You ever play with those "Where's Waldo" books when you where little? Basically the pages are filled with hundreds of characters who are all wearing the exact same colors and similar patterns. Your job is to cut through all of the clutter and find one person, Waldo, in the crowd of thousands.
Medical School admissions are often like that for the schools. They try so hard to find the exact right match to their school among thousands of applicants. They read into numbers, study personal statements, and try to invite for interviews those who seem to fit into the school they way they want.
What is crazy is that most students do nothing that helps them stand out. Students think, incorrectly, that if they get good grades, do good community service, spend time with a doctor, and maybe add in some research that they should be very different from the rest of the applicants. THIS IS JUST NOT TRUE!! EVERYONE thinks that and they all do the exact same thing. A HUGE percentage of applicants have done all of those things and have done them well.
Perfect...that is the question I want to answer. If you can stand out...you make finding Waldo (insert your name for Waldo here)significantly easier. You need to make that lasting impression, you need to make sure that when your application is read, no matter when or by who, that is get's talked about and reviewed. You cannot let ANY STEP of your application be an easy skip over...period. If you get skipped over, you lost, simple as that.
So, if you really want to know how to stand out. If you really want to be able to be that person who really shines in the interview do you have to actually DO activities that are really different? Do you have to be an all-American athlete or a nationally recognized researcher? Absolutely NOT! Will those things make you stick out? Of Course, but it is not necessary to be that different. Let me explain.
As I go from school to school and talk to the heads of admissions committees in nearly every school in the country, all of them say something similar about how to stand out. And that is...BE PASSIONATE! Really, it is that simple. Like I said above, every student is doing the same stuff. They are getting good numbers, shadowing doctors, volunteering, researching...it is all the same. But a select few students, those who are getting accepted to 5-10 schools, are the ones that are making all of the activities line up with their goals and passions.
Instead of just getting good grades they are getting good grades in classes that line up with their future goals and show their passion in those things. They are the one's who are not just volunteering, but they are finding volunteering opportunities in something they are passionate about, or STARTING volunteering organizations in those passions. They are not just shadowing doctors they are shadowing doctors who are the exact doctors they want to one day be.
Then they show that passion in everything they do. There personal statement is not just a well-written essay about an experience they had, but rather it is a passionate story about something in their life that really changed it for the better. Their secondary essays, and interviews continue on the same course. It is easy to see how their activities are all related to that passion, and it is easy to feel their passion when reading their words.
This is something I ask the students I coach to do all the time. Put yourself in the shoes of the admissions committee. You are reading thousands of essays, over and over you read about a volunteer experience, or shadowing experience and why that student would like to one day be a doctor. Over and over you read somewhat similar essays about why each student would like to be a doctor. What would you do? Well you'd probably do what the schools do, go back to numbers, and look for anything else you can find that would help you differentiate this student from others. Doesn't it make sense then that you would want to differentiate yourselves? This is how you do it, not according to me, but rather according to many admissions directors. Passion is what makes you different. Don't do things for the schools, do them for yourself and show your passion for the things you do.
If you are already starting the application process, don't worry you can still take advantage of this, even if you just have interviews left. The only problem is that if you don't have time to do MORE activities you have to find the passion in the activities you have already done. What did you like the most? Who did you meet that you want to emulate? Maybe your passion can be a negative passion, meaning you did or saw something that you REALLY hated about health care and want to change it around. You can have just as much passion for that as for something you loved. The key is to have passion.
Apply this to your situation. If you only have interviews left, make sure you leave your mark on the interview with that passion. Whatever you have left in your application, you can use this strategy to do it better.
As I stated above, I am an admissions coach. I have 2 goals with my website and program. First, I want my website to provide every bit of free information available anywhere. Hopefully I will be able to include so much free information on this site, that it won't make sense to look for information elsewhere. And I want to keep all of that information free. If you haven't had a chance yet, go check out all the information I give away for free on my medical school information website. If you notice anything missing please let me know on the contact page at the top of every page.
My second goal is to provide the absolute best program available to help students get accepted. The information I give in my coaching is not available for free anywhere that I've found, and some of it is only available through medical school confidant. This program has given students who have used it a 96% admission rate to medical school with most of them getting into their first choice. If you are interested in more information about my coaching check out my admission to medical school coaching page and see what you think.
Whether or not you choose to get coaching, I wish you the absolute best of luck in this process and really hope that you enjoy this 5 day course, I know you'll be more prepared for medical school admissions just by reading these 5 days of information. Day 2 is all about how to do the right research for the schools you apply to, way beyond the regular GPA and MCAT research.
Medical School Confidant Better Admission Guidance. More Choice. Lasting Success