Things I wish I had known earlier . . .

I thought I’d try and start a new thread for people to chime in on. Although the great support of this group helped me avoid many pitfalls, there are still a couple things I wish I had known.
The big thing I wish I had known is that many schools (especially those who don’t screen at the initial app level or who are in the state you reside) go ahead and send you their secondaries, even if you don’t have an MCAT score yet. I received secondaries from half of the schools I applied to prior to receiving my scores, some I received before AMCAS had even verified my application.
Had I realized this, I could have saved a lot of valuable time by submitting my AMCAS earlier, and thus having my secondary applications complete except for my MCAT score.
Oh well - live and learn.

Hmm, I think that on many thread here we have suggested this. Getting AMCAS sent in early because most schools do not screen and send in secondaries to everyone that applied. That is the whole point of us always reiterating the importance of an early amcas…sorry you were unaware of this.

Hi there,
Secondary applications and their fees are a huge revenue generator for some schools and thus they send as many secondaries as they have applicants.

Apropos getting one’s app in before everything’s ready… Suppose you have a lot of stuff piling up at the end of the summer, like a summer school course and the August MCAT? Would it be wise to go ahead and open an AMCAS file, start the ball rolling on LORs, and send the incomplete apps out to 30 schools in June?
Suppose the grade for the summer school course is disappointing, or the MCAT is not competitive; is it possible at that point to tell all of these people to put the application on hold until further notice? I’m just wondering if this is common practice. I may or may not apply in '05 but it would be nice to know the options.

That is one of the risks that you take when you take the August MCAT…not really knowing your score yet AMCAS has been submitted. It is really important that you submit AMCAS before you see your August score. Remember that AMCAS “can” take up to six weeks to process your stuff then you have to submit LOR’s so that could delay you another two or three weeks. It could be December before you are complete. Sure some folks do get in even when AMCAS was sent in later in the game but the odds DECREASE of you getting accepted as time goes by. Remember that rolling schools (most medical schools are rolling) will start accepting people October 15th and as seats get filled up the will accept less and less folks. If you are a star candidate with great numbers, EC’s, LOR’s, etc. then it will probably not mean much if you submit early or not BUT it is always best to do it early. That way all that schools will be waiting for is your August MCAT score.

Efex -
I was not criticizing, nor looking for an apology. I have indeed read many postings reiterating the emphasis of getting your AMCAS done early, even with an August MCAT. However, and perhaps I missed something, I was under the false impression that this emphasis was due to the potential for AMCAS screwups and/or processing time.
And even though it has been mentioned that many schools do not screen before sending secondaries, somewhere along the line I inferred (incorrectly), that even if schools don’t screen, nothing is done with your AMCAS application until the August MCAT score is received. Now, I realize that many schools will send those secondaries without the MCAT scores and without AMCAS verification and that you can submit everything to the schools and simply be waiting for your scores to be released for your file to be complete
I did NOT wait until scores were released to submit my AMCAS. Due to the many things going on in my life (and my false impression discussed above), I did not get things submitted as early as I would have liked. It is quite possible that even if I HAD known that they would send secondaries without MCAT scores, I still wouldn’t have gotten things submitted sooner. I was just trying to clarify for others something that I had misunderstood, and maybe let others chime in on similar topics.

Terry -
That was exactly where I was at this summer. I started organic chemistry the Monday after my spring quarter final, took the entire year in eight weeks, took my ochem final on a Monday and the MCAT that saturday. Although I STARTED my AMCAS during the summer, I did not submit it until early September.
LOR’s took a long time to get around. My last LOR just now (about an hour ago) got uploaded to my interfolio file. This is in spite of the fact that I had already asked most of these people months ago if they would be willing to write me a letter when the time came. Since my school is on quarters, my profs did not really do anything with my request to go ahead and send me LOR’s in until they were back in their offices at the end of September.
It’s a difficult decision to make . . . I would definitely get the AMCAS rolling, get your transcripts in, and get the LOR’s going. Most summer school courses are over in early August. I would say that you could safely wait until you know your grades from the August courses (assuming they put the grades on the transcripts immediately) to submit your AMCAS and still have plenty of time to have secondaries submitted prior to the release of the MCAT scores in October (IF AMCAS has all of your transcripts before you submit the app). I submitted my transcript request for my summer organic to the registrar before the course was over. AMCAS had it within a week of the course being over. Since all my transcripts were in before I submitted, it took less than a week for my app to be verified (this varies widely, however).
Had my LOR’s been done, I could have easily had my secondaries completed prior to the release of MCAT scores, and I did not submit my AMCAS until early September.
For me, the biggest factor in this is money. I was willing to fork out the AMCAS fee without knowing my MCAT, but I also only applied to five schools. It would have been a much bigger risk financially to submit the AMCAS for 20 schools and go ahead and pay secondary fees for even 15 of those schools. You could be out a lot of $$$$ if your scores are not competitive.
I realize that this post really didn’t answer your question - it sounds like it would be a good one to ask some admissions office folks if you happen to talk to them for any reason. It would be interesting to know if it is possible to withdraw your application at any time (I would think you could), or if once you submit it, it’s there until the schools do something with it.


Thanks for your comments (and thanks Efex for yours as well). I guess if we knew the future we’d all be rich! Anyway I see how it can be a gamble. I hope your applications are well received.

