This student is debating retaking their MCAT and reapplying or holding out for the waitlist. What should they do?
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[00:39] Question of the Day
Q: “I’m still on the waitlist and I am struggling to have cognitive dissonance. One part of me still has hope that I will hear back and I won’t have to do an application cycle again. And then another part of me is pushing to keep studying because I registered for my retake.
I pretty much have both my applications ready to submit. However, with my AMCAS application, I’m less confident about my MCAT just because of the timing. I’m registered for August 20.
Is it alright for me to keep contacting the school? I usually send an update every month. And it’s nothing super long. I’m just letting them know I got this publication done or something that I’ve been working on.
To what point should I just give up and turn my focus toward the next application cycle? What is the appropriate way to communicate with schools? At this point, my portal is pretty much packed already with different updates that I’ve sent.”
[02:22] What Went Wrong
The Danger of Sending Too Much Updates
The first question always is, what is the school’s stance on updates? If they allow updates, great, and be sure to look into their guidelines on what types of updates they want or will allow.
Assuming they allow whatever you want to send, updating them every month sounds like a lot. It comes off a little desperate, which you are at this point. And that’s okay. But you don’t want to make them mad. You just have to tread carefully there.
The biggest thing to do is to try to reflect on your application – what went right, what went wrong, and what is holding you back.
Our student says he had two interviews, one got rejected, and the other was waitlisted. And when asked why he struggled this cycle with just two interviews, he believes it was his MCAT being under the average.
While he did a master’s program and got an almost perfect GPA, he knew the MCAT has a huge component to it. He also has almost six years of clinical experience so he was hopeful he was looked upon favorably by medical schools.
[05:58] Live Your Life!
One of our student’s concerns is his wife wanting to change jobs considering the cost of living in Miami.'Medical school applications are going to be there no matter what. And you're going to be doing whatever you're doing no matter what… Live your life!'Click To Tweet
It’s such a common struggle among students where they’re so fixated on medical school and doing this and doing that. They’re making sure they’re checking all the boxes and that they’re perfect. They think they should never stop doing what they’re doing. Because if they do, then the medical schools are going to question everything.
But you just need to focus on your new application and focus on living your life. It’s all about balance.
[09:34] Why He Took a Master’s
When I asked him why he did a Master’s program, he gave out two reasons. First, he was an international student when he did it. He and his wife were already getting married at that point. His wife is American and also happens to be an attorney. He did it because he needed a way to stay legal in the country. And so, while waiting for his papers to be processed, he needed something to keep him in the U.S.
His second reason was that his undergrad GPA was not good. He had a 3.02. It was not good but not the worst either. So he did a master’s in biomedical sciences with 34 credits and a 3.92 GPA. All that being said, maybe his MCAT was not just the issue here but his undergrad GPA as well.“A lot of times, schools just discount master's degrees, and they want to see that undergraduate GPA.”Click To Tweet
Another thing to consider here is taking some undergraduate-level postbac classes, but that’s more time and more money.
[13:30] What He Can Do to Improve Next Cycle
From a clinical standpoint, he is getting great experience, working full-time in clinical research, and interacting with patients. He’s doing research as well. Hopefully, he is also shadowing. And as long as he is getting that. From an activity standpoint, this student is doing everything he needs to be doing.
A higher MCAT score always helps. But he also has to understand that the undergraduate GPA may be an issue as well.
[14:28] Master’s Program vs. Undergrad Program
We’ve talked about this a lot on the Ask the Dean with Dr. Scott Wright, who’s the former director of admissions at UT Southwestern. The academic rigor of master’s programs is just very different from an undergraduate program.
You either do well in a master’s program, or you don’t. And usually, those who don’t do well aren’t in the master’s program anyway. This is similar to the letters of recommendations where 99% of letters of recommendations are probably good.
And so, a lot of students doing master’s programs do well enough in them. Hence, it’s less of a measure of someone’s academic ability. And that’s how medical schools are viewing it.
Ultimately, if you’re not ready to take the MCAT this August, then delay it a little bit. Delay the application cycle and just focus on studying and focus on living life.
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