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chemiosmosis11

Further Advice From Accepted People?...update

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I already got some valuable feedback from people, but hopefully could get some wider feedback especially from people who got accepted. Furthermore, a lot of people I know suggested doing a fifth year, but I think it's insane. Or rewriting the MCAT, but that seems crazy too.

I was rejected pre-interview at ottawa, mac, toronto, western, queens, manitoba, sask, bc, calgary, alberta, and some states schools. I essentially didn't receive an interview.

cGPA: 3.91

wGPA: 3.95

MCAT: 130/128/130/128 (128 is in CARS)

Ontario IP

 

I think ECs killed me but I still do have about a hundred hours in clinical volunteering as well as a few research positions over the summer (no pubs). Exec of a club.

But at the same time, how can you really improve ECs over the summer for next cycle? Perhaps it's the way you write your ECs but can that really account for 10ish schools?

Anyone accepted has been in a similar situation?

 

EDIT: Yes, I already graduated some time ago. I'm not a third year applicant.

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You don't need a fifth year. You're GPA is great! But yeah most likely your ECs or how you wrote them.. I also have no clue about the new MCAT (i.e what is considered a good score) because I've only written the old one.

(I'm not an accepted med student though, so take what I say with a grain of salt) 

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Yeah, it would be your ECs. Your MCAT score would hurt you at a few schools (it'd be what kept you from a Western interview), but it's not a bad score either.

 

It may be how you're presenting yourself in writing, not just in ECs, but in the CaSPER and essays as well. It may also be in the overall quality and quantity of your ECs. It's always difficult to judge ECs, but 100 hours of clinical volunteering, a few summer research positions, and a single club exec would be on the lower side for ECs. It's a good base to build on and your other stats are good, but it might be necessary to improve your ECs a bit, in addition to thinking of ways of presenting them better.

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Sure, I think it is possible to improve ECs over the summer. In addition to spending more time/taking a different approach perhaps to writing your applications. 

 

I would look for something you are truly passionate about. My honest (blunt?) assesment of what you have there is that it seems a bit cookie-cutter, like you did everything you thought 'premeds' should do. Yes, it's possible to care most about research and clinical volunteering, but  what else do you really like to do? 

 

I think you need just a bit more diversity-a bit more 'you' coming through from your activities list. I'd try and get involved in at least a couple more things, even if you work full-time days for example, but volunteer/spend at least 2-3 evenings a week doing different ECs/volunteering

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Sure, I think it is possible to improve ECs over the summer. In addition to spending more time/taking a different approach perhaps to writing your applications. 

 

I would look for something you are truly passionate about. My honest (blunt?) assesment of what you have there is that it seems a bit cookie-cutter, like you did everything you thought 'premeds' should do. Yes, it's possible to care most about research and clinical volunteering, but  what else do you really like to do? 

 

I think you need just a bit more diversity-a bit more 'you' coming through from your activities list. I'd try and get involved in at least a couple more things, even if you work full-time days for example, but volunteer/spend at least 2-3 evenings a week doing different ECs/volunteering

 

"My honest (blunt?) assesment of what you have there is that it seems a bit cookie-cutter, like you did everything you thought 'premeds' should do. Yes, it's possible to care most about research and clinical volunteering, but  what else do you really like to do?" This.

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Hands down the best advice I received during this entire application process was this:

 

"If all your reviewer knows after reviewing your file is that you are a reasonably clever person (indicated by an eligible GPA) that wants to get into medical school... well you're not going to stand out very much. Your EC write up should give your reviewer some kind of indication of who you are beyond being someone who wants to get into medical school."

 

A couple hundred hours of clinical volunteering and some research work are perfectly fine ECs... but if you can't speak to how this volunteer experience/research impacted who you are as a person or broadened your view of the world then your reviewer might question if you only did this work as a way to get into medical school. Think about a medical school receiving thousands of applications... how do your clinical volunteer hours and research assistant work stand out? 

 

This next section is going to be a bit blunt and please know it is not directed at you, it is a broad stroke statement solely intended to give some points to think on. I obviously don't know you and have no idea how you wrote up your ECs, so I'm providing it as a point of reflection for yourself and anyone else who struggles in writing up their ECs... this is not an assumption of how your application was written.

 

I think reviewers have gotten wise to the fact that some (certainly not all, but some) pre-med applicants treat the EC portion of the application process like a checklist: "I've completed my 12 obligatory shifts at a soup kitchen, spent my 150 hours organizing files at a medical clinic, filled pipettes in a lab for a summer and the only thing I have left is building an orphanage in Haiti". Unfortunately, when something is treated as a checklist it loses all meaning and becomes just another line item for reviewers to slog through. The purpose of ECs isn't just to inspire pre-meds to do a bunch of meaningless volunteer work, the point of all of this work is to broaden your worldview and bring in perspectives other than your own. Here's an example using the soup kitchen volunteering:

 

Checklist Applicant: Treats these shifts as an obligation. Shows up on time, does exactly what is expected, serves the food efficiently and stays late to tidy up each time in hopes of getting a reference that says they take initiative. 

