Applying to med school and worried your stats are too low? Not sure if your numbers will make the cut?
In our upcoming webinar, How to Get into Medical School with Low Stats, you’ll learn tips and strategies for putting together an application that focuses on your strength rather than your weakness – one that convinces the selection committee that you’ve got what it takes to excel in medical school and as a physician!
Join us live on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 5:00 PM PST/8:00 PM EST (click here to see what time that is in your time zone).
Registration is required (and free). Reserve your spot for How to Get into Medical School with Low Stats now!
This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with medical school applicants and students, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at top medical schools and the med school application process. And now, introducing Ryan Matthews…
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad?
Ryan: I was born and raised in Indiana, other than a couple years I spent in Georgia when I was around 7-8 years old. I am happily married and have a 9 month old baby girl. We also have 2 dogs, 1 guinea pig, and 3 aquariums. As you might be able to tell, our family loves animals.
My time as an undergraduate student was somewhat atypical. I started off studying biology and psychology at Indiana University, but during my sophomore year decided to transfer to a smaller school. It wasn’t that I didn’t love IU, but I wanted a smaller, more personal learning environment. As a result, I transferred to University of Indianapolis where most classes were 20 students or less and I even had one class with only 8 people. It was there that I decided to major in biology and chemistry, but I’d already taken so much psychology that I received a completed a minor in it as well.
Accepted: Where do you attend medical school? What year are you in?
Ryan: I attend medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine and am currently entering my 2nd year.
Accepted: How did you choose which the best program was for you?
Ryan: Since I’ve spent most of my life in Indiana, going to IUSM was always my preferred program. I also got married before even applying to medical school so it was easier for my wife’s career to stay near home as well. Add in the fact that we had my baby girl during my first semester of school, and it’s a real blessing that we are close to home where family is able to help us out.
Accepted: Can you share some advice to incoming first year students, to help make their adjustment to med school easier? What do you wish you would’ve known before you started school?
Ryan: The biggest adjustment in my opinion is time management. You have to be really disciplined about studying, which might seem obvious, but it does take some extra effort. I hear most incoming medical students admit they’re nervous about the workload and although it is challenging, it isn’t overbearing as long as you’re disciplined. I recommend a to-do list and a calendar. Personally, I use apps on my phone to keep track of everything I’m involved in and wouldn’t be able to function without them. That being said, there is still plenty of time in medical school to do things you love and take part in extracurriculars. It’s all about time management!
Accepted: Did you go straight from college to med school? Or did you take time off? If you took time off, how did you spend your time?
Ryan: I took 1 year off between undergrad and medical school, which allowed me to work as a biochemist and store up some money. More importantly, I used the time to take things easy and enjoy being with my wife. We got married 1 month after I graduated, so I was able to spend over a year with her without the stresses of medical school on my shoulders.
Accepted: Looking back, what was the most challenging aspect of the med school admissions process? How did you approach that challenge and overcome it?
Ryan: Easily the most challenging aspect of medical school admissions for me was “the waiting game.” It seems like all you do is submit something and then wait a few months for an answer, and unfortunately, I’m a very impatient person. I don’t even like waiting in line at restaurants or the movie theater so some that would determine my future was definitely not ideal. However, time actually went pretty quickly when I focused on enjoying my time away from school.
Thus, my biggest advice for applicants is to try and stay busy doing things you enjoy. All the years of putting in the hard work for your application are over and everyone needs a break once in a while. Use the application processing time (as well as the summer before 1st year) to enjoy life!
Accepted: Do you have any other advice for our med school applicant readers?
Ryan: Here are a few tips off the top of my head:
1) Work hard and stay positive! This may seem pretty obvious, but trust me when I say that most people are way more capable than they even realize.
2) Apply as early as possible. I was actually a late applicant, and it doesn’t seem like a big deal until you see other people posting online about their acceptances. Do yourself a favor and apply as early as possible.
3) Like I said before, really cherish the time before you start medical school. Yes, you still have a life in school, but your extra time is substantially limited in comparison.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your podcast?
