Tips for Executive MBA Reapplicants

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Work on putting together that “superstar” profile.

If you have been rejected from an Executive MBA program, it often comes down to one of three reasons (or combination thereof):

1) Your academic record was not strong enough to convince the admissions committee you could handle the rigor of an EMBA program,

2) Your work experience was not sufficient/relevant enough yet to be considered a solid addition to the program, or,

3) You did not show adequate interest in the program to warrant an offer of admission.

All of these reasons can be mitigated, with time or effort on your part. At the end of the day, there is no guarantee of admission, but by taking a hard look and assessing your situation, you can make yourself a much stronger candidate by addressing the pertinent issues.

Academic Record

A low GPA in and of itself is not a reason to ding an applicant. What tends to concern schools is when a transcript shows consistently low grades in subjects that are important to have competence in to do well in an MBA program – quantitative subjects in particular. If you do have quantitative weakness, enroll in an Algebra or Statistics course (or both) at a local college – a “real” class as opposed to online would be preferred. Get strong grades, and submit that transcript with your new application. In the optional essay, express how you recognize the admissions committee might have been concerned about your quantitative abilities, but the new grades should allay any concerns. Also lay out any additional plans you may have prior to joining the program to bolster your skills – MBA Math, for example.

Work Experience

In this situation, time and more leadership experience are probably the two best ways to enhance your application. The average years of work experience in an EMBA program is typically 10-15. Some schools specifically state the minimum years of experience necessary to apply. While I was at Cornell, we never seriously considered anyone with less than five years of experience, and when we did admit someone on that lower end of the scale, there was a clear indication the individual was a superstar at his or her organization. So, if you are in the lower range of experience, seek out more high-profile leadership opportunities, and work on putting together that “superstar” profile.

Program Interest

Admissions committees realize most applicants consider multiple options, as they should, and most have a clear first choice school. What tends to bother admissions folks is when it’s obvious an applicant is only applying to a school because it’s a brand name and would be an “ok” fallback.

How can they tell an applicant’s lack of interest? It’s pretty easy – never came to an information session, never visited the campus, never reached out to anyone on the admissions committee, and/or put reasons like “location” and “reputation” in their essay as to why he/she would like to come to the school. With EMBA classes quite small compared to fulltime programs, it is a distinct possibility an applicant with stellar qualifications could be dinged – why offer a spot to someone who clearly has no real interest in attending? If you feel this might be why you were rejected, this reason can be mitigated or eliminated as well. Reach out to admissions committee members and ask questions that show you’ve both done your homework and are thinking seriously about their school. Start sending signals indicating your sincere interest.

Not sure where your application might be lacking? The good news about most Executive MBA programs is that with smaller applicant pools, admissions officers typically have more time to devote to individual applicants. Therefore, make a call and see if you can receive feedback on your application.

Furthermore we here at Accepted are always available to provide a critical analysis of your EMBA application and help you develop a game plan for the future.

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Jennifer WeldJen Weld worked as an admissions consultant and Former Asst. Dir. of Admissions at Cornell’s EMBA program (4 years) prior to joining Accepted.com. She has an additional 10 years of experience in higher ed and corporate marketing.

The Dreaded Med School Rejection: What Now?

Check out our tips for reapplying to med school. Journeys with Joshua: Joshua Wienczkowski walks us through med school at East Tennessee’s College of Medicine with his monthly blog updates. Get an inside look into med school down South through the eyes of a former professional songwriter with a whole lot of clinical experience — thanks Joshua for sharing this journey with us!

Update: Congrats to Joshua on his new position as student adcom member at ETSU Quillen College of Medicine — we know that with his admissions insight, he’ll be a great addition to the team!

“Dear Incredibly Hard Working Pre-Med and Hopeful Doctor,

Our admissions committee has met, and we regret to inform you that you were not selected as a student for our entering class. There were many qualified blah blah blah…”

Ouch.

I worked hard

I shadowed.

I volunteered.

My GPA was great!

I gave everything I had for that stupid MCAT.

What do I tell my parents?

What do I do now?

How you handle rejection says a great deal about your character, but getting turned down from your dream of becoming a doctor can hit hard to even the sturdiest of leaders. So, what should you do in the event of getting a rejection letter from all the schools you applied to? Aside from drinking the beer(s) I hope you have open, keep reading, and I’ll walk you through my plans B, C, D, and everything I laid out in the event I didn’t get accepted to medical school.

VERY first thing to-do is contact admissions at every school that turned you down, and see if an admissions counselor will walk you through their decision to not select you. Tell them you want honesty, so you can work hard at becoming competitive for their institution. Take notes, cross-reference, and find common holes in your application. Was it GPA? MCAT? Shadowing? Letters? Just not ready? Maybe they wanted to see more upper division sciences? Personal statement? Interview? You really need to dig, and have a few mentors go through your application with you to find the weak points that hindered you.

