Friday, 14 October 2011

Jeff’s Top 15 Details Applicants Should (Or Should Not) Consider During Their Medical School Application

15) Before you even think of applying make sure that you have the ability to be a contender. Make sure you meet the school’s minimum cut offs (at least), and research what the competitive averages for interview and admissions have been previously. If you are far away from those then the chances of you being that “special case” is pretty low (and your mom’s opinion doesn’t count). If you have the money and time to waste then be my guest.

14) Another important thing to check is that you have the correct pre-reqs and that your school’s versions of those pre-reqs transfers over correctly. You do not want to screw yourself before you even begin.

13) Before the interview, the application is your chance to showcase your intelligence before the interview. Are you a Chess Club Champion because you spent your grade school recesses inside a classroom in search of chess supremacy? Intelligence trumps social skills, and you have intellectual superiority – highlight this!

12) While travelling in New York for a Chess Club competition did you become victim to a New York City mugging? New York muggings toughen people up. Medicine needs tough, and you’re tough and smart. Bonus!
11) Were you the mugger?

…OK back to serious: (but only briefly)
10) If an essay or a personal statement is required, give yourself a lot of time to write it and have others edit it. Sometimes what you think sounds good is not always true. A third set of eyes, just to check grammar and spelingg can go a long way. You passed grade 3, so your application should demonstrate that.

9) In your essay or personal statement, always write about your dream for world peace. With your application, include a copy of any Nobel winning dissertations you have written.
…You have written Nobel recognized pieces of literature have you not?

8) Faculty and staff appreciate students who enter their transcript information incorrectly/incompletely – carpal tunnel syndrome is the new high.

7) Evaluate your extracurricular activities: understand the importance/significance of your accomplishments. If an activity or award tells the reader something about you that is valuable and not already expressed in 5 other activities, you should add it. The things that can make an activity worthwhile are: 1) proximity (was this 15 years ago); 2) does it add value/depth; and 3) do you have someone to corroborate that you did this because if not then you cannot include it.

6) I have found that one of the best places to get a good description of a job or volunteer activity that you have been involved in is the actual job/volunteer description that was supplied to you in the first place. These descriptions are written in really concise ways that do a good job of summarizing what you have been doing. I am not suggesting that you copy them word for word, but that you utilize some of the words that they have used. (Never brush off resources and expertise around you.)

5) Be humble, but don’t make light of your achievements: if you actually did something big make sure you make this clear. If you worked in a lab and wrote 6 published papers do not just write, “I worked in a lab for the summer doing experiments.”  Understand that if it comes down to two similar people and you undercut yourself they will choose the person who appears better to them.

4) Again, be humble, but don’t make light of your achievements: your Scout’s Sewing Badge is impressive! Write about it!

3) Take time to choose your references. Every school has different specifications so make sure you read those over and choose your references for each school. Using the same 2 or 3 for every school is probably not going to be sufficient.  Another tip for your references is to give each one a little summary email so they know what they need to do for each school as well as the deadlines. Could you imagine how sad you would be if your application was incomplete due to a missing reference. Good examples of references may include: your mother; your pet dog/cat; or your parole officer.

2) Casually mention how you find the dean of admissions attractive. Grrrrr!

1) Nothing is crappier than getting rejected. But it’s not the end of the world if you’re not admitted after your first application; in fact only 20-25% of applicants will ever be admitted in the end. (Write to your local MLA and Minister of Health if that makes you angry.) On the chance that you are not admitted this year I suggest you beef up that resume! Join a chess club, get your mom to write you a special reference letter, and send the dean of admissions a secret Valentine! ;)

You’ll get there eventually champ!