It is exciting but nerve-wracking that medical school application season is in full swing! It is truly hard to believe that just two years ago I was applying to medical school. I had sent out many primary applications and during this time I was being completed bombarded with secondary applications. I still remember the excitement of submitting my first secondary, receiving my first interview, and of course my first medical school acceptance! In my opinion, an important facet to a successful application year is the timeline of your application. When you submit your application can increase or decrease your chances of getting accepted into medical school, especially since the majority of medical schools are on rolling acceptance basis. Rolling acceptance basis means that as applications come, so do medical school acceptances. I am a firm believer in the earlier you apply, the better chance your application will have to be noticed. With that being said, make sure you are still putting forth the best application you can. In order to get your application out the earliest possible, it requires some pre-planning. In this three-part series, I have laid out the schedule that I used to that proved successful in my medical school application.
Fall before application cycle opens: Research schools that you are interested in. I created a spreadsheet with numbers such as GPA, MCAT, distance from home, tuition, and a pros/cons sheet. Also, begin at this point to consider the letter of recommendation writers. Ask around 4-6 people to write letters of recommendation. When creating your spreadsheet with prospective medical schools make sure you include the types of letters of recommendations you need. For example, some medical schools require two letters of recommendation from two science professors and one from a non-science professor, while others also require letters from a physician.
January before application cycles open: This is the perfect time to go in and ask your writers for their letter of recommendation. I would suggest making an appointment with your professors/doctors to physically go and ask them. During each meeting, make sure you bring your resume and information on how they can upload their letter. Tell them that you need the letter two weeks before the deadline. The majority of my professors were incredibly busy people and were writing letters of recommendation for multiple people. Thus, by making your deadline two weeks before you can ensure your writers will have it done by when you actually need to submit it. During this time, study for your MCAT and plan to take it before applications open.
January to April before the application cycle open: Keep emailing your letter of recommendation writers to ensure they remember to write your letter. Study for the MCAT and take the MCAT at least once before the application cycle opens. If you need to retake it, plan the date to retake.
Check out Part 2 of the Medical School Application Timeline Series to see how you should plan for after the application cycle opens in May!