You’ve taken the MCAT, completed all the pre-reqs, and maybe shadowed a physician, done some research, and volunteered. Now it’s time to make sure you’re all in for the last legs of this long journey. In this series, we’ll discuss how you can continue to navigate your way to a med school acceptance by analyzing your profile, creating a strong med school application, writing stellar AMCAS and secondary essays, and nailing your interview.
How many schools should you apply to? 10? 20? 40? Each applicant’s list will be different. You should consider several factors including state of residency, strength of credentials, and the match between your personal goals with the school’s mission.
What you should do is aim to apply to approximately 20-25 schools and then adjust the number upward or downward depending on the following factors:
1. Apply to your state school(s) and any other nearby medical schools that may have reciprocity between states.
2. Apply to your undergraduate institution if they have a medical school – especially if you have had the opportunity to do research or clinical work at the school or an affiliated hospital.
3. Apply to private schools that are a good match academically with your credentials.
4. Explore the mission of each school and select schools that you match well in terms of your experiences, goals, and focus.
5. Consider finances when applying – the more schools you apply to, the more application fees you’ll have to pay.
You need to balance a realistic number of schools with your best chance of success. Your residency, minority or disadvantaged status, and financial constraints are all important factors in addition to those I’ve mentioned above. But remember, you never know which aspect of your application will attract a school – some schools value research, some have a strong mission working with the underserved, some have a primary care focus…so don’t limit yourself too much, but rather select schools that align well with your strengths.