Applying to medical school is a daunting task – every school seems to have different requirements, and the Ontario Medical School Application Service (OMSAS) application is long, complex, and, at times, overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you stay sane while keeping your medical school application on track:
- Start early. Some medical schools have specific pre-requisite classes that they require. Looking into this early on in your degree can allow you to plan your class schedule accordingly. The same applies for writing the MCAT – different schools have different scores requirements, and most applicants write at least twice, so be sure to leave yourself enough time to receive your scores and rewrite, if necessary.
- Stay organized. Creating a spreadsheet with the requirements for each school, including MCAT and GPA requirements and geographic preferences (if any) considered in the application process, can be invaluable in helping you to decide where to focus your efforts. For example, are you willing to put in the time and effort to apply to Alberta medical schools if you’re going to be competing with all non-Albertan applicants for 10 spots? Should you re-write the MCAT for the sake of applying to that one school with exceptionally high requirements?
- Keep your resume current. Medical school applications require a “verifier” to be listed with contact information for each position you have held, whether as a volunteer or as an employee. Keeping an up-to-date resume with the information already listed can make this a breeze instead of a nightmare. This may seem like a common-sense thing to do, but many people only look at their resume when they need it to apply somewhere, by which time it may be difficult to track down contact information from previous supervisors.
- Network. Connecting with other med-school hopefuls is useful in helping to normalize the stress of your experience, and talking to current medical students is a great way to gain an in-depth understanding of what to expect in an interview, as well as what the day-to-day life of a med student is like.
- Budget. It costs a lot to apply to medical school – there are fees for writing the MCAT and the CASPer test, and that’s before you even start applying! There is a fee for OMSAS itself, in addition to fees for each individual school being applied to. As well, some schools require a deposit to be paid when one is invited to attend an interview. Budgeting for these fees in advance can help relieve some of the stress of the application process.
- Get feedback. Whether it’s your personal statement or your interview responses, getting feedback from an outside party can help. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or a career counsellor at Carleton’s Career Services, having someone else review your material and give you feedback on how it comes across is vital: we’ve all written essays that we felt were brilliant but that left the reader confused – don’t let that be the case with your med school application!
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