Waiting for Acceptance
Spring can can be a difficult time for medical school applicants who are still waiting for their acceptance letter. After spending a year gathering transcripts, asking for recommendations, completing applications, and travelling for interviews, it can seem like a cruel joke when no acceptance letters appear in your mailbox. Adding insult to injury, excited new medical students are everywhere telling the world which medical school they will soon be attending. It can be especially difficult if you are on a waitlist at one or more schools. While there is still hope that you may get admitted, you likely feel like your future is in limbo. Although it is disappointing when your initial application to medical school is unsuccessful, it does not mean that your dream of becoming a physician is over. Although you may not attend medical school at the time you hoped for, you can still earn a medical degree. You will simply join the many people who are accepted to medical school each year as reapplicants.
Deciding to Reapply
If your previous application to medical school was not successful, do not lose hope. Remember the majority of applicants to medical school are not accepted. It may help to remember that the medical schools rejected your application- not you personally. Do not despair. If you truly want to become a physician, be persistent and try again. Many students who are accepted to medical school each year are reapplicants.
Timing for Reapplicants
Although it may be tempting to reapply to medical school immediately, this often is not a good idea. It is exceedingly unwise to reapply to medical school with the same application that was previously unsuccessful. You will need to take the time to identify what went wrong during the last admissions cycle and rectify it. In many cases, this will mean waiting one or more cycles before you reapply.
Reapplicants Must Take Inventory
Before you can think about reapplying to medical school, you must first identify what went wrong the last time. If you do not understand why your application was rejected, there is little hope of fixing the deficiencies. However, before scrutinizing your unsuccessful application, take some time to reassure yourself that this is not a catastrophe. Many people do not get accepted to medical school on their first try and they go on to be excellent physicians. Furthermore, there is still hope if the school year has not yet started. Many schools offer waitlisted applicants a seat in the incoming class within a few days of classes beginning.
The biggest error reapplicants make is failing to critically analyze their prior application. Students are rejected from medical school because they have failed to meet one or more necessary criteria. The medical school acceptance rate for reapplicants is lower than first time candidates. This is largely because many reapplicants fail to identify and correct the issues with their previous application.
Common Reasons For Medical School Rejection
It is helpful to look at the more common reasons that applicants are rejected from medical school. If you identify that you previously made these errors, you can correct them when you reapply to medical school.
Although medical schools consider many factors when making admissions decisions, grades are still extremely important. If you have a very low gpa, you will find it difficult to gain admission to medical school. Schools will often forgive a few academic missteps if you show strong coursework in general. However, if you have a trend of generally poor grades, you will likely do poorly in the medical school admissions process. Most medical schools have a minimum GPA that they will consider. If you do not make the cut, you will not be accepted despite your other qualifications.
Most medical schools have rolling admissions. This means that schools review and act on applications as they receive them. Therefore, you have a much better chance of getting in if you apply early in the season. For this reason, it is vital for you to submit your application as early as possible. Even if you are a strong applicant, you will be rejected if schools receive your application after they have filled all their seats. Therefore, you should aim to submit your AMCAS application shortly after it opens in May.
If you make errors on your application, AMCAS will often return it to you to correct. This causes your application to be delayed and is essentially the same as applying late. Before you submit your AMCAS form, carefully review your responses. You should ensure that you answer all the required questions completely and accurately. It is a good idea to have your application professionally reviewed before you submit it. An admissions specialist will be able to tell you if your application has any deficiencies.
Inadequate Personal Statement
The personal statement is a vital portion of the medical school application. Many applicants underestimate the value of the personal statement and they do not write quality essays. This is a grave error. It is almost guaranteed that your medical school bid will be unsuccessful if your personal statement is insufficient. Medical schools use personal statements to learn about an applicant’s character, goals, and motivation. If your personal statement does not adequately provide this information, you will not progress very far in the application process.
Improper Handling of Secondaries
Secondary applications are often difficult due to the sheer volume of essays the average applicant must complete. On average, students apply to fourteen medical schools per application cycle. For this reason, most applicants will have to complete over a dozen secondary applications. Furthermore, most schools’ secondary applications have at least five essay-style questions. This means that the typical medical school applicant will have to write sixty (probably more) essays during the secondary application period. This can be an overwhelming task. Many applicants make errors on the secondary application and are subsequently rejected from medical school.
Poor Interview Performance
The medical school interview is the final step before the admissions committee makes a offer of acceptance. If you have made it to the application portion of the interview process, it means that the medical school is seriously considering offering you admission. However, it is possible to dissuade the school from admitting you with an unsatisfactory interview performance.