What I’ll do next is walk through scenarios, and offer solutions that I had planned out in the event they were the weak areas. Also, to clarify, I only applied to MD schools.

Shaky Numbers

MCAT and GPA are baselines that every school uses for initial cuts. The hard numbers are that an MCAT below 24 (at least 8 in every section) generally won’t be looked at for MD schools. I know everyone says get a 30, but realistically, you can get accepted with less. If MCAT was the issue, I’m inclined to tell you to reassess why you didn’t achieve the numbers you are capable of attaining. Taking a prep course does not guarantee a certain score, just like simply going to medical school doesn’t make a good doctor. Why did you not achieve your potential? Skim through new study materials. Research all of the available resources. Find the best fit for your learning style, and stick to it. If you’re a black and white, quick and simple person (like me), Exam Krackers is perfect. If you like longer explanations and want to know the “why” behind things, Kaplan or Princeton Review are killer for you.

A GPA less than 3.2 will not get you into medical school. So you blew your GPA in the first few years of college? No one can blame you for this, but if you couldn’t show an upward trend, I think it’s time to consider a Post-Bacc. or a 1 year Master’s to show you can handle the course load. If the admissions counselor at your top choice strongly urges you to think about a Post-Bacc. or 1 year Master’s at their institution, take that as a great omen they like you, and want to see you reach your full potential. It can sometimes be akin to a “conditional acceptance,” but make sure you’ve communicated with the program extensively.

Not so Shadowy Shadowing

A common issue I’ve seen is lack of shadowing, because shadowing shows your interest in medicine, and ensures you understand what you’re dedicating the rest of your life to. The only solution here is to cold call, network, and find an opportunity to shadow more. Many hospitals offer summer programs for Pre-Meds to essentially shadow/intern at their hospital for a summer or extended period of time. If you can’t obtain long-standing shadowing, working at a hospital where you have patient contact and care is often a great way to increase exposure to the field.

Anything that contributes to your exposure to medicine is perfect. An admissions counselor at my school that helped me a great deal once said to me, “if you love fishing, why aren’t you out on the lake right now? If you love patient care, why aren’t you in a hospital every chance you get?”

Interview Blues

There are often times that the person represented in an application doesn’t quite shine through as the person a medical school meets on interview day. It’s a stressful day, and can often hinder your ability to truly represent yourself and the incredibly qualified individual you’ve worked to become. If the interview is what made an admissions committee say no, there are three reasons for this:

1. They just didn’t feel like you were a fit for their school and community. Don’t take it personal in any way. Just like a first date, sometimes the fit isn’t quite right.

2. Maybe you choked. It happens to even the greatest of athletes in the final seconds of a game when everything relies on one last play at the very last inches. Pick yourself back up, practice harder, and find out why you weren’t able to be yourself on the big day.

3. The person in the application was not who they met on interview day. If someone else
writes your application (yes, I’ve seen this happen, and been offered interesting things to pen med school applications), it’s no wonder the application and you were two different people!

Regardless, find out why your interview was the reason, address the reasons, get back on that damn horse, and try again.

So, what if I haven’t addressed an issue for why you didn’t get into medical school?

Sometimes admissions are vague. Sometimes there is no concrete answer. This is frustrating. I implore you to take the feedback you’ve been given, and consider why you chose to pursue medical school. Was it to help people? That’s cool, but you can help people in so many facets.WHY do you want to help people? And WHY as a physician? Why not as a Physician Assistant? What about Physical Therapy? Why not Pharmacy? Don’t give up, by any means, but this timeframe should be a solid gut check that allows you to stand firmly on your statement, beliefs, and reasons for why you absolutely believe you should become a physician.

My backup plans were to call every school that said no, find out exactly why they said no, cross-reference the results, and find common themes. In the meantime, I was going to study even harder for the MCAT, and retake it to blow it out of the water. I was going to apply to every hospital around town and work in any position they would give me, which would allow access to physicians that I could shadow and gain more knowledge from as well as letters. My plan was to call every professional admissions company, like Accepted, and find someone there I felt could empower me, and help me craft my application and interview skills into something unstoppable. I even researched every admissions company, their success rates, and budgeted accordingly (ironically, look who I’m writing for).

Be ruthless.

Be dedicated.

You WILL get into medical school.

If you have specific questions, or just want to chat through your application in hopes of gaining some insight as to what the next step might be, feel free to reach out to me or anyone else at Accepted.

Good luck! You’ll make a damn good doctor, I’m sure of it.

Joshua

Download your free special report: Medical School Reapplicant Advice - 6 Tips for Success

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4 Reasons You Got Dinged (And What You Can Do About It)

Check out our MBA Application Evaluation service. You really don’t want to repeat the same or similar mistakes again.

You really don’t want to repeat the same or similar mistakes again.

Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, and Cornell (among others) released decisions last week. More schools, including Wharton, Chicago, and Ross, release decisions this week.

Did your app hit the chopping block? Here’s why:

1) You didn’t qualify.

You gotta call a spade a spade sometimes (or always, really). If you had weak test scores, low grades, or inadequate work experience either quantitatively or qualitatively, then you’re just not going to measure up at the top schools. In essence you fail to convince the school that you can handle the work or represent the school well to recruiters…and you’re toast. …and they may be right. (Sorry to be tough here, but not everyone is qualified to attend H/S/W/C.)

TIP: Apply R2/R3 to different, less competitive programs OR reapply next year to the same schools after you’ve strengthened your profile (improved test scores, taken additional coursework, increased work responsibilities, etc.).

2) You didn’t present your qualifications, fit, or goals well.

There are a number of points to be made here. B-schools seek applicants with multiple talents, and you need to demonstrate that you’ve got them. Competitive stats are frequently necessary for admission, but not sufficient. For example, if you have the stats, but didn’t show the soft skills, didn’t show fit, didn’t explain why you need the degree from this particular program, or failed to present your achievements in an authentic, thoughtful, and compelling way, then the answer could easily still be DECLINE. The adcom may ding you for lacking such qualifications, even though you may have them, because you failed to present them effectively.

TIP: Apply R2/R3 or reapply next year with a stronger application that clearly highlights your qualifications, fit, and goals.

3) You were a victim of the numbers at intensely competitive programs that reject more qualified applicants than they can accept.

This is true of most top 15 programs especially if someone comes from an over-represented group in the applicant pool.

TIP: Apply R2/R3 to different programs or reapply next year to the same ones and keep your fingers crossed for better luck!

4) Combination of the above.

Most likely you weren’t rejected for one single reason, but due to a combination of various factors.

For more on understanding your rejection (and then doing something about it!), please see http://www.accepted.com/mba/rejection-acceptance-videos.aspx#2.

And let’s face it, it’s hard to be objective about your application. If you’re unsure why you were rejected or what you can do to change the outcome next time around, check out our MBA Application Review. You really don’t want to repeat the same or similar mistakes again.

Don't make the same mistakes again! Have your essays reviewed by a professional.

Linda Abraham By , 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.

MBA Applicant Blogger Interview with Bschoolgirl

bschoolgirl_avatarWe’d like to introduce you to Bschoolgirl, an anonymous blogger at Girl Meets B-School who will be starting her first year at USC Marshall this fall. A self-proclaimed non-traditional applicant, Bschoolgirl made it into one of her top picks, and shares lots of good advice about her admissions experience. Thank you Bschoolgirl!

Accepted: First, some basics: Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? And what is your favorite book (fiction or non-fiction)?

Bschoolgirl: I’m born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I majored in Cinema and Dance at San Francisco State University. In other words, I have the sort of background that makes MBA admissions officers scratch their heads in confusion.

Pride and Prejudice never fails to cheer me up. I listened to the audiobook over and over while waiting for Round 2 decisions.

Accepted: You mention in your blog that you were a reapplicant. What do you think went wrong during your first round of applications? And what did you do the second time around to improve your candidacy?

Bschoolgirl: By pitting myself against business and finance majors, I knew I would have to work harder to prove that I could keep up. Unfortunately I hadn’t taken a ton of quantitative courses and I was on the younger side, with only two and a half years of work experience and less than a year in management. So the first time around, I received three rejections and a waitlist.

In hindsight I’m glad that I failed, because I learned a ton about the admissions process. Admissions officers aren’t sadists. They truly want you to succeed in the program, and it’s your job to convince them that you will. I simply needed to provide more evidence that I had a plan for my career, that I could handle the quantitative coursework, and that I could lead people. I thought I wanted to get into marketing, so I started talking to everyone I knew in that field to learn what skills it would take to make the switch. I took additional courses in Finance and Accounting from a local community college. And I volunteered for a committee at work that involved training others on a new software program. By the time I reapplied, I looked like a totally different candidate. I was admitted to three of my four schools, and decided to attend the USC Marshall School of Business.

Accepted: Why do you think you are a good fit with USC Marshall?

Bschoolgirl: From the moment I stepped on campus I felt at home. Marshall students are diverse, dynamic, and entrepreneurial, which really appealed to me as a nontraditional candidate. The class size is ideal, not so big that I would get lost in the crowd or so small that I would lose out on the network. And with my background, I felt that it was important to be in Los Angeles and to attend a school with a great reputation in the media and entertainment industry.

Accepted: What are you most looking forward to this coming fall? 

Bschoolgirl: Of course I’m excited for the social stuff. I can’t wait to meet my classmates and get involved with some of the student organizations. And this might sound nerdy, but I’m kind of looking forward to the academics. I think taking Finance for the first time has awakened my inner Quant.

Accepted: Do you have any reservations – anything that you’re worried about?

Bschoolgirl: I’m a little concerned about managing my time. I have a tendency to want to get involved in everything, and I’ve heard it’s really easy to overbook yourself in the first year.

Accepted: What have you been doing since graduating college?

Bschoolgirl: I worked as a video editor for about a year after college, but the hours were long and the gigs inconsistent. My next job was at a media services company working with radio and television commercials. We handled distribution for everything from the infomercials you see on late night TV to Super Bowl commercials.

Accepted: Do you plan on staying in the same career post-MBA or moving to a new industry/function?

Bschoolgirl: I’m taking the hard road by attempting to switch industry and function at once: from media to high tech, and from operations to marketing. Marketing appeals to me because it’s both creative and analytical, and I’m completely fascinated by the ways technology is changing how people consume video. Did I mention that I’m kind of a geek?

Accepted: Why did you decide to blog about your MBA experience?

Bschoolgirl: I started my blog, Girl Meets B-School, because I literally ran out of people to talk to about the things that were stressing me out. Strangely enough, my friends and family weren’t interested in GMAT percentiles and notification deadlines. I try to keep it funny because the rest of the application process is so gosh darn serious. It’s been awesome to discover other MBA blogs and see people stumble across mine, and for a moment we can smile knowingly at each other with that fierce, tired glint in our eyes that says, “Sure, I survived application season. What’s next?”

Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your MBA/EMBA journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at mbabloggers@accepted.com.









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MBA Applicant Blogger Interview with LastChanceMBA

LastChanceMBA

LastChanceMBA

We’d like to introduce you to LastChanceMBA, an anonymous MBA reapplicant who blogs at Last Chance MBA. LastChanceMBA shares with us here lots of valuable tips from his previous application attempts; and as you’ll see, this time he’s positioned for a successful application season! Thank you LastChanceMBA for your advice, and best of luck to you!

Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? Do you hold any other degrees?

LastChanceMBA: I grew up in a suburb in the Deep South. I come from an immigrant working-class background, so financially my family was never well off, but my parents worked hard to take care of us. I eventually went to an Ivy League school for undergrad, where I double majored in history and philosophy and then completed a master’s degree in political science at another top school.

Accepted: When did you apply to b-school the first time? What do you think went wrong that time, and how do you plan on reapplying successfully?

LastChanceMBA: It’s embarrassing to admit this, but I guess you can say I’m a super re-applicant. I have applied to business schools unsuccessfully 3 times. My first app was back in 2008 right after the financial crisis. The second one came two years afterwards, and then my third attempt was this year. In my first two applications I had no idea what I was doing; this time I thought my application was strong, but in hindsight I did a very poor job of executing and did not convey realistic career goals. Simply put, I did not do a good job of selling myself to adcom. Moreover, traders have a very difficult time getting into top business schools; I articulated the reasons for this in one of my blog posts.

For my next (and last) app cycle, I am going to do several things: articulate career goals that are in line with my experience and which an MBA will actually help me to achieve, emphasize more forcefully my leadership and teamwork skills, and explain my non-traditional story in a more convincing manner. I am hoping that my current startup work and extensive nonprofit work will bolster my profile.

Accepted: Where do you plan on applying? Which is your top choice program?

LastChanceMBA: I don’t have my school selection finalized yet, but my “core” schools are Wharton, Booth, Sloan, Columbia, Kellogg, and Tuck. I may also apply to some combination of Haas, Stern, Anderson, Yale, depending on a number of factors. My first choice is Wharton: it is a perfect fit for my interests, and I absolutely love the culture and dynamic student body. The atmosphere there is simply electric!

Accepted: As an “older” applicant, you clearly have more life and work experience. How do you plan on emphasizing to the adcoms that your age is an advantage?

LastChanceMBA: I have several challenges. As someone who applied several times before, I have to demonstrate what has changed in the last year and show that my new responsibilities are a step up from my previous job. I also need to articulate very clear career goals that are in line with the MBA and make sense given my past experience. I’m not entirely sure on what my strategy is yet, to be honest. I think I’m going to have to pick some compelling examples of leadership and teamwork, to demonstrate that I have been progressing despite the fact that trading is not very conducive to traditional promotions. I will probably use the Booth power point to tackle the age issue in a humorous manner. We shall see.

Accepted: What is your current position? Do you plan on continuing in the industry/function after you receive your MBA or switching careers?

LastChanceMBA: I’m currently a trader at a top proprietary trading firm, doing market making and arbitrage on a variety of financial instruments:  commodity futures, spot currency, currency futures, ETFs. Post-MBA I am very much interested in transitioning to risk consulting, focusing specifically on financial markets and trading risk. I believe that with increased regulations and the uncertain macro environment we live in, there is going to be a lot of opportunity in this field, as large financial institutions aim to cope with this new reality while still trying to maximize profits. Because much of my work experience has been at the intersection of trading and tech, I think I can bring a lot to the table in such a role. The MBA will allow me to integrate finance, statistics, and operations, so that I can develop a comprehensive framework for analyzing risk. This education will take place in a very team-oriented setting, thus allowing me to test my ideas with very bright classmates and learn to sift through nuances in a dynamic environment. I believe that such interactions will serve me well in consulting.

Accepted: As someone who has been through the application process before, you must have a lot of insight to share. What would you say are your top 3 tips for first-time applicants? 

LastChanceMBA: Several tips. First, make sure you get your story straight, in terms of career goals, why an MBA, why that school, and your overall narrative. Lot of qualified applicants get arrogant, hoping to coast by on their stats and resume and then get hurt badly.

Second, give yourself AT LEAST 3 months to work on essays. This past year, I did not start working on my essays until late October due to the GMAT. Even that was not enough time. I think applicants underestimate how much time it takes to write truly effective essays. Oftentimes, they look at the questions in say August and tell themselves, “Oh these questions seem fairly easy. I’ll worry about it in November since I’m applying in round 2.” That would be a HUGE mistake. Trust me on this one.

And third, make sure you present a multi-dimensional portrait of you, both professionally and personally. I think finance and consulting people tend to rely on their quantitative and analytical skills without placing enough emphasis on their interpersonal skills and ability to overcome personal obstacles.

Remember that the entire application is one large marketing scheme, with the sole purpose of gaining you admission. If you don’t get in, it most likely means you failed to properly sell yourself to the school. I would say about 70% of the applicants at most top schools possess the raw credentials to get in, so think about what truly sets you apart. To put it another way, why would a smart talented professional want to spend $150K to sit next to you in class? What do you bring to the class that very few can offer?

Accepted: Why did you decide to blog about your reapplication experience?

LastChanceMBA: I have always loved to think and write. My good friends who read my MBA essays were shocked at how bad my essays were, even though I’m a pretty good writer. I realize that MBA essays are more of an art form than a science and that I need to drastically change my approach. A few people, such as MBAOver30 (best MBA blog by the way!) recommended that I start a blog in order to improve my “MBA writing” and further clarify my thought process along the way. In a way it will serve to prepare me for writing application essays. Furthermore, I really enjoy helping people, and I hope that my blog will offer some useful nuggets to other applicants.

Do you want to be featured in Accepted.com’s blog, Accepted Admissions Blog? If you want to share your MBA/EMBA journey with the world (or at least with our readers), email us at mbabloggers@accepted.com.








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PhD Advice: Reapplication

Advice for ReapplyingWhat if you did apply and were unsuccessful? How can you strengthen your candidacy for re-application?

The first step is to conduct an honest assessment of your candidacy. Did you apply to too few programs? To the wrong programs? (Applying only to Harvard is not a great strategy!) Consider broadening your list of schools.

Were there weaknesses in your application that you can remedy by gaining more experience, retaking your GRE, adding a stronger LOR, or taking courses? Some applicants can benefit by pursuing a master’s degree before entering a PhD program—especially if you’re changing fields or if you have limited research experience.

Look at your research experiences. Do you need to take some time before reapplying to develop your research experience and skills?

When it comes to the practicalities of reapplying: make sure that you craft a new, stronger application. If your SOP was unpersuasive last year, it probably won’t be more persuasive this year—you need to re-evaluate and revise.

It is disappointing not to get in the first time, but making a serious reapplication can give you a chance to analyze your skills and your goals—and even leave you better prepared for grad school.


This report covers 6 topics in PhD admissions.




Rebecca Blustein By , Accepted.com editor and former Student Affairs Officer at UCLA’s Scholarship Resource Center, and author of Financing Your Future: Winning Fellowships, Scholarships and Awards for Grad School. Rebecca will be happy to assist you with your grad school applications.

New Special Report for Med School Reapplicants

If you’re an applicant who has just been dinged from med school and would like to raise your spirits and boost your confidence, then you’ll want to check out our newest special report, Medical School Reapplicant Advice: 6 Tips for Success.

This report is perfect if you are considering reapplying (whether you are certain that you want to reapply or if you aren’t quite sure yet), and will guide you through the reapplication process, from assessing your profile to reviewing your previous application to improving each and every component of the med school application.

Med_Reapplicant_Report

Here’s an excerpt from the repot on improving your MCAT score:

Your goals in preparing for the MCAT should be to:

1. Understand why you got each wrong answer. If you understand the material, you may be having issues with the format of the question, and this is something you need to straighten out before test day.

2. Be able to choose right answers even when you don’t know the material. It’s unlikely that you can answer every question, but a keen test taker can read clues in the question that help narrow down the possible answers.

3. Finish every question in your timed practice tests with at least five minutes to spare.

Download the full report for FREE right now! Click here: Medical School Reapplicant Advice: 6 Tips for Success








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Experiences That Count for Medical School Reapplicants

stethescope puzzleIn the final section of our Medical School Reapplicant Advice: 6 Tips for Success series, we’ll discuss how reapplicants should improve, and then present, their experiences.

One last factor that can seriously hurt your chances is a lack of substantive, ongoing experiences.

Medical schools want students who are passionate and committed – to the world around them as well as to medicine. The AAMC says,

“Most volunteer experiences are valuable and will provide you with well-rounded experiences. Just make sure you have at least one solid health care-related experience, in addition to your non-medical volunteer work, so that your experiences speak to your commitment to medicine.”

It’s hard to convince an admissions committee that you want to pursue a medical career if you haven’t spent time in a clinical environment. Shadowing can give you a peek into that world, and it is a wonderful way to learn about the different specialties. But to demonstrate the kind of ongoing, substantive involvement that will make an impact, you’ll need to go further.

If you’ve identified your clinical exposure as a problem area, the American Medical Student Association’s Pre-medical Access to Clinical Experience (PACE) guide is a valuable starting point.

• Volunteer at your local hospital or free clinic. Some positions won’t offer much patient contact, but some involve providing patients with pre-exam instructions, entertaining sick children, and escorting patients to various areas. Areas like Surgical Recovery Units and Emergency Departments often allow chances for patient interaction. See what’s on offer.
• Work as a Certified Nursing Assistant with a nursing home or home care program. Training takes 6-12 weeks, after which you can help in patient support roles.
• Train and work as an Emergency Medical Technician on campus or in your community.
• Join the staff at a summer camp for children with disabilities or chronic illness. Listings like Summer Camp Staff can put you in touch.
• Intern or volunteer with your county health department. Many opportunities will put you in touch with physicians and public health experts, as well as affected populations.
• See if your hospital offers a Hospital Elder Life Program. They’re often seeking volunteers to work with their elderly patients, as are hospices and nursing homes.
• Find overseas opportunities. Programs like Gap Medics can help organize placements. Before seeking an overseas position, however, take a look at the AAMC’s guidelines.

Gaining substantive, ongoing clinical experience can be challenging, since anything significant requires a medical license. And like improving your GPA, this isn’t something that you can fix quickly. Hopefully any volunteer activities begun before your last application are ongoing – in that case, you’re in good shape to reapply with a stronger application. But it’s important not to rush this step – reapplying before you’ve had time to develop solid experiences in this area could lead you right back to the start.

As you prepare for your reapplication, try to stay optimistic. What you’ve been through hasn’t been easy, but it should have been a learning experience. Now wiser and more qualified, you stand a much better chance at getting into medical school.

Thanks for joining us on our adventure through the med school reapplication process. Please be in touch if you have any questions — we’re here to help YOU get Accepted!







Cydney Foote By , Accepted consultant and author of Write Your Way to Medical School, who has helped future physicians craft winning applications since 2001.

Improve Your MCAT Score for Medical School Acceptance

MCAT Prep.

It’s a good idea not only to focus on what you’re studying but how you’re studying.

In the next section of our Medical School Reapplicant Advice: 6 Tips for Success series, we’ll move from increasing your GPA to improving your MCAT score.

Fortunately, it’s easier to tackle a poor MCAT score than a poor GPA. While you should not retake the exam too many times (don’t bother retaking if you’ve scored above a 30), a better-prepared second or possibly third attempt can be a sound strategy.

Many people find that studying independently or with a group of friends works well. Reviewing your old class notes and introductory tests provides the most solid basis for your test preparation. Scrutinizing old tests remains one of the best ways to identify the areas where you’re weak. And, as Baylor College of Medicine recommends, practice the test questions “until they come out of your ears.”

There are numerous resources available for self-study. The AAMC should be both your first and last stop. Focusing on their practice tests, both at the start of your study and again in the weeks leading up to the exam, can put you in the right frame of mind. Alongside the AAMC guides, the Princeton Review comes highly recommended for studying the physical section, while Examkrackers tops the list for both the verbal reasoning and biological sections. (Note that a new optional trial section has replaced the writing component as of January 2013.)

For some people, professional test prep services can give their MCAT preparation a jump start. Taking an MCAT prep class doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a good score – you get out of them what you put in – but they can help by providing structure and keeping test-takers focused and on track. They can also really force you to tackle head-on those areas you’d rather avoid.

Whichever method you prefer, your goals in preparing for the MCAT should be to:

1. Understand why you got each wrong answer. If you understand the material, you may be having issues with the format of the question, and this is something you need to straighten out before test day.
2. Be able to choose right answers even when you don’t know the material. It’s unlikely that you can answer every question, but a keen test taker can read clues in the question that help narrow down the possible answers.
3. Finish every question in your timed practice tests with at least five minutes to spare.

