Help me decide where to apply

Hi everyone,

I’m thrilled by everyone’s news in the 2011-2012 application topic–wonderful!!

Although I’m applying in this same cycle, I’m later than y’all and didn’t want to clutter things.

I could really, really use your advice. I don’t know where to apply. I was looking at profiles similar to mine on but naturally there is no one quite so long in the tooth as I. Moreover, I cannot discern any real pattern in who gets accepted where, especially since so many withdraw their applications early.

Would you mind taking a minute to review my profile below and suggesting someplace, anyplace to definitely apply (MD only—I didn’t do any DO shadowing) or definitely NOT bothering to apply? Is that a crazy request? I have a giant spreadsheet of all the schools but cannot seem to narrow anything down. My brain might be dead. My only requirement is that the school have a research program—which doesn’t seem to help as many, many schools have the opportunity for research.

Let me add that the reason I am having this breakdown is that I just don’t know how to use my GPA to filter schools. Which GPA?? I did not do well in undergrad, but that was 17+ years ago. I realize that whatever AMCAS says my uGPA is is what some schools will use as an initial cutoff, but my question is what happens after that?

By the way, I called the Mayo Clinic (a real human and sooooo nice!), and she said I would make their automated cutoff. This was great to hear but not helpful in narrowing my list.

Sorry to ramble on. I think I’m getting hives. Gonnif—yes, I am rereading your FUD list!

=Me (38 yo Asian female)=

Undergrad: BA Literature Yale 1994, lots of volunteering

** I started as a science major so these grades drag me down uniformly

Work: Started in publishing, moved into tech/Internet, worked on new products and startups. Won some awards. Spent last portion of career as independent consultant.

Post-bacc: public school, NYC

Other: ESL certified

Volunteering: 10 years with alumni association; 3 years as an ESL tutor; 1+ year at a hospital; 0.5 years clinical research; lots of post-bacc-society-related volunteering; pro bono consulting

AMCAS GPA (not official AMCAS, based on a GPA calculator, PM me if you want a copy, wasn’t created by me):

uGPA: 3.22

uBCPM: 3.12

post-bacc: 3.98 (BCPM only)

cGPA incl post-bacc: 3.41

cBCPM incl post-bacc: 3.48

MCAT: 39P (14PS/12VR/13BS)

Thank you so much for any help. Really, THANK YOU just for reading this far down.


First of all, CONGRATS on that MCAT score! That is awesome. You should really be proud of yourself for achieving that.

In terms of places to “definitely” apply, I think that is really down to YOU. Where do you want to go? You clearly have the MCAT score, and your GPA is OK. There are several factors to consider, including:

  • Geography. Do you like big cities? Rural areas? Small towns? East coast? West coast? Midwest? South? Do you mind cold winters, or really hot summers? These are things to consider, because you’ll be living there for 4 years.

  • Curriculum. Do you do well with lectures? Small group instruction? PBL? A mixture?

  • Class size. Big? Small? Medium? Maybe it doesn’t matter to you. But it’s something to consider.

  • Cost. Especially think about your state schools here.

  • Research opportunities. You’ve already mentioned an interest in this … but I think you can dig deeper. I know some schools offer you the opportunity to do longer research projects, sometimes even take an entire year to do research, while at others it’s a shorter stint. Comb the schools’ Web sites for more detailed information.

  • International opportunities. This is an important one for me; I don’t know if it is for you. Just thought I’d mention it - many schools allow you to do research and/or clinical rotations abroad; if this is important to you, check into it.

    I know there are more factors to consider, but this is all I can think of at 7 a.m. Perhaps other OPMers will have more to add.

    The thing is, there is no “recipe” for figuring out where you’re going to get in. You just need to apply and see what happens.

    ALL THAT SAID … You are seriously behind the curve right now if you are planning to apply this application cycle. You should have had your application in 2 months ago (mid-June). As you have likely noticed, several OPMers in this cycle are already getting interviews. That means that interview slots are going - fast. And because most schools operate on a rolling basis, the later you apply, the less likely you are of getting an interview. That’s not to say it’s impossible, just more difficult.

    I’m interested to hear what other OPMers have to say, but you may want to consider postponing your application until next cycle to give yourself the best shot. That’s just my opinion.

    Best wishes to you, and congrats again on your MCAT score!

Wow, with those stats, I say apply anywhere you want to go. Your post-bac GPA is very strong, your MCAT score is incredible, EC’s are looking good, so definitely apply to wherever you like. The only limitations may be your personal preferences.

Thanks so much to you both.

As soon as I posted I started worrying that I sounded like a jerk; I mean, I am beyond grateful for my post-bacc GPA and MCAT score, and I know it will help a lot. I think I have spent too much time alone studying!

Terra, great advice, and you made me stop and really think about what I wanted. I am going through the MSAR again to look at programs with research tracks. That will help a lot. I’ve also decided to pay more attention to my desire to be near my family again, so that will help pare things down.

Regarding the lateness, I know. I don’t know what to do about that. I’m close to being verified by AMCAS—it should just be a few days at most (fingers crossed). I have completed 8 secondaries and am just waiting to actually get the secondaries from the schools themselves.

As you point out, much better to be in Desert_Shawn’s shoes (which will be hard to fill, from the looks of his interview list‼!).

Oh, then you are in much better shoes than I thought! I thought you hadn’t even submitted to AMCAS yet … my bad.

Best of luck to you, and keep us posted on your progress! I can’t wait to hear where you get interviews as well!

  • Lorien

I think you deserve a chance to most decent med school. apply wherever that would make you happy: location, weather, tuition, family, matching rate.

If you happen to live in NYC area, apply to Mount Sinai.

Trying not to be biased but objectively great school.

Med students seem very happy.

I actually work there as a PA.

Good luck.