Friday, November 14, 2014

Waiting On A Decision: Post-Interview Outcomes & Scenarios

The interview process for the incoming class is in full swing and applicants are now receiving word on their decisions. If you're out there interviewing, that's a good sign that your application is competitive. A strong showing in the interview can decide what you ultimately hear from the school.

Generally, there are three scenarios post-interview:
Congrats! Your path to becoming a med school student just got a bit clearer. But there are still some issues you must consider. For instance, if you are accepted at several institutions, a decision on where you'd like to attend is imminent.

Not many people get the luxury of receiving several acceptances so if you are certain of which school you'd like to attend, it's helpful and considerate to withdraw your application from the school(s) you choose not to attend. This way, they are clear about having that spot open for other candidates. Admissions offices appreciate it.

Some schools also allow applicants to defer a year, pending a valid explanation. While we can't speak for every school, our admissions officer reviews each request on a case-by-case basis. Still, some of the more typical reasons for deferring are due to an applicant finishing up research or another post-graduate program. Family issues such as children and/or a marriage are also quite common, but deferment depends on the circumstance, of course.

Once January hits, it's time to prepare your FAFSA. Having paperwork settled early will give the school more time to prepare a financial aid package best for you. 

Specific to the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine (CHM), some applicants may be recommended for the Advanced Baccalaureate Learning Experience (ABLE) program, which is a sort of conditional acceptance. In reality, ABLE is a year-long postbaccalaureate program that upon successful completion, automatically guarantees the applicant admission as part of the following year's incoming class.

Selected disadvantaged applicants who show promise for medicine, yet may lack the science background required to perform optimally in medical school, are referred to ABLE by the Committee on Admissions.
Hang in there. We know this isn't the news you'd most like to hear but it is still very possible for you to get accepted. In fact, being waitlisted is pretty typical. 

To help your cause for the time being, many schools allow those on the waitlist to submit updates and supplemental materials. If you have any that are readily available, don't hesitate to send them in. A little extra effort can go a long way.

Updates can include grades and scores not submitted earlier as part of your AMCAS and/or last communication with the school. Any new experiences, research, awards or publications are good to submit. Some schools also appreciate a letter of continued interest, explaining why you feel the school is a good match for you.

Those waitlisted should continue working on updates
Make sure that you follow the school's preference in regards to how they would like to receive updates. Schools like candidates who can follow instructions (trust us). Our admissions office generally accepts email or snail mail.
A scenario here is that you are waitlisted by your top-choice yet have an acceptance elsewhere. In this case, applicants must name a choice among the acceptances by April 30th, 2015. While you cannot hold any other acceptances after that point, you can remain on your top school's waitlist. Should your top-choice accept you later, you can make the switch.
One thing applicants should not do is take a rejection personal, nor should you take it to mean you are not suited to be a doctor. Generally, applicants are rejected because they were either not a good fit for that particular program or their application was simply not strong enough.

With applicants applying to anywhere from 8-20 schools, rejections are part of the process. There are great applicants across the continental map, so schools want to dig deeper for people who are good fits for their program.

Look on the bright side: if the school felt you weren't the right fit for the program, you probably weren't. And the last thing that would have benefited you as a medical student was to be in an environment where your characteristics and ambitions just don't fit.

In the case that your application wasn't strong enough and you don't receive an acceptance this cycle, this is something you can work on moving forward for the next.  Some schools even offer feedback about your application. While CHM counselors cannot offer specifics as to why your application was unsuccessful, people are encouraged to follow the procedure outlined in the Self-Assessment section of the Premedical Handbook and Self-Assessment Guide.

A great number of re-applicants get accepted from year to year and that is because they showed persistence and took time to strengthen their application's weaknesses.
Should you need to re-apply next year, it's important to reflect on this experience and be aware of your continued growth. Needless to say, the goal is getting accepted this time around, but we want to stress that there are numerous ways and opportunities to get there. We wish you the best of luck!

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