As part of The Medical School Admissions Guide: A Harvard MD's Week-by-Week Admissions Handbook book tour, I have been speaking to pre-med groups throughout the country. On February 15, 2010, I had the pleasure of meeting with the University of Maryland AMSA group. Thank you to Adam Pampori for making this event happen.
These talks are the most enjoyable part of my work as an admissions consultant. I particularly love the one-on-one interactions after the lecture and general Q&A session when I hear each individual applicant's story. Tonight, I was most impressed by the large number of underclassmen who attended to meeting and are already thinking ahead to how they can best prepare for medical school. Gaining acceptance to medical school is a long process that started well before filling out the AMCAS application. It is never too early to start strategizing!
One great questions from the event that I wanted to post the answer to here:
Q: When is the best time to read The Medical School Admissions Guide?
A: The Medical School Admissions Guide is written as a week-by-week guide that starts in the January before you apply (i.e., you will turn in the AMCAS that June). However, it is most advantageous to read the book straight through as soon as possible to gain a sense of what is expected during the admissions process and then turn back to the guide weekly while applying. Reading this as early as freshman year will provide a huge advantage.
This is the time of medical school admission decisions. You likely have and will continue to hear from schools regarding your acceptance status. Every school has a different time line for reviewing applications and offering acceptances. Naturally, you may feel inclined to check in with certain schools to see when final decisions will be made. Even though this is a time of high anxiety, please be sure to be polite when contacting schools. Angering the assistant answering the phone is a very easy way to sink your application. Also, remember to avoid slang, acronyms, and text shorthand in e-mails to schools. Every phone call and e-mail should use formal language.
Many medical school applicants ask if they can send a letter of intent to multiple schools. By strict definition, a letter of intent should only be sent to your top choice. However, this does not mean you cannot send an update letter to other schools that are in your top 5 or 10. Such a letter will follow a similar format to the letter of intent but will not state outright that the school is your top choice and will focus more on updating the school on your recent progress. Such updates can include a recent publication, new grades from a post-bac program, an international experience from the Fall, or a new leadership position you gained, just to name a few. Keep these letters short (definitely less than a page).