Monday, November 23, 2015

Free At Last :-)

"Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last"

I can say with pure joy that I have written my last secondary essay of the application cycle. I have probably written well over 10k words, 30k characters, paraphrased my already paraphrased experiences,  drowned readers with why I want to be a physician, and what makes me unique, in over 15 secondary applications.

As a re-applicant with previous interview experience I have learned a thing or too about the application cycle, most of which you may have already heard before but definitely worth reiterating.


This is a no brainer. If the primary application opens in June, please submit within 2-3 weeks at the latest. Keep in mind during peak periods verification can take up to 6 or 8 weeks. This means if you need to take the MCAT, determine the best study methods for you, then prep, prep, prep (that could be hardcore studying, hardcore practice test, etc.) and test during the prior fall months, January or at the latest April. Because when the application opens you need to be ready to submit, meaning having the score you want and all of your supplemental material ready to forward.


Tons of schools say they have a "Holistic" approach. And, while this sounds all good and dandy, it's not 100% true because if this was the case then schools that make this claim would not also have GPA/MCAT minimums. Competence matters and one major way schools gauge the academic capability of an applicant that they only know from an electronic application (until interviews start of course), is through measurements of academic performance such as the cumulative GPA and MCAT scores.
This is why applying early is so important, especially if your stats are not as competitive as they should be.
In 2013-2014 I was verified by mid/late July but I didn't get my first two (and only two) interview invites until Feb (I interviewed in March and April). In 2014-2015 with pretty much similar stats, yet more healthcare exposure and volunteer experiences, after being verified in mid/late September I did not interview at all. This is just one example, I am sure there are tons more, just remember timing matters and what you have to bring to the table matters also.


One thing that feels worst than missing a schools deadline, is paying to apply to a school you don't qualify for. Primary applications are expensive, and while receiving FAP (Fee Assistance Program) is a blessing, you shouldn't squander away even one slot and the chance to apply to schools that fit your interest, needs and qualifications.  I have done this before and it was a pure error on my part because I did not do my due diligence and do a complete "Investigation of the schools". Some schools will say flat out we only accept in state applicants, whether they are state funded or it is just there preference, don't waste time and energy applying. If a school says you need a minimum MCAT and/or GPA to receive a secondary application, don't waste time applying if you do not meet those minimums. Now mind you if a school says "Our average accepted MCAT/GPA is...." then that is a completely different thing. Another example is lifestyle preference, I had a classmate mistakenly apply to a school that had very strict and pronounced policies on LGBT behavior on campus due to their strong religious foundation, and this applicant identified with the LGBT community.


No matter what the "Stated" secondary deadline is always submit your application within 2 weeks of the receipt date. (Of course if the deadline is less than 2 weeks, submit sooner)
A medical profession (MD), who is also an alumni from my college, as well as the director of the Health Careers Department at my alma mater said "Submitting your secondary application within 2 weeks, is the rule of thumb, it's a behind the scenes way of judging students on their efficiency, desire to attend the school, and professionalism."

That's it for now I will share more tips in future post. In addition, I will create a post dedicated to how I am preparing for interviews (wardrobe, accommodations, "How to formally accept the invite", mock interviews and so forth).