Baylor College of Medicine recently switched from AMCAS to TMDSAS. Listen to learn about the differences between the two application services.
We’re joined today a good friend Enrique from TMDSAS as we talk about why it’s different and some of the differences. To know more about the TMDSAS process, check out their podcast on Inside Health Education. If you want more news about the MCAT, go check out Blueprint MCAT Prep. For more podcast resources to help you along your journey to medical school and beyond, check out Meded Media.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
[01:41] From AMCAS to TMDSAS
Baylor College of Medicine is now part of TMDSAS. But starting in the 2021-22 cycle, the Baylor College of Osteopathic Medicine is now part of TMDSAS.
Historically, Baylor College of Medicine has been part of AMCAS. Baylor is in Texas and it’s a private school. While TMDSAS is the application for public Texas Medical Schools and dental schools and other schools. But now, Baylor is now part of TMDSAS as well.“The Texas Legislature actually subsidizes medical education. As a result, they limit the number of students they're going to accept outside of Texas.”Click To Tweet
[04:00] Texas Funding
The Texas Legislature actually subsidizes medical education. As a result, they limit the number of students they’re going to accept outside of Texas. That means 90% of the class has to be from Texas. Baylor has a similar law because they do receive state appropriations and this is listed on their website.
The MSAR data shows that their last class was about 20% out of state. So they are very Texas-friendly, even though they’re a private institution. So it’s one of those exceptions to the rule that as a private institution, they still have an in-state bias. And part of that is they get some funding from the state of Texas.“The whole public funding part is not unusual for public institutions. There is a difference between public tuition and private tuition.”Click To Tweet
For every state, the state will pay that difference in tuition costs between resident and non-resident students. And so there’s always a little bit of bias and always an asterisk because there are always exceptions.
There’s always a bias for public schools to want to train in-state students. Texas, however, just seems to be the outlier with the most strict 10% cap on out-of-state residents.
[06:51] The Differences Between AMCAS and TMDSAS
In terms of activities, there isn’t a limit on TMDSAS application as you see on AMCAS. And they still ask you to identify your top meaningful activities. You also need to send in the transcripts as well as the letters of evaluation.
One of the key differences is going to be the price. TMDSAS has a flat rate. So whether you apply to one school or all 19 institutions, you’re going to have one flat rate fee at $185. And that’s cheaper than a lot of national seconds.
[08:18] More Than Just an Application Service'TMDSAS strives to provide a service, but it's so much more than just the application service.'Click To Tweet
TMDSAS goes out of its way to make sure each one of the students is going through the application services supported. They have a team of applicant liaisons committed to making sure that applications are processed in a timely manner.
If there are any issues, they connect with you right away. There’s that southern comfort Texan touch on each person’s application.
And so, their end goal is to make sure your experience is as helpful to you and as efficient to you. They want to make sure they provide an accurate and speedy service at a competitive price.
Another difference is that students are going to have to get used to the Personal Statement having 300 characters less.
While the extracurricular activities are unlimited, there are only 300 characters to each activity, compared to 700 for AMCAS. Enrique explains that the reason they’re s shorter is they want you to communicate what you need to say as effectively as possible. They could give you 10,000 characters and that might not be enough. So the key here is to be concise and to really hone in on your message.
Then there’s a nontraditional essay. There are the most meaningful essays but they’re smaller with 500 characters versus the 1,325 on the AMCAS.
[12:17] The Prematch and The Match Process
The other big difference with the TMDSAS application is the pre-match and match process.
At each one of the schools where you interview at, you have the ability to go into a pre-match. It’s an offer of acceptance before the TMDSAS match happens. This period extends from mid-October through the end of January. During the match period, you could continue to get offers of acceptance, which makes the TMDSAS schools competitive compared to the national schools.“At each one of the schools where you interview, you have the ability to go into a pre-match. It's an offer of acceptance before the TMDSAS match happens.”Click To Tweet
For 2021, the TMDSAS match proper takes place at the beginning of March. Essentially, students list all of the schools where they’ve interviewed. Then they create a list of all their preferences and ordering them from the most preferred school to the least.
And then, the schools are doing the same thing with all the applicants they’ve interviewed. They have a list of their top students. They ideally fill up their class, or they continue backfilling any spots that become available.
The TMDSAS match takes those two buckets and puts them into an algorithm where you get matched to the school. It’s the same algorithm as the residency match program.
This allows the schools to extend offers of admission to a huge amount of students in an equitable way. And so, the majority of offers of acceptance are going to happen for medical applicants through the TMDSAS match.
[15:07] Rolling Admissions for Out-of-State Applicants
If you are an out-of-state applicant, you actually go through the rolling admissions process as you would with any other application service. And then, of course, you have to have been interviewed at a school to be able to rank them. This allows the schools to set the size of their class early on and admit a good chunk of them early on. And for the students, it keeps you in play.
Depending on how the school’s lists are, TMDSAS has a ton of different scenarios that they run through. They actually have a whole video on the TMDSAS Matching Process where may also check out a few strategies there.
It’s a really delicate process so the video answers a lot of questions. Because you could have a pre-match offer nad you could rank at a higher rank school. Or you might match to a pre-match offer school and still be in play on a rolling admissions basis at other schools that you’ve ranked higher.
