Congratulations, graduates! You’ve worked hard for the past few years and you deserve to celebrate! But once the ceremonies, parties and barbecues have happened…then what? Maybe you’ve already been accepted to medical school. If you have, kudos to you. See my post here https://mddreams.com/2015/10/15/10-things-you-need-to-do-before-you-go-to-med-school/ via @wordpressdotcom on getting the most out of your summer break before med school. When I graduated from college I had a B.S. in Biology, but had no idea what I was going to do next. I had been rejected from every med school that I applied to and had no backup plan. If you’re like me, you may be bewildered, stuck and unsure. Take a look at these tips and get back on your horse.
Don’t lose heart
You are still awesome! As long as you are breathing, you can start again. Don’t wallow in despair for too long. Take a breather, but set a date as to when you will start on your come back plan. If you’re feeling depressed, seek help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has trained counselors available to talk 24/7. You can reach them at 1-800-273-8255.
Send a letter or email to the schools that rejected you to see if you can get some information on why they rejected you. You can also talk to your school’s premed advisor to help you figure out what happened. Did your MCAT score and GPA meet the requirements of the schools that where you applied? You can find out these requirements using the MSAR https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/faq/buying-and-using-medical-school-admission-requirem/. Did you only apply to top tier schools? Did you apply to any safety schools? A safety school might be your state school, the medical school that is affiliated with your college, or a school where you exceed their requirements for MCAT and GPA scores.
To retake, or not to retake? That is the question. If your MCAT score wasn’t stellar, it might be in your best interest to take it again. If you can get a higher score, it will definitely improve your chances for acceptance. If you decide to retake it, consider revamping your study plan. If you did not take a prep course, you may want to look into that. I took Kaplan, but there is also Princeton Review and a myriad of other courses. Some people swear by Exam Krackers. Their home study materials are cheaper than the live review courses. They also have a home study plan that you can adjust to fit your needs here: https://www.examkrackers.com/MCAT/MCAT-HomeStudy.aspx. If you can’t afford a prep course, there are free MCAT materials from the Khan Academy https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat .
Take a look at your GPA from the standpoint of a med school admissions officer. They are actually looking at your grade point average in 3 different ways. Your overall GPA, your science or BCPM (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math) GPA, and your non-science or non-BCPM GPA. See what they see by using this calculator http://prehealth.cas.nyu.edu/page/bcpmcalculator . If you failed any classes, you may need to consider retaking them. This is a great article that details the process and has links on how to repair your GPA http://hpplc.indiana.edu/medicine/AcademicRecordandGrades.shtml . If your science grades are mediocre, you may want to consider a post-baccalaureate program to strengthen your science background and prove to admissions committees that you can handle high-level science courses. You can find out more about post-bac programs here https://students-residents.aamc.org/postbacc/.
If you plan to reapply, it may be tempting to only study for the MCAT and not do anything else. This is not what admissions committees want to see. You’ll need to do something to better your application for the second go around. If you don’t have much shadowing experiences, you may want to seek out a physician to shadow or an ER or clinic that needs volunteers. You may want to take a science course while you’re in limbo. It never hurts to get a job, but try to make it something related to science or medicine. I took Biochemistry and taught seventh grade Earth Science while I was reapplying. You don’t have to do that, but don’t lie around in your parent’s basement for the next year.
If at first you don’t succeed, try…try again. I got my acceptance the second time, but I know someone who applied to medical school 4 times before she got in. There is hope, but you’ll have to ask yourself some hard questions and be willing to do the work once you figure out what needs to improve. Never give up. Good luck and Godspeed!