Criteria for School Selection


I have a 3.95 GPA and 38 MCAT. Where should I apply? JUST KIDDING!! Don’t you love those posts?

Seriously, I am getting closer each day to an Apr MCAT date. I’m starting to wonder how many of you chose what schools to apply to. Did you wait until a few practice tests were under your belt, and project a score + or - a couple points around that average?

I plan on applying to roughly 25 schools, but where should I draw the line on “reach” schools? I want to give some schools the “opportunity to say ‘no,’” but definitely don’t want to waste any money on state schools that just won’t waste time with less-than-perfect OOS applicants.

Do I look for mean MCAT scores for reaches, or bottom 10 percentile at those schools, etc? I have eliminated some schools based on literature I’ve read, and other factors that lead me to believe I wouldn’t be a good fit in their program. Any help or wisdom would be greatly appreciated. Thanks everyone!!

With an April MCAT, you should be able to select schools from your MCAT score rather than a practice.

For me I didn’t apply to any OOS public MD schools except for one that I had family in (New Jersey). If you look at OOS stats for most states aside from my home of KY, they rarely took 10% OOS applicants, so I figured it wasn’t worth the waste with my MCAT. As far as DO schools went, since most are private I applied to the ones I liked. The DO guide was really helpful for that. I did avoid some schools like Mich St. and Texas because of their strong bias and some like VCOM and WV b/c I had no desire to live there.

I think for me, I looked both at schools I was in the general range for score wise. I made a big list. I also decided on some geographic regions to avoid (TX, FL). I then sat with my sister one evening, with her reading the official school guide. She read the mission statements, looked at the number of applicants, and whether or not they even accept people from out of state. This is important. A lot of the state schools simply don’t take out of state applicants.

We grouped my master list into no, yes, and maybe. A couple of the yes category were reach schools, but their statements about applicants made them appear to look at the “whole applicant”, and they were looking for diversity. Good keyword for us non-trads.

My first criteria was location - I need snow/cold in winter and relative proximity to mountains and the ocean, so I applied primarily in the northeast (I’ve been east coast my whole life anyway). Next, I crossed off schools that accept less than 50% from OOS. Then I looked at MCAT - I used the bottom 10th percentile number because I figured, hey, someone makes up that bottom 10% and it just might be me. Finally, I looked at proximity and availability of grad schools for my husband. In the end, I applied to 25 schools (completed 24 secondaries).

Although I’ve lived in an urban area for the past 18 years, I was raised in a rural area. It could be a coincidence, but I can’t help but notice that so far I’ve been accepted at 3 rural schools and waitlisted at 3 urban schools. AMCAS has questions about where you grew up, etc, and I’m beginning to think that info really does influence adcom decision making. I guess my point is - there are so many variables in this process, and you just don’t know what will strike a chord with someone or what criteria a school is trying to fill, so the advice to apply broadly is definitely valid. Also, for me, until I got out there on the interview trail and started seeing and experiencing these schools (instead of just reading about them on paper), I really didn’t know what I was looking for, aside from my initial criteria. Applying broadly may generate more interviews so you have a basis with which to compare schools and figure out what’s best for you.