Congratulations! You've chosen a career as a physician. You have a meaningful life full of helping others, perpetual learning and ... applications.
Your med school application is just the first of many as you progress through your journey of becoming a physician. It is a long and tenuous process and is certainly intimidating. I still wake up in a cold sweat from time to time, dreaming that I spelled physician wrong on my essay after I submitted it (let’s be honest, it's a hard word to spell). But fear not! We are here to help.
Sitting on the admissions committee at my medical school and subsequently advising pre-med students on their own applications through MST pre-med admissions consultants, I have learned a lot about what makes a successful med school application.
The amount of application advice you can get is endless, but here are the top 3 tips to make a successful med school application:
1. Timing REALLY Is Everything.
Nearly every medical school in the country accepts students they deem as qualified on a rolling basis. That means, in theory, that if the first 50 applications a school receives are stellar, then they will admit all 50 of those applicants, leaving precious few seats left for the other thousands of applicants.
You stand the best chance of acceptance to medical school the earlier you apply.
It is as simple as that. Make sure you have all the important dates marked for submissions and then plan backwards to make sure you take the necessary steps to be able to submit on those dates. Learn more about when you should apply to medical school with our free medical school admissions timeline.
2. Ask For Help ... From Everyone.
This one seems obvious, but I have seen too many students struggle through the process by going it alone. Ask for help on every single part of the application. And I really mean every single part.
The way you word your activities and volunteer experiences is important! If you took time off between college and applying, don’t be afraid to reach out to old professors or others are your school.
I can guarantee that your pre-med advisor or committee will gladly help you work through your application. And while getting a lot of input from many different people is great, keep in mind that it is ultimately your application, with your name on it, and you hitting the submit button. If you disagree with some feedback you've gotten or a change suggested, then don't use it!
3. Don't Underestimate the Personal Statement.
I think we, as applicants, also perseverate too much on the numbers, like GPA and MCAT, for these applications. It's easy to do this; they are objective pieces of data that we can compare quickly.
And while the numbers are certainly an important part of the application, they are only part of an application. We never accepted one student over another because she had a 3.72 GPA verses his 3.70 GPA; there are simply too many more factors that go into that decision.
With that being said, I cannot stress enough the importance of the personal statement. It is a way to convince admissions committees that you have thought long and hard about a career in medicine and that it is the right one for you.
Medical school is really hard and schools are wary of applicants who aren’t in it for the right reasons. The personal statement is your way of assuaging those fears. Take the time to make sure your passion and dedication to medicine comes through in your personal statement.
The medical school application process is a long one and a stressful one. But if you apply these three tips, it doesn’t always have to be. Or at the very least, hopefully it will limit the number of times you wake up in a cold sweat over the next couple of months.