And it’s a good idea not only to focus on what you’re studying but how you’re studying. Your university most likely has a wealth of information on study habits, like these helpful handouts from Princeton University, while sites like Lifehacker collect information about topics such as managing stress and establishing routines. Better time management and more effective study habits will help you not just on this exam but in your later studies.

If you identified test anxiety as one of your obstacles, then you have to address this before tackling the MCAT a second (or third) time. Exercise, breathing techniques and yoga can help alleviate stress for some people; other test-takers might benefit from addressing learning disorders and engaging in psychotherapy, as the Mayo Clinic suggests. College counseling centers, like the University of Washington’s, even offer biofeedback training as an option to combat test anxiety. And putting the books away and relaxing the day before seems to be a pretty standard ingredient for success. But only you can know what works best for you.

So how will you know when you’re ready to retake the MCAT? Again, this is a question that only you can answer, based on your performance in practice tests and your confidence levels. But try to sign up for an early exam so you can get your application to AMCAS in June. By counting backwards from your test date, you’ll be able to determine how much time you have to study, and what arrangements you’ll need to make to be as prepared as you possibly can be. (Some people consider studying for the MCAT a full-time job. This is great if it helps you get in the mindset of intense study, but try to maintain a good work-life balance or you’ll be miserable. If you manage your time well, you’ll also be able to eat healthy meals, exercise, pursue some semblance of a social life, and even sleep!)

In the end, there is no magic formula that guarantees MCAT success. Nonetheless, knowing yourself, including your study habits and needs, will go a long way toward building your confidence.

Next we’ll look at ways your experiences section can be strengthened. If you’d like to know more about formulating a study schedule and sticking to it, our Accepted.com editors would be happy to help. 







Cydney Foote By , Accepted consultant and author of Write Your Way to Medical School, who has helped future physicians craft winning applications since 2001.

 

Boost your GPA for Med School Acceptance

Med School Student

If you keep your eyes on the prize, then in all likelihood you’ll be wearing a white coat someday.

In our last Medical School Reapplicant Advice: 6 Tips for Success segment, we talked about how to best present yourself in your secondaries and interviews. Today we’ll move forward and discuss ways to boost your GPA, another important feature of your med school application profile.

Feeling a bit fragile after these first two sections? That’s to be expected – you’ve just gone undergone a pretty brutal review of your life. But the admissions committee is scrutinizing submissions with the same critical eye. Anticipating the problems so you can correct them is critical for success in your next attempt. And to start out, let’s look at how you can “fix” a poor GPA.

A low GPA is probably the hardest area to improve. This makes sense – it was years in the making, and can’t be undone without time. It can take about a year in advanced level science courses to bump a high 2.x GPA over 3.0. The lower your GPA, and the more classes you’ve taken, the longer it will take to reflect improvements in your academic record.

Fortunately, whether your GPA is just a bit off the mark or well below the competitive level, there are steps you can take.

Apply to an international medical school. Pursuing a medical degree abroad might be a viable option for you. The required GPA is often lower than the U.S. average and in some programs, the MCAT is not required. Courses are often taught by U.S. academic physicians with clinical rotations in the U.S. But if you do decide to attend an international medical school, realize that you will have to contend with many different challenges – from language barriers to culture shock – that could affect your studies.

Probably the biggest challenge for international medical graduates is securing a residency program after completing medical school. Only 54% of IMGs match to PGY1 programs, although the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates reports a consistent increase in this number over the past decade. I’ve worked with many successful IMGs over this same time period. What sets them apart is that they make up for any lack in their initial qualifications by working harder than the average medical student. They’re heavily involved in university activities, community healthcare initiatives, and international competitions. And significantly, they’re the ones who can express the advantages of their non-US medical education, including resourcefulness and the deep grounding in diagnoses that comes from doing without modern diagnostic equipment.

If you’re interested in an international program, do your research. Some Caribbean programs such as Ross University, St. George’s University, and the American University of the Caribbean have consistently high placement rates. Israeli programs like Sackler and Ben-Gurion have partnerships with American programs; likewise, the University of Queensland has an attractive option for U.S. students. And Ireland’s Atlantic Bridge program, although quite competitive, is flexible in its approach to the GPAs of qualified American and Canadian students.

Apply to a DO program. If your application is competitive but you just didn’t make the cut, you might consider an osteopathic medical program. Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs) focus on integrating the whole person into the healthcare process, which makes them especially strong in family practice, general internal medicine, and pediatrics. They are fully licensed physicians; they train in the same residency programs, take the same national board exams, and sit for the identical USMLE exams that the MD students do. Your chance of securing a residency might be less – in the most recent residency match, 75% of DOs matched compared to 94% of MDs – but the steady rise in DO matches suggests that any stigma against osteopathic physicians is changing.

