This is the easiest of the 5 principles I'll teach you. But even despite how easy it is, it can be done incorrectly, and many do it incorrectly.
Many of you, if you were asked what was the single easiest thing you can do to increase your chances of getting into medical school, would know the answer. It is of course, applying early. Now before you say "yeah I know that already" let me show you how people do it wrong and how you can do it right.
How can you possibly make mistakes in applying early? You just turn your application in during the first days of June and you are good right?
Well sure...but how was the application? Was it rushed? Did you spend all the time making your personal statement as perfect as you could? Did you submit your application weeks later because it wasn't quite done?
I'm always amazed at how many errors people make with such a simple principle. The good news is though, that you can avoid it...How? Simply by planning ahead. Let me show you how.
The reason students make this error is because they don't know when the application comes out, when it can be submitted, and they don't plan things that tend to take a longer time. Let's go through everything one-by-one to make sure you do it right and give yourself the full benefit of this principle.
The application usually opens in early May, and then you can submit it in early June. One month is enough time to finish 90% of the application. So for that 90% you don't need to worry before May. Just make sure you start it close to the day it opens.
It is the other 10% that students don't do correctly. 2 things on that primary application are 2 of the 3-4 most important things you can ever put on your application. Those two things are a personal statement, and your letters of recommendation.
So as you plan, don't worry about too much. Any complications of your initial application can be dealt with in that one month you have available to get them taken care of. However, the personal statement and the letters of recommendation need to be taken care of before the application opens.
The personal statement, as with the timing of all things at this stage of the application is tricky. If you go too early, you may have some good experiences after your write it or be too far from your writing to give it the weight you need on the rest of the application. Or you may not be able to get all the research done you need to (remember day 2?). If you go too late, you will have to put off your application in order to get it perfect enough for your application.
So with that in mind, you need to decide when you should start your personal statement. I recommend to my clients to start no later than March and no earlier than January.
Remember that the personal statement is the backbone of your application. It is the chance you have to show the medical school you are applying to what your strengths are and how those strengths can really shine as one of their students. They will expect you to reinforce the argument you make in your personal statement on every level of your application.
So as you are thinking about when to start the personal statement, consider how many experiences you have had in your life that have led you to choose medicine as a career. If those stories come easily to you, then you likely will not have a hard time with your personal statement, and you should start around March.
However if it is difficult for you to really explain how experiences in your life have led to the career choice in medicine, then you likely will need more time for both brainstorming, and help to really express yourself. You should consider starting earlier, perhaps in January.
They should...no...they MUST. Letters will do you NO GOOD if they can't be really different. And every letter written needs to be fantastic. Ordinary letters all talk about how good the student is or bright or how well they did in class...it really is all the same. Again, check out my medical school letters of recommendation page to get the "how" here. This article is about the "when."
Like the personal statement, you should not submit your application as done without your letters done, and close to perfect. And in order to accomplish that you must plan ahead. If you go ask a letter writer to write in 2 weeks, don't expect anything dazzling.
However if you follow my advice about the "how" and "when" your letters can be one of the very few every year that actually help an applicant. And anything in medical school admissions that makes you one of few, helps you significantly.
Letters are unique in that you can't really do them too early, but you can do them too late. As long as you have a very good relationship with the person you are asking, and you know which strengths you most want to highlight in your application, you are ready to ask the writer for a letter.
I talk about letters on the medical school letters of recommendation page. Make sure that the letters are done exactly how YOU want and really accentuate your strengths in the application.
After that, you only need to make sure that the letters are done, before June 1. Give your letter writers at least 1-2 months to write them, and stay close to them so they get them done and turned in on time. Remember you should have a solid relationship with them, so it shouldn't be awkward to ask them how the letters are going.
Then you simply send them in during your May application preparation time. And submit by the 1st of June (or whenever it opens for your year).
As you know by now, my coaching is always available if you would like it. The personal statement specific coaching was introduced above. I also offer medical school interview coaching and admission to medical school comprehensive coaching.
Day 4 is about getting people in the admissions committee to fight for your acceptance. You think that would help you get in? Of course, I'll see you then.
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