Applying to medical school is a very different process than the undergraduate admissions process that students have already experienced. While MCAT scores, applications, interviews, and prerequisite courses are important, it’s also critical for med school applicants inject their personality into their applications and find ways to stand out in the increasingly competitive medical school admissions process.
While the medical school admissions process is very different from the undergraduate process, some basics remain the same: start planning early, do your research, and create a list of best-fit schools and programs. There are also a few other things for medical school applicants to consider as they begin the med school admissions process this year.
Here are six medical school application tips from our expert medical school admissions counselor.
Think About Your Curriculum Beforehand
One of the biggest mistakes that medical school applicants make, according to IvyWise Medical School Admissions Counselor McGreggor, is not thinking about their curriculum and courses as soon as they start their undergraduate education. It’s important for students to not only meet their major requirements, but also get their pre-med prerequisites done so that they have a solid pre-medical education before applying. Med school applicants often start the process only to find out that they lack the prerequisite courses, and it can set them back. Once you decide that medical school is the next step for you, evaluate your curriculum and determine what courses you need to take in order to be on track for the medical school admissions process at the end of your undergraduate career.
Remember: You Don’t Have to Be a Science Major
Often pre-med students feel that they have to have a science major in undergrad in order to be competitive in the med school admissions process. This has changed, however, over the last 15 years, as medical school admissions committees are looking for applicants with all educational backgrounds – including those in the humanities. If you’re interested in medical school, but also wish to pursue a more social sciences or interdisciplinary major, it won’t work against you in the med school admissions process. In fact, it can help you stand out when applying.
So, Think About How You Can Stand Out
It’s getting harder to get in to medical school, and it’s not just because more students are vying for a limited number of seats at top med schools. Just as with highly selective undergraduate admissions, with such volume of qualified applicants it’s hard to distinguish one accomplished applicant from another. This is where it’s important to stand out on your med school application, whether it’s through your courses of study, major, extracurricular experiences, or essays.
Craft a List of Best-Fit Medical Schools
Just like students need to apply to a balanced list of best-fit undergraduate institutions, pre-med students need to craft a list of best-fit medical schools. This can be difficult, as many medical school applicants tend to focus primarily on selective name-brand programs. This is where research and planning is important – along with some professional guidance. Take your time researching medical schools and build a balanced list so that you have the best chance of admission to the program of your choice.
When It Comes to the Application: Be Thorough
Attention to detail is extremely important when doing your medical school applications, so be thorough when filling out and proofreading your applications. Check for spelling errors or missing information, and ensure that all application elements, like MCAT scores and recommendations, are included. It’s also important to double-check that you have provided all information requested, even if it’s “optional.” Just like with undergraduate applications, some med school applications will have optional interview or application questions, so don’t pass up an opportunity to provide additional information or context to your application.
If You’re Not Ready, Don’t Apply
Applying to medical school is a time intensive and competitive process. If you’re not prepared, maybe because you’re lacking prerequisite courses or you didn’t perform as expected on the MCAT, don’t be afraid to hold off applying for a year or two. It’s very common for medical school applicants to delay applying for a bit in order to finished required coursework, or to find other ways to bolster their applicant profile through research between undergrad and med school. Consult with your academic advisor, or a medical school counselor, in order to determine if you’re really ready to apply – or if waiting is in your best interest.
The medical school application process can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! If you plan early, develop an application strategy, and develop a list of best-fit medical schools, you should be in a good position to gain admission to one of your top-choice programs.
At IvyWise we provide medical school admissions counseling for students at any stage of their med school application process. Whether you’ve just declared a pre-med track, or you’re in the midst of MCAT prep, we can help you prepare for the medical school application process and help gain admission to your best-fit med school program. For more information on IvyWise medical school admissions counseling, contact us today.