I am a junior (just completed the MCAT) and have decided against taking a gap year. I want to most likely apply at the end of this academic year. When should I do things like purchase MSAR, make a school list, ask for rec letters, and brainstorm a personal statement? I’m not sure how exactly most students make their timelines for these sorts of things.
Thanks in advance.
P.S. This is a great resource for students, and I wish I had it as a freshman!!
Since you have your MCAT out of the way, you are already way ahead of the curve. Congrats! Give yourself a pat on the back and take some time to relax.
Next steps, I would start planning out which faculty members you might be interested in asking for a letter and reach out — check our previous content for more information on which types of letters you might want to have and how to ask. A benefit to doing this step first is that a lot of our professors and research and clinical faculty have a lot of knowledge about the medical admissions process. They may be willing to serve as a mentor: mock interview you, help edit your personal statement, or find schools that are a good fit for you. Our university’s pre-health advisors are also a great resource, so making an appointment and seeing them ASAP may help you begin to form a plan.
Additionally, the MSAR is a one-year subscription so purchasing in the next couple months (~December or January) would be wise, so you will be able to begin making a school list at that time. This way, you will still have access during the application cycle if you receive an interview for a specific school next year and need to brush up on the program and campus information available on MSAR. I personally purchased way too early, and have had to renew during the cycle because I wanted access during my interview season.
We will be releasing a DO vs. MD comparison blog this month, which can help you make the decision to plan to apply to DO. This plan might require extra steps if you have to shadow a DO or do some more research on different types of schools. We also have an upcoming monthly blog post (planned for release next semester) to explain how best to narrow down school lists to be the most successful applicant.
Lastly, you should start thinking about why you are going into medicine. Take a step back from the basic science study and look at the big picture: maybe you really enjoy research or volunteering, or a specific area of study like public health or ethics. This will help you in both writing your essays and also whether you may be a good candidate for a specific degree program like MD/PhD, MD/MPH, MD/MA, etc. The earlier you start drafting ideas for your personal statement, the better, but don’t worry about having a physical draft finished anytime soon. Just make sure you are constantly brainstorming about your values and goals in this upcoming year until you begin applying.
Let us know if you need help with anything, like finding schools or emailing professors. We are always available during advising hours!
PMH Co-President, Pooja