If you’re looking ahead to next year’s application cycle, add these action items to your to-do list.
First, decide when you want to take the MCAT. You don’t want to take it too soon (before you’ve begun your second-semester physics course, for example), but you should allow ample time for a second attempt at the test should that be necessary. Registration is now open for the January through May 2010 administrations. Consult the MCAT website for complete information.
Second, begin to request letters of recommendation from any instructors or employers with whom you’ve concluded your business. It doesn’t make sense to wait till the end of the spring 2010 semester to request a letter from a faculty member who taught you in spring 2009.
Third, review your academic record online if that’s available to you, or request student copies of your transcript(s) to ensure that there are no errors. (Remember that you’ll need an official transcript from every U.S. College you’ve attended, even if only for one summer course.) In particular, check to see that any AP and/or transfer credit you’ve earned has been entered correctly and notify the Registrar promptly of any problems.
Four, begin to research schools if you haven’t already done so. The website of the Association of American Medical Colleges has links to all of the home pages of U.S. medical schools.
Five, stay calm. If you plan carefully and finish each step of the process well in advance of deadlines, you’ll improve your chances for a happy ending and come out sane at the other end.
Have them on your list? Now act!
By Joan Davis, who served for 18 years as a pre-medical adviser at the University of Rochester.
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