Ryan: I drive a lot to/from school, so I listen to podcasts all the time. I’d always been on the lookout for audio materials that I could use for studying on the go, but couldn’t ever find anything that fit my needs. This sparked the idea of publishing my own podcast, and as they say, the rest is history.
Since I’d already started my blog, I used it as a platform to start “Medical Minded Podcast.” My goal was to create something that other students could use to further their own education, and in doing so, compiling the podcast material would serve as an additional study method for me. I’ve been a little busier than I expected this summer, so I admit I’ve been slacking on uploading new episodes. However, I encourage everyone to check it out and promise I’ll upload more in the near future.
Do you want to be featured on the Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your med school journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For years MIT Sloan asked applicants to create a cover letter as part of its application. MIT dropped that requirement last year, but this year the big news is that MIT is asking you to write your own recommendation. And while many of you write your own reviews at work and some of you may have been asked to write recommendations for your recommender’s signature, which the schools hate, this year it’s from you to MIT Sloan. More on that below.
Please prepare a business resume that includes your employment history in reverse chronological order, with titles, dates, and whether you worked part-time or full-time. Your educational record should also be in reverse chronological order and should indicate dates of attendance and degree(s) earned. Other information appropriate to a business resume is welcomed and encouraged. The resume should not be more than one page in length (up to 50 lines). We encourage you to use the résumé template provided in the online application.
Go beyond mere job description to highlight achievement. If your title is “consultant.” Saying that you “consulted on projects” is redundant and uninformative at best. Writing that you “Led a 6-member team working on a biotech outsourcing project to Singapore with a budget of $X; it came in on time and under budget.” conveys infinitely more. Quantify impact as much as possible. You want the reader to come away with a picture of an above average performer on a steep trajectory.
We are interested in learning more about you. In each of the essays, please describe in detail what you thought, felt, said, and did. Please draw upon experiences which have occurred in the past three years.
1: The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. Discuss how you will contribute toward advancing the mission based on examples of past work and activities. (500 words or fewer)
First identify examples that illustrate you either “developing others into principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and generate ideas that advance management practice” or practicing your own form of principled leadership. You can choose professional and non-professional examples. Once you’ve jotted down several example , choose between 1-3 that you want to focus on. What should you focus on? The examples that show you transforming an innovative idea into a reality. Remember MIT Sloan’s “commitment to balancing innovative ideas and theories with hands-on, real-world application.”
Show how your leadership and impact in this experience has improved the world in some small way; you don’t need to have cured cancer or ended starvation in Africa. Then tie those examples to future plans. How will you build on that experience at MIT Sloan and beyond? How will you fulfill MIT Sloan’s mission on the job and off?
2: Write a professional letter of recommendation on behalf of yourself. Answer the following questions as if you were your most recent supervisor recommending yourself for admission to the MIT Sloan MBA Program: (750 words or fewer)
• How long and in what capacity have you known the applicant?
• How does the applicant stand out from others in a similar capacity?
• Please give an example of the applicant’s impact on a person, group, or organization.
• Please give a representative example of how the applicant interacts with other people.
• Which of the applicant’s personal or professional characteristics would you change?
• Please tell us anything else you think we should know about this applicant.
Quite the curve ball! You can have a little fun with the first bullet, but then get serious. And yes you are supposed to write this as if you are your manager.
First of all think about the questions. Reflect, how do you stand out in a positive way from your peer? If possible focus on leadership and interpersonal skills and give an example of your ability to lead, to diffuse tension, to listen, to be entrusted with responsibility or whatever way you feel you stand out. And of course reveal impact. You need to show that your attributed made a difference and perhaps allowed you to contribute more and progress faster than most.
The bullet that will make many of you squirm is the second to the last one. It is asking for a weakness and before you tie yourself up in nervous knots about dealing with that point, please see “Flaws Make You Real.” You don’t have to make your response to this bullet the longest part of the essay, but do respond honestly and effectively.