 

Non-checklist Applicant: Treats this opportunity to become involved in someone else's experience with reverence and respect. Engages meaningfully with each person they meet and makes an effort to understand more about the stories and experiences of the individuals they meet during the day. This person recognizes that individuals experiencing homelessness are one of the most marginalized and dehumanized groups in the country and engages in reflection around how privilege and oppression impact individuals experiencing homelessness. This person also extends that critical reflection to their own lives and thinks carefully about how they can use their privileged position to advocate for those who have been denied privilege. This applicant also takes time to consider how individuals experiencing homelessness receive services in modern society and reflects on the social forces that give rise to homelessness in the first place. 

 

Your write-up will sound a thousand times better if you are able to choose ECs that mean something to you, so as you look towards trying to improve your application this summer I would urge you to look for opportunities that you have a real connection to. If your EC pursuits are meaningful to you, it is easy to write them up like the non-checklist applicant. Think about an activity that you do solely because you love doing it and then reflect critically about why you love doing it. What kind of things has this activity taught you? What opportunities has it opened up? How did it inspire you to think about the world differently? Figure out how to describe this when writing up your ECs and you will naturally stand out to your reviewer. 

 

I was accepted to U of C this year and based on my stats I strongly suspect it was my ECs that boosted my application. Nothing on my Top 10 write-up was earth shatteringly unique. I included things like the work I've done, a personal experience or two and a scholarship I won. In fact, had I just written up the facts of any of these experiences they would have been incredibly boring. Instead of talking about the facts of the experience, I spoke more to how the experience impacted me as a person. I talked about how each experience shaped my worldview and this, by extension, gave the file reviewers a peek into who I am and how I see the world. Because I applied to the U of C there was a list of criteria they use to judge the top 10 available to me (made available in Dr. Walker's information session) - I used it. I wrote multiple drafts and threw out some of the items I initially planned to use. I had multiple people weigh in along the way too, which really really helped. 

 

I hope some of this is helpful to you. You've got lots of time over the next few months to fine tune your ECs so don't be afraid to bounce some ideas around in the forums - I've found folks here are pretty helpful with those types of things!

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Thank you everyone for all the helpful feedback. I'll definitely look into EC's that I'm passionate about.

But, I did feel like I had taken some valuable lessons throughout my four years that have helped (at least somewhat) with my desire to pursue medicine. My question is then, how do I exactly portray that in my application?

 

Each entry in OMSAS is limited to around 150-200 characters (from what I remember?). You can't write much there aside from responsibilities, so maybe could I possibly get some help then with writing an entry?

Let's quickly make up the soup kitchen example:

 

Soup Kitchen Volunteer

Served meals to less fortunate during peak meal hours. Worked under stress and interacted with a broad demographic. Empathized with individual needs.

 

Of course the above is a pretty poor example (written in a minute or so), but that itself is 150 characters. There's not much else you can put there....I think? Anyone take a shot?

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Thank you everyone for all the helpful feedback. I'll definitely look into EC's that I'm passionate about.

But, I did feel like I had taken some valuable lessons throughout my four years that have helped (at least somewhat) with my desire to pursue medicine. My question is then, how do I exactly portray that in my application?

 

Each entry in OMSAS is limited to around 150-200 characters (from what I remember?). You can't write much there aside from responsibilities, so maybe could I possibly get some help then with writing an entry?

Let's quickly make up the soup kitchen example:

 

Soup Kitchen Volunteer

Served meals to less fortunate during peak meal hours. Worked under stress and interacted with a broad demographic. Empathized with individual needs.

 

Of course the above is a pretty poor example (written in a minute or so), but that itself is 150 characters. There's not much else you can put there....I think? Anyone take a shot?

 

 

The OMSAS character limit is definitely a tough one. If you have a supplementary essay you might be able to load a lot of this stuff in there. If you apply to U of C then your top 10 has a longer character limit.

 

It's important for you to know that I am going to U of C, so my experience was with the top 10 and not OMSAS... but you could look at something like this:

 

Soup Kitchen Volunteer:

Meal service. Interacted with individuals experiencing homelessness to provide a safe environment and assisted clients in accessing required resources.   <--- that is 151 characters with spaces so you could delete the period at the end if you had to. If you have 50 more characters then you could add an extra few words about what you did. I agree that with OMSAS you'll have trouble talking about meaning in this section, but keep an eye out for opportunities in supplemental essays etc. Choosing your words carefully when describing your activities will go a long way to helping them stand out. Feel free to ask on the forum if anyone is willing to review them too! Once you have a few names you can PM your ECs to them to see if they have suggestions.

