Updated: Jan 12, 2020
The medical school application season is now in full swing! This is the time of year when pre-med students log in to AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) and AACOMAS (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Application Service) to submit their applications in hopes of getting secondary applications, an interview, and finally at least one acceptance letter.
Applying to medical school is both exciting and scary. On the one hand, you have the hope and expectation that you will be accepted. On the other hand, you're afraid of rejection. So, how can you increase your chances of reaching your goal of getting into medical school? Well, you need to familiarize yourself with the requirements and process of the medical school application to avoid making mistakes.
Don't mind the myths
With over 10 years of helping pre-meds, I can say first hand that many pre-meds don't understand what it takes to apply into medical school. Understanding the application process will help pre-meds avoid mistakes, help them apply when they are most ready, and, most importantly, increase their chances of being accepted. I've encountered several myths about applying to med school that I've had to to break down for pre-meds over the years.
Applying to med school is NOT exactly like applying to college. Sure! There are similarities, but the med school application process is much more standardized and rigorous. For example, before a medical school will accept you, you will likely be required to travel to the school for an interview. This is not the case when applying to college. Understand what will be required of you during the med school application process to make sure you don't miss a step. Go to the AMCAS and AACOMAS sites to find their instruction manuals for the year you are applying.
Applying to every single medical school without meeting requirements doesn't work. I've encountered pre-meds who decided to apply to a bunch of schools rather than try to improve weaknesses on their applications. Listen... This process is very competitive and expensive! Less than half of people who apply in any given year will be accepted. So, do it right the first time! Make sure that you've met the necessary requirements before applying.
Having lots of passion or a sob story doesn't guarantee acceptance. Yes! I've seen this one and it does not play out well. Wanting it badly enough is not enough to get accepted. Having had a rough life experience also isn't enough. Certainly, these may play their part in motivating you to reach your goal, but they don't erase the other requirements. If you meet the other requirements, your passion and life experiences will definitely enhance your application.
Extracurricular activities do NOT replace a low GPA or low MCAT score. I am always leery of the student who is engaged in many activities, but not quite academically ready to apply. For example, a pre-med who is shadowing me five days a week for three months, but is not doing well in class is not ready to apply to medical school. Extracurricular activities are expected to strengthen your application. Being a strong academic candidate should be your priority.
Osteopathic (DO) schools are NOT for those who can't get into allopathic (MD) schools. I'll write about osteopathic medicine in another post, but... Applying to osteopathic schools should not be a plan B to allopathic schools. By applying to both DO and MD schools, I increased my chances of getting into medical school by applying to more schools for which I met requirements. I was accepted into both DO and MD schools, but chose to attend an osteopathic school because it was the best fit for me. So, don't sleep on DO schools!
Understand the process! Applying to medical school is challenging enough without approaching it with incorrect information. Empower yourself with accurate information. You'll make more strategic decisions and increase your chances of getting into medical school.
Now that we've debunked the myths, put yourself at an advantage for the getting into medical school and download my FREE strategy cheatsheet: 5 Strategies you're currently NOT using to get into medical school!