UC Davis Conference - benefits of attending

This post is probably for Gonnif, or perhaps others who may have attended or are planning to attend the UC Davis pre-health conference.

I’m curious about the soft-side values of the UC Davis pre-health conference, specifically for an older applicant coming as a career changer. I’ve read that it is a fantastic overall pre-med conference that gives a great introduction to all the details on the basics, but I’d like to get a feel for some additional possible benefits. I can make arrangements to attend, but want to make sure that the effort is worthwhile. Reading the list of schools attending is impressive.

Do adcom attendees make note of future applicants they talk to and are interested in keeping an eye out for his/her application?

Is it an option to come in pre-interview mode, dressed business casual and have something to leave behind like a resume or CV?

Is networking possible? Can an attendee actually walk away having made a good connection with someone who has a role in admissions?

Can a line of communication be opened via a connection made at this conference? (I previously attended the much smaller conference at UCSD and have not had response to any of the “fill this out with any questions” forms, so I’m not sure if the adcoms actually have time to follow-up.)

Do the admission committee attendees/presenters find value in attending the conference? Do they “prospect” at all?

I suppose the bottom line is, if someone already has a good handle on the pre-reqs, MCAT preparation, application cycle, etc. is there additional value in attending the UC Davis pre-health conference?


OP, did you end up attending? I had tried to find information about this around as well, but most of my post-bac classmates in the area decided against going for a variety of reasons. I’m curious as to what your experience was if you made it.


Yes, I did end up going - I’m glad to see that others have the same questions. Here are my answers to myself now that I’ve been:

There were some MD tables with an option to provide your contact information, but it did not necessarily appear to be anything that I would see direct benefit from. There were no “stay in touch” options that I saw. However, I personally am always open to putting my name on a list of people who have had contact with the school no matter how tenuous and unlikely it is ever used or shows up on anyone’s radar.

I’d say it was 50/50 between those coming dressed quasi-interview. I saw a few heels on the women, but even those were not the same conservative heels recommended for true interview. I think it was more important for the younger candidates to not show up in ripped jeans and a tank top than for an older person who can present maturity and responsibility in my suburban mom outfit. A few attendees brought resumes, but, just like the previous paragraph, those may have ended up in the garbage. I suppose there is a chance, but for the tables actually manned by folks on the admissions committee, I felt as though they were aware of the potential conflict of interest in giving a student a leg up when their application itself should be doing the talking, not a resume dropped at a conference. Resumes were definitely the exception.

Personally, I didn’t feel as though it was very easy to make a personal connection. The tables, and speakers are swarmed pretty massively with tons of interest. However, I did feel as though going by the tables after their give-aways were gone or finding the speakers at a calmer moment did allow for me to ask a more personal and thoughtful question that made a connection and put a good foot forward for the older applicant. Perhaps I’d be remembered, but perhaps I 'm just flattering myself.

As for my last question, I think it is just like all the classes we take/took as pre-reqs - you may think you know it all, but there is always more to learn, a deeper take-away can be gained, a different twist on a known item that puts it in a different light for you.

A couple items I feel I have a firmer grasp on:

  • Make your application a full package that stays on a theme. Your personal statement, your 15 activities, your top 3 meaningful experiences, should all intertwine, elaborate on who you are, what your passions are, why you will be a wonderful physician. They are not distinct items, they are the full picture of you.

  • Further to that same point - your letters of reference too should be part of that story. Make sure to meet directly with the LOR writers, provide them with the same full picture of who you are. Perhaps that professor has gotten to know you better than another student, but how well? Do your best to guide your LOR writers to talk about you, not about their class. And, use all your letters - just like taking all opportunities to get extra credit offered by a professor, use all your LORs to provide as robust and complete a picture of yourself. (If a university says 3 minimum, 6 maximum, use all 6!)

  • Do not leave any questions lingering. If there is anything in your timeline or story that would leave the adcom asking “huh, why’d she do poorly that semester? What was she doing during those years? Why is she switching now” - ensure answers to any questions that would logically arise are provided in your full application package. If you don’t fill in the blanks, the adcom can fill it in for you and it might not be the right picture of you.

  • Secondary applications provide the opportunity to further expand on who you are and fill in any possible blanks/open questions.

    I feel more comfortable now with the idea of reaching out directly to adcoms and asking questions that I think are specific to me, a non-traditional applicant.

Many thanks for the thoughtful write-up and excellent tips! That’s great perspective to have going into this. I’ll try to make it out to some similar conferences or information sessions in the future, once my schedule is a little less pinched. I’m glad you got some good information out of it-- good luck with your application!

Hi! Dr. Gray covered this on the podcast in Session #156! We hope we answered your questions about attending Premed Conferences! If you have any other questions please feel free to post in the forum again.

Thank you,