Applying Early Decision When You Are Unsure of Your Stats

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OPM 211: Applying Early Decision When You Are Unsure of Your Stats

Session 211

Which is better, applying early decision where your stats at the median for the school, or regular application where you are far above average?

Your questions answered here are taken directly from the forums at Nontrad Premed Forum. If you haven’t yet, please register for an account.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[1:11] OldPreMeds Question of the Week

“I’m a 42-year-old career changer. I’m very tied to a specific geographic area as I’m unwilling to relocate my family to pursue a career in medicine at least at this time.

Because of this, I plan to apply to the only two schools that are within commuting distance. There’s a competitive MD school in my city and a less competitive MD school about an hour away. 

As with most nontraditional premeds, time away from my family is a major concern for me. So I have a strong first preference to attend the closer school.

My MCAT score is exactly at the closer school’s median while it is over the 90th percentile score for the school that is farther away.

I think I may have a good chance to get in at the closer school but I’m definitely not the “strong” applicant they mention on their website when discussing their early decision process. 

Is there any advantage to applying early decision to my first choice school with the fact that I opted to apply early decision make me any more attracted to them as a candidate than if I applied the regular way when submitting my application to both schools in early June.

Another question for nontraditional applicants that have been out of school for a very long time, 15+ years for me. How important is my GPA from nearly two decades ago? Do schools give more weight to the MCAT score in this case as an indicator of my current abilities? With the trends in grade inflation, might my older GPA look “better” than the equivalent number from a current student?

[02:45] Early Decision

For most people, early decision is more of a risk than anything else. In this situation, when you are very rigid with where you are applying, early decision may be a good idea.

'Early decision, typically, is good if you have strong ties to the school itself, not necessarily the area.'Click To Tweet

To all students applying early decision and is required for some schools for early decision, I recommend you reach out to the admissions committee. A lot of times, they want to talk to you first before you apply early decision. They will tell you if you’re a good candidate for early decision or not.

Applying early decision doesn’t necessarily make you a stronger candidate. You still have to be a strong applicant to that school. You have to have really strong reasons as to why you’re applying early decision to that school.

It’s like you’re jumping ahead of the game, not dating the school and you want to jump straight to marriage. Schools are very hesitant and cautious about the students that are applying early decision. They want to make sure that those students are a good fit.

Being a nontraditional student and that you’re tied to the area may help you. If you’re really dead-set on going to that school, reach out and talk to them.

[Related episode: Should I Apply Early Decision to Medical School?]

[04:28] Newer Grades

The biggest issue here is that your grades are from two decades ago. Hopefully, you have more recent grades. If you don’t have anything newer, reach out to the schools again to ask if they’re going to accept your grades. A lot of schools want newer grades.

Especially that you’re considering applying early decision, reach out to the school and tell them about your plan.

[Related episode: Can I Get Into a Good Medical School with my Past Grades?]

[06:00] Choosing Between Both Schools

Medical school an hour away is not a commutable school. That’s too far to commute for medical school. If you’re thinking of going to the farther school, think about getting an apartment and staying on or near campus during the week. Then go home on the weekends.

'An hour away from medical school is not a commutable drive. That's just way too far for a medical school.'Click To Tweet

With this being said, it sounds like there’s only one school you can go to. Again, the risk of early decision for most students, if they’re applying to more than one school, is the fact that you can only apply to one school.

In early decision, you have to wait until the end of September for those results. Then if you don’t get an early decision, you’re allowed to apply to other schools’ regular pool of applicants. At this point, you’re behind.

[Related episode: How to Choose Which Medical Schools to Apply To]

[07:15] Final Thoughts

Good luck! It seems you’re only down to one school. So reach out to them and talk to them about your old grads and why you’re applying early decision to their school.

'Do some research about the school and why you're a good fit for the school and not just because you live there.'Click To Tweet


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