The good news for borderline candidates is that DO schools have lower GPAs and MCAT requirements: The mean GPA in 2012 was 3.42 while the mean MCAT score was 26 (American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine). There are a number of programs worth exploring: West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, Lincoln Memorial (Harrogate, TN), Nova Southeastern (Ft. Lauderdale), Touro (Vallejo, CA, Lake Erie (Erie, PA) and Western University (Pomona) all have strong programs that are less competitive. West Virginia, for instance, had the lowest reported average GPA (3.4) of all medical schools and an average MCAT score of 25. However, 55% of their graduates matched at their top residency program.

If you care more about being a doctor than the letters after your name, the DO route is definitely something to think about. However, getting into one of these programs is still going to require a strong GPA. So what can you do if your grades are lower?

Boost your GPA with post-baccalaureate classes. This is a popular route, especially for applicants who did well on the MCAT but need some help with their GPA. Retaking science classes can show you’ve mastered the material, but a better strategy is to take advanced classes and do well. If you have any doubt about your ability to get an A, then this is probably not the best path for you.

The quality of the institution offering the courses is important – community college won’t cut it. The best option is to see if your own alma mater will allow you to take additional courses; often this can be done at a reduced cost. If this doesn’t work out, Syracuse University has a very useful list of programs that offer post-bac courses in the sciences.

Improve your GPA with a science-based master’s program. This is another preferred route for would-be reapplicants, because it provides opportunities for more independent, self-directed research and demonstrates scientific acumen. It can be especially useful if you don’t have a research background already. Keep in mind though that you need to excel in your coursework and that you will have to finish the entire program; making below-average grades or dropping out before the program ends will do you more harm than good when you reapply to med school.

Master’s programs aren’t right for everybody – you might not want to commit to a multi-year program, or you might not be confident about your academic performance. Or you might not have the minimum GPA required for admittance in the first place. In that case:

Prove your potential in a special master’s program (SMPs). These programs, usually a year long, are often associated with a medical school. Students are immersed in a rigorous science-based curriculum almost identical to what they will face in medical school; often, they are even taking classes or being graded alongside first year med students. Success in these courses can show the admissions committee that you’re ready for medical training, which means that once you’re accepted into a SMP, the odds are very good you’ll eventually get into medical school.

Several programs cater to the lower end of the GPA/MCAT spectrum:

East Virginia Medical School M.S. in Biomedical Sciences: In the past five years, 90% of students have been accepted to med school after completion of EVMS’ program. The program runs for two semesters; the majority of courses are taught by faculty in the medical school. They require at least a 2.75 GPA and a 27 on your MCAT. They recommend applying by April, but applications are accepted through May.

The Virginia Commonwealth University: Pre-Medical Basic Health Certificate Program: Graduates completing the program with a 3.5 GPA/28 MCAT are guaranteed an interview at VCU School of Medicine. They require a 3.0 GPA and 25 MCAT for admission, and applications are accepted until July 1st.

Drexel’s Medical Science Program (MSP): The year-long MSP offers graduate-level biological science coursework, formal MCAT preparation, community outreach, and undergraduate review courses in chemistry, physics, and organic chemistry. A 3.0 GPA and either a 17 on the MCAT or 70th percentile on the GRE is required for entry to the program. Success in the program guarantees admission to Drexel’s Masters of Biological Science or the IMS course.

Drexel’s Interdepartmental Medical Science (IMS) Program: Students spend 18 months in first-year medical school classes. Successful completion of their coursework enables them to continue on for another year to earn the MS of Medical Science. They are also guaranteed an interview at the Drexel School of Medicine. Applications are accepted year-round; a 3.0 GPA and an MCAT score of 27 or better is required.

Because SMPs have a reputation as a more certain path to medical school, they can be quite competitive. If you are still determined to be a physician but don’t have the GPA to get into a program, there’s one more route available.

GPA bump followed by an SMP. This method is a bit circuitous, but it does work. First, you need to get your GPA up – a year of good grades in upper-level science courses might be enough to get you up to a 3.0. At that point, you can apply to an SMP with strong links to a medical school. This will take you a minimum two years, which might not seem appealing at this point. However, look upon it as a way to build your confidence and shore up the science and study skills that will enable you to excel in medical school.

Boosting your GPA is likely to test your resolve to be a doctor. The next year(s) won’t be quick or easy, and you may question whether the effort is even worth it. You might find it’s not, and that is fine – there are many other worthwhile careers you can pursue. But if you keep your eyes on the prize, then in all likelihood you’ll be wearing a white coat someday.

Next, we’ll look at some of the other concrete steps you can take to improve your profile – and your chances of succeeding in medical school. Still have questions? Contact Accepted.com to see how our admissions.

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Cydney Foote By , Accepted consultant and author of Write Your Way to Medical School, who has helped future physicians craft winning applications since 2001.