean or below you should apply to 10-15.
3. Apply to the right schools (for you.) First, always apply to all your in-state schools. Even private medical schools usually reserve a certain number of seats for in-state applicants and state schools, of course, almost never admit out-of-state medical students,unless they have some connection to the state. If they are going to admit from out of state, they are often more open to people from neighboring states, so if you live in North Carolina, for example, you should apply to state schools in Virginia and South Carolina, rather than Illinois or Iowa.
If you have any special connection to a particular medical school you should apply there as well. Examples of connections might be graduating from another program at the school, having parents or other relatives who attended the medical school, religious affiliation, or working in healthcare at the university hospital, and so on.
Match your status as an applicant to the other schools you apply to- if you are a superstar with a 4.0 GPA, massive MCATs and a slew of awards, don't waste your time and money applying to less well-known private schools. They know you're not coming. On the other hand, if your application has some lacunae, you should apply to several or all of the less well-known private schools that draw from a national applicant pool. Medical education is very standardized, and once you get to a school you realize that the US News and other such rankings are nonsense. You probably won't be getting personal attention from all those famous researchers, and they may be lousy teachers anyway. But due to the ongoing importance of media hype in our culture, the more expensive tuition, and the bother of moving cross country, such schools are less selective. Examples of such schools, Rosa Franklin, George Washington, Albany, Medical College of Ohio and so on.
Don't forget the alternatives. In addition to the allopathic or MD schools, there is a whole other bunch of medical schools, the osteopathic schools. They grant the DO degree instead of the MD degree, but the privileges and jobs are the same. There are several legit "off-shore" schools located in the Caribbean or Latin America that send hundreds of students back to the US residency programs every year as well. If you are a really non-traditional candidate, you can explore options such as studying at an English language program in Mexico, Eastern Europe, or the Philippines or even try a less well-known Caribbean school. (Caveat Emptor on the last on however.) If you can clain citizenship/ancestry or are fluent in the language, you can also try going to a medical school in a foreign country.
4. Do something extra for your application. Do you have C's in Physics and Chemistry? Don't despair! Nobody really cares about those topics in Medical School, and you will not be using them. If you are good at something else, consider taking courses at the closest and cheapest school you can find as a non-degree student or take more while you are an undergraduate. Several A's in advanced biology courses will go a long way to wiping out those Physics grades.
Do something interesting for your extracurriculars. Everyone hangs around a lab for a summer or helps out at the homeless shelter. Go overseas--travel around and publish a blog on interviews you do about their health care system with residents and health care providers in each country. Live like a caveman for a few weeks or months and record the effects on your physical or mental health. Join the Peace Corps, or the military and train in a medical speciality.
5. Move! Huh? Yes, you heard me; you're obviously willing to go to Sierra Leone or Antigua in your quest for a medical education, but are you willing to go to Virginia? Remember the bit about state schools taking mostly in-state applicants? Well, California has 10 medical schools and 38 million residents while Virginia has 5 schools and 8.1 million residents. You do the math. Just by moving after college to Virginia from California you increase your odds of getting in more than four-fold. Look at your own situation. If you live in California, or one of those states with no or only one school, seriously consider moving and working for a year or two in a more applicant-friendly state.
So there you go. Follow these 5 simple tips: Apply early, apply often, apply to the right schools, ,make your application interesting to counteract the deficiencies, and if necessary, move to a different state, and you could be calling yourself "doctor"in a few years.
For a humorous but in-depth look at why it's not so hard to go to medical school, check out my hub: