Sometimes the application season seems to stretch on forever. Especially at this time of year, as “hold” lists grow longer and waitlists stubbornly refuse to move, the wait can feel interminable. AMCAS’ new Choose Your Medical School Tool is designed to give this process a nudge. The idea is that as applicants confirm or release their interest in programs, it causes a chain reaction that frees up subsequent spots, and at the end, the number of matriculants and the number of openings will align.
How does the AMCAS Choose Your Medical School Tool work?
Let’s look at how this process works. Right now, an applicant can hold acceptances to any number of schools, while still interviewing and remaining on waitlists. Applicants are urged to release any acceptances at schools they know they will not attend, but this is governed by the honor system. Nonetheless, it’s usually to everyone’s benefit when this request is followed, as this example shows:
Seeing this unique tool in action
Alice is accepted at School 1 and School 2, but really wants to go to School 3 where she’s been waitlisted. Meanwhile, Benny is holding an acceptance at School 3 but has his heart set on School 1, where he’s also on the waitlist. Benny does not plan on giving up his spot at School 3 until he’s sure about School 1, and Alice won’t be accepted at her dream school until something opens up. The situation is deadlocked.
But along comes Charlie. Charlie has been accepted to four programs, including School 1, but he’s thrilled when School 2 offers him a spot. He accepts School 2’s offer and releases his other acceptances. School 1 then turns around and extends an offer to Benny. Benny accepts the spot at School 1, and his previous spot at School 3 is subsequently offered to Alice.
Although this is a simplified glimpse of the gears behind the curtain, it illustrates how everyone benefits from prompt responses to offers. What if Charlie had sat on his multiple acceptances? What if Benny was out of the country and didn’t see his offer? What about David and Edgar and anyone else who’s on the alternate list at School 4 and waiting for some movement? And what about all the people whose applications are in that limbo known as “hold” or “deferred status”?
The AMCAS Choose Your Medical School Tool is meant to address these questions by helping applicants move closer to a decision.
Important AMCAS dates
Some dates to keep in mind are:
February 19, 2020: The tool becomes available and applicants can designate that they “Plan To Enroll” at a single school. Applicants can still hold multiple acceptances, remain on waitlists, and interview at additional schools. The selection is not binding, and applicants can change their selection at any time. Medical schools will be able to see the number of applicants selecting their school and other schools, but will not see any personal information. It’s a bit of a milquetoast solution, but these numbers are intended to give schools an idea of how many applicants are inclined toward their school.
April 15-April 29: Applicants are asked to narrow acceptances to a maximum of three schools, although they may remain on an unlimited number of alternate/waitlists. Acceptances from other schools should be withdrawn by communicating with the schools individually.
April 30-Matriculation: Applicants are asked to narrow their acceptance to one school, indicated with the status of either “Plan To Enroll” or “Commit To Enroll.” Applicant-specific information will be visible to medical schools at this point. Plan To Enroll allows applicants to remain on waitlists/alternate lists, and this status can be changed if a new offer is received. By contrast, Commit To Enroll is a final decision. When choosing this status, applicants indicate that they have withdrawn all other acceptances and waitlist/alternate spots by communicating directly with the schools. Schools will then be able to see which applicants have committed to enroll in their class.
* The graphic above can be found on AAMC’s website.
Watch: Linda Abraham & Dr. Rona Woldenberg of Zucker SOM discuss the traffic rules
What all of this means to you
For this mechanism to work properly, applicants need to play their part.
- Respond to offers as quickly as possible, according to the instructions provided to you by the medical school.
- Promptly communicate any changes in your status to medical schools directly.
- Make alternative arrangements if you’re away for any extended period. Designate a parent or other person to respond to offers and notify the programs that this person has the authority to act on your behalf during a specified period of time. And as always, be sure to let programs know if any of your contact information has changed.
- Regularly check AAMC/AMCAS communication and updates through their website and Twitter.
Finally, keep in mind that individual schools may have different guidelines for the acceptance process, and may request a Commit To Enroll decision at any time after April 30th. The AAMC cautions that:
These guidelines are not intended to supersede the policies, timelines, or discretion of individual schools or programs. The primary, official method of communication during this process takes place between an applicant and a school. This tool is intended to supplement, not replace, that communication.
Have you been waitlisted at one of your top choice medical schools? Do you need help navigating the med school admissions process – at this point or at any other stage of your journey? Explore our Medical School Application Services and work one-on-one with an experienced advisor who will help you GET ACCEPTED!Want Cyd to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!