March 6, 2012

False Alarm

Alas, my soon-to-be alma mater did not send admissions decisions yesterday (this is precisely why they tell applicants "any time in March" so that you don't get your hopes crushed when there is a delay).  Like you, I am hoping for today so that I can call and email the applicants I interviewed and say COME HERE!

Out last Admissions Committee meeting of the year is next week, so there will be a few additional decisions trickle out.

March 5, 2012

In the Mail

My school is sending out the first batch of acceptances today!  Good luck everyone.

January 29, 2012

Interview Madness

My own interview madness, that is!

When I started this blog, I imagined that my own residency interview season would be the perfect time to write a blog for medical school applicants and interviewees.  I envisioned conducting interviews for my medical school's admissions committee while traveling the country for my own interviews all the while sitting on tarmacs updating my blog and reflecting on the irony of sitting on both sides of the interview table.

Needless to say, I've interviewed a lot of medical school applicants, had the good fortune of attending 26 of my own interviews (!!), and in fact, I have done a lot of reflecting on the challenges of being both the interviewer and the interviewee.  The part that is lacking is...the BLOGGING!  And for this, I am sincerely sorry.

More to come soon.  In the meantime, I hope you will find this comment reply helpful.

December 14, 2011

I Like You

It's an awkward thing to say in a relationship, and the same goes for expressing interest to medical schools (this is in response to a comment from November 28.) I have several thoughts on this issue.

- It's late enough (now) in the interview season that you are likely starting to have a sense for which medical schools will be your top choices. You see, at the beginning of interview season, when an applicant says, "I like you," I think to myself, "I don't believe you." How could you know?! There are too many fish in the sea. But by now, you've sewn some oats; expressing sincere interest means something. So, one potential thing is to overtly express interest when you send your thank you notes. Something like...
"I have nearly completed my interviews, and I anticipate that ___ with be one of my very top choices. I would be absolutely delighted to become a medical student at ___."
- That said, saying it in a thank you note is not enough. I HIGHLY recommend sending a letter of interest to your top choice. But, be cautious. You should not be sending multiple letters of interest. Your word means something. While the above comment could be sent in thank yous to, say, your top three choices, a letter of interest should be sent to just one. I would send it electronically so that it can easily be forwarded (if necessary) and so that it makes it into your electronic file. Be brief, personal, and sincere. Say why you think the school is a good fit (as opposed to just saying that it is a good fit).

Just yesterday, I was chatting with a current first year at my school who says that this time last year she knew my school was her first choice. She sent an email to one of her interviewers because she had been waitlisted, and he recommended that she write a letter to the admissions committee expressing her sincere interest in attending. Although a waitlist is a slightly different scenario, she was delighted to report she got in shortly thereafter. Admissions committees often look kindly upon these communications. You have nothing to lose, so go for it! If you message me, I will happily review yours.

October 25, 2011

What Not to Say

A gem from my interview with an applicant this week: It is not ok to use the term "douche-bag" in an interview, particularly when describing another individual.

October 23, 2011

Sunday Funny

One of my friends, an assistant to the Director of Admissions at a graduate school, recently shared with me this:
"[S]miley faces have their appropriate settings: text messages between friends, on a child's spelling test, and even from the greeter at Wal-mart. An example of an inappropriate setting might be, let's say, on a personal autobiography statement for your grad school application. Especially in lieu of appropriate sentence endings (i.e. a period)."
There are plenty of qualified applicants out there, and the folks who read applications are pretty much searching for a reason not to read further.  Try not to give them one, or at least not one so obvious :)

October 20, 2011

Don't Blow It

Simple enough advice, but tremendously challenging for many applicants: don't blow the interview.

My school's Admissions Committee met again this week, and I was surprised that applicants' "numbers" (GPA, MCAT score) and overall qualifications came up only twice during a whole evening of discussion.  Instead, what dominated the dialogue was the interview content. 

  • One applicant was described as "lacking depth."  He was apparently unable to elaborate upon some of the observations he made in his personal statement about differences between the US healthcare system and healthcare systems elsewhere.  
  • Another applicant was marked down because the interviewer was unable to get him "off script."  Often, interviewers are truly trying to get to know you.  For example, when they ask what you do for fun, it's not a trick; they really want to know what you enjoy.  This is not an opportunity to say something about how much you love sports because they have taught you about working in teams and developing as a leader.  It's enough that you love sports.  Save the additional details for when you're asked a more appropriate question.
  • One applicant was described as "weird."  There are plenty of extremely normal smart folks out there.  Being a bit unique is nice; being gross is not.
  • Finally, an applicant was described as arrogant.  This is a big problem.  Every future doctor is proud of their achievements, but a little humility goes a long way.  It's not too much to ask you to be humble for 30 straight minutes.

  • Everything in your application is fair game.  If you are unable to expand upon your coursework, activities, or topics you discussed in your application materials, read up.
  • Regardless of how much you've rehearsed, try to ad lib a bit.  This will become even more challenging as the interview season continues.  Relax.  Chat.
  • Don't be "that guy."  For example, if you lived and bathed in a park during part of undergraduate, you might just keep this to yourself.  Really.
  • Be poised and confident.  Don't be cocky.  Often it's not what you say, it's how you say it.