They aren’t always who you might expect!
It’s easy to get hung up in the minutiae of your med school application. Is your GPA impressive? Is your GPA good enough? Have you participated in the extracurricular activities that the medical schools like? Do you need to re-take the MCAT, or should you chance it on your most recent scores?
Many of you applying to med school would feel a lot more confident about your application if you focused more of your attention on how you are presenting yourself as a candidate and less on past things that can’t be changed.
Your scores matter. But by the time you begin applying to medical school, those scores are set in stone. I understand the anxiety that your scores can cause, but you can’t change them.
Good news: Your grades, test scores and extracurricular activities are only a portion of the criteria that admissions committees are looking at when they decide whether you get in or not. They want to know who you are, and how you will contribute to their program after getting into medical school. They need to know that you’re more than a test-taking robot.
Your application does not have to be defined solely by your scores and you don’t have to feel that you’re an average applicant just because your scores don’t stand out from the crowd.
Sure, medical school admissions committees are looking to admit bright and talented applicants who have succeeded in academics. Here’s a secrets: As long as your GPA and test scores fall within the average range for acceptance (3.5 GPA, MCAT 31), you have a shot.
This is where packaging yourself comes in. How you present yourself as an applicant is something that most applicants feel they have no control over because they think their grades and scores are their entire image. You do have control, and there is much more admissions committees want to know than just the information you than filled into boxes on your application!
Medical schools don’t want students that can simply show up to classes and pass exams. They don’t want you to be a like a passive, disinterested (high school) student who is looking to skate by with minimal effort as they look forward to the next, more important step in their life.
Medical Schools don’t want to be “doctor factories,” churning out average or below-average doctors year by year. They want to be known for the accomplishments of extraordinary students who take advantage of every resource that the school has to offer to inspire other students and eventually enact change and progress in the medical field and in the medical school.
When applying to medical school, present yourself as the kind of forward-thinking, socially adept team player who is not only intelligent, but also capable of executing an ambitious career-long 30 year plan that will leave a lasting impression in medicine.
Your best opportunity to present yourself as this kind of applicant is in the personal statement. Use your personal statement as a personal declaration that shows schools just what kind of student you will be while you are enrolled, what kind of doctor you will be in the future, and what kind of person you are in your life.
The big part of presenting yourself is by persuasively answering the question: “What will you do while you are here in medical school, and what will you do when you’re a doctor?”
Don’t use the personal statement to repeat information from other parts of your application. Your admissions reader has already read the rest of your application and they want to read about who you are and what you plan to do.
Be ambitious. Be specific in your ambitions. Be future-oriented. Show that you are dedicated to both medical school and medicine in general by telling your reader exactly what you plan to do if you are admitted to medical school.
Presenting yourself this way will give you a huge leg-up over the competition because most other applicants use the personal statement to rehash other parts of their applications and give tired, cliched reasons why they want to be a doctor.
Medical school admissions readers roll their eyes when applicants pat themselves on the back for past accomplishments. After all, what medical school applicant hasn’t gotten great grades despite adversity, or experienced something amazing in the clinic? Those impactful clinical experiences might have been important to you, but you need to show how they have inspired your specific future ambitions and why they have made you a more qualified applicant.
Offering a strong “reason why” you want to be a doctor is one of the most persuasive ways to present yourself as the type of ambitious, cooperative, forward-thinking candidate that medical schools want to admit. Whatever you do, DO NOT give the tired “I want to be a doctor because I want to help people” cliche.
Your scores are set in stone, but the way you present yourself is all up to you. Getting into medical school is all about presenting yourself as the most qualified candidate applying. Take the time to write a personal statement that shows an admissions committee in plain language that you are exactly what they are looking for: An ambitious, forward-thinking, team-oriented, CONTRIBUTING member of the medical society.
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