You’ve been working your entire academic career to get into medical school. Now, it’s time to create an application that showcases your strengths and minimizes any weaknesses. To get into the school of your dreams, you’ll need more than just great grades and a high score on the MCAT. Your application is your chance to convince the admission committee that you have both the academic skill and personal commitment necessary to thrive in a medical school environment.
As you compile your medical school application, take a holistic approach to describing yourself—the more well-rounded you come across, the more appealing you’ll be to medical school admission committees. Factor awards, extracurriculars, work experience and research publications into your application and you’re sure to grab the attention of admission officials. Here are a few other strategies to employ as you polish up your application:
Craft a Personal Statement That Wows Readers
The personal statement is your chance to make a positive, lasting impression on readers. Medical schools want to fill their classes with bright, empathetic students who are easy communicators. Your personal statement can hit all those marks and ensure your name stays fresh in the minds of the admission committee.
To create a personal statement that truly wows readers, find a unique angle on the writing prompt. If the application asks you to recount a challenging personal experience, for instance, consider how your answer will measure up to other applicants. Admission committees will read countless statements on the trials, tribulations and successes of applicants. To stand out from the pack, write from the heart, but never delve into cliches. Everyone will be writing about their love of helping people and their appreciation for science, so find a fresh, new angle to showcase your personality. Finally, it’s important that you follow directions, including adhering to the length requirement.
Showcase Your Passions
Medical schools are looking for students with the passion and commitment to see their program through to completion. The very best med school applicants are the ones who have a clear idea of who they are and why they’d be an asset to the institution. To do this, you’ll want to include strong evidence of your goals and passions as they pertain to medicine.
Perhaps you’ve volunteered at a children’s hospital since you were a teen. It may get lost in the long list of your hobbies and work experience. If you can touch on those volunteer hours in your personal statement and get a letter of recommendation from the hospital’s volunteer coordinator, you’ll reinforce your commitment to the field.
Connect Your Experiences Back to Medicine
Not all of your life experiences will directly pertain to the healthcare field. The years you’ve spent learning Spanish and the trips you’ve taken to build houses in South America can all reflect well on your medical school application. The key to success? Link these experiences back to medicine whenever possible.
There are a number of intangible traits that healthcare professionals must have to work well with patients. Medical schools are looking for well-rounded students who can connect with others and empathize with them in their hour of need. Even if the semester you spent abroad doesn’t seem immediately applicable to your future as a doctor, don’t be afraid to include it on your application—just be ready to speak on it during your medical school interviews!
Let Recommendations Speak for Themselves
The power of an excellent letter of recommendation can’t be overstated. While you might be tempted to ask your favorite professor to pen a letter on your attributes, selecting only academic mentors for the job can be risky. Admission committees want to see well-rounded applicants, and whille your grades and test scores will tell them one story (how you performed in classes), your letters will speak to how you interacted with others and participated in the classroom or clinical environment.
If your medical school application requires more than one letter of recommendation, go ahead and ask your academic advisor or professor for one. Beyond that first letter, though, consider asking people who can speak to other aspects of your application. It’s worth asking for letters from your research partners, volunteer coordinator and anyone who has witnessed your leadership skills first-hand.
Proofread Before Submitting
While this may seem like common sense, you’d be shocked at just how many medical school applications are submitted with typos and grammar mistakes. You spend a lot of time polishing up your application, which makes it easy to lose focus after tweaking it so many times. Ask a friend or two to go over it for you with a fine-tooth comb. You want to submit a flawless application, and proofreading is a step that cannot be overlooked.
Just as every medical student is unique, so, too, are the applications they submit. By finding the right tone to strike in your personal statement, you can follow that lead throughout the rest of your application. With any luck, you’ll be interviewing at the school of your dreams in no time!