Applying to medical school can feel extremely far away, especially when you are working your butt off studying for the MCAT. While it isn’t a bad idea to wait until the MCAT is over to do most of the work on your application, there are some things that you should do immediately in order to avoid some major application mistakes. Here are 3 simple things that you can easily do right now before it is too late:
Take a tally of the meaningful activities/experiences you will include in your medical school application. In the AMCAS primary application, there is a place for you to report 15 meaningful experiences you had and the hours you spent on those activities. For instance, for one experience you might want to report your experience shadowing doctors and the number of hours you spent shadowing. It is important to have a good mix of activities that show you to be service-oriented, a leader, interested in medicine, etc. Using the MCAT Self Prep Medical School Application Spreadsheet, you can quickly tally up the hours you’ve spent on each activity, giving you a snapshot of where you currently stand. If you still need more experiences, it would be a good idea to plan in some more meaningful activities that you can do between now and when you submit your application. And if you want to earn service hours and gain leadership experience all while studying for the MCAT, you should consider becoming an MCAT Study Group Leader!
Decide which individuals you will ask to write a letter of recommendation for you. Good relationships are built on regular positive interactions. If you simply stroll up to someone that you haven’t interacted with for several months or even years and ask them to write a letter of recommendation for you, chances are high that they won’t be super interested in the task. By deciding on some letter writers now, you will be able to plan to have some positive interactions with them before popping the question. And if you are not sure who to ask to write letters for you, be sure and enroll in my Medical School Application Course. I walk you through a detailed process for selecting and asking individuals to write awesome letters of recommendation for you. I recommend asking your letter writers in February/March of the year you are going to apply, so make sure to get started on this important task soon!
Start generating ideas for your personal statement. It can be argued that the personal statement essay is the most important part of your medical school application. It tells admissions committees why you want to go to medical school. Because it is so important, I recommend writing this essay using a 4-stage approach, the first of these stages being the Idea Generation Stage. During the Idea Generation Stage, you will need to come up with the overall thesis for your essay and think of several experiences you can talk about that will back up this thesis. As a way to generate ideas for yourself, I’d recommend talking with everyone you know about why you want to go to medical school. After talking with them, make note of the things you said and the experiences you shared. By talking these things out with other people, you will come up with many more ideas than you would by yourself.
By getting started on these three tasks now, you will save yourself loads of heartache down the road. Getting a top MCAT score is meaningless unless you have the full package to back it up, so make sure to put just as much (if not more) effort into your application as you are putting into your MCAT studying. And if you have any questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I am here to help!
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