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Tips for Applying to Medical School

Have you always dreamed of being a doctor? Applying to med school can be one of the scariest things you have ever done. First hopefully you have aced your MCATS but if you did not ace the MCATS don’t be discouraged. While the MCAT score is important it is not the only thing that the admission board is going to be looking at.

Med schools want well rounded individuals. They want students that have a high EQ as well as a high IQ. If your scores were not so great don’t give up. There are other ways to prove your worthiness.

Think of the balance because that is what med schools want they want someone that is balanced. If you had a bad semester it is okay as long as you can explain what happened. Admission boards understand that sometimes life gets in the way of even the most dedicated people, perfect grades and perfect test scores are not the only way to get into med school.

Being a contributing member of the community helps. Having any sort of medical training helps. Generally having a well-rounded academic career will hold more weight than perfect scores.

Be Selective but Keep Your Options Open

One of the best things you can do when you are applying to med school is keep your options open. You may have your heart set on North Western but what if you are accepted to Iowa State first with a really sweet financial aid package deal?

Apply to a minimum 3 schools. You do not want to overdo the applications but you do want to leave doors open that you can scoot into if you need to. In other words you have to have a backup plan if your favorite most wanted school falls through.

Get Creative

Find ways to make your application stand out without being too unique. You want the board members to remember you so you want to create an application that stays with them. Discussing your future goals is a good idea but not so you’re your few sentences about your future goals turns into a mini thesis.

Include personable facts about yourself that makes you a likable person. Saying “I want to do cancer research because my grandmother, uncle, sibling, parent died from cancer” is not that endearing as a matter of fact it is the driving force behind a many would be doctor so it is heard over and over again by admission board members. Even if it is your driving force you are best to leave it out.

Talk about you as a person, like what do you do on your off time or how do you know that you will be a good doctor. Are you compassionate? Empathetic? It is fine to list those qualities. People including members of an admission board love human interest stories but not the same ones over and over again i.e.; the sick relative that drives your desire to be a doctor. You can talk about your love of chemistry or how amazing you think the endocrine system is. You get the idea, make yourself interesting and unforgettable.

Another thing you want to leave off your medical school application is that you “want to help people”. This is a big no no to the admissions crowd it is too generic of a statement. It is fine to say “I want to help people to live longer…happier…healthier…feel well…or I want to help people that live in economically depressed areas” but never just say “I want to help people”. You would be surprised to know how many people write that and their application gets trashed before anything else is ever looked at.

Keep It Neat

Your medical school application is the first impression that the board gets of who you are. Put your application together according to the directions. Keep it neat and in order. Have someone review the application to make sure you have complied with all the requirements.

Even the slightest mistake can get your application disqualified. Following directions is an important part of becoming a doctor. The inability to follow directions to fill out an application for school will not bode well.

A second set of eyes can easily catch a mistake that you may have overlooked in your haste to put the application together.

The Interview

Is there anything more terrifying than going for an interview that can literally change the course of your life? In that vein, remember to stay calm. When you get your interview letter you want to start mentally preparing for the interview. The goal is to come across as being confident without looking cocky.

Wear conservative clothes and remember to grab a copy of your application and take it with you because it may be referenced by the committee and you want to be sure you remember how you answered on your application.

Engage the board members, smile and ask questions about the program. It shows that you are interested. It is expected that you are going to put your best face forward so do that. Be nice to everyone you encounter on the day of your interview because you never know who you may run into.

Don’t Give Up

If your heart is set on North Western or any other school don’t give up. Consider starting the program elsewhere and keep your eye on the prize. You could wind up as a fellow at North Western one day or the school of your choice.

Tenacity always wins out. Sometimes you have to take a detour to get what you really want but that detour can open up a world of opportunity. Don’t be afraid to change your plans just a little to get where you really want to be.

If you have planned for medical school, you have the grades and you have the drive do not let anything stand in your way, especially not a rejection or two.