Here’s some advice to prospective students when face to face with admissions deans.
This is advice specifically for the interview process and then also for your personal statement. First off, so many applicants come in that are obviously nervous and although this is a very stressful process if you can show us that you are not nervous it is a big plus for you. If you are nervous it does not take away from you as an applicant but remember that everyone is nervous, it is just how much you let that nervousness show that differentiates you from other applicants. Medicine is all about confidence and many times you will not know what to do but you will have to remain confident and lead a team.
It is okay to relax and enjoy the process of applying and interviewing. You might think that is crazy because how could anyone enjoy the process? Everything that you do in life has both good and bad parts to it but you must try and make the best of each situation. Same goes for the medical process, try and make the best of it and this will show – not only during interviews but also your application. A forced personal statement is obvious and does not whisk the admissions deans away it rather gives them a reason to not be interested in you.
Do Not Lie or Embellish
Although it is very difficult to go through and check all the sources of people that can vouch for you for the activities that you have done, it is still not a great idea to lie or embellish on your application. The reason I say that is because when you look at applications it is easy to tell the difference between someone who is making up activities vs. someone who participated. Admissions deans go through thousands of applications and have been doing this for years. For the most part, it is difficult to surprise these Deans and that is why lying on your applications is so apparent for these Deans. When you have been doing the same job for many years and filtering through applications, the type of student that you are interested in becomes clear quickly. You like the hard working, smart, reliable, and creative student. The only way to present yourself on paper as all or some of those things is to tell a story about the journey that brought you to Medicine and let everything else fall into play.
Try as hard as you can
There is so much that you do as a premed student and so much of it goes “wasted” or without any “recognition.” All those sleepless nights studying, volunteering at the hospital, and working on research can never be wasted. Your efforts are seen and appreciated by medical schools but sometimes you should realize that no matter how hard you try, those efforts may not be enough or may go unnoticed. So, what do you do then at that point? You either try again or give up. Giving up your dreams is difficult and can be one of the most difficult decisions that you can take. For this reason, realizing that pushing yourself to try again and realizing that you have to give up on your dreams because they may no longer be realistic are both very hard decisions to make. But no one will ever fault you if you try as hard as you can.
Let me give you an example to put things into perspective – I was helping to take care of a very sick patient in the Intensive Care Unit. Generally, I work extra hard when I am in the ICU because we are dealing with the sickest patients in the whole hospital. I usually have a great system for triple checking my working and making sure that nothing has been missed. One particular night was extremely busy and I did not have a chance to go over the tasks that I needed to have done by the next day. When we were rounding with the Attending, I realized I forgot to do something that was important for one of our patients. First things first, I did not lie. Second off, I admitted my mistake (no embellishing) and because the Attending was familiar with my work ethic, she excused me from that mistake. What I am trying to say is that hard works goes a long way. Yes, I had built a relationship with my Attending but you build a relationship with the Admissions Dean by connecting to he/she through your application. Yes it is harder but you will be surprised how much you will be forgiven just because it is obvious that you have worked hard to get to the point you are at now.
Show us That you will not give up
This is as simple as that, show the admissions team that you do not give up easily. How do you do that? Simple, even if you did not do as well on something show them that you can bounce back. A student who failed first year of undergrad but then did very well the last three years, it shows the committee that even when you fall you know how to get back up. This type of student is resilient and Medicine is a field that requires a lot of resilience.
Reach out to us, make connections
You will be surprised by how few students reach out to us or try to make connections. Many students will meet people from the medical school and get their contact information but only a select few will reach out to further talk to affiliates of the medical school. Reaching out does not mean that you will be granted an interview and a spot it means that you are interested and lets them know that you are highly considering their school. Remember that when you are looking at schools not only are they evaluating you, but you are also evaluating them.