Overcoming Rejection: Tips On How To Deal with Disappointment & Strengthen Your Application

For most medical schools across the country, the current cycle interview period has come to a close. The next incoming class is starting to take shape and, unfortunately, that means some applicants must deal with rejections.

Here are some steps to take so that you may alleviate the disappointment and use the time going forward on strengthening your application for the next cycle.

Acknowledgement
In medical school admissions, rejection is just part of the process. In fact, being rejected is pretty common. Tens of thousands submit applications each year for an increasingly limited number of seats. The competition is stiff, with the vast majority of U.S. medical schools offering less than 200 open slots per incoming class.

Less than 40% of applicants in the prior cycle matriculated, according to data from the American Association of Medical Colleges.

While rejection can be disheartening, it's important to come to terms with the circumstance quickly. Don't allow the shock of rejection to turn into complacency, nor should it turn into a devaluation of self-worth. It is not uncommon for applicants to go through the application cycle two, even three times before matriculating. It certainly can be done.

In fact, those who take steps to improve their applications and then reapply greatly improve their chances of success. Plenty of students who matriculate are actually reapplicants. Schools like our own encourage applicants to try again.

Perseverance can go a long way moving forward. Start taking notes from this experience—those will come in handy when working on your new personal statement and essays. 

Reflection and Self-Assessment
Those notes will be most helpful after some reflection. Applicants must first decide whether to go through the application process another time. In other words, are you willing to do it all over again?

Rejected applicants should take time to decide whether medical school is still a goal. Gauge your desire to become a physician.

If you are ready and willing to move forward with medical school still in your sights, it's crucial to acknowledge that your profile as an applicant must undergo a few tweaks. Self-awareness about your standing in the applicant pool is vital to bouncing back strongly.

Take a thorough look at your application and recognize which portions can be improved. Your personal statement, grades and scores, interviewing skills, letters of recommendation as well as volunteer experiences and clinical exposure are all areas to reevaluate.

Think about how well your essays were written and whether they, along with your grades, demonstrated your aptitude and skills effectively. Could you have done better on the MCAT? If you were effective enough to receive interview invites, did it go well?

Once you have looked at your application, ask others for input. You may be able to meet with admissions representatives to go over where you can strengthen your application. While many schools do not give specifics as to why you were rejected, this information can be extremely helpful.

The College of Human Medicine (CHM), for example, offers a Self-Assessment Guide. Upon submission, rejected applicants can then schedule an advising appointment to meet directly with Office of Admissions counselors.

This process will help you identify which areas of your application need further attention. Reapplying to medical school means changing your approach for the next cycle. If an​ applicant isn't ready to learn from what didn't work and try a new approach, they might not be ready for med school.

Executing A Plan
Having identified where you can strengthen your application, you can now develop a plan and execute. Reapplicants must take some action that will show improvement.

If you lacked volunteer experience or clinical exposure, for instance, the summer is a great time to put in, well, time. If your grades are an issue, decisions on a post-bacc program or graduate school may need to be made before reapplying.

Make sure you understand that medical schools may require a minimum number of graduate credits before they allow applicants to submit those grades for review. Here at CHM, we will only review graduate courses if the applicant meets the 16-credit minimum. This means you may need a year or two before you reapply.

Ensure that you take enough time for study and preparation if you need to retake the MCAT. It may be worth it to take courses in public speaking or interpersonal communication if you think that could better prepare you for another round of interviews.

However your plan shapes up, don't be afraid to seek out help if you feel it can be productive. With that said, recognize your plan may take time. Applicants are expected to put their best foot forward when they apply so taking another year to strengthen your application may be necessary.

A lot of rejected applicants never reapply. So it is those reapplicants with perseverance and a strong work ethic than can ultimately meet their goal. With some introspection, a subsequent plan moving forward, and some perseverance, the next cycle may be yours to conquer.

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