If you’re applying to medical school, the odds are against you.
Fewer than half of applicants to U.S. medical schools typically receive acceptance letters, according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. And within the pool of applicants who are not accepted, many are not even extended an interview invitation.
If you find yourself with no interview invitations as the new year approaches, it’s wise to think about your next steps for both this and future application cycles. Here are three tips:
— Assess the quality of your application.
— Think about other medical schools.
— If the admissions season is over, pursue experiences that will strengthen your application for future cycles.
Assess the Quality of Your Application
If you applied to several med schools and didn’t receive an interview invitation, there is probably something in your application that’s putting you out of the running for interviews. Take time to assess the quality of your application, paying close attention to areas that make your application less competitive than your peers’.
Is a low MCAT score or GPA causing your application to be screened out? Does your application lack evidence supporting your interest in medicine? For example, have you applied to medical school without ever having interacted with patients in a clinical setting?
Assess the strength of your personal statement. Does it explain who you are and why becoming a doctor is both important to and appropriate for you? Have you made the mistake of oversharing personal details that can be construed as red flags?
If possible, let a trusted mentor or adviser read your application in its entirety. An objective set of eyes may allow for a more honest appraisal of your application’s strengths and weaknesses, and may help you pinpoint areas needing changes or more support should you choose to proceed with another application cycle.
Think About Other Medical Schools
It may be difficult to think about other options when you’re holding a stack of rejection letters, but if it’s not too late in the med school application cycle, you might consider applying to schools with later deadlines or with rolling admissions.
Students who apply early decision to one school may find themselves applying to alternate schools in the early fall, for example. While your chances of receiving an interview and being admitted diminish the later you apply, if there are med schools to which you have ties — like schools for which you have in-state residency — you could consider applying later in the application cycle.
Additionally, if you are willing to consider international options, medical schools in the Caribbean, Ireland and Australia typically have later deadlines than their U.S. counterparts.
If the Admissions Season Is Over, Pursue Experiences That Will Strengthen Your Application for Future Cycles
Most med school interview invitations are sent between October and January, and virtually all are sent by March. If you find yourself empty-handed as spring approaches, begin looking at the year ahead as an opportunity to bolster your application for future admissions cycles.
Search for ways to address any weaknesses you identified in your application. For applicants with less competitive GPAs, this may mean supplementing with additional coursework or enrolling in a special master’s program to demonstrate academic readiness for med school.
Applicants whose MCAT scores aren’t up to par may elect to retake the test. Other applicants may improve future admissions chances by participating in employment and volunteer opportunities in a clinical environment.
Medical schools look for meaningful changes in the applications of re-applicants, so before you enter into another admissions cycle, make sure that you have demonstrated growth as a student and prospective clinician.
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What to Do if You Don’t Get a Medical School Interview originally appeared on usnews.com