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Ranking Programs Who Didn’t Interview You


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For competitive programs, I’ve heard the chances of them ranking you if they did not interview you are slim to none (correct me if you’ve heard otherwise).

If this is the case, is it foolish to rank a program highly if you didn’t interview there? For example, a program I wanted to rank #2 did not interview me.  Would ranking this #2 affect my chances at my #3rd choice, for instance?

 

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55 minutes ago, MedHopeful93 said:

If this is the case, is it foolish to rank a program highly if you didn’t interview there? For example, a program I wanted to rank #2 did not interview me.  Would ranking this #2 affect my chances at my #3rd choice, for instance?

You already paid the $35 to apply to them, you may as well rank them. Ranking them will not affect your lower ranked choices who did interview you, that's just not how the algorithm works. However, there is a 0.000001% chance you'll match there because by not interviewing you, the program is saying "I would rather not fill this spot than fill it with MedHopeful93".

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8 minutes ago, CaRMS2021 said:

You already paid the $35 to apply to them, you may as well rank them. Ranking them will not affect your lower ranked choices who did interview you, that's just not how the algorithm works. However, there is a 0.000001% chance you'll match there because by not interviewing you, the program is saying "I would rather not fill this spot than fill it with MedHopeful93".

Thanks! I will certainly rank them as I have nothing to lose, but I was wondering more specifically whether I should rank them higher or lower in my ROL.  I've definitely heard the same thing, i.e., it doesn't hurt the rest of your application, but I can't help but to question that.  

If it's truly applicant proposing, then why would my #3 program pick me if someone else ranked them #2?  In that case, it seems ranking a hail mary program as MY #2 would be damaging.  Lol I don't really understand the algorithm..

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17 minutes ago, MedHopeful93 said:

If it's truly applicant proposing, then why would my #3 program pick me if someone else ranked them #2?  In that case, it seems ranking a hail mary program as MY #2 would be damaging.  Lol I don't really understand the algorithm..

If you ranked Program X #3 and someone ranked program X #2, if both applicants did not match into their higher ranked program, the algorithm will preferentially match whichever applicant is higher on Program X's rank order list of applicants.

You could rank program X #50 in this scenario and if Program X has you ranked higher, they'll still take you over someone who ranked them #1 but Program X has them ranked lower. 

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39 minutes ago, MedHopeful93 said:

Thanks! I will certainly rank them as I have nothing to lose, but I was wondering more specifically whether I should rank them higher or lower in my ROL.  I've definitely heard the same thing, i.e., it doesn't hurt the rest of your application, but I can't help but to question that.  

If it's truly applicant proposing, then why would my #3 program pick me if someone else ranked them #2?  In that case, it seems ranking a hail mary program as MY #2 would be damaging.  Lol I don't really understand the algorithm..

Applicant proposing means that the algorithm starts from a position of trying to match each applicant with their highest ranked choice first. It doesn’t consider ‘relative ranking’ - I.e. it doesn’t matter if someone ‘wants it more’ than you by ranking the program higher. As @CaRMS2021 explained, you match into the highest program you ranked that still has space for you, once all the other applicants above you have been considered and matched (to that program or elsewhere).

So even if you didn’t interview at a program, if you still really want to go there you should rank it higher.

Edit: your question and many other similar scenarios are covered here https://www.carms.ca/the-match/how-it-works/what-if/#best-result

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You will never jeopardize a chance at a program because you rank it lower. For example: if you rank Program A #2 vs #3, your chances for Program A will be the same in both those situations, and you will always get that spot in Program A over another applicant if your file score was better (unless you get one of your higher ranked programs) 

 

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1 hour ago, Ji Ah said:

You will never jeopardize a chance at a program because you rank it lower. For example: if you rank Program A #2 vs #3, your chances for Program A will be the same in both those situations, and you will always get that spot in Program A over another applicant if your file score was better (unless you get one of your higher ranked programs) 

 

Mostly true. You’re right that the algorithm isn’t considering the absolute value of where you ranked a program in deciding your chances at a program, or how your ranking compares relative to other students rankings.

Except you CAN jeopardize your chance at a program by ranking it lower, because you won’t match to it if you match to something higher on your own list. E.g. if you rank a program you have a very high chance of matching to (e.g. a big family Med program with lots of spots and on which you aced the interview), higher than your most preferred program, you could have a virtually 0% chance of matching to your most preferred program. Which is why it’s so important to always rank based on your actual preference. 

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Had a conversation with classmates about this recently- maybe someone can help us understand. If someone is applying to something really competitive or with a very small number of seats, how can you rank based solely on preferences, and not take into account what others applicants are doing? If you strongly suspect multiple applicants will be ranking a program first, and want to maximize your chances of matching to a particular specialty, doesn't it make sense to consider ranking a different program first? Hope this makes sense. 

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4 hours ago, rosetta123 said:

Had a conversation with classmates about this recently- maybe someone can help us understand. If someone is applying to something really competitive or with a very small number of seats, how can you rank based solely on preferences, and not take into account what others applicants are doing? If you strongly suspect multiple applicants will be ranking a program first, and want to maximize your chances of matching to a particular specialty, doesn't it make sense to consider ranking a different program first? Hope this makes sense. 

No, it never makes sense to rank less competitive programs higher just because the program you want is competitive. 

Essentially it works like this. Let's say 3 people (A, B and C) rank the same program first (Program Alpha). Program Alpha has two spots, and creates a rank list in order of B, A, C. Image there's two other people (D and E), who rank a different program, Beta, first. Beta program creates a rank list of C, D, E.  When the algorithm runs across the first choices for everyone, because B and A ranked program Alpha first AND the program ranked them in the first two slots, they will match, but C will not yet be matched. The algorithm will also tentatively match D and E to Program Beta, because that's their first choice and no one else who ranked it first is currently above them on Beta's list. But at this point the matches for D and E are still tentative, because there's a person on Program Beta's list who remains unmatched AND is ranked higher than them. Now the algorithm looks at the second choice of everyone who is still unmatched, i.e. person C. Person C's second choice was Program Beta, and they're actually ranked higher on that program's list, so they match to it. So now C and D are matched to program Beta, and E is no longer tentatively matched. Now the algorithm tries to match everyone who's still unmatched (i.e. E) to their next highest choice. And so on.

So you might be tempted to say, well why didn't person C just rank program Beta first from the beginning if that's where they were more likely to match? But you don't actually know which person you are in this scenario and you don't know how the programs are going to rank you. You could be person A, B, or C. If you were person B and you said to yourself "Oh man, everyone is so competitive and wants program Alpha so bad, I'm not going to bother ranking it as high" you may have potentially just lost yourself a spot in the program you want. 

... reflecting on this, I think maybe the letters and program names I chose are a bit confusing :P let me know if that does not make sense lol

Edited by frenchpress
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15 minutes ago, rosetta123 said:

Had a conversation with classmates about this recently- maybe someone can help us understand. If someone is applying to something really competitive or with a very small number of seats, how can you rank based solely on preferences, and not take into account what others applicants are doing? If you strongly suspect multiple applicants will be ranking a program first, and want to maximize your chances of matching to a particular specialty, doesn't it make sense to consider ranking a different program first? Hope this makes sense. 

No this is incorrect. Take a simplified example:

Applicants: You, Jim, Bob, Lino. Jim, Bob, and Lino ranked Competitive Program A first, and you decide to rank Competitive Program B first. 

Competitive Program A has 1 spot. They rank: 1) Jim, 2) Bob, 3) you, 4) Lino. Jim gets the spot.

Competitive Program B has 1 spot. They rank: 1) Bob, 2) You, 3) Lino, 4) Jim. Bob will still get the spot even though you ranked it first, and Bob ranked it second. 

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2 minutes ago, Ji Ah said:

No this is incorrect. Take a simplified example:

Applicants: You, Jim, Bob, Lino. Jim, Bob, and Lino ranked Competitive Program A first, and you decide to rank Competitive Program B first. 

Competitive Program A has 1 spot. They rank: 1) Jim, 2) Bob, 3) you, 4) Lino. Jim gets the spot.

Competitive Program B has 1 spot. They rank: 1) Bob, 2) You, 3) Lino, 4) Jim. Bob will still get the spot even though you ranked it first, and Bob ranked it second. 

Your example has better names :lol:

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25 minutes ago, frenchpress said:

No, it never makes sense to rank less competitive programs first just because they're competitive. 

Essentially it works like this. Let's say 3 people (A, B and C) rank the same program first (Program Alpha). Program Alpha has two spots, and creates a rank list in order of B, A, C. Image there's two other people (D and E), who rank a different program, Beta, first. Beta program creates a rank list of C, D, E.  When the algorithm runs across the first choices for everyone, because B and A ranked program Alpha first AND the program ranked them in the first two slots, they will match, but C will not yet be matched. The algorithm will also tentatively match D and E to Program Beta, because that's their first choice and no one else who ranked it first is currently above them on Beta's list. But at this point the matches for D and E are still tentative, because there's a person on Program Beta's list who remains unmatched AND is ranked higher than them. Now the algorithm looks at the second choice of everyone who is still unmatched, i.e. person C. Person C's second choice was Program Beta, and they're actually ranked higher on that program's list, so they match to it. So now C and D are matched to program Beta, and E is no longer tentatively matched. Now the algorithm tries to match everyone who's still unmatched (i.e. E) to their third choice. And so on.

So you might be tempted to say, well why didn't person C just rank program Beta first from the beginning if that's where they were more likely to match? But you don't actually know which person you are in this scenario and you don't know how the programs are going to rank you. You could be person A, B, or C. If you were person B and you said to yourself "Oh man, everyone is so competitive and wants program Alpha so bad, I'm not going to bother ranking it as high" you may have potentially just lost yourself a spot in the program you want. 

... reflecting on this, I think maybe the letters and program names I chose are a bit confusing :P let me know if that does not make sense lol

This example was very helpful, thank you! I think the bit we were missing was that person C would get their second choice over person E getting their first choice, with all this talk about the applicant being preferred and so on. I've just been wanting to wrap my head around the idea that the only way to go forward is to rank based on preferences solely, which I know to be true from reading it over and over, just have been needing to get it in my head! 

