This post goes out to all the pre-meds out there looking to apply for this cycle. Time has officially begun ticking! I know that you know applications open up in June (I’m sure it’s already in your calendar). But between your coursework, MCAT studying, shadowing, research, and changing the world, it’s important that you begin preparing some key parts of your application. I’ll preface all of this by encouraging you to just enjoy the process–despite how stressful and time consuming it can all be. And if you’re ever discouraged along the way, always remember your worth, and don’t let anyone make you feel like anything less.
A one page essay encompassing all that you are and all you want to become. For me it took 5 drafts of constant editing and reworking. It stressed me out all the way into the summer when I had all these other things to worry about. If you can get this done before the semester ends, it will take such a load off. How do I even start? If you don’t have any old PS to build from, or just want to start fresh, my advice is to just carve out an hour or 2 one weekend and just word vomit everything you want to say onto the page. From there, determine what your thesis and main points will be, and chisel out the rest. Then, work to make each paragraph as tight as possible–any sentence that doesn’t add to the meaning of the paragraph gets cut. You’re not going to be able to talk about everything! Remember that you still have the rest of your application.
Who reviews it? Reach out to a few people you trust that are already in school–they’re the ones who know the game and how to play it. You should also have one faculty in your corner, like an English professor. Someone third party can really help you focus on what’s important because they don’t know you, so their feedback is so valuable. If you can get your points across to them clearly, you’re well on your way. The mistake I made was having too many people critique mine. Person A would have me delete something that person B really liked. Then Person C would tell me so move the whole paragraph somewhere else. It was too much honestly. If I could go back I’d limit it to 3 people then after I was happy with it, I’d start working one on one with the faculty to clean things up further.
Letters of Recommendation
It’s never too early to start thinking about this! Must haves: 2 science professors and at least 1 physician. Don’t be like me: I waited until practically the end of spring semester my senior year to realize that I didn’t know any of my science professors well enough. So I just scraped up recommendations from 2 professors teaching the same class that I was enrolled in. Who even knows what they wrote (obviously it wasn’t too bad). I was so worried that I gathered even more recommendations from other sources just in case their’s sucked. If you’re like me and don’t know who to ask, go ahead now and pencil in your professors’ next office hours and start paying them visits. Sit in the front of class and ask questions. Making good grades helps too. Then in about a month, email them saying you’d like them to write you a good recommendation for your medical school application. You’d like to schedule a meeting to discuss further, where you’d provide them your resume and personal statement (if ready). They should be willing. If you already have your people in mind, the earlier you notify them, the better. Why? Because they have more time to write you a meaningful recommendation! And it’s just less for you to worry about later on. Please don’t ask someone to write your letter without having an updated resume/CV to give to them.
Also, know your school’s system. At my school, all faculty recommendations had to be submitted to our pre-med office and they would send them for me. So I had to navigate that whole process without much guidance. Even more stress in April with my MCAT at the end of May. This stuff really catches up to you, I’m telling you! The earlier you do this stuff, the happier you’ll be. You may even have to get a committee letter from your pre-med office–just start asking the necessary questions now.
Most people know that the AMCAS application has a section that asks you to input your 15 most impactful experiences, then choose 3 as your “most meaningful.” There’s lots of opinions on this–whether you should fill it up or just go for quality. I say if you have 15 delicious quality experiences, then fill them in. But if you only have 8, then you don’t need to add 7 fluffy entries because it’ll water-down the other great things you’ve done. Regardless, you can start writing these out in the coming months. List them out and write a succinct paragraph about how that experience impacted you. I can’t explain the joy I had when the application opened and all I had to do was copy and paste my responses into the boxes. It saved me so much hassle. This time I say be like me haha.
Pro tip #1: Most of my application (including secondaries) was done using Google Docs. This was extremely helpful because I wasn’t limited to my laptop. I could make changes on my phone or at the library between classes
Pro tip #2: The AAMC website is your friend! Like the realest of real homies. It’s the holy grail of information. Including the Fee Assistance Program–allowing you to apply to 14 schools for free!
That’s is all I got for now. Look out for more from me as the semester goes on! I don’t want to overwhelm anyone too early on. I just want you to be great. If you need more specific advice, PLEASE reach out to me! I’d love to help.
Wishing you the best!