Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Primary Application DONE / How I Chose My School List

I took the plunge this morning, paying $622.00 to submit the AMCAS application after more painstaking detail checking and revising than I would have thought possible. I had a small moment of panic about three minutes after the point of no return when, after a couple of exchanged comments with my wife I convinced myself that I had forgotten to include a period at the end of one of my experience descriptions. Naturally, I had shut my computer down after submitting the application, thinking, "I'm DONE! I won't need to get back on this any time soon." It had quietly mentioned that it was in need of a software update, so I thought Why not? and told it to do its thing. Three minutes later realized that the only way to confirm whether or not I had made a mistake would be to check the final version of the app, but my computer was now updating! After ten minutes of waiting, it finally finished so I could start it up and confirm that WHEW - I hadn't made the glaring error of failing to punctuate correctly.

I'm debating whether or not I should share my final personal statement on here. Are there any pros or cons to sharing something like that publicly? There's not really any incredibly personal information, other than that I divulge that I did terribly in Quantum Theory during my undergrad studies... I'll have to think this over and come back to it later.

That being said, I applied to 15 schools. For those that don't know, I'm a nontraditional student. That wasn't a huge factor in which schools I chose, though something tells me I went about the process a little differently than many undergraduates. I considered several criteria: number of students accepted from my undergraduate institution in the past decade, location, in-state vs. out-of-state acceptance rates, national ranking, and average MCAT scores of accepted individuals.

My undergraduate institution (Hope College) has kept tabs on how many graduates have been accepted to the various medical schools over the past 10 years, and they're kind enough to share this information with me. That was sort of my starting point, since I thought my chances would be highest with institutions that had heard of my alma mater. Naturally, given that Hope is in Michigan, most of the schools that had accepted more students from Hope were in the midwest, so this coincided well with the location priority.

Next, I looked at what percentage of out-of-state applicants were actually given interviews and accepted to the institution. This was a big weed-out factor, and ended up just honing my school list even more to med schools that are relatively close by. It's really not worth my time applying somewhere if they accept 13 out-of-state applicants from a pool of 8,000. My advisor loaned me a book (for my LIFE I can't remember the title) that shared all the stats involved, and I made a huge spreadsheet out of the data. Nerdy? Incredibly so. Helpful? You BET.

Lastly, I considered national ranking and the average MCAT scores of accepted individuals for each institution. Nobody gets in everywhere, so the point is being smart about it and not pinning all my hopes on ONLY the most competitive and prestigious schools. As my advisor says, there are no bad medical schools in the United States. They're all good, they just don't all have the top rankings. To share another quote from a doctor I shadowed regularly, "Even the worst medical student at the lowest-ranked school is a doctor after graduation." Granted, I don't plan that to be me, but the principle is the same.

That selection process began months ago, and while I believe you can apply to schools after submitting the primary application the first time, I think I included all of the schools I wanted to in the following (alphabetically ordered) list:

Indiana University School of Medicine
Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
Medical College of Wisconsin
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
Ohio State University College of Medicine
Rush Medical College
University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine
University of Illinois at Chicago - College of Medicine
University of Michigan Medical School
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
University of Toledo College of Medicine
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine
Wayne State University School of Medicine


Jamie said...

So how long before you start getting letters?
We'll be praying for you.

Justin said...

I have to get through the secondary apps first, after which I will get either rejections or invitations to interview. After that, probably around January-March is when I will get accepted, rejected or wait-listed.

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