Many students are familiar with the concept of rolling admissions from their experiences applying to college. For schools with rolling admissions, prospective students submit their applications at any point after the admissions cycle opens, and applications are then evaluated as they are received.
Though many undergraduate institutions use rolling admissions, the process is far from ubiquitous at that level. In contrast, medical school applicants should know that most U.S. medical schools use rolling admissions in their application cycles, and that this process has important implications for every stage of the admissions process.
Here are three crucial aspects of rolling admissions in the medical school application cycle:
— It’s in your best interest to apply as early as possible.
— Promptly accept or decline if you’re offered an interview.
— Admissions decisions can come at any time.
It’s in Your Best Interest to Apply as Early as Possible
Submitting your med school application as close to the moment that the application cycle opens allows your application to be evaluated before those that come after you. Many med schools issue the bulk of their interviews early in the application cycle.
Since schools typically have a definitive number of interview spots available, late applicants compete for a smaller number of available spots, putting them at a competitive disadvantage. But even beyond the statistical disadvantage, submitting your application early shows that you are organized and interested in a school.
Aim to submit your primary AMCAS or AACOMAS application within a week or two of the application opening, and then allow no more than a week’s turnaround to submit any secondary applications offered to you. Putting in these initial efforts can jump-start your interview season and increase your chances of getting an acceptance — and the relief associated with an acceptance — earlier in the cycle.
Promptly Accept or Decline if You’re Offered an Interview
In the same way that applications are evaluated on a first-come, first-served basis, so interviews at many med schools are offered. If you are invited to interview at a school, sign up for an interview date as soon as possible.
Some schools offer more interviews than they have slots available, and failing to accept the interview promptly may put you on an interview waiting list. Additionally, waiting to sign up may mean interviewing late in the admissions cycle, prolonging the duration of time you’re waiting for an admissions decision.
If you receive an interview invitation at a school you’re no longer interested in, or if you’ve accepted an invitation but receive an acceptance to a school you’d prefer to attend over the one at which you are set to interview, be courteous and decline the interview as soon as possible. Remember that other applicants are eager to hear back from schools, and taking up an interview spot at a school that doesn’t fit you prevents an admissions committee from issuing that interview to another qualified candidate.
Admissions Decisions Can Come at Any Time
While medical school applicants must decide which school to attend by April 30, admissions committees may issue acceptances, waitlist decisions or rejections at any point in the application cycle. However, note that no acceptances may be offered prior to Oct. 15.
After you interview at a school, know that your admissions decision will not necessarily follow on a predictable timeline. This can be frustrating, given that applications were initially evaluated sequentially.
But don’t panic if you know that other interviewees have been offered an acceptance before you. The fact that you were interviewed indicates the school is serious about you as an applicant.
During the time between your interview and an admissions decision, you may send meaningful updates to your application if the school will accept new information, but refrain from contacting schools to check the status of your application. If you haven’t heard back, know that you’re still being considered for a spot in the next class.
For most med school applicants, the concept of rolling admissions differs slightly from what they’re used to from applying to college. To the prepared applicant who is ready to apply and accept interview opportunities early, rolling admissions offers advantages both statistically and psychologically, so heed these three warnings and you’ll be prepared to take advantage.
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