I guess I’m going to take it step by step. In June I’ll know how well I did in biology and organic chem, and I’ll have spent 9 months at the hospital. I plan to prep for 4 weeks for the summer physics program. If I feel good about this, I’ll take the course. Otherwise, I’ll take it in the fall. Likewise with the MCAT; I’ll take it in August if I’m on top of the summer course and can spare every Saturday to work on MCAT.

And somewhere during summer '05 I’ll have to decide whether to submit applications to medical schools.

To add to the uncertainty, my post-bacc program says they will only sponsor me if I get a 30 MCAT, which means they won’t even start to help me with the application process until early October, I think. In other words, I’m on my own if I want to apply in '05. Maybe that online portfolio thing is the way to go.

The post-bacc program says, by the way, that applicants who are free agents are not well received by adcoms. In other words it’s better to be part of a program. Is this generally true? I don’t get it. Maybe they help streamline the process for the student, send reminders to med schools, certify the authenticity of the LORs and so forth, but the bottom line is still the student’s performance as demonstrated in coursework and MCAT; the rest is just bureaucracy.

Gee, this process takes no small amount of grit and determination

Gosh Amy my intention was not to get you all worked up sorry if I did. My second post was mainly for ttraub and my first post was in regards to your first.

No offense taken, efex. I was just trying to clarify a little something that I thought other people might misunderstand as well.
Anybody else have things that they’ve learned throughout this process that they don’t commonly see posted/discussed here?

I wish I had taken the schools up on their offer to sit in on a lecture while I was waiting for the interview day to begin. Instead, I sat in the waiting room “studying” my personal statement and application, which I knew like the back of my hand, but thought it was the right thing to do to get me in the door. I was of the mindset that I would go anywhere that took me so I wasn’t critically looking at the schools in the view that I too was auditioning them.
I wound up having to choose between several schools that I liked for different reasons. I think sitting in on the lectures would have given me a better idea of what the students and instruction were really like, versus the “all smiles” crew that speak at the applicant lunches.
Just a couple of random thoughts.

Tara hit it right on the nail! of course most medical students will tell you only the best about their school! so sitting in some lectures and if you have time the whole day will give you a glimpse of what one day entails. I wish that we could observe a medical student like ourselves (a mother of X children, a father, a single mother/father) to see what it is really like to do this with a family. Often times we only talk to single students with nothing else to do but take care of themselves which is waaaay different than what those of us with families go through.

I wish I had known earlier on that when interview invitations come in, you pretty much have to attend them within a couple weeks. And unless you schedule them back to back or interview in your hometown, you end up needing 3 days for each one. I’m not complaining, but I might have tried to line up a different work schedule for this fall if I’d known about this.
Anyone who is just now getting all their apps in, be ready!

I’m sure you recognize me as another OPM who submitted late. I think you began to realize it, but you probably would not have submitted AMCAS much earlier than you did. As for myself, I knew that most schools send 2ndaries to all that apply and my MCAT scores were irrelevant to getting them. But between summer orgo, studying for the August MCAT, writing the PS, and getting yourself organized to begin AMCAS I don’t think we could have done anything MUCH differently.

Troy -
You are probably right about not getting the app submitted much earlier than I did. In addition to the summer orgo, August MCAT, and AMCAS, I also got married at the end of September. I did have a couple of weeks in there after the end of summer orgo, though, that I probably could have kicked my butt into gear and gotten the AMCAS submitted about three weeks earlier. Although - part of my delay in getting it submitted was that I was waiting on feedback on my PS (which I still should have gotten done sooner!)
Thanks for the great comments that the rest of you have posted so far!! Keep them coming!

The gold cup is for you, Amy, because like you and Troy, I also had summer school and August MCAT and thought I should wait until my scores came in before submitting the AMCAS. So that information was EXTREMELY enlightening, although I had missed the boat. But I have to say that if for some reason I don’t get in this year, I will surely be better prepared for next year and that makes a big difference. One of my schools is now dragging their feet on my transcript - I’m wondering does AMCAS send out my app to my schools even if they haven’t verified all my transcripts ? I have 4 schools with a November 1 deadline.

AMCAS will not submit your application until they have verified all your courses with transcripts.

You probably realize this, and I mentioned it in passing in an earlier post in this thread, but I wanted to highlight the following point(s). You do NOT have to do the AMCAS in order (although the online instructions would lead you to believe this) and you CAN have your transcripts submitted long before you officially submit your AMCAS.
I was procrastinating on my personal statement and having trouble deciding what to do with my EC’s, so I skipped ahead in the application to the parts where you enter your colleges, coursework, and print your transcripts. All of my transcripts were received by AMCAS probably a good three weeks before I submitted my application, speeding up the verification process considerably, I’m sure. Flip side to this, the longer your transcripts sit around in AMCAS land before you submit your app, the more time they have to lose them!!

This can’t be true, because, guess what !? I GOT A SECONDARY TODAY !! WOO-HOO !! I am sooo excited, as you can tell ! And I still haven’t gotten one of my schools to fork over my transcript to AMCAS yet. Of course, this does not mean I am not going to get on them to get it sent, but I am glad AMCAS sent my app anyways.

Actually, I didn’t think about this earlier, but I also received two secondary applications within a couple of days of submitting my AMCAS (before verification was complete).
Obviously, these schools don’t screen. Keep in mind, though, that your application will probably not be considered “complete” until such time as AMCAS notifies them that you are verified.
PS - congrats!!!