How to Make Your Med School Application Stand Out
Each year, thousands of students apply to medical school in North America. In fact, there were over 60, 000 applicants during last year’s application cycle alone. While it’s easy to stick out like a sore thumb and get rejected, it’s much more difficult to stick out in a way that ensures acceptance.
So, it’s important to make sure that your application stands out in just the right way.
Here are three proven ways to make your medical school application stand out:
It’s definitely crucial to meet the common entry requirements into medical schools by taking the prerequisites and entry exams. Gaining clinical experience is also important; it shows schools that you’re committed and that you’ve taken the time to become familiar with the profession.
That being said, nearly all applicants will have satisfied the same entry requirements, including experience at a hospital or related setting. Assuming that GPA and MCAT scores are equal, committee members will essentially be playing a blind game of pin the tail on the donkey.
You need to make yourself an outlier.
For example, rather than enrolling in an undergraduate degree that is commonly chosen by pre-meds, consider pursuing a degree in a subject that you personally enjoy. An applicant who studied economics, environmental science, or art history will catch the eye of the admissions committee and leave them wanting to learn more (hopefully during an interview!).
If you’re already enrolled in a degree, consider a minor in a totally unrelated field. And if you have already graduated, there are plenty of other ways to present a strong and authentic medical school application. Rather than your degree of study, other elements of your application will have to be innovative and original.
When it comes to writing your personal statement and essay questions, avoid sounding clichéd. That will only bore the committee members and place your application in the dreaded no pile. Be authentic. Give them a story that speaks to who you are and convinces them that you’re the right candidate.
The same thing applies to your autobiographical sketch.
The way that you portray your experiences and the words that you choose can determine the outcome of your application. You should be able to successfully highlight all of your strengths within the small word limit and distinguish yourself from the other candidates.
Have a Variety of Experiences
When it comes to your sketch, it’s important to begin filling out the entries months prior to the application deadline.
Include relevant information from your education, work experience and personal background that have contributed to your development. Oftentimes, we overlook events that have happened and underestimate their impact. To avoid this, list all of your experiences, no matter how insignificant they may seem at first.
This will allow you to identify any major gaps in your experience and to work towards filling them during the months leading up to the application deadline.
If you realize that your work and research experience far outweigh your volunteer experience or extracurriculars, you will have at least a few months to seek and secure opportunities that will enhance your application.
As you probably know, gaining experience working directly with patients will definitely benefit your application, not to mention your success as a future physician. But rather than focusing on a traditional clinical setting, why not seek more unique opportunities?
For example, instead of working or volunteering at a traditional hospice, why not do these things at a hospice that specifically serves those experiencing homelessness? In this way, you check off several boxes at once and you get to learn more about your community in the process.
Medical school admission committees want to be certain that you will somehow contribute to and improve your community.
Your experience also doesn’t have to be limited to clinical settings.
Pursuing a role in government and policy or community advocacy is another great way to stand out. Medicine is intertwined with a host of other factors that could influence the health of a community. Forming connections and bridging gaps will showcase your ability to problem solve, lead, and work in a team.
As a physician, it’s important to be well-rounded and to have a broad understanding of the world. After all, the people you will be serving will come from all walks of life and the way you approach them will have a tremendous impact on your success.
Review & Edit
There are three things in life that should never be underestimated: grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
You can have the most awesome experience, but if your essays are loaded with spelling and grammar mistakes, the admissions committee will barely gloss over your application.
But, unfortunately, having superb spelling and grammar won’t cut it either. You have to choose every word wisely and use it to tell a compelling story.
For example, rather than the following statement:
I was a supervisor at a post office for two years while pursuing my undergrad. I maintained the store inventory, provided customer service, and completed deposits.
Try this instead:
Supervised and motivated a team to increase productivity and ensure efficiency. Made deposits, maintained stock levels, and ensured high standards of customer service.
Avoid stating information that is provided elsewhere.
For instance, the name of the company and the length of time is already noted at the beginning of each entry and whether or not you were pursuing your undergrad could be inferred from other elements of your application. Instead, use this valuable retail space to shine a light on the skills that you have developed and that will help you succeed as a future physician.
While it’s beneficial to have your work reviewed by an admissions expert, it’s not absolutely necessary, especially if you manage your time well. You can ask friends and family members to review your personal essay and your answers to essay questions. Make sure to always ask for their honest and constructive feedback.
Every round of edits should produce an improved version of your application. The more rounds, the better, so starting your application early is key. For more information on when to start your medical school application, click here.
If you’re having trouble balancing out your ABS entries, shining a unique light on your application, or structuring your writing well, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Our talented team of experts are always happy to help.