Did you know that approximately 25% of the medical school applicant pool consists of re-applicants? In a recent AAMC webinar, “Knowing When, Where and How to Re-Apply,” a panel consisting of an admissions officer, a prehealth advisor, and successful re-applicants discussed how to review an unsuccessful application for lessons learned, red flags, or gaps. They also discussed how to know when you’re ready to apply again, where else you should apply, and if you should reapply to any schools on your previous list. You can access the complete presentation here or check out the highlights and key takeaways below.
- Honor your feelings.
If you didn’t get into medical school the first time you applied, you’re probably experiencing a lot of emotions, which may be exacerbated by the pandemic. Allow yourself time and space to process your feelings. Give yourself credit for all the hard work you put into applying and consider taking some time off from any premed activities to engage in self-care.
- Don’t rush to reapply.
Any subsequent application should be significantly different from your first. If your application has not changed significantly from the previous submission, the likelihood of a different outcome is small. It’s important to take the time needed to strengthen your application.
- When you’re ready, reassess.
When you feel ready, it is recommended to work with a prehealth advisor to assess your application for any area of opportunity. An advisor can help you review the various aspects of your application, including your grades; MCAT score; biology, chemistry, physics, and math GPA; health care experience; etc. Here are a few additional points to consider:
- Pay attention to how you describe your health care experiences in your application. Make sure the descriptions of your encounters highlight what you learned from them.
- Examine the descriptions of your life experiences. As a physician, your patients will come from all walks of life, so it’s important to become comfortable and build trust with all different kinds of people. Putting yourself in situations where you spend time with people who have had very different life journeys can be a great thing to do.
- For additional ideas on how to strengthen your application, review the 15 core competencies for entering medical students. You can also read stories of other successful applicants through the AAMC’s Anatomy of An Applicant resource.
- Revisit your personal statement.
Your growth and accomplishments between your last application and your current application should go into your personal statement. While your new essay can focus on a similar theme and communicate the same qualities from your previous personal statement, your anecdotes and supporting examples may change to reflect the new experiences you’ve had.
- Examine your school choice.
Make sure that you are “looking for schools that are looking for students like you,” said Ann Trail, health professions advisor at Villanova University. Read the mission statements of schools and use that as a guide to evaluate fit. For example, if your passion is to help underserved populations, then a medical school that emphasizes and values research may not be the best fit. Learn how researching medical school missions can help you find your fit.
Also, remember that state-supported medical schools have an interest in enrolling students who will remain to practice in that state. For this reason, they often give preference to in-state applicants. Be sure to check the admissions statistics for out-of-state students if you decide to consider applying to a state-supported school in another state.
- Time your application early.
In some cases, qualified candidates may not be successful if they apply too late in the season. It’s generally a good idea to have your application submitted by the end of July and your MCAT scores available by the end of August.
- Hone your interview skills.
Most medical schools interview only a small percentage of their applicants each year. If you receive an invitation to interview, the school is very interested in you. Utilize career center resources to practice your interviewing skills. You can also check out the AAMC’s collection of articles on interviewing to help you prepare.