[16:43] Debunking Some Myths Around the Match
There a lot of misconceptions around the matching process, Enrique clarifies. Essentially, there’s no game to play here. Just match the schools as you wish to go to them.
If there’s a school you want to attend at all, withdraw your application and then allow somebody else to come in.
The second thing for the match is that it’s not the last date that somebody could receive an offer of admission. There’s a lot of movement that happens afterward. When somebody gets admitted, they get cold feet and they decide not to go there. Or they get a better offer somewhere else.“There's just a ton of movement that still happens after the match. So the match is a huge event. But it's not the final day on which you can receive an offer of admission.”Click To Tweet
[19:28] The Application Timeline
TMDSAS application will open this next cycle on May 1. For this application cycle, they’re actually going to be delaying the time at which you can submit your application similar to the national services. This is something they recently announced and will be sharing with the public once their application handbook comes out.
When you submit your TMDSAS application, your spring grades have to be posted since they can’t transmit an application without those grades. This delay gives them the ability to process applications at an equitable time for everybody.“Schools really won't be looking at an application submitted on May 1st, or 2nd, or 3rd, or 4th.”Click To Tweet
Then once you hit Submit on your application, it goes to one of their applicant liaisons. It’s a team of folks at TMDSAS where they’re taking a look at every part of your application. They make sure there weren’t any technical issues.
They also go through all of your coursework. TMDSAS requires you to actually go in and code your coursework. They go through and make sure that all of that is correct because that’s how they calculate your GPA. So they want to make sure your GPAs are calculated correctly, and that your prerequisites are checked off the way they should be.
That process is going to take maybe about six weeks. Although they had to extend it because of COVID, it did not get severely impacted, especially with the delay of the application cycle. This year, the application actually closed on October 30. And this next year, they will be closing around the same time as well.
[22:27] Other Differences in the TMDSAS
Another major difference with TMDSAS is that they don’t hold applications for verification. They transmit to the schools and then verification will happen as schools are also doing their thing. So they happen in parallel.
Since TMDSAS is delaying the submission date, this means AACOMAS will be the only one left where you can open the application and submit it immediately. Although there is still a delay on the backend for AACOMAS before things are transmitted to school. This is breaking news as well.“TMDSAS has done a lot of updates to the application relative to the changes that have been going on. We want to make sure our mission really fits the application.”Click To Tweet
They’ve also added the nontraditional applicant’s question a few years ago. This allows you to self-identify whether or not you are a nontraditional student. This helps the schools to get a closer glimpse into what your journey has been like. The reason they don’t get more specific on that question is that, given a lot of insights into an applicant’s self-awareness, it’s something they already know. But on the other hand, it’s helpful for nontraditional students to have this section considering the limited character spaces.
Last year, too, they made some changes to be more inclusive in terms of gender and sex options on the application, which was very well-received.
The other change happening this year has to do with gender information related to your family. They will ask for information about your parents, any foster parents or stepparents, different family situations, and they wanted to know what actual families look like. So they’ve removed gendered language around that section, and allowed significant people to be added.
They also have some questions about finances related to those questions. At the end of the day, it’s really helpful for the medical schools, to particularly take a look into your upbringing and what got you here.
[27:33] The Two Essays
One essay would ask you what you bring to the table in terms of life experiences to professional school. That question comes across as auditioning to be part of this community of this medical school. So they want to know what do you have to contribute to that based off of your life experiences.
Exact prompt: Learning from others is enhanced in educational settings, that include individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences, please describe your personal characteristics (background, talents, skills, etc.) or experiences that would add to the educational experience of others.'That's exactly what the schools are looking for is what makes you an individual.'Click To Tweet
Regardless of what background we’re all from, we are all coming from very diverse backgrounds. So use this space to really talk about where you come from, and what that means not just to your becoming a physician, but also what it means to the school.
It’s a great place for you to tailor your response to the needs of the school. Take a look at those mission statements, the value statements. Throw in some of those keywords.
The second essay is the optional essay. Obviously, there are so many restricted sections in terms of characters on the application. So use the optional essay to go further in-depth on so many different issues. This section is for you to tailor 100%. on your end, what is it that you need to tell the schools that you didn’t tell them in any other section of the application?
Exact prompt: Briefly discuss any unique circumstances or life experiences that are relevant to your application, which have not previously been presented.
Like many of the optional parts of the application, I would highly suggest you consider this required. It’s a good opportunity for you to tell your story. And this is just one extra spot.
[35:03] Fee Assistance Programs'Both AMCAS and AACOMAS have fee assistance programs, while TMDSAS does not.'Click To Tweet
Both AMCAS and AACOMAS have fee assistance programs, while TMDSAS does not. But TMDSAS has a much lower fee since there are no individual school additional costs. It’s all one flat fee. So this is just one thing for students to think about.
That being said, Enrique urges everybody who has qualified for the fee assistance program to reach out to those schools and let them know you are a Fee Assistance Program recipient. Some of the schools have secondary applications, and so, they can work with you to reduce or eliminate that secondary application fee altogether.
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