When you have spent years preparing to apply to medical school, the last thing you want to do is jeopardize your chance of acceptance by applying late. Since selection committees operate on a rolling admissions basis, if you submit your application in August or September, they may not have enough spots left to offer you an acceptance, even though your application may be strong.
Here are the reasons why applying late can hurt you:
1. Rolling admissions is based on the concept of first come, first served. If you apply late, you may never receive a review if there are no spots left available. Medical schools receive thousands of applications and this requires hours and hours of time spent on reviewing applications and interviewing candidates. Once a medical school has met its enrollment capacity and filled its waiting list, there is very little time spent on reviewing applications—especially given the time and energy it takes to conduct interviews and MMI interviews, in particular.
2. If you are rushing to submit your application late, chances are there will be mistakes. In the mad dash to get your application submitted, it’s easy to leave out critical details or write sloppy essays that do not represent you well. If you have put off applying, there may be a reason behind it. It’s important to examine the reasons that have forced you to consider applying late. It would probably be in your best interest to take your time and apply early rather than do a rush job that will only force you to face the possibility of reapplying the next year. Since it is so expensive and time consuming to apply, doing it right the first time is in your best interest.
3. Applying late and without an MCAT score is like double daring the Fates. Since most schools will not review your application until they receive your MCAT score, applying late and then forcing the schools to hold off on reviewing your application may put you even further behind. Generally, I don’t recommend applying without an MCAT score. You don’t want any hidden surprises especially when it comes to determining the direction of your career. If necessary, apply early the next cycle after you have received competitive scores.
From nearly a decade of experience in medical school admissions, I recommend getting your application submitted anywhere from mid-June to late July. I have seen students receive acceptances when they have applied in August and September but it’s a wild ride and one I recommend avoiding, if at all possible. To avoid unnecessary stress, plan on applying early.
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.