I think this was probably the hardest part of the cycle for me. Previously, I had been awarded a fee waiver through AAMC’s Fee Assistance Program and I knew my plan of attack had to be specific and meticulous. As a new applicant, I had no idea what lay ahead. Sure I had heard of well-known schools, but I had no idea which schools to choose. All in all, I found a method that worked for me and allowed me to apply to schools where I felt I would be a good fit. Thought I’d share it with you.
I’m sure you feel the pressure. Some of you may feel like Katniss Everdeen atop her station as she waits nervously for the 10-second clock to wind down.
10… Am I really ready to apply?
7… Are my stats good enough?
5… “Oh I hope that C in Biochemistry doesn’t get me screened out”
1… Ready for this?
Like Everdeen, you understand that leaving your platform too soon without proper preparation has detrimental consequences, and if you’re too late well… prepare for an all out battle against the masses. So how can we help you to create your strongest application? How do we help in creating a targeted school list that will help to increase the odds that are in your favor?
Before you do anything, STOP!
Yes, I know that was a bit dramatic, but go with me here. I want you to stop, and think about why you want to go into medicine. Are you interested in serving rural or underserved areas? Are you interested in dealing with minority health disparities? Is there a specific population you’d like to work with? Do you want to go into academic medicine? Would you like to pursue a joint degree?
After your moment of reflection, you’ll notice that you have developed and become aware of your personal mission. With your mission in mind, grab a copy of MSAR and check out a few schools. Are there schools whose mission aligns with yours? Remember, the name of the AMCAS game is “fit.” You want to make sure that you are a great fit at the schools you are applying to. I mean, you wouldn’t apply to a job without making sure the job description/qualifications are ones that you can and are happy to meet, right?
If you have time, create a spreadsheet of the schools you’re interested in.
- School Name
- Quantifiable data (MCAT/GPA percentiles)
- In-state/Out-of-state acceptance rates (Some schools do not accept OOS applicants or accept very few)
- Coursework requirements (This can be a yes/no section where you list whether or not you will meet criteria.)
- BUZZ Words (These are words that stand out in a school’s mission. I’ll talk more about BUZZ Words in a later post. Stay tuned!)
- Primary/Secondary deadlines
- FAP acceptance (Does the school waive secondary fees?)
- Deposits upon acceptance (Is a deposit required to hold your acceptance? Is it refundable etc.)
It is perfectly fine to research schools and feel like you’re a fit at 80 of them. (I did it lol!) Remember that this is a list that can, and most likely will, be shortened before you submit your primary application. If possible, set a limit for yourself in regards to the number of schools on your list. (You don’t want to write 50 mediocre secondary applications, when 20 secondaries of substance might have fared better.)
Keep me posted on how things are going, and may the odds be EVER in your favor 🙂