Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Interview Season : Travel & Lodging

Applying to medical school is a joyous and sometimes stressful occasion. But once you receive your first interview invitation euphoria sets in!

If you are like the thousands of student that apply every year, you may find yourself traveling outside of you home state or city. I, personally tried to stay within my comfort zone and applied to schools in my home state of Georgia and the surrounding states but being a bit bold, I also applied to schools in Ohio, D.C, Maryland, and North Carolina. Which presented me with a few things to think about in the event that I needed to travel out state for an interview: drive, fly, take a bus or train and then deciding where to stay. Here are a few tips ....


  • If money is a determining factor, deciding to drive to your prospective interview may be the best option if they interview is within 3+ hour drive from your current residence. I have taken multiple roads trips so I am accustomed to driving 6-7 hours at a times. When you drive your main cost factor is gas and depending on the car, a full tank of gas can range from 275-325 miles (roughly a 3-4 hour trip). I would not recommend driving to cross country interviews, unless that is the only option you have and even then I would suggest being accompanied by someone to share the driving duties. Whether you rent a car or use your own, make sure the car has received recent maintenance work (oil change, tire rotation, passed a multi-check inspection)
  • Another option is the MEGA BUS, Greyhound or train if you prefer not drive, the only precaution would be insuring proper storage of your interview wardrobe. Depending on how far you have to travel this may be cheaper or more expensive than a full tank of gas, and will leave you with limited mobility if you stay in your respective destination before/after you interview has concluded.
  • Flying will by far be one of the most expensive options, unless you catch a good deal or use a buddy pass. The convenience of flying is that it can reduce your travel time tremendously especially if you have a direct flight, it may offer more comfort than driving, and it requires little work on your part. It offers the same disadvantages of taking the bus or train, such as limited mobility (without opting to pay for a cab etc) and properly storing your interview wardrobe.

Now on the exciting part, Hotel Accommodations: This will vary based on the city, with some destinations having a plethora of options, while others may have very limited options.

  • Check with the school to see if they offer any discounts at local hotel, motels, B&Bs, etc. This may be a great money saver.
  • Check with the school to see if they offer shuttle service to and from the interview, this may also help you decide if you even need your own transportation for the interview.
  • Check with family and friends, etc. to see if they have any memberships or can offer a discount on any of the brand hotels near the school.
  • Check with each hotel to see this they offer discounts to students coming in town to interview, this definitely would be a good idea in a small town, where the medical school is a major component of their infrastructure. 
  • Reach out to family, friends, alumni from undergrad or current students at the medical school to see if they can offer you any free/discounted lodging.
  • See if the school offers travel reimbursement for students experiencing financial obstacles.
  • If you go with hotel lodging it may be a good idea to pick a place that offers breakfast, It may not be a fancy spread but your goal is not to be stuffed before your interview but to have something on your stomach to hold you over till lunch and keep your stomach quite during the interview.
  • Stay within a reasonable commute from campus, whether you got lost, stuck in traffic or some other excuse, being late to an interview is never a good sign.
Deciding which means of transportation to use and your lodging are important and costly decisions. You must factor the amount of time off you will have away from school, work or whatever your daily responsibilities are, what is financially feasible, and strain/stress involved in your commute/stay. Utilize your resources such as your family, friends, undergraduate community, and the prospective school, you never know what help they may be able to provide to reduce the cost of your travel expenses.

Safe Travels

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