Michaela Corbin '17
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- Have a plan! Decide if you want a gap year or to go right after school, as this will determine your application timeline. Gap years can be a great thing, as they give you time to travel or get more experience.
- Find schools you are interested in! This is important when considering what classes to take because different schools recommend that you take different classes. Many Hanover students also don't take physics here, so it is important to know if schools you are interested in accept online credits or transfer credits.
- Use your time off wisely! Summers, Christmas Break, and winter/spring break are great times to get patient care experience and/or research experience. Again, it is important to look into schools you are interested in, because some want you to have research experience whereas others would rather see more clinical experience. Look into shadowing at your local hospital or King's Daughter's in Madison, as these are great opportunities to build relationships with physicians who will be willing to write you reference letters when it comes time to apply. The HBSP externship is also a great way to get clinical experience while also earning school credit. If you are looking for research, many of the biology and chemistry professors offer student research positions during the summer.
- Keep your grades up! Although GPA is not the only factor, it is an important factor in getting an interview and having the admissions committee take a deeper consideration into your file.
- Use your resources! There are numerous websites and aps available to help with this process. Student Doctor Network has a lot of good advice and it has school-specific forums with secondary application questions posted and helpful advice/questions from other students applying to that school. There are also a lot of good aps that are helpful when studying for the MCAT. I would use these when I had a few free minutes, because the more time you spend studying for the MCAT the better. Also, you will need reference letters for your application, so I would suggest asking science and non-science professors that you have connected with throughout your year here. This is a great advantage for students from a small school, because larger school students don't have the same relationships with their professors. Another great resource is the MSAR (medical school admissions requirements). This is a database for all allopathic schools that has things such as school background, class size, average MCAT and GPA for school, class demographics, and basically anything else you could want to know about a school. It also lets you compare schools, which is helpful when deciding which school to apply to.
- Start early! It helped me to make a timeline of when I needed to complete everything, because applying to medical school is an overwhelming (and expensive) process. If you are not taking a gap year, you want to look into picking a date and registering for the MCAT in the fall of your junior year. I would suggest taking the MCAT as early as you feel ready, because it takes about a month and a half to receive your scores and you can submit your application starting in July. Most medical schools have rolling admissions, so the earlier you submit your application the better. With that being said, don't take it before you are ready, because a low score will hurt your chances of getting accepted. Junior year should be spent studying for the MCAT and writing and editing your personal statement, as you want a story that stands out rather than a list of what you have done and why you want to go to medical school. If you plan on taking a gap year, this should all be done your senior year.