The medical school application process is going to be long and expensive. It pays to be very organized because it will be a multi-step process.
The application is, in a sense, the culmination of the work you have done so far. The applications were the most annoying part of the process for me, just because I had to rely on others for many of the required items. But with enough time and persistence, you’ll have a completed application.
Applications Are Expensive
The more schools you apply to, the more expensive it is going to be. The costs include:
- primary application
- secondary application
- other miscellaneous costs
The average medical student applies to more than 10 medical schools. If you apply to just 10 schools, expect to spend more than $1000 on the whole process. I’m not even taking MCAT preparation costs into the equation. So unless you have a lot of money to burn, do not apply until you are competitive in terms of MCAT score and GPA. Check out the medical school requirements section for more details.
Set Your Own Deadlines
Before we jump right in, we should first set up a simple timeframe for the many tasks you will do to apply to medical schools. Consider using the deadlines I have set for myself when I applied to medical schools:
- April: take MCAT
- May: receive MCAT score, research medical schools, begin primary application
- June: send primary application, ask for letters of recommendation
- July: start secondary applications, follow-up for missing letters of recommendation
- August: send secondary applications, follow-up for missing letters of recommendations
- September – December: interviews and acceptances
- January (of the following year): send Caribbean medical schools applications
- February – April (of the following year): interviews and acceptances
As you can see above, I only planned to take my MCAT once. I would send in all the required materials to the US medical schools by the end of August. And since I was willing to attend a Caribbean medical school, I was going to apply abroad if I did not hear anything by December.
Update: After more than 2 years in medical school, knowing what I know now, I would not apply to Caribbean medical schools. The odds are against you if you want to practice medicine in the US.
The Early Applicant Gets the Acceptance Letter
The deadlines I set for myself are much earlier than the deadlines set by the school. The reason for that is because the earlier you get your medical school application in, the higher chance you have of getting accepted. I read somewhere that 80% of medical school students get their primary application in by June and their secondary applications in by August, because schools start accepting students early (by September). In fact, my acceptance to UMDNJ was in mid-September.
You may feel like you will need more time to make your application perfect, whether it is to prepare more for the MCAT or to engage in more activities. However, being early is one of the most important qualities of a good application. If your medical school application is good enough (quality GPA, MCAT score, and activities), then apply.
You should apply early because within a few months into the interview season, they have already send out a substantial amount of acceptance letters. By March (six months into the interviewing season), I would say more than 95% of the class is already formed. So if you want to make up the remaining 5%, you will need a superb application. The standards for admission are higher at the end than compared to at the beginning.
Now that you know how important it is to send your application in early, you should not procrastinate!
This article is part of the Get into Medical School series. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about getting accepted into medical school.