In this article, Medical school applicants: Waitlisted? Want more interviews? Here’s what you can do., you will learn to create a focussed plan, or roadmap, that will increase your chances of acceptance as the medical school admissions season moves along.
I know what you’re thinking.
I submitted my application in July.
You felt great that you completed all of your secondary essays by mid-September.
You waited for medical schools to contact you.
You didn’t hear a thing.
Other than one interview that resulted in a waitlist decision you’ve heard nothing but radio silence.
So, what can you do?
Here’s the thing…
Whenever I work with medical school applicants I emphasize that the application process is ongoing.
The admissions process is “fluid.”
It is not as if you submit your primary application and secondary essays and the job is done!
This process is a marathon, not a sprint.
Stay in the game, not just for the first few months, but for the entire season.
Get moving! Stay motivated.
You must constantly work to bolster and improve your candidacy throughout the admissions season.
So, let’s discuss the type of plan that has help many of my clients over the last decade.
This will be our mid-season medical school admissions plan.
We’ve got you covered.
Assuming you are not accepted to your top choice medical school right off the bat, stay focused.
Provide solid evidence that your a great candidate.
It is important to provide medical schools with more evidence that you are an excellent candidate.
What does this mean, exactly?
Typically, you will offer this evidence to medical schools that are in one of two categories:
Medical schools where you have interviewed and have been waitlisted.
Medical schools where you have applied and have not yet heard anything.
Here’s some examples:
But first remember…
How you’ll improve your chances of acceptance at medical schools in each of these two categories varies slightly.
Schools where you are waitlisted
Let’s get started.
To improve your chances of converting a waitlist decision to an acceptance, at a school that is your number 1 choice, compose a letter of intent (LOI).
The school specifically requests that no additional documentation or letters be sent.
In this letter of intent, state explicitly that the medical school is your number 1 choice and you will attend if accepted.
NEVER send this LOI if this is not a truthful statement, however.
So what should you write about?
Include as many specific reasons for your interest in the school as possible, as well as information about how you would contribute to the medical school community.
Include any information about recent academic, scholarly, or extracurricular achievements.
What about the medical school that has waitlisted you and is not a clear number 1 choice?
Would an “update letter” help me?
Students often ask me if “update letters” describing recent activities and accomplishments help with these schools.
Not so much…
In my experience they do not. Medical schools have little incentive for accepting students off of a waitlist who aren’t guaranteed matriculants.
Why is this?
Medical schools ideally want as many accepted students to matriculate as possible because this impacts the overall medical school “ranking” and competitiveness.
When a medical school admissions committee is trying to fill a class it would rather do so as efficiently as possible, especially as the summer approaches.
So, what does this all mean?
Sending an “update letter” rarely influences an admissions committee decision to accept you.
But here’s the kicker.
For medical schools where you have not yet interviewed, “update letters” can help (see below).
And there’s more…
For schools where you are waitlisted, that are not your top choice, send additional letters of reference (again, assuming the school is willing to accept them).
Get your best fans to support your medical school candidacy.
The more ringing endorsements the school has to support your candidacy, the more likely they are to view your application favorably.
Where should I look for these endorsements?
You can seek out a mentor, advisor, or professor to serve as your “applicant advocate,”– an individual who calls schools to support your candidacy.
Schools from which you haven’t heard
But what about all those medical schools that students don’t hear from?
Again, think about sending an update letter.
An update letter that outlines any recent academic, scholarly, or extracurricular achievements and expresses your interest in the school can help with schools in this category, unlike with schools at which you are waitlisted.
What should you write about?
This letter’s content is similar to that of the LOI.
Except of course:
Do not state that a school that you haven’t yet visited is your number 1 choice for fear of sounding disingenuous, pushy, or uniformed.
But remember, remember, remember…
What helps most at this stage of the admissions process is to recruit a medical school applicant advocate..
Let me explain:
This applicant advocate (again, most likely your premed advisor, professor, or mentor):
Calls the medical school admissions office
Speaks with an admissions dean or director, depending on the medical school admissions committee hierarchy, to offer support for your candidacy.
What’s the bottom line?
Sometimes these personal and verbal endorsements from a colleague lead to medical school interview invitations.
You might be wondering?
What about medical schools that have rejected you?
Rarely does a rejection decision convert to an interview invitation.
But, here’s some good news!
We have seen this happen when a medical school applicant advocate has gotten involved.
Here’s the deal:
Enthusiastic verbal endorsements can be very effective in crunch time!
What’s the bottom line?
Submitting your application often is just the beginning of the medical school admissions process.
Be your own advocate:
You must embrace a proactive role throughout the application cycle, seeking out experiences to strengthen your candidacy and building your recommendation base, until you have been accepted to the medical school that you will attend.