Why is medical school so hard to get into?
Medical schools suffer from poor retention rates, and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become a doctor. When schools are reviewing applications, they need to be absolutely sure that an individual has the academic skillset, experiences, and passion needed to make it through med school and to become a doctor. With acceptance rates at some of the most competitive schools in the single digits, most students feel lucky to get into ANY medical school.
As you start on your own medical school journey, make sure to remember these three main ways to avoid medical school rejection:
Build a Comprehensive School List
While it would be great to get into Harvard Medical School, that’s not a realistic goal for most students. Both the breadth and the depth of your school list is inherently important to making sure you avoid medical school rejection.
First, you want to make sure that you’re applying to a lot of medical schools. 20+ schools (although this will take a lot of work) is a good place to start. If you are applying with a lower GPA or MCAT score, then you will want to increase this list to closer to 30 schools.
Next, you want to make sure that you’re developing a well-balanced school list. This means including a good balance of reach, fit, and safety schools. Compare your GPA and MCAT score to the averages at the schools you want to apply to. Recognizing where you stand in comparison to the accepted students at a particular school will help you categorize that school as a reach, a fit, or a safety.
Applying to so many med schools will require a lot of organization and dedication on your part as the applicant. Make sure that you develop your school list with a realistic, comparative, and open mindset.
Demonstrate Why You’re Passionate and Why You’re Unique
There are a common set of experiences that you need to do before applying to medical school. But as you’re thinking about how to spend your time before applying to med school, consider what other applicants around you are also doing. If you’re doing the exact same thing as everyone else, chances are that your application will look like everyone else’s.
How do you avoid this and prove that you truly stand out?
Think about what it is you’re truly passionate about—whether it’s a specific field of medicine, a type of research, or an extracurricular activity. Developing that interest and thinking about how it is related to medicine will help you stand out. Examples of this can include anything from cultivating an interest in environmental impacts on health to starting a nonprofit focused on literacy education to lobbying for LGBTQ rights to your local government. As long as you show how your passions have helped you on your journey towards medical school, you should include them as central parts to your application.
Having unique interests and acting on those interests to produce tangible achievements will help you stand out as an applicant. And if you stand out, you have a lower chance of getting rejected.
- Start the Process Early
As with most things in life, starting this process early will help you develop your profile in dynamic ways, check the necessary boxes before applying, and create a set of thoughtful, strategic, and memorable applications. Making sure that you have your MCAT score and required classes out of the way before the spring of your application year is important so that you can focus on the actual application writing.
As you begin to think about applying to medical school, take a step back to fully understand the process. It’s incredibly competitive, and schools unfortunately reject a large percentage of applicants. That being said, if you stay organized, create a comprehensive school list, develop unique interests, and start your process early, you will set yourself up for success.
By Hannah Smith, Graduate Coach and Medical School Expert at InGenius Prep