How To Get Into ANY Medical School
Let's examine some important admissions statistics together so that you have a more clear understanding of why it is absolutely crucial to plan ahead in the early undergraduate years for applying to medical schools in Canada and/or the United States. First and foremost, it is crucial to realize that gaining admission into a medical program is extremely competitive. In fact, the success rate for admissions into a Canadian faculty of medicine is as low as 4 - 10 %. Although for some US schools this statistic will vary slightly, in general, the odds of admission remain quite low even in the states. Having said that, it should be noted that every year a significant number of applicants with very high MCAT and GPA scores do NOT gain admission, while, a large number of students with only average or below average scores DO receive that much sought after acceptance letter. Why you may ask? Well, it all has to do with planning and being involved in the right non-academic activities that help to develop those very essential non-cognitive skills and the level of emotional intelligence that faculties of medicine are looking for in their candidates. Just to drive this point home even further, let us consider the admissions statistics for faculties of medicine in the province of Ontario. As you can see, all 6 schools in Ontario have an acceptance or success rate of below ten percent. A closer examination of this graph demonstrates that the success rate for some schools in Ontario is even less than 5%. And here is a graph showing that the same is true for most top medical schools in the United States.
So what can you do to increase your odds of acceptance? Well let's review some common facts and myths when it comes to planning in advance for medical school admissions.
Check out our video on how to get into ANY medical schhol:
Myth #1: You must enroll in a premed program such as a life science, health science, or medical science program because medical schools prefer students from these fields of study. There is nothing further from the truth. Most students are under the impression that by enrolling into highly competitive pre-med programs or specialist programs they increase their chances of admission. This is false. Majority of medical schools do not care what program you were enrolled in as an undergraduate student. They simply care that you have taken all of the prerequisite courses and that you have performed well academically, regardless of your program. In fact, by being enrolled in a pre-med program, like thousands of other applicants, you do not set yourself apart, or show yourself as a unique candidate. Medical schools actually prefer students who come from diverse educational backgrounds. So enroll in any program that you are passionate about and explore your interests while taking prerequisite courses, which will allow you to prepare for the MCAT and also apply to the majority of medical schools in Canada and/or the US.
Myth #2: You must attend a 'brand name' university such as University of Toronto or Harvard to get into medical school because medical schools prefer students from prestigious universities. Much like your program of study, medical schools do not really care about what university you attended as an undergraduate. They simply want to see whether or not you performed well academically and that you have met all of their requirements. The prestige of the school has nothing to do with you gaining acceptance into a medical program. In fact, sometimes attending a brand name university may hurt your chances as they are more competitive, so your GPA will not be as strong, and since class sizes are so large, you may not ever form a relationship with your professors, and this can be an issue when it comes to asking for letters of reference. This is why, going to a smaller school will not only help you achieve better grades, but because of smaller class sizes, you may have a more productive academic experience, and in the process form strong relationships with your professors and instructors. This will be very beneficial when it comes to applications and asking for reference letters. Now of course, if you are passionate about a specific subject matter or a field of study and if this program is only offered by a brand name university, then by all means go ahead and enroll because the most important aspect of performing well academically is pursuing something that you are passionate about.
Myth#3: All that matters is your grades and your MCAT scores when it comes to applying to medical schools. Well as you have just seen with the statistics that were presented, having a high GPA and MCAT score in fact does not guarantee admissions into a faculty of medicine, as a significant number of students with extremely high scores are rejected annually. Furthermore, if the only thing that mattered to faculties of medicine was your GPA and MCAT score, then why would they have you complete such detailed applications, write essays and personal statements, have reference letters, and then invite you for an interview? Obviously, there must be other important factors at play when it comes to admissions, and as we have discussed earlier, they are related to your past experiences as a candidate and how they have helped you improve or develop your emotional intelligence and non-cognitive skills. Thus, planning in the early undergraduate years is essential when it comes to applying to medical faculties. Now let's consider some facts:
Fact #1: Students that plan in advance, according to BeMo’s independent research study, are 10 times more likely to get into a faculty of medicine the FIRST TIME they apply, as compared to other students who have not planned in advance. And of course, they save themselves from the hassle and the financial burden of reapplication.
