Second time is a charm

“May 15, 2009″

Dear Jay,

I regret to inform you that the Committee is unable to offer you admission to the entering class of September 2009 (MD Class of 2013). Because we have a limited number of places in the program, we are unable to offer a position to every qualified applicant.”

A rejection letter. “That’s alright,” I said to myself. I interviewed at five Canadian schools this year. If one in three interviewed gets in, then statistically speaking, I am golden. One of them has got to be an admission letter.

However, the next 4 emails arrived – each more disappointing than the previous.

That has got to be the worst summer of my life so far. All of my friends got into medical school except me. Even until the morning of my graduation ceremony, I lied in bed, with no motivation to attend. Everyone there will be talking about which school they are going to come September. I did not want to be there for that. I did not want to be anywhere. I just wanted to lie here in bed, and waste away until the end of time…

Fast forward one year….

“May 13, 2010″

Dear Jay,

Congratulations! I am very pleased to inform you that the admissions committee wishes to offer you acceptance into the Class of 2014. I hope you will accept and join what will certainly be a fantastic group of young physicians.”

I was stunned and speechless, in an extremely positive way. What followed in the next two days were admission offers from four other medical schools, the exact same schools that I interviewed at the previous year! I once again laid in bed one morning, not wanting to get out. Except this time, I was running the pros and cons of each school in my head before finally getting out of bed to accept one of the offers while turning down the other four schools that once rejected me. The irony.

Thinking back on this, I often asked myself – “what led to my success during the second round of applications?”. It could not have been my GPA and MCAT, because they stayed the same. I continued doing the same extracurricular activities. So why was I rejected by all 5 medical schools in the first round but admitted by all of them the second time? My conclusion: it must be the applications and the interviews.

Here is my advice on how to improve your chances

1. The applications

a. Paint an honest and well-rounded picture of yourself. Make your application standout from the majority of cookie cutter submissions. Believe me, the way you describe each activity matters because even slight descriptive deviations can convey a totally different message.

b. Don’t just write down what you did. Convey the impacts you made. You need to show the committee that you are reflective and mature.

2. The interviews

a. Tell the interviewers your stories. They want to know what you are as a person. Make your stories unique, credible, and memorable.

b. Be charming and pleasant. Hopefully you can convince them that working with you for the next few years will be an enjoyable experience.

With so many people applying to medicine, it is unfortunate that most people will end up writing similar contents in their applications. However, during the year leading up to the second round of applications, I learned that there are ways to make one stand out through the applications and the interviews. It was this new-gained knowledge that helped me get into medical school, and I have thus far helped many other students gain admissions to medical schools. I am one to believe that many individuals have what it takes to be accepted. Sometimes, what one needs is just a little bit of tuning up.