Hello everyone, just wanted to say i really love this site. the people in this community are so much more professional sounding than those of others. My question is what are the major determining factors of admissions into med. school? I know having a high gpa, MCAT score, exceptional interviewing skills, and good recommendations are considered but, what else do admissions boards strongly consider?
Well the two most important are the GPA and the MCAT. If you aren’t competitive with those two criteria, you won’t even get to the next stop which is the adcoms.
The biggest question is why…why have you decided to return to school to go into medicine? So getting some exposure to the medical field is important, whether it be shadowing, volunteering or actually working in the field.
Some schools are huge on accepting individuals with a good amount of volunteering and/or international exposure.
I’m sure that is true, but if you don’t have the grades to show that you can hack the med school courseload, I think your chances are a lot slimmer.
No admissions committee is the same–and in fact, they are wildly diverse even within the committee, often reflecting competing factions and different ideas about what medicine should be and therefore what the ideal medical student should be.
The grades and MCATs are a bottom-line problem; it’s hard to get past their importance. Although there is sometimes some flexibility for otherwise extraordinary people with less-than-ordinary records, it’s not the norm. Attend to these first. Research, volunteering, international service, etc are also important in demonstrating the qualities of the doctor you’re going to be, before you become a doctor.
Beyond that I’d say that one underappreciated aspect of the process, especially for older students, is having a story you can tell about yourself that frames the change you’re making in an interesting and inspirational way. Trying to figure out how you are already an interesting and accomplished person, and then explaining how being passionate and intelligent and accomplished in your previous life led you to go to medical school, is an essential intangible for older students. We’re the people that the younger students will mention on the medical school tour as examples of how interesting their classmates are: “She was in a punk-ska band for four years before going back to college”; “She was in the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan, and she speaks fluent Uzbek”; “He was captain of a ship in the Coast Guard, so we all call him Captain”, etc etc–all actual examples of classmates of mine who fit this model. (I’ve got my own version of this kind of story.) If you’ve seen Legally Blonde and that scene when our dear Reese Witherspoon is just meeting her fellow students, where the Harvard Law students are exchanging absurdly elaborate stories like that-- well, that’s pretty much what Harvard Medical and other academic places like it are like too (esp on the Yale/Stanford/Cornell kinder/gentler side of the academic medical spectrum). Other schools have milder versions of the same as something they’re seeking out. Lots of people have some version of this kind of story; the trick is to make sure you tell it the right way.
My comment was adding on top of grades/mcat. So not only do some schools expect excellent “numbers” but they are also looking for significant volunteering and/or overseas experiences. I mean like years versus months.
- efex101 Said:
Does military overseas experience count?
- croooz Said:
Military experience is a huge plus. Learning new skills, working with people from vastly different backgrounds, leadership.... oh yeah it's all good, definitely.
Also, in the more intangible sense I talk about above, I think military experience is part of that kind of story you can tell about yourself, a way you can make your story seem both unique and compelling, since med school applicants and most med school faculty have not been in the military. What seems ordinary to you may seem extraordinary to others. As you get closer to the interview trail, I’d actually advise talking about what you did in the military to some civilians who don’t know a thing about the military in order to get a sense of what kind of experiences people do find extraordinary, partly in preparation for this. If you’re like most people (military or non-military), you are likely to not realize what will surprise and interest and inspire other people about your own story.
I’m attending UMD Science in the Evening program. One of the things they have is the letter they write for you. Before that you have to interview with the committee and that is for the exact purpose you described…to bring out talking points for your PS and interview.
I work with military and military contractors so my story is no different than their’s. It’s amazing when we get a college student and us old foggies begin to reminisce about our military days. I’ve had to stop and question theses recent college grads amazement at our stories because I thought they were being patronizing. Turns out they weren’t. They’ve never been anywhere or done much except school… Who knew!
- joewright Said: