Looking for medical school acceptance stories to inspire yourself? Medical school application and interview processes are hard. Every student faces their own obstacles and has their own strengths. Many students believe that their background and circumstances are totally unique, and this often leads medical school hopefuls to feel isolated and disadvantaged in terms of the admissions process. Are they the only students applying with a low MCAT? Are they the only student applying without participating in premed research opportunities?
This is why reading medical school acceptance stories can be truly helpful not only for tips but also for inspiration. Many of our students felt that they did not meet the bar set by other matriculants and did not know which of their own strengths they could emphasize. We are here to share medical school acceptance stories and tips to help you find inspiration for your own medical school journey!
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How I got into THREE MED SCHOOLS as a re-applicant: Rishi
Medical school acceptance rates are merciless. While the AAMC claims that the average acceptance rates in the US are in the 40% percent range, the reality is that even the easiest medical schools to get into have acceptance rates below 10%. This is why medical school rejection is not uncommon in the US and Canada. But just because you received a rejection the first time, or the second time, does not mean that you have to give up on your dream of becoming a doctor.
The main reason why students do not succeed in the first place is simple: they do not know their own strengths. They are often unsure what experiences and skills to emphasize in their applications and end up focusing on what they think the admission committee wants to hear, rather than what they can contribute as an applicant specifically. And even with almost perfect grades and scores, many applicants end up rejected from medical school the first time they apply.
Rejection Despite Great Stats
This situation is very familiar to Rishi, who applied with amazing stats the first time but did not receive any interview invites. With a GPA of 3.9 and an MCAT score of 523, you would think that Rishi would be a competitive candidate. However, as we often emphasize, stats are not everything. And most importantly, when you plan your reapplication, it’s essential to rethink your school selection strategy. Instead of applying blindly, you must carefully choose schools where your statistics, experiences, and profile are a great fit. When he began the reapplication process, Rishi removed 1/3 of the schools he originally applied to and found schools where he would be a perfect fit. In fact, the medical school he ended up attending, the University of Iowa, was not a school he applied to in his first attempt.
Importantly, as you begin your reapplication process, you must not despair and lose confidence. This is just another hurdle on your journey to medical school. This is what Rishi had to say about the prospect of reapplying:
“It’s ok. In the grand scheme of all things in life, of all the things people have to deal with, spending an additional year applying to medical school is not the end of the world. It’s ok to acknowledge that that’s not the outcome you were hoping for, identify what you could have done better, whether it’s expanding on a section of your application or, like me, being a little bit more intentional with your application. But all things considered, do not let it get you down.”
One more important lesson Rishi learned after his first unsuccessful application cycle is timing. While his statistics and background were very impressive, Rishi took between a month and two months to submit his medical school secondary essays. Due to the nature of rolling admissions, late secondary submissions significantly lower chances of getting interview invites since the available spots for interviews are filled up as secondary applications come in. This was perhaps one of the most significant reasons why Rishi's application did not garner even an interview invite despite great stats and experiences.
Want to learn more about rolling admissions? Check out this infographic:
But how can you complete all your secondaries on time without compromising the quality!? Especially if you applied to 30 medical schools as Rishi did. During his second application attempt, Rishi decided to mitigate this problem by pre-writing his secondary essays. His logic was simple: most medical schools use very similar medical school secondary prompts year after year. There are some patterns between schools as well, as most schools will include prompts such as “why our program?”, a diversity medical school secondary essay prompt, an adversity medical school secondary prompt, future goals prompts, setbacks prompt, and so on. Rishi prepared an outline and ideas for each of these prompts, which later helped him to quickly organize his secondary essays and send them back on time, within 2 weeks of receiving the invitations.
“What have you done since your last application?”
Before his second application cycle, to bolster his already strong profile even further, Rishi dedicated his gap year before medical school to join a research project. Wisely, Rishi chose to completely dedicate himself to one project only instead of spreading himself too thin between several commitments. Rishi’s experience during the gap year demonstrates dedication and progress, something all medical schools look for in their candidates, and especially reapplicants. All reapplicants are inevitably asked how they used their gaps year(s) before medical school, and in Rishi’s case, he could talk in detail about his participation in the project, the new connections he made, and skills he obtained.
All reapplicants dread the interview question “What have you done since your last application?” This is mostly due to the fear that this question points at your failure, but this fear is not a good approach in answering this question. Instead, take this opportunity to discuss how much you have grown and improved! Medical school admission committees are not there to poke at your vulnerabilities, they are there to learn more about you and see if you worked to become a better candidate. Do not be shy to acknowledge your initial medical school rejection. Take ownership of what happened and demonstrate that you truly belong in medical school.
From 0 interviews to 6 interviews and 3 acceptances!
Rishi’s story demonstrates that learning from your mistakes is an advantage you have as a reapplicant. Instead of spiraling into despair after the initial rejection, you must analyze your errors from the first application attempt and make sure not to repeat these mistakes again. Take your time to reflect whether you chose the right schools to apply to or whether you dedicated enough time to prepare for medical school interviews. Even the most insignificant errors should be identified and eliminated in your next application attempt. And most importantly, do not feel like being a reapplicant is a disadvantage. In fact, after going through the process the first time and taking some time to improve your application and interview skills, you should feel like you are ahead. And most importantly, keep this wise thought in mind:
“And when you get into medical school, you’ll have a lot of things to worry about, but one of them, which will not keep you up at night, will be the year you lost reapplying to med school. Ultimately you will forget about it and say “yep, that happened to me.”
Check out Rishi’s full story here:
How I got into SIX MED SCHOOLS as a non-traditional applicant: Allison
There’s a wide variety of non-traditional medical school applicants. And even though many medical schools encourage non-traditional students to apply, many of them feel a little out of sorts when it comes to explaining why they want to become a doctor, or why they took a gap year(s) before medical school, or why they decided to change career paths after years of successful professional life in a different industry.
This is why hearing medical school acceptance stories first-hand from non-traditional applicants who went through the application and interview processes can give you some ideas for how to approach your own medical school journey. We want to emphasize that every student's story is unique and there is no cookie-cutter approach for applications or interviews, but you can always pick up an idea here and there that will help you strategize for strengthening your own profile.
Whether you are a non-traditional applicant or a traditional pre-med, Allison’s story is full of useful insights that might help you plan for your own applications. As a child of a military family, Allison constantly moved around the country and eventually settled in Texas. And even though Allison was exposed to medicine at an early age via her mother who was a pediatric ICU nurse, she decided to pursue music in her undergrad. Eventually, realizing that music is more of a hobby, she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a pediatric ICU nurse.
While working as a nurse, Allison decided to become a physician. However, she had some hurdles to overcome before she could apply. She was missing medical school prerequisites required by most medical schools and necessary for doing well on the MCAT. To complete these requirements, Allison enrolled in a DIY post-baccalaureate program. Instead of enrolling in a structured post-bacc, Allison designed her own study plan to complete all her prerequisites in 2.5 years while working as a nurse.
School Selection and MCAT
The next important step in her journey was the question every applicant eventually faces: how to choose a medical school to apply to? While searching for schools where she would be a great fit, Allison created a spreadsheet to record all the information she would need to make her choice. Using the MSAR database and school websites, Allison research the schools’ missions, their statistics, and the kind of experiences they value in their matriculants. And even though she did not have her MCAT score at the time of school research, Allison used her practice exam scores to gauge which schools she would be a great fit in. Using the average score of all her practice tests, she could create a realistic list of schools where she could apply.
Academic Dishonesty Record
And for those of you worried about any red flags on your academic record, Allison’s story is a great example of why listening to premed advisors, Reddit Premed, and other online discussion boards are highly discouraged! Allison was extremely worried about her academic dishonesty record. While the record was a simple misunderstanding during her undergrad, at the time of this strike, Allison chose not to appeal as she was getting ready to go to nursing school where this record was not regarded as a serious offense. After deciding to apply to medical school, she realized that the dishonesty record could completely destroy her chances of becoming a physician. Like most applicants, Allison turned to online forums to research if any other applicants with this kind of record succeeded in matriculating. The forums insisted that applicants with such academic records would inevitably face medical school rejection. Her premed advisor emphasized that Allison’s TMDSAS optional essay must focus on this discrepancy but was unable to help her on time. With these prospects in sight, Allison was quite discouraged.
But with the help of medical school admission consultants, Allison was able to overcome her fears of this academic dishonesty record and address it in her application accordingly. In fact, she admits that this setback was never again brought up in any of her medical school interviews, of which she had 7 (out of the 8 schools she applied to). This is what Allison had to say to anyone who is discouraged to apply because of a “red flag” on their academic record:
"If anyone out there has an academic violation, don't read [online forums], don't listen to anybody. You are absolutely still a person, still a potential medical student and schools are not going to blacklist you just because of one mistake that you've made. These are all lies – don't listen to them."
Despite all the other hurdles of the application and interview processes, Allison got into 6 medical schools! She stopped counting her acceptance letters once she was accepted into her top-choice school. Congratulations, Allison!
Check out Allison’s full story here:
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