The Admissions Committee invites you to share anything else you would like us to know about you, in any format. If you choose to use a multimedia format, please host the information on a website and provide us the URL.
I discussed this question with someone in MIT Sloan’s admissions office. First of all realize that you can choose an essay or multi-media presentation. The media option is there so you can express yourself in the way you find easiest and most revealing. MIT does not want a recycled essay from another school. The person I spoke to was explicit about that. If you choose the multi-media format, realize it should be something viewable in about a minute — no 20-minute videos or 100-slide expositions or lengthy orations. Keep it short. It’s also fine to link to something you have created for a club, event, or cause that’s important to you.
What’s behind the option? A deep and sincere desire to meet you as a human being. A genuine, animated, real live human being. So don’t regurgitate your resume or spew stuff found in the required elements of your application. Have the confidence to share a special interest or deep commitment. I’m not suggesting Mommy Dearest or True Confessions; use judgment. I am suggesting that you allow the reader to see a good side of you not revealed elsewhere in the application. Let them see what makes you smile, motivates you to jump out of bed with joy, and gives you a feeling of satisfaction when you turn out the light at the end of the day.
MIT Sloan has an excellent video with advice on its optional essay. Here it is:
|Application Deadline||Decision Notification|
|Round 1||September 23, 2014||December 17, 2014|
|Round 2||January 8, 2015||April 6, 2015|
If you would like professional guidance with your MIT Sloan MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the MIT Sloan application.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.
Use these 3 tips to help you navigate the med school application personal statement – non-trad style!
1. Look at the app holistically. Don’t launch into your life story before thinking about how your application should look as a whole. Yes – where you’ve been is essential to understanding how you’ve gotten to where you are, especially for the non-traditional applicant; but you will have other places (like your secondary essays and your interview) to delve into your personal history. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t talk history, but your personal statement isn’t where you should cram in your entire memoir. In short, offer a glimpse, not a saga. For non-traditional applicants, it is extremely important to capitalize on the experiences that you have had in your life. You don’t need to tell your entire life story but what you need to do is capture their attention so that you will then be invited for the interview later on.
2. Anticipate the selection committee’s questions about weaknesses. What you should write about will be different for every applicant because the best essays, especially those in the AMCAS application, anticipate the questions the selection committee may have about you (and their questions often will be about your weaknesses). It’s your job to anticipate those questions and to address them directly in your personal statement – this will give you the strongest, most strategic approach in addressing any weaknesses that you may have. It’s also really important to show your potentials for medical school and the transferrable skills that you bring to it.
3. Answer this: “What would make you a great doctor?” instead of this: “Why do you want to be a doctor?” I spoke with a client earlier this week and his essay was very theoretical. It was about why he thought he wanted to go to medical school. He was very sincere, very honest and you could tell there was a lot there, but the application is asking for the experiences that you’ve had and the things that have really confirmed the decision for you. That’s what’s going to help people see your real potential and how well you’ll succeed in medical school and in the profession.
The advice in this post is based on a conversation we had in our recent webinar, Ask The Experts: Medical School Admissions Q&A with Cydney Foote and Alicia McNease Nimonkar. Check out the full transcript for more tips on applying to med school successfully!
If you’re seeking professional advice on how to gain a competitive edge to top b-schools in general, and Stanford GSB in particular then you’ll want to attend Accepted’s webinar, Get Accepted to Stanford Graduate School of Business.
During the webinar, Accepted’s CEO and founder, Linda Abraham, will present four key strategies for demonstrating that you belong at Stanford, as well as other important tips that apply specifically to Stanford GSB.
Mark your calendars! The webinar will air live on Tuesday July 29th at 10:00 AM PST/1:00 PM EST. See what time that is for you by clicking here.
The webinar is free but you must register. Sign up here: Get Accepted to Stanford Graduate School of Business.
P.S. At the end of the webinar Linda will be giving away a few copies of her book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools – a great bonus for attending the webinar!