Contacting perspective schools?

Hi. Just had a few quick question…As I read through alot of the posts here I notice many of you mention the importance of contacting admission directors at perpsective schools before applying. Is this simply to get info on their school or is there something more to it? If I gather all the info I need on schools through the web and books, do I still need to contact the school? I’m sorry this is probably a dumb question…ok no dumb questions…an “unenlightened” question, I’m just unclear as to why I’m contacting them; most of the info I’ve ever needed I’ve been able to find online. Thanks for your help…and guidance.

Sometimes i find the website dosent have all the information i need. Specifically when it comes to taking CC classes and CLEP/AP classes. Also i like to talk to the ones which are high on my list every 3 months orso to keep my name in their heads.

Mike — do you email them or contact them personally by phone? What is the “tone” of your conversations? And, do you think they do remember you? Is this a personable/casual conversation or fairly formal?

I contact by phone initially and talk to them explaining my situation and interest in their university. The local programs i had a sit down meeting with admissions people. My tone is one of excitement . After then initial phone or meeting i typically maintain contact with email asking questions about expectations and i update them on my process. They seem to like the contact.
2 schools remember me for sure, the others i doubt. Who knows if it makes a difference but it helps me to get farmiliar with the process, the school and the admissions people.

I believe that it is important to contact admissions offices directly to get the lastest information on applying and to run your situation by these admission officers. I feel that this is true whether or not you are a non-trad student. On-line forums such as OPM and SDN do provide a lot of information, much of it based on personal experiences. But there is also a lot of misinformation out there. Medical school websites often give standard “generic” information on what their school offers and how to apply, but may not answer all your questions. Talking to adcomms and deans of admission “directly,” especially by phone, allows one to get first-hand information and engage in one-to-one question and answer sessions that are tailored to your personal and educational history.

An advantage of directly dealing with a medical school is that you can find out how you can satisfy their entrance requirements, find out what they are looking for in their applicants, and how you can meet their expectations in light of what you have done and what you are doing now.

You may find that in your discussions with medical school officers, that you receive contrary information to what you receive elsewhere, even from their own website or from the MSAR.

Email is also nice, but it is slower and less personable.

If you do use email, I suggest saving your emails from med schools and/or post-bacc programs. They may come in handy in the future. For both phone calls and email, I keep a computer-based premed journal file on what I have learned and what advice I have been given by medical schools.

Be aware that admissions personnel are busy folks and receive lots of inquiries and calls from both premeds and accepted applicants. So have patience and be tactful.

But in contacting adcomms, they get to know you as a person rather than a GPA or MCAT number and will often remember you by name – even if your incessant questions annoy the heck out of them!

Please understand that while contacting the admissions office is helpful, it is certainly NOT required. If you have questions about the admissions process and your specific situation, by all means contact the office.

However, contrary to some pre-med urban myths, it is NOT necessary to contact the admissions office to reiterate your interest in the school (with a couple of exceptions noted below). Your interest in a career in medicine and in the particular school should be clear in your personal statement and secondary application essays. No interviewer is going to ask you if you contacted the admissions office prior to applying. Similarly, no phone conversation with the admissions office will make up for an indifferent essay or an essay riddled with spelling errors or poor grammar.

The exceptions to the above rule: First, after an interview, do follow up with a thank you note that reiterates your interest in attending the school. Second, if you should get waitlisted, definitely call the office to inquire what you should do to maintain or improve your status on the waitlist. This call will give you another opportunity to reiterate your interest in the school, which, in this situation, may be important.

Please don’t take what I said the wrong way. I am by no means against the concept of contacting the schools directly. It cannot hurt unless you are annoying, rude, or condescending. However, there is a “follow the herd” mentality that is pervasive among premeds (esp. those on a well-known premed/med student board). Typically, doing something that is against your natural instincts just because “other med school applicants do it” is usually counterproductive. If you feel you have no reason to call the school, do not feel obligated to do so.

I contacted all schools that I was applying to, just to make sure that I as a non-trad/prior military/mother/etc would be a good fit for the schools that I was about to spend thousands of dollars on. I did this in a no “pesky” sort of way and avoided constantly bombarding them with questions found on their website (like what gpa/mcat they accepted). I contacted them on down time for them and not in the thick of the application season and all of them replied and were very nice. Do this if you want to learn more about the school what are their goals, what kind of programs for overseas opportunities they have, their leave of absence policies, etc. Stuff that is usually not on the web page but that for me it was important to know. No, you do NOT have to contact ANY school to get in that would be ridiculous and do not do this if you do not want to…but for me it helped me to gain insight w/o visiting about what the school stands for and is hoping to achieve with their medical students.

I agree. I did not mean to imply that it was imperative to contact schools in order to improve one’s chances for admission, although in re-reading my post I do think that I gave the impression that not contacting schools may put one in a less favorable position with regards to applying. Obviously, this is not so. I should have said that “if you have questions that cannot be answered via the school’s website or via the MSAR, etc. then perhaps contacting a medical school directly may be helpful.” And, yes, I agree that t is not helpful to anyone if an applicant annoys the adcomms too much.
My recommendation was based upon my experiences. Prior to going premed full-time I looked at websites and MSARs and talked to premedical students and medical students. The advice I received was useful but often contradictory. But it was not until I began running my personal and academic situation by adcomms that I was able to piece together a comprehensive plan of how to go about academically preparing myself for medical school. I wanted to find out exactly what medical schools expected of me. Such feedback was invaluable. But others premeds may not need such help or advice in order to get on the premed path.

I have also contacted all the schools on my list during the off season and have maintained contact with my top 2 schools. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to apply when I wanted to despite having things in by June, but I feel (or should I say hope) that because the schools can put a face on my application and well as my status as a MD/PhD applicant, my applicantion won’t get lost in the sea of other folks who are also applying later in the season. Plus I retook the MCAT this past August and my understanding is that schools will probably wait until they get these new scores before making a decision.