Fact#2: You must have a clear plan of action from the early undergraduate years in order to stand out amongst the thousands of other applicants. This means you must have been involved in the appropriate activities, both academically and non-academically, during your early undergraduate years so that you can provide ample evidence in your application of those qualities that the admissions committee is looking for in a strong candidate. You need to determine your unique answer to the question "Why do you want to be a doctor?" and you need to devise a practical, pragmatic route to that goal.
Fact#3: You must avoid pre-med clubs, guidance counsellor, blogs, forums, etc. to stand out. First and foremost, you should be aware of the fact that most pre-med clubs, because of their financial needs, have exclusive financial partnerships with various admissions consulting companies and prep companies that provide financial support to these clubs in exchange for access to their students and their email list, which will serve as a marketing tool for the above mentioned companies. Furthermore, as result of these exclusive financial partnerships between pre-med clubs and other organizations, the members are only exposed to the information and perspectives shared by these affiliates. In a sense there is a monopoly over the information that is presented to the members of these clubs and thus, they are not able to form a fully informed decision when it comes to planning for medical school. Secondly, and more importantly, if your purpose is to set yourself apart from all of the other candidates and present yourself as a unique applicant, then it does not make any sense to do what everyone else is doing or following the generic instructions and advise that are provided to all of the students by either your pre-med club, your counsellor, or student run forums. In fact, if you follow their advice, you will only turn yourself into a generic applicant, and will MOST DEFINITELY not stand out amongst the pack.
Fact #4: You must follow your passion. This is very simple and straightforward. By following your passion you will most likely perform well academically and achieve the GPA that most med programs are looking for. So by studying something that you are passionate about, you will ensure that you perform well academically, and you automatically set yourself apart from other applicants as we discussed.
Fact #5: As discussed earlier, you can enroll in any program or university you would like so long as you perform extremely well academically and meet all of the requirements set in place by faculties of medicine. It is not essential that you enroll into a pre-med program or attend a prestigious university.
Fact #6: You must select appropriate non-academic activities and referees for your application. Recall that gaining admissions into a faculty of medicine is not simply about your didactic abilities. Medical schools want to know that you are a well-rounded individual who possesses strong non-cognitive skills and emotional intelligence. In order to develop or improve upon your non-cognitive skills and emotional intelligence you must be involved in activities outside of academics that can serve to enhance these qualities. And of course, these activities will be used as evidence in your application to demonstrate to the admissions committee that you in fact do possess strong non-cognitive skills and emotional intelligence.
Fact #7: You must get rid of all your "plan Bs." This may sound unconventional but let us elaborate. If you have plan Bs such as, applying to graduate school or other professional programs, then you are less likely to gain admission into a medical program. The reasons are simple. First, having back up plans may indicate that you have not whole-heartedly committed to the process. If that is the case, then you need to honestly re-examine your true motivations for wanting to pursue medicine. Unless you are one hundred percent committed to gaining admissions, and having re-application as your only backup plan, then you will not devote the appropriate resources and attention that an effective and successful long-term plan requires.
And, this leads us to our final fact,
Fact#8: You must invest even MORE time and resources prior to the application process than during the application process. Why? Well, recall that it is all about planning in advance. That means doing all the RIGHT things before you apply so that you have evidence of possessing strong non-cognitive skills and emotional intelligence which you can provide on your application and discuss during your interviews. You need to demonstrate to the admissions committee that you have spent sufficient amount of time investigating the profession, increased your knowledge, and more importantly, been involved in various non-academic activities that either demonstrate your capacity for a non-cognitive skill, or helped you develop a certain non-cognitive skill which you did not posses in the past. The point is this: there is no magic pill when it comes to getting into med school. It requires hard work and appropriate planning and here is how BeMo can help you stand out from the competition and get into medical school.
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To your success,
Your friends at BeMo