Identifying the Problem
Sometimes it can be difficult for medical school reapplicants to figure out what went wrong in their application. You can get a better idea of why you did not get accepted by looking at how far you progressed in the application cycle. For example, if you did not receive a secondary application from a school, it is most likely because your grades or MCAT score did not meet the schools requirements. In addition, late applications and poor personal statements can cause an applicant to be rejected at the first step in the application process.
If you received a secondary application but were not invited for an interview, you will need to consider several possibilities. Most medical schools begin carefully reviewing an a student’s application materials after they have received the secondary essays. You may be rejected at the secondary application stage if your personal statement or secondary essays are lacking in quality. In addition, students with late applications or marginal grades are also rejected at this stage.
Perhaps the most frustrating scenario occurs when a student makes it to the interview stage only to be rejected. However, if you made it to the interview stage, you know that your previous application materials were adequate. It was likely your performance on interview day that made the school decide against admitting you.
Once you have identified the weaknesses in your previous application, you will be better prepared to present yourself as a stronger candidate during your next application cycle.
Tips for Reapplicants to Correct Previous Errors
After you have figured out the likely reasons why your previous application was unsuccessful, it is time to begin a correction plan.
If your undergraduate career was underwhelming, you should first research medical schools carefully. Many medical school applicants have an unsuccessful application cycle because they apply to the wrong schools. It is very important to research individual medical schools before you apply. The average gpa of admitted students varies between schools, so you should aim to apply to schools with lower gpa requirements as a reapplicant. You will receive a very good education at any accredited medical school; so you should not feel as if you need to attend a “big name” school.
If you find that your gpa is significantly below what is accepted at any school, you will need to make alternative plans. Medical schools will not accept you if you apply with a very low gpa. This is true even if the remainder of you application is strong. Instead, you should look for ways to improve your academic record prior to reapplying to medical school. For example, you should consider earning a graduate degree or attending a post-baccalaureate program. You will then have the opportunity to demonstrate to admissions officers that you are academically prepared for medical school by excelling at graduate coursework.
Low MCAT Score
If your MCAT score is noncompetitive, you must retake the test. Give yourself enough time to prepare yourself thoroughly. Many students find it helpful to enroll in a MCAT review course or join a study group. Although many students review for the MCAT by reading textbooks, it is actually more effective to do practice questions. Spend the majority of your time answering MCAT-style questions and you will see your scores improve.
Ineffective Personal Statement
The medical school personal statement is more important that many applicants assume. If your personal statement is strong enough, it will earn you an interview (assuming you meet the minimum gpa requirements). Therefore, it is wise for reapplicants to take extra care to write an exceptional personal statement. Your personal statement needs to convince a admissons committee that you have the inner qualities to make an excellent physician.
Once you have a satisfactory draft of your personal statement, you need to have it reviewed by a professional editor. Some reapplicants mistakenly believe that personal statement editing is an unnecessary expense. Nothing could be further from the truth. A good medical editor will provide you with invaluable insight on how to improve your essay. They know what schools are looking for and will make sure that your essay will withstand the competition. In addition, some editors will give you other tips for your application and interview.
Inadequate Secondary Essays
There are three basic rules for correctly completing a medical school secondary application. They are:
- Completely answer the essay prompt
- Make sure that your responses reflect the values of the school
- Return the application in a timely manner
Also, it is a common practice of medical school applicants is to recycle essays for multiple secondary applications. Although there is nothing wrong with this technique, you need to be careful if you decide to do it. If you are recycling an essay, make sure that it completely answers the question posed by the new school. You will likely need to modify parts of the essay so that it completely answers the new prompt. In addition, remove all traces that the essay has been previously used for another school. It is definitely bad form for your essay to mention how much you want to attend another school’s program.
Poor Interview Skills
The medical school interview is akin to a job interview. At that point in the cycle, the admissions committee has narrowed the candidate pool down to students that are good candidates for admission. It is your job to show them that they should offer you a a position. Therefore, you must prepare yourself in advance for your medical school interview. Read all of your application materials again so that you are prepared to answer any questions about it. You should also look to participate in one or more mock-interviews. These are excellent opportunities to work on your interview skills.
Other Ways for Reapplicants to Improve
In addition to correcting any deficiencies that you identify in your previous application, it is a good idea to engage in activities that will make you a more attractive candidate to medical schools. Use your gap time to engage in clinical activities and research. These pursuits will not only strengthen your application, they also will give you an opportunity to obtain strong letters of recommendation from physicians.
Although it is emotionally difficult when your first application to medical school is not successful, it does not mean that you can not become a physician. Many medical school reapplicants become well-respected and successful physicians. If you need to reapply to medical school, give yourself adequate time to identify your past mistakes and correct them.
Are you unsure about what went wrong in your previous application? Schedule a free evaluation to learn how you can improve your chances in your next application cycle!