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I agree with everything that MSWschnoodle has said about ECs. My stats are almost the same as yours but I'm an older applicant (34 this year) so I've had the opportunity to put together quite a few different ECs. Most of them are non-traditional, so I really had to sell them in my 150 chars. Not to overdo the "soup kitchen" example, but another option is:

 

"Provided meals and life-sustaining resources to those in need, creating a safe environment for individuals to take steps to improve their well-being" (under 150 chars)

 

Try to use as many descriptive words as possible, and focus on the action (what you do) and the outcome (what was the result).

 

This next one may sound a bit over the top, but it's what I wrote for my entry of "Father of Two" as an "Other" entry.

 

"Supported my wife through two difficult pregnancies, allowing me to care for two beautiful young girls (1 and 3) as they learned to crawl, walk, and talk"

 

Since this is the only part of the application where you can really add any personal touches (except for the schools where they have essays and what not) I think it really pays off to put the time to carefully craft your 150 chars.

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I also completely agree with MSWschnoodle. I just wanted to make another point. I find sometimes we can focus too much on the "right" activity and having the "right" number of hours of volunteering. My application had a mix of longer term commitments (multiple years) and some shorter (maybe 20 hours) but very meaningful experiences. Don't discount an experience because you don't think it is "right".

 

  I also found the more meaningful experiences I had usually involved pushing myself outside of my comfort zone/forced me to interact with people I wouldn't normally interact with in my everyday life. I volunteered with HIV+ people and did the usual pre-med checklist stuff that MSWschnoodle mentioned, but then I was offered an opportunity to go to a meal and hear about people's experiences living with HIV. This wasn't part of my "normal" volunteer experience and I didn't get hours logged for it, but it had a profound impact on me. Although that might not directly show up on my written application, it definitely helped me during interviews and has generally changed the way I view situations and other people. Perhaps this changed the way I framed my activities? 

 

  I think we should stop trying so hard to live the "right" volunteer commitment and just go out there and do things. Again I think MSWschnoodle summed it up perfectly with, " The purpose of ECs isn't just to inspire pre-meds to do a bunch of meaningless volunteer work, the point of all of this work is to broaden your worldview and bring in perspectives other than your own." 

 

 I definitely think you can improve your application over one summer, I know I did. Again, even having 20-50 volunteer hours can have a strong impact on you and your application.

 

 Again, MSWschnoodle is right --> I hope some of this is helpful to you. You've got lots of time over the next few months to fine tune your ECs so don't be afraid to bounce some ideas around in the forums - I've found folks here are pretty helpful with those types of things!

 

 Good luck!

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I'm just going to throw my 2 cents in for the 'other' category. So I put down on OMSAS Oil painting as an other EC. I like to take classes, do it with my mother and what type of things I like to paint (abstract). At my Queens interview during the panel portion they Specifically asked me about painting and we talked about it for a good 5 minutes. 

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I agree with everything that MSWschnoodle has said about ECs. My stats are almost the same as yours but I'm an older applicant (34 this year) so I've had the opportunity to put together quite a few different ECs. Most of them are non-traditional, so I really had to sell them in my 150 chars. Not to overdo the "soup kitchen" example, but another option is:

 

"Provided meals and life-sustaining resources to those in need, creating a safe environment for individuals to take steps to improve their well-being" (under 150 chars)

 

Try to use as many descriptive words as possible, and focus on the action (what you do) and the outcome (what was the result).

 

This next one may sound a bit over the top, but it's what I wrote for my entry of "Father of Two" as an "Other" entry.

 

"Supported my wife through two difficult pregnancies, allowing me to care for two beautiful young girls (1 and 3) as they learned to crawl, walk, and talk"

 

Since this is the only part of the application where you can really add any personal touches (except for the schools where they have essays and what not) I think it really pays off to put the time to carefully craft your 150 chars.

Absolutely. Those descriptions are shockingly similar to the style I wrote mine in, since I also (although I'm a very 'traditional' applicant) had mostly work and other very non-glamorous activities, so I really took special care with the descriptions. And given that my grades were pretty non-spectacular, I think it made a big difference. 

 

It really can make a difference how you phrase things, and it just shows how it's not at all about the position or prestige, but more about what you felt you accomplished

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I'm just going to throw my 2 cents in for the 'other' category. So I put down on OMSAS Oil painting as an other EC. I like to take classes, do it with my mother and what type of things I like to paint (abstract). At my Queens interview during the panel portion they Specifically asked me about painting and we talked about it for a good 5 minutes. 

 

for something like this, what would you put for a verifier?

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for something like this, what would you put for a verifier?

 

 

Honestly I can't remember. I looked at my app on Omsas, I think I must've put myself (Is that an option?)  :huh:

 

For the "Other" category on OMSAS, no verifier is required. Pretty useful for any hobbies or similar activities where you do a lot of it on your own.

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