 

28 minutes ago, Ji Ah said:

No this is incorrect. Take a simplified example:

Applicants: You, Jim, Bob, Lino. Jim, Bob, and Lino ranked Competitive Program A first, and you decide to rank Competitive Program B first. 

Competitive Program A has 1 spot. They rank: 1) Jim, 2) Bob, 3) you, 4) Lino. Jim gets the spot.

Competitive Program B has 1 spot. They rank: 1) Bob, 2) You, 3) Lino, 4) Jim. Bob will still get the spot even though you ranked it first, and Bob ranked it second. 

Thanks for this example as well! Helps me to understand. :)

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16 minutes ago, Davinci said:

So the consensus is that if program X is my top choice, but I didn't interview there, I should still rank it #1 for the tiny chance of matching there without causing any damage to my lower rank programs?

I would also like to know the answer to this. Based on the very helpful examples given here, it seems that if student A ranks program A #1, and that program also ranks student A #1, it is a guaranteed match. Anything beyond that is trying to match students to their preferred programs but program preference prevails. 
 

Given that, wouldn’t it be suicide to waste your #1 rank on a program that is 100% not ranking you first?  It’s plausible the may rank you, but if they don’t interview you they are absolutely not ranking you #1. 

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28 minutes ago, MedHopeful93 said:

program preference prevails. 

Applicant preference always prevails, until they're equivalent (both Bob and Jim didn't match to their higher ranked programs and next on the Rank Order List for both is Program A, then it goes to program's list to see if Bob or Jim is ranked higher. 

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1 hour ago, Davinci said:

So the consensus is that if program X is my top choice, but I didn't interview there, I should still rank it #1 for the tiny chance of matching there without causing any damage to my lower rank programs?

Yes!

47 minutes ago, MedHopeful93 said:

I would also like to know the answer to this. Based on the very helpful examples given here, it seems that if student A ranks program A #1, and that program also ranks student A #1, it is a guaranteed match. Anything beyond that is trying to match students to their preferred programs but program preference prevails. 
 

Given that, wouldn’t it be suicide to waste your #1 rank on a program that is 100% not ranking you first?  It’s plausible the may rank you, but if they don’t interview you they are absolutely not ranking you #1. 

You can't waste your rank, because the absolute placement on your list does not matter. The algorithm doesn't care if a program is ranked #1 or #10. The algorithm will just match you with the highest ranked of your options that it can, and it continues to try to find stable matches as it works down your list. Even if your chances of matching to your #1 pick are tiny because that program did not rank you, you should still rank it first. If, as you predicted, you don't match to that program, then the algorithm will then attempt to match you to your 2nd choice. In that case your chances of matching to that 2nd choice are the same as if it had been your first choice.

Let's say you really want program X but they didn't interview you. And you also interviewed at Program A and Program B. Let's also assume Program A doesn't rank you, and Program B ranks you #2 (and has two spots available. ).

First, assume you submit the following rank list: 
Rank list 1: Program A, Program B, Program X

In this case, you won't match to program A, but you will match to program B. You'll never know if you could have matched to program X because the algorithm stopped when it found a stable match. 

Now, let's consider if you submitted the following rank list where you rank Program X first. 
Rank list 2: Program X, Program A, Program B. 

In the above case, if program X doesn't rank you, you will still match to Program B. It does not matter how many other people rank program B, you cannot hurt your chances of matching to program B by placing program X higher. The only thing that would change the outcome is if Program X DOES end up ranking you high enough that you manage to match there - in that case you don't match to program B, because you've actually gotten something higher on your list.  

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29 minutes ago, MedHopeful93 said:

Given that, wouldn’t it be suicide to waste your #1 rank on a program that is 100% not ranking you first?  It’s plausible the may rank you, but if they don’t interview you they are absolutely not ranking you #1. 

The program you rank #1 is the one you want to go to the most. period. Regardless of whether they think they'll rank you high/low/not at all. 

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33 minutes ago, MedHopeful93 said:

I would also like to know the answer to this. Based on the very helpful examples given here, it seems that if student A ranks program A #1, and that program also ranks student A #1, it is a guaranteed match. Anything beyond that is trying to match students to their preferred programs but program preference prevails. 
 

Given that, wouldn’t it be suicide to waste your #1 rank on a program that is 100% not ranking you first?  It’s plausible the may rank you, but if they don’t interview you they are absolutely not ranking you #1. 

No, because if your number 1 is no longer available, your number 2 choice is now essentially your number 1 choice. Meaning, always rank based on your own preference, not how you think programs will rank you. You want #1 most, then #2, so on an so on...

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6 minutes ago, aray623 said:

No, because if your number 1 is no longer available, your number 2 choice is now essentially your number 1 choice. Meaning, always rank based on your own preference, not how you think programs will rank you. You want #1 most, then #2, so on an so on...

I see. Well I still don’t think I completely understand this but I trust all you very smart people lol.

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