If you try and think about your previous semester in college or your most recent exam, for the most part you can think of a couple of things you would have done differently. This is why before starting a new class or taking an exam, you tend to ask others who have already taken the class or exam what their recommendations would be. So now that I have gone through the entire med school application process, I can look back and recognize the mistakes that I made when completing applications.
TOO MANY EXTRACURRICULARS
More is better right? Well…when you add a whole bunch of activities or random events that you took part in for the purpose of making it seem like you did a lot of things during your years prior to medical school, it just does no look good. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to be a part of many different clubs and organizations but it is easy to tell when someone is listing clubs rather than when someone actually took a legitimate interest in the group. Instead of having 10 clubs that you participated in, I would recommend picking a couple and really delving into the organization. Take the opportunity to be on the executive board or take the time to be a part of their events. And then if you get an interview from a school and the interviewer asks you about a specific club, rather than saying you attended the monthly meetings, you can talk about activities that you participated in. This shows schools that you are willing to work hard and are able to work with other students which are both characteristics they want to see in med school applicants.
PROCRASTINATING YOUR ESSAY
Some people like to wait until the very last minute when they get that rush of adrenaline to write essays but your personal statement is not one of those times that I would procrastinate. Your personal statement is the one chance that you get on your application to show medical schools that you deserve to be given the chance to interview. You are probably wondering, well what about my awesome (or not so awesome) MCAT scores and GPA? Most students look pretty similar to other students in terms of average MCAT and GPA and the personal statement is your chance to really stand apart from your peers. Starting early on it gives you a chance to make changes to it and as I love to say, let’s the idea “marinade” in your mind. Giving your essay a chance to get a good marinade will show because your essay will be well-thought and well-executed. So make sure you take the time to start early because it most definitely will show.