Contacting AdComs

I’ve seen people bandy about the idea of contacting a med school admissions department just to find out what they expect of a successful applicant. I’d like to do this myself (mainly to get an idea of whether it’s worth it to take lots of time to boost my qualifications and get into a “prestigious” post-bacc, or go through a less competitive one which might let me start sooner, but I also have other questions.) I don’t know what the best protocol is. Would it be considered insolent to just call them up and ask to speak to an advisor? Is it better to write a letter to the dean and ask that he/she or a representative give me a call?

I contacted various medical schools via phone, others I went and visited and made appointments to speak with someone involved in admissions. This really gives you a good “feel” for what some medical schools are looking for. I never had any problems and the conversations were very helpful.

They are more than willing to meet with you. I meet with a dean of admissions for 3 years so she could make sure I was on track with the application process. She was also the one that suggested I start volunteering at a free health clinic, which I did and loved it there for the 3 years I worked there.
As this application cycle slows down is really the best time to contact them. Email the dean of admissions and ask them for an appointment to meet in person or on the phone. You can bring your unoffical transcript so they can go through it with you.
Good luck

If you want to really find out what adcoms look for, then try to attend the conference this June in Denver. There will be an absolutely fantastic admissions presentation, as well as several on how to present your application. The conference is filled with how-to’s and other info to help OPM members succeed in getting into and succeed in medical school!

I routinely advise applicants to try to meet with someone “high up” in the admissions office of any and all med schools that are within “driving” distance. Ideally do this the year or so before applying. Once you are in the application process, many (most?) admissions folks won’t meet with you so as to avoid any hint of conflict of interest.
Basically what you want to ask is “what do you look for in your most competitive applicants?” Treat this as an interview, dress the part, and comport yourself accordingly.

on the dress part- so you’re saying I should wear a suit if I just do an informal meeting withan adcom for info? That seems a bit pretentious. Would a blazer or sport jacket suffice for guy?

In myopinion, I think a sports jacket, shirt, tie,a nice pair of slacks and dress shoes would work great. Anything that you would wear that would make you look professional would in no way come off as pretentious.


on the dress part- so you’re saying I should wear a suit if I just do an informal meeting withan adcom for info? That seems a bit pretentious. Would a blazer or sport jacket suffice for guy?

When I was at Stanford, if you had come to talk to me nicely dressed in a sport coat, that certainly would have been fine. But California can be pretty casual. So I would dress for the “culture.” A suit is probably too much unless that is the “usual attire” where you live. Remember, that this is a first impression, and after you leave, notes may be taken for later addition to your file if you end up applying. Admissions offices can have long memories.

in Washington D.C. you would not be overdressed to show up for such a meeting in a suit. Now, you WOULD probably be dressed nicer than the person you’re meeting with - but that’s OK. (only the surgeons seem to dress nicely in my experience) You would not come off as pretentious, you’d come off as respectful and serious about your intentions. On the East Coast, at least, I don’t think you can go wrong with a suit.

Well in California it’s a different story, so I think you’re right about guaging the region. I think I’d better just play it by ear. And of course the steadfast rule applies- better to be over dressed than underdressed.

What Mary says is true, Every time I meet with the dean of admissions I was always dressed up more than her. I didn’t care.

I have had little trouble contacting AdComs about premedical requirements, especially in person or via phone. I have been rebuffed (“At this time, we are in the midst of reviewing medical school applications and cannot assist you.”) or referred elsewhere (“Everything you need to know is on our website.”), but this has been the exception rather than the norm. Email can be both quick and slow (one dean/AdCom took 2 weeks to reply to my email inquiry). If seeking to speak to someone in person, dressing appropriately, but not being underdressed, is wise. I would dress based on the standards of the area within which the school or AdCom is located. Along the West Coast, people are more laidback and one can usually be less formal; if you live in the conservative Midwest, dressing up is probably better. Doing so can leave a good impression upon the person, especially if you think you will be contacting or meeting this person in the near future.