This post is the fifth in our series on applying to med school in the most efficient and timely manner. You’ve got six months to make this happen. Make sure you do it right by following the tips in Med School Action Plan: 6 Steps for the 6 Months Before You Apply.
In deciding which schools to apply to, you’ll want to consider the location, statistics and programs they offer.
You are most likely to receive an acceptance from a medical school in the state in which you live. Location is an important factor for other reasons as well. Where do your family and friends live? It is less stressful to move somewhere you are already familiar with and where you have support. To improve your chances of acceptance, review the statistics of the schools you are considering to help you decide where to apply. Do your GPA or MCAT scores fit within their averages? How many students do they accept from out of state? For your professional development, what types of special programs and training can they offer you?
In researching schools, consider the following criteria:
1. Apply to all the schools in your state.
Most schools have grants or programs that are focused on providing medical care to the communities within their state. If you can demonstrate a personal connection to the area through residency, family connection or a shared ethnicity or language, you will be a more competitive applicant.
2. Apply where you have established networks of support.
To reduce stress and create a smoother transition, apply to the schools in areas that you are familiar with and where family and friends live. Most secondary essays will ask for personal reasons why you are applying to their school. If you visited the area multiple times growing up, you can write about those trips. Any connection is better than no connection.
3. Review the averages for cumulative GPA, science GPA and MCAT for the schools you are considering.
If you fit into at least one or two of their averages in these categories, you can consider applying. Look at all of their statistics. What percentage of their students for last year’s class are from out-of-state? How many students of your ethnicity do they accept? Looking at all of these numbers can help you whittle your list down to those that are most likely to accept you.
4. Consider the curriculum and focus.
Some schools offer a research focus or have primary care-oriented programs. Find out if the curriculum is problem-based or system-based or if it more of a traditional approach. Apply to programs that are strong in your areas of interest and match your learning style.
5. Research the special programs and training each school can offer you.
Whether you know what direction you want to take your career or not, it is helpful to consider what each school can provide you with in terms of professional development. Technology is taking an ever more important place in medicine—with new equipment and methods eclipsing the old. Dual degree programs are becoming more common—MD/MPH, MD/MBA, etc. Consider the pros and cons of each school in terms of the training they can offer you.
Using the criteria described above can help you choose the best school for you. It’s impossible to receive an acceptance from every school that you apply to. Expect some rejections. The more carefully you select the schools you apply to, the higher your chances are for receiving an acceptance. Take the time to do this research because it is essential to your success.
Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an Accepted advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Want Alicia to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!
• 8 Reasons Medical School Applicants are Rejected
• The Medical School Selectivity Index, discover the medical schools where you are competitive
• How Do You Compare to Last Year’s Admitted Med School Applicants